Rapha's race-inspired Pro Team range continues to expand. This season it has added this new Flyweight jersey, which uses a lighter and more breathable fabric to provide superb cooling on very hot rides.
The Flyweight joins the Lightweight jersey, already a part of the Pro Team collection, and a new Midweight model, providing you with even more opportunity to tailor your clothing to match the conditions.
The Flyweight is the lightest in the range and is designed for the hottest weather. The first thing you notice about it is its weight – or lack of. It's seriously light, although even at 104g it's still giving away 7g to the same sized Sportful R&D Cima jersey (review to come).
Ignoring that, this is still one very light jersey, and almost disappears once you pull it on. The superb panel shaping and fabric stretch contribute to the great fit. Rapha has been really finessing the Pro Team jerseys since they first launched a handful of years ago, and I have to say they are about as good as it currently gets.
Rapha has cut the weight down by using a very thin 75gsm (grams per square metre) polyester fabric for the front-facing panels. It feels startlingly thin between the fingers and has a nice degree of stretch, which serves to enhance the fit. The jersey is constructed using bonded hems and folded sleeves and the number of seams has been reduced to a minimum.
To enhance the performance of the jersey in hot weather, there are perforated holes under the arms to improve ventilation and a panel of mesh fabric underneath the rear pockets. A full-length Vislon zipper obviously provides the option for extra ventilation and it works smoothly and easily with one hand.
Despite the lightness of the jersey, the three generously sized pockets can be loaded up with enough food for a long ride without the back of the jersey drooping down over your bum. They're reinforced on the inside for good measure too. The waistband has a thin film of silicone tape to help it stay in place.
Rapha has conceded a little weight penalty in the form of a side zipped pocket, which is an ideal place to safely store keys and money. It's a small sacrifice to the weight weenie gods that I'm happy to make.
The black jersey looks sleek and everyone knows black is a flattering colour, but if you're worried about visibility be minded that there are reflective details on the back. Grey, light blue and orange versions are also available if you want a brighter colour, and the size range covers XS to XXL.
The jersey's performance in hot weather is very impressive. It feels cooler than the regular Pro Team jersey, less stifling on long, draggy climbs when sweat is beading on your forehead. The breathability of the fabric and those perforated underarms do help reduce heat build-up, leading to a more comfortable ride when the mercury rises.
On cooler rides you can feel the chill a little more than the regular Pro Team jersey, which is to be expected, so a lightweight gilet is useful when the weather forecast isn't as hot as you'd like.
Fit and shape are excellent, and as with all Pro Team clothing it's cut on the slim side and works best when hunched over the handlebar. It's not as restrictive a fit as some other very lightweight race jerseys I've tested, but it's still a jersey for riding rather than sitting around in cafes.
It's not an aero jersey, but there's no excess fabric to flap in the wind, and the figure-hugging fit likely enhances its aero credentials. The sleeves are fashionably long and sit comfortably on the arms with a stitched hem that isn't at all restrictive. The curved collar has a neat zip guard to cut out irritation of the puller against the neck.
In terms of value, it's hard to say £130 is 'good' for a jersey with a pretty limited range of use, but if you can afford it and you know you'll need it... You can always save a tenner by going for the Assos SS.equipeJersey_Evo8 but it's another 22g. Or there's Sportful's £95, 97g R&D Cima, which I've been seriously impressed with. (Full review will be up very soon.)
For coping with hot weather or long mountain climbs in sweltering heat, the new Pro Team Flyweight is an easy jersey to recommend. It might not have the all-round versatility of the regular Pro Team jersey, but if you want a top that will keep you cooler on the hottest days, it's well worth a look.
High-performance hot-weather jersey with a great fit, if not the absolute lightest in this lightweight category
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Flyweight Jersey
Size tested: Small, Black
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: "Rapha's short sleeve Pro Team cycling jerseys have been overhauled to offer three options according to the conditions you ride in. The Pro Team Flyweight Jersey is the lightest and coolest cycling jersey in the Pro Team collection. Made of extremely lightweight fabrics, including a 75gsm fabric on the front, the jersey is designed for training and racing in hot and humid conditions.
"The Pro Team fit suits an in-the-drops, on-bike position, while the look of the jersey maintains the Pro Team aesthetic: bonded hems, folded-in sleeves and fewer seams all work together to reduce bulk and improve performance in hot conditions. Pro Team products are the leading edge of Rapha's performance technology, developed and proven through four years of work with the world's best cyclists, Team Sky. Elite racewear, available to all."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rapha lists these features:
Extremely lightweight cycling jersey for hot to humid weather
Perforated holes under arms for ventilation
Triple rear pocket with smart gussets for extra storage
Mesh fabric under rear pockets for breathability
Pro Team 'convict stripes' on rear
Reflective piping on rear pocket
VISLON® zip for smooth glide and easy one-handed operation
Pro Team fit for an on-bike position
Perforated holes under arms for ventilation
Top notch quality as you'd hope for at this price.
It's excellent in warm and hot weather and keeps you cooler than most regular jerseys, especially ideal on long climbs.
It's well constructed and durability has shone through the testing period.
Rapha's Pro Team clothing is at the figure-hugging end of the scale, but it's well shaped and the stretch in the fabric ensures it fits well without being restrictive.
No issues with the sizing.
It's not the lightest, but it's still among the lightest of lightweight jerseys.
The fabric is nice next to the skin and the fit makes it a very comfortable jersey for long rides.
It provides good performance for the price, but there are cheaper and even lighter.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Black is an easy colour to look after.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps the heat down when riding in warm and hot weather.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit and very comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's 7g more than the Sportful R&D Cima jersey. Tsk.
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
This is a seriously good jersey for hot weather, and would score 9 overall but for the fact that you can go even lighter and cheaper.
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.