Quite a niche bit of clothing this. The Rapha Pro Team Cross Jersey is a lightweight performance cycling jersey designed for elite-level cross racing and high-tempo training. Blimey, quite specific then. We'll get to that later, but let's run through what it has to offer first.
Quite a nice bit of clothing this. The Pro Team Cross jersey is made from a lightweight high-stretch high-wicking fabric milled exclusively for Rapha in Italy.
As their description suggests, Rapha expect you to be working hard in this jersey. The side panels are mesh as is the section of material behind and below the pockets, and so are the cuffs in the on-trend extended sleeves. The collar is cut low to ease heat expulsion with just the rear section being Lycra, the rest being lightweight mesh again, the hidden front zip is a venting full length with a baffle on the inside.
There are your usual three rear pockets so the jersey can be used to store stuff for the high tempo training part of the jersey's brief. For racing the right hand pocket has a internal zipped security pocket for keys, money and suchlike so you can get a cup of tea - sorry, this is Rapha: a skinny latte and bruschetta on the way back to the car.
The central pocket has a thick elasticated loop of just the right size to hold a mini-pump in place while the left-hand pocket has one of those little inspirational stories Rapha like so much printed inside.
There's more attention to detail in the 'Rapha' embossed hem which is only elasticated and silicone gripped on the rear half, a feature more useful than the name label on the inside for 'team laundry use'. And there's a little tab on the side by the rear pocket with 'Kings Of Fury' embossed on it that relates to the story in the pocket. Yup.
The Rapha-Focus candy-stripe team colours are certainly individual and get comments from both riding companions and bus-queues in equal measure.
Slip the jersey on and you'll quickly discover that the cut is unashamedly Pro, very figure hugging and somewhat slinky, it's definitely a slim jersey for the racer in the single figures of body fat as there's no room in there for any off-season indulgencies.
The material is extremely lightweight and with its mix of 'Denier gradient' construction, hydrophilic treatment and Coldblack technology it works well at high revs, not getting overloaded and heavy with sweat when the body is working at its maximum, be that suffering in a race or the self-induced pain of hard training.
You don't want to take too much stuff with you when you're training though as the jersey material is so lightweight the pockets don't take kindly to being overloaded with spare kit tending to bounce and flop around annoyingly if heavily laden.
It's a bit of a shame really as the Pro Team Cross Jersey is so nice and fits so well it deserves to be worn all day and the lightweight fabric and long zip would make it a great Summer jersey but as the gossamer material doesn't cope too well with the of weight of tubes and food and random personal effects you might usually take with you it's not suited to long rides.
Best suited, then, for just the front-door key and the small bag of MTFU you need for the hour of intervals and Sunday pain.
The Rapha Pro Team Cross Jersey is a lovely lovely lovely beautiful gorgeous jersey. The fit is beautiful and the lightweight fabric is touch-myself sensual. And I like the candystripe pattern.
Whether you need to spend this much on a jersey for just training or getting muddy, especially when there's not too many 'cross races you might want to do in short sleeves, makes the jersey tricky to justif. Instead, you'd probably just pull out the club top or the tatty old faithful jersey that cost you £20 ten years ago.
If the pockets were more sturdy and could cope with more ride luggage then I would happily extend the Cross Jersey's use into a sweet ice-cream looking summer garment. That would certainly help with rationalizing the price, but the shimmying pockets limit its use to just short paraphernalia-light runs even then.
Beautiful, slinky fit and fabrics, but so fanatically purpose-specific that you can't use it for much else, which makes the price hard to justify.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Cross Jersey
Size tested: Multicolour - L
Rapha's Pro Team Cross Jersey is a performance cyclocross jersey for high-tempo riding and racing. Developed in close collaboration with the Rapha-Focus cross team pros, the jersey is made from a high-wicking technical fabric milled exclusively for Rapha in Italy. The jersey is lightweight and has a streamlined fit for high-intensity cross racing and training. The Rapha-Focus candystripe livery features on the front and back. For added breathability the cuffs, collar and lower pocket panel use a mesh fabric.
Yeah, it's all that, light, tight and works well at your limit.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Main fabric: 81% polyester / 19% PU, side mesh: 83% polyester / 17% Elastane, back mesh: 51% polyester / 49% PBT.
A high-stretch fabric with 'Denier gradient' construction for exceptional wicking, hydrophilic permanent treatment to enhance moisture transfer and Coldblack® technology for extra cooling. Permanent treatment to prevent build up of bacteria. The jersey has a streamlined race fit with low cut collar and high stretch cuffs for comfort, three durable rear pockets plus internal zipped valuables pocket. Front hem bonded for comfort with additional stitching for strength and bonded seams at shoulders. Mesh side-panels and cuffs for additional breathability and full-length zip.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Rapha Pro Team Cross Jersey has the rather specific role of elite-level cross racing and high-tempo training, and it does those things excellently. The fit is spray-on and it performs incredibly well under sweaty pressure. Whether you need to spend so much money on a jersey to do those specific things is obviously a point of discussion.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The cut and fit, the wicking and breathability, all the pretty colours.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price, and the pockets get pretty waggy if filled with the usual ride kerfuffle.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, gorgeous bit of kit.
Would you consider buying the product? I'd love to be able to afford it, and justify it, but no.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd tell them how lovely it was and let them make up their own mind as to whether it was worth it.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.