Rapha first moved into the aero clothing arena with its Pro Team Aero Jersey developed in conjunction with Team Sky two years ago, and for this season the jersey has been completely updated with new sleeves and revised pockets. It's a very close fitting and fast feeling jersey that doesn't sacrifice comfort in pursuit of low drag, and performs well in hot weather.
Updates to the new version include new sleeves, which have a textured material that Rapha says creates turbulent flow. Rapha has wind tunnel tested the jersey but hasn't released any figures on its improvement over the old design.
Long sleeves are fashionable at the moment and these are the longest short sleeves I've yet tested. They're comfortable but they really mess up your tan lines! There's a large Rapha logo on one sleeve that is certainly bolder than we're used to seeing from the British company.
A large part of the jersey's aero performance comes down simply to the close fit. Rapha describes it as having an 'aggressive, race-ready aero fit' and that's certainly the case when you first slip into it. Rapha has shaped and stitched together the various panels to ensure the Aero Jersey hugs every contour of the body, and the very stretchy fabric enhances the way it conforms to your body. A smooth fabric is used on the front and back panels, and all seams are offset to reduce drag. There are no ripples of excess fabric to catch the wind.
The fit is good and isn't overly compromised because of the focus on aerodynamics – it's not quite as restrictive as stretching on a skin suit, for example, but it's not quite as relaxed as a regular jersey. For that reason it's a jersey you'll want to wear when racing or riding as fast as possible, say in a chaingang or very fast club run, although, that said, I found it comfortable for a 100km ride the other day... But it certainly wouldn't be my first pick for a steady social ride. It's tighter fitting than most regular jerseys, but compares well to other aero jerseys.
A close-cut collar fits seamlessly when the smooth glide Vislon zipper is done all the way up. It looks a bit 'un-aero' when you're standing up, but that's because the jersey has been designed to fit perfectly when you're sitting on the bike, and when you are hunched over the handlebar the collar is a lot more comfortable than when standing upright for a photoshoot.
Rapha has also revised the pockets, with a gusseted construction for the three at the rear that provides more than enough capacity for your essentials and avoids any sagging. An extra zipped pocket is ideal for safely storing the keys to your house/car. There's also reflective piping and a mesh panel below the pockets to help with visibility and cooling respectively.
As with all Rapha jerseys, the Pro Team Aero isn't cheap, but the price does reflect the research and development that has gone into the jersey, and the quality of the fabrics, construction and finish are right up there with its most expensive rivals in this sector. You can, though, pick up the Castelli Aero Race jersey for £100 (and probably cheaper if you shop around).
I recently tested the Pro Team Flyweight Jersey, which costs £10 less and is lighter too. It offers a slightly more relaxed fit, with looser sleeves, that makes it a more sensible choice for long rides when you're not focusing on being as fast as possible. Both jerseys perform well in the heat, and there's not much to separate them. If you have the money, I'd suggest picking the Flyweight for casual riding and the Aero for racing and fast riding.
Want to go faster? Rapha's revised Aero Jersey might help you, but at a cost...
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Aero Jersey
Size tested: Small
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 says: "Developed using wind-tunnel sessions with professional riders and then ridden to victory at the world's greatest races, the Pro Team Aero Jersey is the most aerodynamic cycling jersey Rapha has ever made. With an aggressive 'aero fit' suited to racing in the drops, this jersey is designed for high speed training and competing in warm to hot conditions. Upgraded features for 2017 include a high-stretch woven mesh fabric (same as the Pro Team Long Sleeve Aero Jersey) that offers a more comfortable fit on the arms than the 2016 version, a VISLON® zip that is easier to use with one hand and a smartly gusseted triple rear pocket construction that expands to store more ride essentials. A reflective piping is included on the rear, as is a breathable mesh panel under the pockets to help with airflow and temperature regulation.
"Rapha worked with a world-leading aerodynamicist in early 2016 to ensure the fast performance of the jersey. The front and back fabric is smooth and dense to help improve airflow, while longer short sleeves made of the textured mesh fabric create 'turbulent flow'. This breaks up the air where the arms encounter wind resistance, thus enabling more efficient motion. Offset seam positioning and minimal pattern pieces reduce drag further, as does a close fit. This cycling jersey represents the leading edge of Rapha's performance technology, and the beautiful science of speed."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rapha lists these features:
Jersey weight: 127 grams (size medium)
High-stretch, smooth performance fabric on body
Aerodynamic stretch textured sleeves for speed and comfort
Triple rear pocket with smart gusseted stitching for greater storage space
Mesh panel inside rear pockets for improved ventilation
VISLON® zip for smooth glide and easy one-handed operation
Aggressive, race-ready 'aero fit'
Close-cut race fit collar
Offset seams placed at back of jersey to reduce drag
Reflective piping on rear pocket
Large rubber print Rapha logo on left arm
There are more affordable aero jersey options available...
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Even this light blue is easy to look after, it doesn't mark easily and goes through a regular wash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Feels and looks fast!
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's comfortable despite the close fit, and if you feel fast then you'll be faster, right?
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Long sleeves mess up your tan lines...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Aero jerseys aren't for everyone, but if you value speed and want to reduce your drag, the Rapha Aero Jersey is a very good option.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.