Developed in consultation with the pro racers of the Rapha Condor Sharp squad, Rapha’s Pro Team clothing (shorts and jersey available separately, of course) is designed for high-performance road cycling, a category that includes, according to Rapha, both racing and high-tempo training and presumably includes riding cyclosportives – at a suitably high pace.
Taking the shorts first, the fit is close, tight-fitting and, using multiple panels, sculpted for comfort when riding in an aggressive position. The seat is reinforced and there’s a neat second layer of fabric on the inside of the thigh where it rubs the saddle, which helps prevent rubbing. The black Cytech insert is positioned further forward than is usual, again to provide support when riding in a racing crouch.
Spun in Switzerland and proprietary to Rapha, the shorts fabric features a treatment named coldblack®, which limits the usual heat and UV ray absorption associated with dark coloured clothing. It also provides a high level of UV protection, in this case to SPF 50+.
Detailing includes a pair of race radio pockets, name label and the Rapha logo in white on the right leg and black on the left. Finally, the lower leg is seam-free and equipped with a gripper.
Moving on to the jersey, we find the same close fit, achieved through the use of a tight-fitting but high-stretch fabric with the same coldblack® treatment. Many of the panels are mesh to promote cooling and seams are bonded to reduce air drag. The three rear pockets are in addition to an internal pocket for valuables and there are race radio pockets and loops plus laundry label. The jersey is finished off with a “Forcats de la Route” design intended to recall the “convicts of the road” scandal of the 1920s.
And to wear? Both garments are exactly as described, meaning close-fitting for their nominal size. We tried both in the usual size large and found them exceptionally comfortable once on the bike and, subsequently, off it. The process of getting them on in the first place, however, gave rise to a couple of nervous moments. As did trying to find the relevant body part at a comfort stop; the front of the shorts is very high and the fabric perhaps not as stretchable as it might be for the purpose.
The shorts insert impressed the reviewer with its padding and general positioning, although it is not quite as precisely positioned by the shorts fabric as it might be and needs careful placement pre-ride. In line with current trends, arm length is a trifle lower than ideal for that all-important tan line but the mesh sleeves are easily turned up.
In short, then, clothing that looks great and performs superbly. Especially at higher speeds.
Rapha Pro Team Jersey £120: colours Cream, Black; sizes XS – XXL
Rapha Pro Team Bib Shorts £155: Black only; sizes XS – XXL