The Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves are priced high but they're comfortable, stylish, low-bulk and perform exceptionally well at temperatures down to just above freezing – but don't confuse them with Rapha's much heavier Deep Winter Glove.
Grippy, unpadded palm
Good dexterity/lever feel
Shortish cuffs require long jacket sleeves
The Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves are not the warmest in the British brand’s range – that’s the Deep Winter Gloves, which are much bulkier. Rapha says the Pro Team Winter Gloves are designed for “early-season racing and high-tempo training rides” and as such are lightweight with minimal padding, focusing on windproofing and water resistance rather than thick insulation.
No temperature range is specified, but I found the Raphas were at their lower limit on a day when I was riding reasonably hard in a temperature of 3°C which felt like 0°C on account of a chilly north-easterly wind (according to Strava data).
Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves: construction
The backs are made from a windproof, DWR-coated (so also water resistant) stretchy fabric that has a ribbed fleece lining that's thicker than that of some other gloves that are aimed at cold but not freezing weather. As a result, the Raphas do feel warmer than some of their lightweight winter competitors such as the Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves (opens in new tab) and the Specialized Prime-Series Thermal Gloves (opens in new tab). They are also a few grams heavier than those two.
The palms are made from a synthetic suede, again generously fleece lined but with no extra padding, and nice and smooth on the insides compared to the Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves with their foam strip and gel pad. Rapha says this suede provides excellent grip in dry or wet conditions and that it is deliberately thin for better bar feel and control. This is an approach that works for me.
As is expected of a modern full-finger glove, the first finger and thumb get patches of a touchscreen-sensitive fabric that operates Garmins and phone touchscreens.
For the cuffs Rapha goes shorter than other brands, describing the Pro Team Winter Gloves’ cuffs as “low profile”. They are basically raw elastic and are much lower down the wrists than those of the Assosoires, but Rapha says it was going after “excellent integration with the sleeves of your jacket.” It’s jacket sleeves over gloves, no argument, so if that’s the way you do it – personally I do – then it works well as long as your jacket sleeves are long enough. I personally would prefer an inch or two more on the cuff just to make sure of it.
Rapha has sewn a pull tab with a reflective strip to the cuff, which is intended for helping remove the gloves. A tab sewn to the fingertips would be better for this purpose, but it’s a stylish touch nonetheless.
That’s not the only reflective: there’s a long strip up the outside of the little finger, very sensibly placed for arm-out signalling.
As for the fit, the medium came up slightly smaller than Assos and Specialized, which was perfect for me. I won’t go down the ‘fits like a glove’ route, but I found the fit great. If you’re between sizes I would recommend going for the bigger one. Rapha's size chart is basic but reasonably accurate, so size up rather than down.
I really liked the feel of the Rapha gloves, both on the hands and when gripping the bars. The plain, unpadded fleece inside the palms feels snug and there are no unwanted pads, strips or seams between palm and bar.
As I mentioned, they were just warm enough at 3°C with a northeasterly wind making it feel like zero, and I would wear them up into the high single digits but not beyond. Windproofing on the backs is very good, and there’s just enough insulation via the ribbed fleecy lining to trap heat, but they’re still lightweight, breathable and don’t get sweatlogged.
In rain, in common with other winter gloves with synthetic suede palms, the backs keep out the water – the Raphas have a DWR coating that makes raindrops bead off – but the palms absorb it, so as soon as the bars are wet, your hands are too.
To be fair, Rapha just claims water resistance rather than waterproofing for the backs.
The Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves didn't compromise dexterity – I had no problem doing all the more fiddly things – zips, helmet buckles, Boa dials, light switches, unwrapping an energy bar and fortunately no operating a smartphone touchscreen in the middle of nowhere, but I'm confident I wouldn't need to unglove for that, having pre-tested it on an iPhone screen in the warm.
The Rapha Pro Team Winter Gloves are priced high – higher than its premium counterparts the Assos Assosoires Winter Gloves (£75) and than the Castelli Perfetto RoS (£65). It goes without saying that you pay extra for the Rapha name and Pro Team designation, and these are without a doubt trophy gloves. However, Rapha has made some great design choices – they feel good, look good and perform as Rapha says they should, and apart from the high price and the cuff that could be on the low side for some, there's not much they can be criticised for. If you're a fan of Rapha gear, you like the distinctive look and feel and are happy to pay Rapha prices – as many people are – then you'll find these gloves are up to Rapha's usual high standard.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism.
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Mercian Classic fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
And the vital statistics:
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