As you might have heard, I now have a Brompton. I tend not to wear racy stuff on it, but there are occasions when I’ve hooned it over 20 miles at 19mph plus when it would be a little uncomfortable to wear a pair of cargo shorts and a cotton t-shirt. In such circumstances, when passing random people on TT bikes, a balance has to be sought between “trying to hard” and some sort of casualness. I find that Rapha’s Brevet stuff tends to hit that niche.
Not that it has a niche intent. Far from it. The Brevet range may well be the most versatile collection that they do, with something for all cycling types. Naturally, it ain’t cheap, naturally it is good looking, naturally it will last. And Rapha’s customer service is unilaterally superb.
The Brevet range is designed for audax or, rather, long days in the saddle. A brevet is, of course, a randonneuring event. In the UK, at least, the term may be more familiar as brevet card being the card that requires punching, stamping or some other form of “evidence” being added to demonstrate that you have, in fact, completed that 600km audax. While the original intent was to provide decent kit for those all day rides (and the range has burgeoned over time) I simply look at it as an extension (at least as far as the jerseys are concerned) of the ever excellent classic range. So, that all day comfort combined with a bit more storage and some other road user friendly features.
The Rapha Brevet Jersey
The original and, possibly, still the best? Let’s see. The version pictured here is a bit of a unique one being the very limited edition Bordeaux-Paris jersey to commemorate Tom Simpson’s victory in the 1963 race. You can’t buy it anymore (it’s quite a few years old in fact) but the current version is for all intents and purposes the same jersey, just with less of the exquisite detail of this one.
The Brevet jersey, like its long sleeve winter cousin, is made from sportswool, in this case a blend of 61% polyester and 39% merino wool. That’s actually more ‘wooly’ than the already very wooly classic jersey. It’s warm and cool. Indeed, unless you’re constantly engaged in mid 20’s temps plus, then this is probably all the jersey you will ever need. I won’t rehearse the properties of sportswool jerseys, safe to say, they are “regulating” and breathe when you need them to and insulate when you want them too. Ideal then for riding and sleeping in bus shelters (for those who didn’t get the header image, see my previous review of the Rapha Long Sleeve Brevet Windproof Jersey)
The Brevet stripe is a feature of the range and it’s properly reflective. You might get that the white one is, but ditto the grey one too. I haven’t done a pic of this with a flash but, as you’ll see below in relation to the lightweight one, it’s bonkers bright caught in headlights. So cars will be able to see you, ditto buses as they pass while you’re asleep. There’s a waterproof pocket above the Rapha logo which is just about big enough to house a brevet card, a credit card etc. You could probably stick a bus pass in too, but that would be cheating, shame on you. It’s available in several different colourways at the moment but the blue/pink combo remains my favourite. You should also be partnering it with the Brevet Gilet too which provides a bit of wind proofing and some weather protection. Rather annoyingly the new Brevet gilet (which adds pockets) isn’t available in the black/pink or blue/pink colourways leading to a slight mismatch if you own one of those colour jerseys. I’m still searching for the blue/pink one to partner with the above but may end up with a burgundy/pink one off ebay.
The detail is tremendous with the TS embroidery on one sleeve and the PBP lettering on the other. You don’t get this on the stock jersey but the stitching etc is as you’d expect on a Rapha jersey and something designed to be worn for many many miles. The zip is easy to operate on the fly and will last. The neck is just right.
Round the back the stripes continue, there’s another reflective label at the bottom too. Round here it’s a veritable cornucopia of storage. There are three big pockets with stable stitching. There’s a card zipped pocket off at the side. Then there’s a giant extra pocket which goes inside the jersey (where there is a mesh lining) to collect anything else you want to carry. Of course, much will be dictated by how much room you’ve built in here. If it’s tightish fitting then you won’t be storing a hardshell inside. It’s just physics. Nevertheless it’s tremendous and you can’t really want for any more.
Once again, this version has some neat little touches on the back too and on the sleeve.
Brevet jerseys are resolutely not cheap. £130 at the time of writing but there is 25% off. But it is something that will last for absolutely years, is practical and so very useful in the UK. On a balmy summer evening as the sun sets and the bus shelter calls, it’s not a bad pyjama top either.
Rapha Long sleeve Brevet Jersey
That’s CORAL. Not pink or orange, somewhere between the two. And, in the daylight, as you arise from your bus shelter or haystack you WILL be seen. Naturally you’ll be seen at night too as the bands are ever present.
The LS version is identical. It’s the same size (I take a large), it’s the same length and it’s the same construction in terms of poly/wool mix. You just get some arms. Those arms will cost you a tenner more than the short sleeve jersey (£140) but, again, 25% off as I write.
Once again you get that Brevet card pocket at the front and the reflective stripes. One of the great things about sportswool is that it washes well but, for the first few years or so, it’s so lovely and soft, particularly out of the packet. Keep it washed properly, take care of it and it will generally feel like that forever.
The arms are particularly nice and the waist is held in place by a silicone gripper. There are also internal drawstrings with a toggle affair to pull things in at the waist if you want an even more secure fit. The wrists are shaped and tapered to provide the perfect fit.
Once again there are three pockets are present at the rear and an internal one with a looped zip which makes operating with gloves etc a bit easier. Oddly, on my model year, there is no credit card pocket. It is present on the 2018 colours though (though none are quite a vibrant as this IMO).
It is a perfect companion for spring and autumn days and even stands up well when it’s getting towards the twenties though it’s not quite as versatile clearly as the short sleeve in that regard. While it isn’t windproof, partnering this with the matching gilet will see you well down into single fingers in the winter with suitable base layer and gloves. It’s a damn good four season piece for all but the coldest and, of course, damp/wettest of days. It does dry quickly but I’d not really venture out in this if rain was likely.
Rapha Brevet Lightweight Jersey
Last, but not least, the lightweight. Actually, this isn’t really the last short sleeve. There is a windproof version. It’s very much like the long sleeve windproof I linked to above but without any windproofing on the sleeves. It’s very good and maybe I’ll get round to reviewing at some point.
The lightweight brevet is not sportswool, instead being fully constructed from polyester. It’s intended for those days when the sportswool version would be way too much. It’s suggested therefore of being something for the hottest of days. And this one dries very quickly indeed. I’ve been wearing it in temps of up to 28C and with some high humidity levels and while the Pro Team jersey does shade it for sheer wickability (new word alert) there’s not too much in it. Rapha say this is for the South African audaxers. I’d suggest that’s correct. I’ve no idea what their bus shelters are like or how often you come across one. My example is a large, and it’s definitely a classic (i.e. comfortable) fit. It’s also black and not the slight blue shade that it appears to be above. The classic white/pink combo is very much present. I have the pink one too, which is very pink indeed.
I said I’d show you how well that reflective stuff works. It’s damn good. The back similarly glows.
Annoyingly the blue/pink option is not available in the lightweight, instead I opted for the black pink combo, which isn’t a bad default. The all pink may not be too everyone’s taste but it’s also a good look. There are 4 other colours should neither of those be to your taste. (The black looks blue in the pic below but it really is black).
The eagle eyed among you will already have spotted the omission. There is no front zipped pocket for your blockbuster video card. A shame perhaps but it keeps it lightweight, any addition here creating additional warmth. Having it would be at odds with the lightweight nature of the jersey. Of course, you may say, having those stripes is also at odds. True, but this wouldn’t be the Brevet jersey without them, it would simply be the lightweight jersey (similar price).
It’s the fit of this one that really bonds with me. Although identical in size to the normal Brevet it really does come into its own on hot days, being sufficiently close to wick but sufficiently loose to allow air to circulate. For me it’s spot on.
No toggles this time but the elastic gripper keeps everything in place. The taper to the waist is classic too. Stitching is great and it really is just a light version of the classic Brevet.
Round the back (excuse the washed out photo) and you have three giant pockets and one zipped valuable. You lose the central inner pocket but, again, for lightweight duties that’s to be expected. The panel under the pockets is slightly meshier adding to the breathability.
RRP is £120 and, yes, that’s a lot. Indeed, it’s hard to escape the fact that all of these jerseys are a lot. But, hey, that’s Rapha and it’s not out of step with other premium manufacturers, you get premium customer service and it really is going to last. And, of course, sell it on eBay when they delete the colourway and you will get your money back.
I read one review that suggested the lightweight was the weak link in the range. I disagree, I like it a lot, depending on what you’re doing. This summer has been traditional (i.e. like the 70’s) rather than wet and damp. So this makes sense. I find it the most comfortable of the three and it will be coming with me to France in a week or so. It may not end up being my Marmotte jersey, but it is in with a decent shout. It has excellent storage, won’t sag, is breathable and I really like how it looks. If it’s cool first thing it’ll store a gilet easily and partner well with arm warmers/screens.
I like the Brevet range a lot. It adds value to a jersey and while it isn’t cheap it is hard wearing, quality and attractive. Whack in that discount and it competes well with other brands, even without it, it’s a sensible investment. And, don’t forget, as cheap as a Premier Inn is, that bus shelter is free, and that frees up funds to get some more Brevet stuff.