Rapha's Pro Team base layer is a remarkably good lightweight and fast-wicking option for hot weather cycling.
It's made from two different fabrics. The main panels front and rear and the shoulders/tops of the arms are a light polyester/elastane mesh – very light. The material in the holes between the grid structure is so thin that you can easily see right through it. More to the point, air can breeze right on in, especially if you unzip your jersey, and moisture can escape. The texture of the mesh means the fabric doesn't easily stick to your skin, which is good for keeping the air circulating, and it wicks moisture well.
As with any fabric, it's possible to get this one wet through, especially on a hot climb when you're working hard and little air is blowing over you – no fabric can stay dry for long in that situation. But it dries our very quickly indeed.
The side panels and the underside of the arms are also a polyester/elastane mix but this time it's not a mesh. Like the main fabric, this one is very stretchy so you can get a close fit – Rapha call it 'race-tight' – without it feeling uncomfortable. Quite the opposite, in fact – this is a remarkably comfortable base layer, especially considering the closeness of the fit. With flat seams throughout and the only label positioned on the outside, you hardly feel like you're wearing it – in a good way.
If you're carrying a few extra pounds, the stretchiness of the fabric means there's a good chance you'll still fit into this base layer, but the cut is certainly best suited to the relatively svelte. Rapha reckon that this is a base layer that's 'created for... elite-level racing' – so they really have skinny whippets in mind.
Some people don't see the point of wearing base layers in the summer but I almost always do, feeling more comfortable with one on. It's up to you, naturally. Rapha's Pro Team base layer really is one of the best I've used for hot rides and, believe me, I've used a hell of a lot over the years.
The Pro Team base layer is also available in black and in a sleeveless version (£45).
The 'Merci Roubaix' written across the front is something the late Franco Ballerini said after taking part in his final Paris-Roubaix in 2001. The wording is different on different colour and sleeve options. You can go for 'Carpegna mi basta', 'Vous êtes des assassins', 'Nous marchons à la Dynamite' or 'La tête et les jambes', all of which are phrases from bike racing history. I like this base layer despite the slogan rather than because of it, but each to their own.
You can save up to 20% if you buy three Pro Team base layers at the same time.
A very good hot weather base layer that wicks sweat quickly and dries super-fast
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Base Layer
Size tested: Medium, White
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Rapha call this a "high-wicking cycling base layer for hard summer riding", which is perfectly accurate.
They also say, "A base layer created for training in hot conditions and for elite-level racing. The main body is made from an open mesh that offers exceptional breathability and moisture transfer, while the stretch Lycra side panels offer an enhanced fit. The Pro Team Base Layer has flatlock seams throughout to ensure comfort and is available in two styles, each with a different print on the chest."
"The Pro Team Base Layer sizing is race-tight. Please select your regular jersey size or if you want a more relaxed fit - move up one size."
They list these key features:
* Breathable mesh
* Lycra side and shoulder panels
* Cut for aggressive bike position
* Bound neckline and arm holes
* Anti-bacterial treatment
That's all in line with my thoughts after using the base layer.
The lightweight fabric isn't especially durable – that's not its biggest strength – but it's well made and that should help with longevity.
A lightweight base layer won't get you up Alpe d'Huez any quicker than one a few grams more, but it might help you stay more comfortable on the way.
You can get a lot of summer base layers for £20-odd (even cheaper if you shop around) but this one really is a bit special if you fancy treating yourself.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The cut, the amount of stretch, the technical performance of the fabric.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm not into any of the slogans on the different versions of this jersey.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? I'd seriously consider digging deep for this one.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, especially if budget wasn't a particularly high priority.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.