Cafe du Cycliste comes to us from the sunshine of the Côte d'Azur and two French friends who wanted high quality, technically excellent clothing with a classic French style twist.
They have two collections "Sur le Bitume" the performance range, 'designed with precision and flair for the intense physical stresses of road cycling' and "Sur le Zinc", the urban collection. 'Relaxed stylish threads that work as well when you lock your bike up at a cafe as they do when you're cruising down the city streets.
On test here is the Yolande jersey which upon first impressions with it's faux suede elbow patches, padded shoulders and buttoned neck looks as though it is from the urban collection. It is in fact a technical long sleeve Merino jersey from their road range.
The jersey does indeed have a lot of technical features which you would expect with a price tag of 150 Euros. It is made from a polyester/ Merino mix of 72/24% (the rest is polyamide). Whilst this isn't as high a content as some Merino jerseys out there it still feels very nice next to the skin, wicks well and dries very quickly.
The fabric is lightweight but does keep the windchill off well although i think the autumn and winters that it is advertised for by Cafe du Cycliste are those of Southern France rather than Northern England, even with a good base underneath! I also found that the fabric seems to click quite easily, a couple of large pulls have appeared over time, which is quite annoying on such an expensive top.
I tested a small and as a size 10 it is a nice length and fit well across the shoulders and upper body but was quite loose around the stomach and tended to bunch up when in the riding position. The full length zip comes with a buttoned flap at the collar which I have never used when riding as I like to adjust the position of the zip when I'm riding depending on how hard I'm working.
There are a number of well placed reflective strips and badge on the rear pockets and also running down the arms meaning cars approaching from the side will pick you up in their headlights should you be caught out at dusk. There is also a strip on the back of the collar although this will be hidden by those with long hair.
The top also has a number of less technical but very quirky features. We've already mentioned the elbow pads and slightly padded shoulders (if I'm missing a technical feature for these please let me know) but there is also an earphone cable hole and neck loop along with integrated thumb loops. I find these a little bizarre as they aren't in the same material. The Merino runs into a tight fitting black lycra and whilst they do a good job of keeping the draught out, if it's that cold you need gloves and i find thumb loops a no no with a glove as they tend to dig into the skin.
After using the Yolande Jersey various occasions from road rides to casual pub rides I would personally still say that this jersey is more at home in casual riding situations, whether it be commuting or pottering to the cafe or pub. I've found myself slipping it on as a jacket for before and after races or popping to the Quayside for a coffee but never for a long Sunday ride after those initial tests. I think it is a little too casual for serious training rides and many of the features would be a little lost for this purpose.
Despite this it is a very nice jersey and it will be a well used piece of kit in my wardrobe, just not in the way advertised, making it quite an expensive casual jersey.
Good quality jersey
Lots of well thought out features
Stylish and different
Material prone to clicking
Try for size
Some style over substance features
Price: £118.00, available from Cafe du Cycliste.
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