Rapha has today announced its new Aero clothing range which is designed to help the EF Education First Pro Cycling and Canyon//SRAM teams to win on the biggest stage, which for the former team is this weekend with the Giro d’Italia. The range includes new jerseys and skinsuits for men and women.
It’s all about aero in the pro peloton these days and nowhere have we seen this influence more than in the design of clothing. We’ve come a long way from the wool jerseys of yesteryear, today it’s something of an aerodynamic arms race with many clothing brands utilising the sort of tech previously used to designed frames and wheels. It makes sense when you consider the rider causes 80% of the drag and every other tech stone has been overturned by the rider and team engaged in gaining even the smallest advantage over their rivals.
Rapha has revamped its Aero jerseys and skinsuits in its Pro Team and Souplesse ranges, taking everything it has learned over the years from the wind tunnel to stage races and one-day classics. The changes include a dual-fabric construction combining smooth fabrics at the leading edges and textured fabric at the trailing edges, which apparently “directs air away from the rider to create a low-pressure environment” says Rapha.
Addition textured woven fabric is employed on the back of the sleeves with “umbrella-shaped indents” that apparently also help reduce drag, we assume in the same way that dimples on a Zipp wheel or golf ball create a thin turbulent boundary layer of air to decrease messy air in the wake. The entire back panel meanwhile is made from a “super smooth fabric” with a directional nap (the vertical pile of a fabric that is raised from the surface) that is intended to help air flow smoothly without causing drag. The seams around the shoulder and sleeves are bonded to help reduce drag compared to regular stitched seams.
Rounding out the details is a lockable front zip, raised rubber logo on the sleeve and back pocket, a zipped valuables pocket and three regular sized pockets, lined with mesh to provide better ventilation.
The Pro Team Aero Jersey (£145-150) comes in a range of colours including replica EF Education First colours and a choice of short or long sleeves. There’s also the Souplesse Aero jersey (£130-140) for women in a choice of colours and short or long sleeve
The Pro Team Aerosuit (£230) takes all the same features from the Pro Team Aero Jersey and combines it with a bib short with raw cut leg hems and two-way front zip.
The Women’s Souplesse Aerosuit is new and has already been ridden to success by the Canyon//SRAM pro team in the Team Time Trial Championships last year, where the suit was finally tested. It’s based on the fundamental design as the men’s Aerosuit with smooth fabrics on the front-facing panels and textured fabric at the trailing edges to manage the airflow over the body. There’s a redesigned padded insert that has been “moulded for comfort on the rivet” and the same bonded seams and directional nap back panel fabric.
To match the jerseys are the Pro Team Bib Shorts II (£195) for men with a dual-density size-specific Pro Team chamois and lightweight fast-drying short fabric, and for women the new Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts (£195). These have bib straps that can be detached via a magnetic clasp to allow easier and speedier comfort breaks, a brand new chamois with a moulded and seamless design and a soft compression fabric with minimal seam construction.
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.