Though Rapha says this jacket isn't designed for heavy rain, we found it was effective even after over 90 minutes of downpour. The fabric is breathable too, and the overall package is lightweight - the only downside really is the price.
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I’ve been unlucky enough to be caught out riding in the rain on more occasions than I'd have liked in the last two months. Of course as the fair weather cyclist I’ve now grown to be, this wasn’t by choice, but it did give me a chance to test the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow Jacket.
On one of these wet weather occasions, in Mallorca while at the Rapha Cycling Club Summit, I actually forgot to take the Shadow jacket with me. Well I say forgot, but really I stubbornly refused to believe it would actually rain. Luckily people are really nice, and I was able to hide my shame by borrowing another Shadow jacket to get me through the wind and rain to the end of the ride.
Although Rapha says this garment is not completely waterproof for heavy rain conditions (more suited to showers), I actually think this is one of the best jackets I’ve used in some time.
The Shadow fabric is a proprietary material to Rapha, it is twice dipped in a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment. On the four times I’ve used this in medium to heavy downpours, it’s performed excellently, keeping my top half completely dry. Even after over 90 minutes in the rain, the jacket still held its own.
Previous jackets I’ve used that are treated with a DWR finish have eventually deteriorated in performance over time, so it will be interesting to see if the Shadow jacket retains it’s level over the next few months of regular use.
One of the criticisms of the earlier iterations of Shadow fabric was the breathability, but the material here is very thin without feeling too fragile. I can’t recall testing a jacket that's been able to rival the breathability on offer here.
I’ve also worn this on a couple of occasions just to act as a wind blocker as part of my winter outfit, and I can see this performing well for long descents when riding in the mountains.
The fit is certainly race cut, which I like, with a little billowing in the arms though a good fit around the torso. Being thin and extremely light, it’s also great for packing away into a jersey pocket.
The jacket also includes front and back reflective areas for visibility, which is a useful addition.
Like many of its jackets and gilets, Rapha has included a two-way zip on here that allows for easy access to jersey pockets. It’s a nice touch and is useful, but I’ve found here and on previous gilets that it can be quite fiddly and I have ended up breaking them in the past.
Of course, there’s no ignoring the price of the jacket; at £195 this is a big investment for most cyclists. But it is performance orientated and has proven itself to be an excellent piece of kit in the wind and rain.
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Follow on Twitter: @richwindy
Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.
An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).
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