Gear News

Rapha winter clothing – first look

Jacket, jersey, lined short, leg warmers, and collar go under the microscope

Rapha Pro Team Thermal Shorts

The Pro Team Thermal Short is the garment we’re looking forward to testing most, for two reasons. The first is that our previous experience with Rapha’s Pro Team kit has been a positive one. We tested the unlined summer short last year and its one we’ve returned to again and again. Both the fit and the performance lived up to the billing as suitable for the professional. The second reason is our favouring lined shorts and warmers as an alternative to tights, even the best of which can feel a little cumbersome after a summer in shorts.

The first thing to note about Rapha’s Thermal Short is that the leg is longer than its summer cousin. Necessary? We’ll find out and let you know in our subsequent review. The other principal difference is the brushed lining, one made from a Thermoroubaix fabric that continues all the way to the hem (a good thing), but disappointingly not into the braces, which are mesh.

The Rapha Pro Team Thermal Bib-Shorts are longer in the leg than their summer Pro Team cousins

The bib is mesh too, and rises in a classic yoke design to a broad-ish back panel which we hope will spread pressure effectively. There are two rear pockets, ideally sized for race radio or, more pertinently for most of us, a mobile phone, energy bar etc. The left pocket has a laundry label with space to record your name and race number, and the bears the legend, forçats de la route; journalist, Albert Londres’ telling epithet for competitors in the 1924 Tour de France.

Rapha have deployed flatlock stitching on the outside of the short, typically used on the inside of a garment to beat irritation. In this regard, they’ve used an overlocked stitch on the inside. The result is some broad and exceptionally neat needlework.

The insert comes from pad specialists, CyTech, described in Rapha’s literature as ‘top spec’, and with our patented thumb and forefinger squeeze test feels remarkably similar to that deployed in the summer Pro Team short, which is to say, pleasingly deep. It looks identical, too: cut in the classic loveheart shape, and stitched to the body of the short in a saw-tooth style pattern.

The hem is another feature shared by the summer short: an elasticated strip at the end of each leg, 3cm deep, and lined on the inside with short blocks of silicone arranged as six vertical bars, the object being to avoid the constriction that sometimes results from an unbroken band.

Rapha describe the fit as ‘refined’ and suitable for an ‘aggressive position’.  Time and testing will tell. Check back in a few weeks for our review.

The Rapha Pro Team Thermal Short is available in six sizes from X-Small to XX-Large, in black with chartreuse or hi-viz pink detailing, and costs £170.

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