Cyclocross racing is quite a peculiar sport - sixty minutes of flat-out effort with a mix of riding and running, then tea and cake (or a beer) and a sit down. Your body temperature goes from cold to maximum within the first 5 minutes but then down to stone cold only a few minutes after the racing stops.

Any clothing that is designated CX specific has to cope with this impressive range of temperature, be flexible enough to allow for a range of activities - riding, running (with your bike on one shoulder), and hopping barriers, but also have the right fit. It needs to be snug enough to not snag on your bike when you shoulder it, but also have a decent stretch in the fabric to allow for a wide range of movement.

When I was offered the Rapha Cross Pro Team Jersey to test, it came with an offer of a race entry to the Halifax round of the 2015 Rapha Super Cross series. It seemed like too good an offer to turn down, and what better place to test a 'cross race jersey than a CX race?

The Cross Pro Team Jersey from Rapha.
The Cross Pro Team Jersey from Rapha.

I tried the jersey on as soon as it arrived (to make sure the fit was right) but then didn't have a chance to wear it in anger until the day of the race. I'm a 36" chest, which in Rapha sizing means I'm right on the cusp of small and medium sizes. I got the Cross jersey in Medium, erring slightly on the side of caution. The fit wasn't race tight, but also wasn't too baggy either. I could have easily fitted into the Small (and would probably go for that if I was going to buy another one).

The jersey stretched in all the right places, the sleeves were the perfect length, the collar was just the right shape and height and the overall look was tailored and classy. I'm normally quite minimal with my colour choices and wouldn't have necessarily chosen the Cross jersey based on the colour scheme, but actually once I tried it on, it looked good and the colours suited me more than I thought. Obviously colour is a personal and subjective thing, but if you were spending your own hard-earned cash on a jersey as pricey as this one, you need to make sure it suits you after all don't you?

The Rapha description for the jersey says that it has "reinforced shoulders for carrying the bike". I already own the 2014 version of the same jersey, so was expecting something similar, i.e. some subtle but definitely present padding on the right shoulder (useful when you shoulder the bike to run with it). The 2015 version of the jersey has done away with the padding, which initially seemed a shame, but it means that the 2015 jersey now has the arms and the shoulder all made in one piece of material, so no seams on your shoulder to catch, snag or get damaged. The lack of padding hasn't proved to be a problem - you generally only carry your bike on your shoulder for short periods when racing anyway.


The jersey comes with the normal range of three rear pockets, including a small zipped one and has a silicon strip around the rear hem to stop it riding up when you're pedaling. It also has the seemingly mandatory zip garage at the top (a bit of padded material to stop the zip catching on your chin when done right up).

Strangely the jersey also comes with a feature not listed in the Rapha blurb - the facility to run either an MP3 player or a race radio in the rear right hand pocket and then feed the headphone cable through a small "port" inside and up the inside of the jersey. I'm not sure why you would really this (and equally why Rapha don't mention it if they've gone to the effort of installing it).

In use the jersey was pretty much perfect. The material struck a great balance of being cool enough at race speeds, but warm enough for the short periods before and after the race. The stretch was spot-on and allowed full movement without the sleeves pulling up my arms, while the rear gripper seemed to do a good job of keeping the back hem down. And, perhaps most importantly, it looked "just right".

My only slight criticism relates to the zip. Firstly the zip is pretty stiff - when you're riding as close to flat-out as your legs will allow, your coordination, skill and judgement all go somewhat to pot and I didn't have the mental wherewithal to ride safely no-handed and adjust the zip properly. This meant either riding at half-mast (assuming that phrase can be misappropriated for jerseys?) or riding zipped up and then cooking.

I'm hoping that after a few more washes the zip softens up somewhat and allows easy one-handed operation from then on. The other minor niggle with the zip is that when you're trying to do it up from fully undone, getting the two halves of the zip to initially connect is somewhat of a pain as the bottom right hand zip section is covered with material to make sure it's hidden in use. Although this undoubtedly looks a lot smarter, it also can be quite a pain to do up without folding the material back. Not the end of the world, but worth bearing in mind.


Whenever you read a review of any Rapha kit, the general summary of the review says "amazing thing, super expensive, but top quality". Whether you can justify the cost of this jersey is a personal decision. A lot of people would undoubtedly say that you could buy two or three jerseys from a different brand for the same price as the Rapha one. I can't deny that, but also think it misses the point. Rapha kit is a premium product (with a premium price tag). Just wearing something of a decent quality makes you feel good on the bike.

Could this slight increase in self-esteem give you a slight edge in the heat of competition? OK, it's not going to get to you onto the podium, but there's some evidence in support of marginal gains...

Trying not to look too tired post race.
Trying not to look too tired post race.

On a more practical level, most Rapha kit comes with free repairs for life if you're unlucky enough to damage it (whether through crashing or just because the washing machine ate it) and this is something very few (if any) other brands can offer.

So the sum up: amazing thing, super expensive but top quality. If you can afford one, make sure the colour suits you and the fit is right and then get out there on the CX race circuit with it. Or just ride your CX bike around the woods with your friends and feel a little more "pro".

Rapha Cross Pro Team Jersey, £130 from