Rapha Pro Team Training tights leave us questioning why more cycling brands' tights aren't this sustainable
Sustainable performance wear really exists and these tights prove it
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Made to one of the highest sustainability standards, the Rapha Pro Team Training tights are a high end pair of tights without compromises, and leave us wondering why others aren't able to meet the same standards. They balance the early season lower temperatures well, offering a transition option between shorts and legs to full on deep winter tights, without over constriction. Pro by name and nature, they are best suited to riders looking for training at mid to higher tempos over all day steady days in the saddle, despite what the marketing says.
Close fit without constriction
Great option for autumn and spring
Deal well with wind
Slimline and low profile padding
Price compared to other bib tight options
Three colour options
Don't expect all day comfort, unless you are a pro level rider
Ankles have a tendency to ride up a little
No water repellence
Minimal reflective detailing compared to other Rapha tight options
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It's been a hot minute since we've seen a pair of black bib tights. The market is so crowded, how do you stand out and get noticed?
Creating a pair of the best cycling bib tights (opens in new tab) is getting harder and harder, but so is consumer demand to have exceptionally performing apparel that doesn't cost the earth.
Having just been named on the Laureus Sport for Good Index, a list of brands that are deemed as having a meaningful societal impact on the sport industry, it's no wonder that Rapha is the brand to create a pair bib tights that stand out from the masses.
Rapha Pro Team Training tights: Recycled fabrics
Of course the big story with the Rapha Pro Team Training tights is that they are made from recycled fabric. The brand did initially state that they were 100 percent recycled Nylon and Elastane.
I reached out to query this, knowing that it would be unprecedented, and Rapha has admitted that this isn't quite correct and that there is a panel in the upper of the tights is not recycled elastane.
However, don't let that dissuade you from reading further. It's important to take some time to appreciate the work that Rapha has been putting in behind the scenes to get to this place.
A quick click through to the brand's Impact and Sustainability section on the website and you now see why Rapha is gaining accolade for it's work on behavioural change as a force for good. It's commitment to climate change is indeed transparent, measurable, with milestones and covers the whole life cycle of it's cycling garments and products.
You can read all about what Rapha's committed to sustainability (opens in new tab) really means on it's website, but it's vital to appreciate the difference between brands who are truly committed to the agenda, and not to get caught out, as I have been in the past by an arbitrary use of the words "made from 100% recycled fabric", which aren't always as green as we initially thought.
Rapha Pro Team Training tights: Construction
Sustainability lesson over, lets get down to how the Rapha Pro Team Training tights are put together.
Since we last saw these tights way back in 2016, they've had quite an overhaul.
Still aimed at cool or mildish riding conditions, the fabric has been totally upgraded, as discussed in the sustainability section above.
The multiple leg panels are all made from a mid-weight nylon, which is known for it's sweat wicking properties, but this iteration of the Pro Team Training tights does away with dual fabric use, and with this the water repellence that the older version had on the front.
This does however mean that the overall weight for a men's size medium comes in at 223 grams.
The tights continue high up the back, before meeting a wide 'Power mesh' panel which forms the back of the bib aspect of the tights, which the brand say helps aid temperature regulation.
The mesh transitions into the two over shoulder straps via a recently redesigned Y panel. It's very different from the Rapha Classic Winter tights bib design, which comes all the way up like a vest. It'll probably come down to personal preference for what design you prefer, but best to not have any surprises if you are expecting a similar fit.
At the other end of the tights, the legs are finished with a wide elastane cuff, which have been added to help secure the tights in place around the ankles.
In the middle is a size and gender specific Pro Team chamois pad designed specifically for 'training' .
It begs the question as to how the brand has defined 'training' generally in the naming convention of this range.
Rapha told us that the tights are more for training miles, so the pad has a little more comfort built in and the overall design is more relaxed for longer rides when compared to the brand's top racing kit, which have more aero and compression benefits.
Looks wise, the Pro Team Training tights are more muted than some of the Rapha ranges, including the aforementioned Classic Winter tights.
Outside of the tights are subtle in their branding, doing away with the white decals or leg panel that can be a tell-tale sign of a wearer, in favour of a matt, but reflective 'RAPHA' down the right leg.
This will probably broaden the tights appeal to riders who prefer the 'less is more' position when it comes to branding of cycling gear. However for anyone still wanting to stand out, you can opt for the burgundy colourway over black or navy options.
It's worth mentioned here that while the tights come in both male and female specific fits, the test pair we had were men's.
Rapha Pro Team Training tights: The ride
The fit of the Riding Rapha Pro Team Training tights is, despite what the brand say, certainly what we would deem as race, with a compressive, but not constrictive leg wrapping feel.
There's a good balance between bib and legs, with a close fitting front and back preventing any drafty gaps when riding with a jersey slightly open.
The front of the tights provides a perfect height finish, one which prevents protruding stomachs, while being a realistic about mid ride comfort brakes.
The legs themselves provided a good length for the 5"9 / 174.5cm rider with 31.3inch/ 79.7cm inside leg measurement. They didn't suffer from behind knee bunching, which can happen when the leg length is too long.
Rapha has almost managed to get the fit around ankles spot on, a tricky task when doing away with zips. However, they did ride up a little. It'll be less noticeable if you've got overshoes on, but did mean a bit of rider readjustment if riding just with shoes and socks.
Riding the Rapha Pro Team Training tights in mid autumn felt about right, due to the thinner weave of fabric than you would expect on typical winter bib tights.
It's naming convention seems obvious, but you really do need to pay attention to the 'Pro Training' aspect. For your average rider you'll have to think carefully about the exact riding you pull these on for.
If you run hot, and train with a level of urgency, then you should get away with these down to just below 10 degrees. They're ideal for the exchange period post shorts and legs. If your training is all about getting the miles in over speed, then you'll need to edge closer to 15 degrees Celsius.
They aren't insulated, nor do they offer water repellence, but they do take the edge of a cool breeze trying to cut its way through you.
Finding them the only thing you've packed for an unexpectedly mild autumnal trip to Tuscany however, and you will find them too warm, especially on the climbs. Swap geographical location to the more northerly latitude of the western edge of the Peak District between late autumn and early November and you'll find Rapha Pro Team Training tights are bang on.
Rapha appear to have delivered the sweet-spot of temperature equilibrium, starting a ride a little nippy, before nicely warming up enough to not be cold or overheat when riding at a middle to upper tempo pace wise.
The other 'Pro Training' aspect to be aware of is that Pro Team chamois pad. When compared to the aforementioned Rapha Classic Winter Tights, the foam pad is super supple. Great for anyone who prefers the low profile, slimline feel under their backside, not so great for anyone looking for all day comfort cushioning.
Rapha Pro Team Training tights: Value
All in all the Rapha Pro Team Training tights do exactly as they are designed to do.
There's no denying that the retail price, which current sits at $250 / £180 is a lot, and they clearly aren't true winter options, but around $45/ £80 cheaper than the Rapha winter tights (which also aren't water resistant) they feel a good buy.
Looking across to other brands, such as the Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Bib Tights ($299.00 / £240.00), Castelli Sorpasso Ros Wind Bib Tights ($259.99 / £225.00), Le Col Hors Categorie Bib Tights ($290.00 / £250.00) the Rapha Pro Team Training tights pricing feels right.
Knowing however that these have been made to one of the best sustainability standards is the impressive aspect. It's a demonstration that creating high end clothing out of truly recycled fabrics, using ethical construction, packing and shipping methods can be done without compromises and leaves us thinking why on earth aren't other brands doing this. And that, surely, is the true value.
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Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest-serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011. She has covered all things technical for both print and digital over multiple seasons representing CW at spring Classics, and Grand Tours and all races in between.
Hannah was a successful road and track racer herself, competing in UCI races all over Europe as well as in China, Pakistan and New Zealand.
For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won a 24-hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas.
She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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