New for 2021, Rapha's Performance Trailwear collection includes the Trail 3/4 sleeve jersey. Aside from the cut and size range, this garment is identical for all genders, boasting abrasion-resistant sleeves, lightweight stretchy material in an understated design. However, the somewhat justified hefty price tag and awkward sleeve choices may not suit everyone's tastes.
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A mountain bike collection will rarely include gender-identical garments. Often varying in colourways, pocket sizes, zip placements and other assorted features, so it's refreshing that Rapha should adopt a more gender-neutral approach to their new Trailwear collection. Of course, there are other colourways available for the Rapha Performance Trail 3/4 sleeve jersey, but Liam and I reviewed the same type for testing.
Rapha Performance Trail 3/4 sleeve jersey construction
The main body area (the white bit) is constructed from 100% Polyester, 68% of which is recycled. The sleeves are woven from a more durable blend of Nylon, Polyester and Spandex, resulting in a thicker fabric that still retains a degree of stretch. This blend of woven material has been specially developed to add abrasion protection from rogue foliage and branches to involuntary trail lie-downs. The whole garment is finished with an antibacterial treatment for sweating.
The jersey is accompanied by a neat little repair kit with coloured-match iron-on patches for any wear and tear your jersey suffer from. However, Rapha also offers a repair service where you can send your garment in for professional repair.
The women's 3/4 sleeve jersey is available in sizes XXS to XL(30.5" to 40.5" chest size) and two colourways; white and purple. The men's 3/4 sleeve jersey is available in sizes XS to XXL (34.5" to 46.5" chest size) and four colourways; white, dark grey, green and blue.
Jessica - How it feels
To provide some context for this review, I'm 5'7", and I tested a size small women's jersey, which I found to fit quite well. The shape is tapered at the waist for a more feminine fit, and the length was long enough to pass the waistband or tuck in. However, the sleeves were less fitting, leaving some bagginess around my biceps before tapering at the cuff.
You can certainly feel the difference between the main body and the sleeve materials, with the sleeves feeling slightly rougher and thicker. While they did well to protect my arms from brushes with branches, I did notice the lack of breathability on warm days. At times my arms felt stifled inside with minimal airflow circulating.
I'm not a big fan of 3/4 jerseys in general, but looking past my preferences, I really like this jersey for the finer details. The label at the neck is pressed flat, so it doesn't scratch, the subtle waffle texture of the main panel is pleasant, and all the seams and logos are executed to Rapha's exceptional standards - even after many washes in the machine and multiple days out on the bike. Although I didn't have to use the repair kit supplied, you can bet that it's tucked away safely in my drawer should I need to call upon it in future.
Liam - How it feels
I measure in at around 5'10" and I had a medium 3/4 jersey on test. In terms of fit and comfort, there's an awful lot to like. I would even go as far as to say that Rapha has totally hit the nail on the head everywhere but the sleeve's cuffs.
The jersey's fit is relaxed and always refreshingly comfy each time I put the jersey on, though its cuffs are rather tight. They're slim-fitting enough to pull on the rest of the sleeve when riding, making for a bit of an awkward time. However, once pulled up nearer the elbow, manoeuvrability couldn't be better. If you have Popeye-esque forearms, this is certainly worth considering before spending your money.
As Jessica said, the difference in the fabric between the main body and the sleeves is pretty stark and I believe that's where the jersey is let down a touch. The sleeves just aren't as breathable, as such I've found my shoulders to get uncomfortably hot and sweaty. Here, I wouldn't mind sacrificing abrasion resistance for a more breathable sleeve.
Value and verdict
Both the men's and women's Rapha Performance Trail 3/4 jerseys are equally priced at £75. While that seems like a lot of money for a jersey, and it is, you have to take in some considerations. Namely, it's Rapha. Secondly, the repair kit gives it future-proof qualities and finally, it's a fine quality garment.
However, it's £5 cheaper than Patagonia's super-basic merino bike t-shirt, but £35 pricier than Endura's MT500 long-sleeve jersey - which doesn't come with a repair kit or fancy abrasion-resistant panels. Perhaps it's best to consider the £75 as an investment into a future-proof jersey that comes with Rapha's repair service warranty.
For their first big foray into the world of mountain biking, Rapha has done an excellent job of producing a high-quality trial jersey that's lightweight and stretchy while offering suitable foliage protection. Some refinement to the shape and breathability of the sleeves may be necessary, and the price tag may scare some off, but there are some admirable qualities to consider before you scroll away.