Well-known for road bike clothing, Rapha has entered mountain bike market and one of its staple garments is this Trail Technical T-Shirt – is it any good?
Rapha Trail Technical T-Shirt is the cheapest of three jerseys in their MTB range. It’s available in both a men’s (tested) and women’s cut, five muted colours as well as a limited edition ‘Digital Woodland’ print that has a touch of tie-dye about it.
Yep,there’s a new option on the market if you’re looking for the best mountain bike jersey, and it’s a familiar name if you have any knowledge of road bike culture. It’s fair to say that Rapha revolutionised road cycling kit by blending modern fabrics with traditional styling and clever marketing.
Roadies bought into the brand hook, line and sinker, to the point suffering up a rain-sodden Box Hill on a £10k Colnago, dressed head-to-toe in Rapha became something of a rite of passage. More recently, however, the brand has diversified from its skinny tyre base to encompass gravel, commuting, indoor training (yes, really) and now mountain biking.
The new MTB range includes jerseys, shorts, jackets, socks and even eyewear and a helmet in conjunction with Smith. It covers most of the bases without being overwhelming or confusing, and, surprisingly, the prices – while not cheap – are competitive with many other popular MTB brands such as Fox and Troy Lee Designs. Of course, what Rapha is lacking, and those other brands have in spades, is mountain biking heritage. Whether that remains a barrier to entry, or whether mountain bikers are put off by Rapha’s image, remains to be seen. What will help the brand’s cause, obviously, is if the product itself is good.
Along with the subtle colours, there’s signature a Rapha band on the left arm of the Trail Technical T-Shirt – a bit like a football captain might wear – and a small logo on the chest. The lightweight fabric used in this Tech T-Shirt blends 68% recycled polyester with 32% virgin polyester and is woven in a honeycomb pattern that is designed to lift the cloth above the skin for better wicking properties. It’s a simple garment in that there are no MTB-specific features such as a pocket or glasses wipe, but this does keep the weight down and the price more competitive. There’s also a four-way stretch that helps with mobility when getting dynamic on the bike. The fit is best described as regular – neither tight nor baggy – wth a shape that’s tailored to the riding position. When standing upright there’s a tightness across the upper chest and neck that disappears as you drop into your riding position. On the bike it’s certainly a comfortable jersey, where it’s standout features are its low weight and good wicking properties. Even on hot, sweaty rides I didn’t get clammy or sticky. However, despite boasting a antimicrobial finish, it did get pretty smelly after riding.
One final aspect of the Rapha Trail Technical T-Shirt that needs to be commended are the free off-cuts of fabric included in the package that you can use to make repairs. These rectangles are adhesive-backed and can fix rips and tears. Rapha also offers a free repair service for many of its garments that can help prolong their life and lighten their carbon footprint. It’s a useful and worthy service that genuinely adds value.