Rapha's new Pro Team jacket is slim-cut using windproof, softshell panels and it's a lightweight option for off-season training.
Rapha reckon the Pro Team jacket is designed for "high-tempo interval training in cold weather", which is pretty specific as applications go. I'd say it's suitable for all sorts of high-intensity riding in the winter, and for steadier stuff when the temperature is a little warmer. You probably wouldn't wear it for long, low intensity rides in the coldest weather; you'll want something with more insulation for that but, to give you an indication, I'm just back from a steady ride in 9°C and wore this on top of a light base and a long sleeved mid-layer and I was very comfortable.
The most exposed panels – the front of the body and the leading sections of the arms – are made from a windproof Polartec softshell fabric (70% polyester, 30% nylon) that's exclusive to Rapha. It's a very lightweight material, considerably less bulky than other softshell fabrics I've used in the past. It still does a great job of stopping cold air getting in, while the fleecy inner face traps warmth and feels as comfortable as a jersey material.
Those panels come with a water-repellent treatment that encourages rain and spray to bead up and run off. This isn't a waterproof jacket but I was surprised at how well the most exposed areas keep spray and light rain out. You'll need to pack a waterproof in a rear pocket just in case, but you won't need to sling it on unless you're caught in a proper shower.
The underside of the arms, the side panels and the rear – the less exposed areas – are Super-Roubaix (85% polyamide/nylon, 15% elastane) so they don't block the wind but they're more breathable.
The Pro Team comes in a performance cut. It's definitely a sporty number so it's slim width-wise and fairly short at the front. Being tall and skinny, that meant I had a bit of midriff exposure when I was standing upright, but there wasn't a lot of bunching when I was leaning forward in the saddle, which is a sound payoff. I can't stand loads of unneeded fabric flapping around.
There's not a lot of stretch in the Polartec fabric but there's plenty in the Super-Roubaix, so even if you're not especially slim you could still get a decent fit. It's similar on the arms; there's enough give in the underside panel to avoid tightness.
Rapha do the details well. The front zip is from YKK and the easy-to-grab puller locks in place wherever you put it. A flap behind the zip prevents any cold air blowing through and a chinguard keeps everything comfortable up top and as you can see, the zip sits off to one side so the top never sits right underneath your chin anyway.
There's no waist adjustment but the chances are that you'll get a close fit without, and a silicone gripper inside the waistband does a reasonable job of holding the tail in place to prevent lower-back draughts. Stretchy Roubaix cuffs avoid any chills around your wrists.
The Pro Team comes with three pockets in the lower back, the fabric reinforced back there for extra strength. One of the pockets comes with a loop inside for holding a pump and another has a zipped internal compartment for your valuables. Being made of Super Roubaix, the back can stretch down if you put too much in those pockets so it's best to travel light. You get a little zipped pocket on the hip too, made from the water-repellent fabric so it's a decent home for your mobile phone.
This black version might not be the most visible ever but, although they don't look it in daylight, the band on the left arm and various pieces of trim are reflective. If you want to be more conspicuous on the road, the jacket is also available in chartreuse: yes, chartreuse: a halfway house between green and yellow.
I've really enjoyed using this jacket. It doesn't have the warmth of some other winter jackets, but for its stated purpose – fast training sessions where you're going to be working hard – you can't argue with that. It's biggest draw is the fact that its so much more lightweight and slim-cut than most other jackets of this kind.
Winter training jacket with windproof and water-resistant panels; slim cut and very high quality
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Jacket
Size tested: Black, Large
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?
Here's what Rapha say, 'The Pro Team Jacket is designed for high-tempo interval training in cold weather. When you are riding on the limit in low temperatures, breathability and protection from the elements is essential. Using an innovative windproof Polartec softshell with a perforated membrane and water-repellent treatment on the leading panels, the rear panels are made using Super-Roubaix for insulation and wicking where it matters. The jacket has a higher-cut waist at the front and lower hem at the back for an aero fit, while the high collar offers greater protection in cold and wet conditions.
Scientific research shows the Chartreuse colourway offers exceptional visibility in low light. Though not technically fluorescent, studies have found that the rods in the retina the part of the eye that work best in low light are particularly receptive to the yellow/green colour. As a result, chartreuse is increasingly used around the world for emergency vehicles.
Polartec softshell membrane on chest, shoulders and arms (exclusive to Rapha).
Super-Roubaix rear and underarm panels
Race fit with side panels
Reflective armband and trims
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Superbly made from excellent fabrics with some really neat little details
The build quality bodes well for the long-term durability although the fabrics themselves are no tougher than many others out there.
It's lighter and less bulky that other jackets I have that provide a similar level of warmth.
£190 is a lot to pay for a bike jacket, of course, but you're getting high quality materials and excellent manufacturing here. Rapha will tell us it's a bargain considering the amount of work that's gone into it; people on the road.cc forum will say it's a rip off. Ya, boo, sucks to the lot of you.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed. It does exactly what it's supposed to.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The light weight, the slim cut, the style.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The rear stretched a bit more than most when the pockets were heavily loaded.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
You could get almost two of these for the cost of the Assos IJ.bonKa at a cool £350 although fair dos they must have hired in some top talent to come up with that name...
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
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: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven 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.