Rab's Cindercrino Zip Tee is an excellent lightweight Merino gravel riding/mountain bike jersey from one of the bastions of the UK outdoor industry. It has excellent breathability, a lovely soft feel and superior odour management for multi-day trips. Available in three colours and five sizes it's one of the better options current available among the best mountain bike jerseys.
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Rab is synonymous in the UK with the outdoors and I suspect most of you will have heard of the company before or seen the logo somewhere. What you might not have realised is that it launched a cycling apparel line called Cinder aimed at gravel mountain biking and adventure riding in 2023.
Rab Cindercrino Zip Tee - Technical details
The Cindercrino Zip Tee is designed as a gravel top with a slightly closer fit than a normal T, definitely closer than a mountain bike Trail riding top. It’s got a road-style longer back with a large silicone gripper to help it stay in place and a small rear pocket on the right-hand side for keys or the odd snack bar or gel.
The Cindercrino is manufactured from two fabrics; a Merino and polyester blend known as Syncrino and a jersey-style mesh material called Motiv - both of these are proprietary fabrics that Rab uses elsewhere in its outdoor clothing lines with long experience of what fabric works best where on the body. Syncino is used for the majority of the Cindercrino construction with Motiv just being used under the arms and sides of the jersey for maximum heat and moisture transfer. The inside of the pocket is also made of the same fabric.
The Collar is cut low and close fitting which is in keeping with the more relaxed fit and super cool nature of the jersey. The 16cm YKK zip runs slightly less than halfway down the front of the jersey and has a rubber-tipped pull which is designed to be easy to grip and run smoothly as there is no zip guard behind the zip to catch on.
There is minimal reflective detailing on the front of the shoulders and the side of the arm and the bottom of the long dropped tail of the jersey
It is certainly a light top and Rab claims it weighs 137g in medium. Ours actually ducks under that at 133g on our scales. The jersey retails for £100 and is available in this sunny yellow colour, a sea/blue and a light khaki.
Rab Cindecrino Zip Tee - Performance
The Rab Cindercrino Zip Tee is a surprisingly warm, lightweight and breathable jersey and works well in a variety of temperatures. Used under a windproof top like Rab’s own Ridgeline jacket it breathes fantastically well keeping your core warm and odour free as you pack on the miles. On its own, as an outer layer in warmer weather with or without a base layer it moves moisture with ease keeping you comfortable and as dry as possible.
If you do end up getting very hot and sweaty after a difficult section of trail, the super light 125gsm Syncrino fabric really moves the moisture through the fabric aiding evaporation and helping you dry off quickly so you never feel clammy and uncomfortable or smelling of wet sheep.
Due to the fabric’s lightweight open-weave nature, it does suffer from bush and thorn damage which is unavoidable on gravel and adventure rides as you cannot avoid the undergrowth. Having said that, whilst it shows a number of plucks in the fabric, they appear well-contained with no unsightly runs or rucks in the material which is good to see.
The dropped tail with the silicone gripper works extremely well on the gravel position and I never felt I needed to adjust its position. The sleeves are of a comfortable cut when you are holding the bars and are a decent length.
It's easy to layer with, whether it's over a base layer, under a windproof or under Rab's own Ridgeline jacket. The Cindercrino works well to move moisture away from your skin and push through to the next layer helping you stay comfortable and damp-free.
The zip glides up and down with ease helped by the lack of a zip guard behind to catch it but that does mean hairy-chested riders should take care if they are not wearing a base layer when they zip up and down. You have been warned.
The rear pocket is a little too small and only really useful for your house/car key and a gel or two. There is no way I can get my phone in there which is possibly the most obvious item you will want to store there. I can't fit a crazy light gilet in either. I feel it’s a missed opportunity as a little more volume would have made it much more practical. (The Cinder Jersey has the normal three-pocket arrangement if that's a deal breaker but it is a little closer fitting than the Cinderino)
Rab Cindercrino Zip Tee - Verdict
At £100, it is a pricey investment – especially considering the lack of storage options and the depth of the competition at this level. 7Mesh offers a short-sleeve Desperado which, while no longer having the T-top as in our review, is significantly cheaper at £65 and weighs only 126g. Gore’s Explore Shirt is a Merino blend and has a neck opening (with press studs) and a small pocket for £80 at 126g. Maap’s Alt_Road Ride T isn’t Merino but 132g of Polartech Power Dry fabric but it still breathes fast and manages odour for multi-day riding at £70. Slightly more cash will buy you a Pedaled Jary Merino wool jersey which has both a small pocket and a press stud henley style collar for €140
The Rab Cindercrino Zip Tee is not cheap but its soft feel, low weight and excellent breathability count highly, as does its odour management if you are on a multiday trip or just washing your kit less. The slightly relaxed cut is spot on and might help you blend in a little better at the campsite or bar. A great gravel jersey for those packing light.