The Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket performs superbly in a wide range of temperatures. It doesn’t have the extreme weather protection of more technical jackets, but it is perfect for the majority of British winter not to mention the spring and the autumn with layering adjusted accordingly, and it's very competitively priced when considered alongside the market average for this level of performance.
High build quality
Cuffs could be stretchier
By Simon Smythe
The Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket is “a performance jacket for training and racing in cooler conditions, cut close for comfort at speed,” according to the British brand.
Rapha has carefully chosen the word “cooler” rather than “cold” because the Pro Team Winter Jacket is a little lighter than deep winter jackets such as the Assos Mille GT Ultraz Evo. Rapha says it’s to be layered up as second layer with a base layer underneath, or as a third layer with a base layer and jersey underneath.
In addition, Rapha doesn’t claim any water resistance or windproofing and the seams are not taped (although it does have a DWR coating).
However, not specialising in a particular type of extreme weather condition gives the Rapha jacket a greater versatility – it’s not unrealistic to say it could be worn three out of four seasons. In addition, the simpler construction and less technical spec means the Pro Team Winter jacket is very competitively priced, coming in comfortably under the £200 and undercutting the Assos Ultraz jacket (£290) as well as the windproof/waterproof Santini Vega Multi (£220).
Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket: construction
The front and leading edges use a denser fabric for weather protection, while the back is stretchier and more open for breathability. Both fabrics are fleece backed.
Thanks to the DWR coating it does have a degree of water resistance, but for a proper downpour you’d need a shell over the top.
The cut is short at the front and skinny round the middle – a classic pro fit that’s flattering and also works really well to avoid bunching when in the drops. The sleeves have plenty of length with no danger of the dreaded cuff-glove gap. The cuffs themselves could do with a little more stretch if we were being really picky. I would like a slightly better seal at the glove/sleeve interface.
The three pockets at the rear are nice and deep, with the zipped Nelson pocket at the front a stylish touch and big enough for a regular-sized phone (the women's version doesn't have this).
The classic Rapha armband, lettering and ‘Forçats de la Route’ stripes are all reflective, and it also comes in purple or green if you’re not keen on the black.
I found the size medium was a perfect fit for me (178cm, 69kg) – in fact, it’s the best-fitting winter jacket I’ve worn this year. Even the neck sizing is great – nice and snug for keeping out the draughts without being too tight.
Rapha calls it a ‘race fit’ and it’s definitely designed to be close fitting.
I’ve been really impressed with everything about the Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket. Following Rapha’s guidance and using it as a layer, it works very effectively. There’s enough insulation to trap in the heat at the beginning of a chilly ride but it’s breathable enough that it doesn’t get clammy once you warm up.
Rapha doesn’t specify a temperature range in its description, but I wore it with a long-sleeved base layer at -2°C with a windchill that made it feel like -5°C, according to Strava, and it was just warm enough. At the upper end, with a summer base layer I’d say 10°C or even slightly higher as long as you’re idling. So that’s a pretty broad temperature range. Probably the sweetspot is somewhere around 5°C or slightly higher.
The overall feel is of a high-quality garment, and although people are capable of making up their own minds, I would say it looks high quality too, and has the chic aesthetic Rapha is renowned for.
Build quality is also high – it’s very neatly stitched and feels robust enough to last a few seasons.
In our recent jackets grouptest in Cycling Weekly magazine, the Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket was the only one out of six jackets including Assos, Castelli, dhb, Giro, Santini to retail at under £200. Yes, it's still a premium product with a premium pricetag, but I wouldn’t hesitate to say it offers great value for money, both in terms of its own performance and compared to the price and performance of competitor jackets.
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 on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
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 Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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