If racing is the aim, you can't go wrong with a jersey that was designed for the pros in mind and then used by them. A compressive fit that immediately puts you in a fast frame of mind, it's a great jersey to have in the wardrobe for when every second matters.
Great compressive fit
Sweat marks do show
I spend most of my time watching and writing about the pros who go oh so very fast while I wistfully dream that only I could match their speed and talent on a bike.
The Rapha pro team aero jersey doesn’t give me an extra few dozen watts, and nor does it notch my average speed on hillier days up past 30kmh (the aerodynamic advantages aren’t that magical), but it does make me feel and look fast, and almost as if I belong in a fast group. Well, at least that’s how my ego was deceiving me when coasting along wearing the jersey.
A popular piece of clothing from the British brand for a number of years, the latest iteration is much the same of what has come before: a smooth front panel to reduce air resistance, and a textured back panel to reduce the overall drag. The sleeves, meanwhile, are longer than your standard jersey, cutting sharply off at the elbow (personally, I rolled these up almost always) in the aid of yet further aero gains, while the three pockets at the back are sizeable enough to accommodate most items for an all-day outing. There’s no logo on the front, but Rapha is spelled out in large, bold letters down each side. It’s big, but it’s not in-the-face offensive.
It’s what various pros teams have been using for years - EF Education-Easy Post being the current men’s WorldTour team whose own aero jersey is designed off this one. It’s therefore as good as you’d expect it to be.
It’s nigh on impossible to measure any aero advantages out on the open road, but whether placebo or not, I did feel faster. I ought to have been, really, for even the small size that I wore fit snugly against me like a piece of cling film. Not any of the cheap supermarket plastic, though: a breathable, compressive fabric, divided up as 86% polyester and 14% elastane. It holds its form very well together, the zip only ever wanting to be forced down when the pockets were overloaded; otherwise, it stays in shape exactly where wanted to, the hem gripping at the hip, and the sleeve never rolling up (unless I did that purposefully).
Two criticisms that can be levelled against the jersey is its use in super-hot days. Rapha hint about this, suggesting its use is best in mild to warm conditions, and it was true that on one 34 degree day in the Pyrenees, while the performance didn’t subside, my sweat marks became ever clearer by the minute. Only a quick afternoon shower removed all evidence.
The other point that cannot be ignored is the price: at £155, it’s not cheap. In fact, it’s pretty extortionate. But you know what you’re getting when you’re in the market for an aero jersey: a high performance garment that may not necessarily be a million miles better than other rivals offerings, but it certainly makes you look and feel faster - and more aero - than ever before.
Colours: Deep green, black, bright orange, peach, mustard
Sizes: XS - XXL
Website: Rapha.cc (opens in new tab)
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Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.
Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.
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