The Rapha Pro Team Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey could easily be called a jacket—it’s a capable top layer with a streamlined, race fit. Breathability is excellent, as is its ability to fend off snow, rain and mixed precipitation. The fit is snug—perhaps too snug for some—and the pockets are small and hard to reach. For the right rider, however, this is a workhorse performance piece.
Excellent breathability and windproofing
Very capable in wet weather
Rapha repair program
Pocket placement is poor; pockets are too tight
Fit is constraining, may require sizing up
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The United States Postal Service has a famous motto: 'Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.'
Were the postal service seeking recommendations for outerwear, I would point them in the direction of the Rapha Pro Team Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey as a top performer in nearly all of these conditions, not to mention the addition of the aerodynamic benefits of a close-fitting garment. Think of the improvements in efficiency!
Versatility is the name of the game here: it is a streamlined jersey that will keep you comfortable in changeable conditions. There is also the option, depending on which color you choose, to be highly visible in the “gloom of night.”
That said, there are a few things that don’t work as well as they ought to. The pockets are very tight and their high placement makes them inadequate for carrying bulky wintertime necessities like extra layers and food. The fit is also quite snug. For some, this tight fit will be welcome—it is a jersey after all—though I suspect many riders will wish to size up to allow for some additional protection as well as room for layering underneath.
Per the name, Rapha utilizes Gore-Tex’s Infinium Windstopper for this piece. This is the same material used in the highly popular Castelli’s Perfetto Jersey (formerly known as the Gabba), which is both breathable and fully windproof.
Making clothing that performs in the worst possible conditions has been something of Gore-Tex’s calling card—Infinium doesn’t use a waterproof membrane like many other Gore-Tex products, but since the outer material is treated with a water repellent finish (DWR) it does offer a very good degree of water protection.
It’s a surprisingly thin and lightweight material and when it isn’t paired with a backing material - as seen in the armpits and lower portion of the front and side panels of this jersey—it’s very stretchy. Seams are taped and the dropped tail has a generous grip strip.
Some other well-thought out design elements include cuffs that are finished with a fairly deep elastic sleeve, akin to a bibshort elastic gripper, which is very good for keeping cold air out. The zipper is solid—a large gauge that doesn’t bind and moves easily, though a two-way zipper could have been a nice addition here.
There are several reflective details—the signature stripe on the upper left arm is reflective as is the logo on the dropped hem. There are also reflective accents on the shoulders and across the lower torso. As this jersey is designed for low light winter conditions, visibility is critical.
As previously mentioned, the USPS will deliver the mail in any conditions, no matter the weather. Things can feel similar for a gear tester—out in the elements day after day, regardless of the forecast. In testing the Rapha Pro Team Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey I was subjected to wind, rain, snow, sleet, and, fleetingly, sunshine. More or less business as usual for winter here in the Pacific Northwest.
I found the jersey to be up to the task of protecting me from the elements, and it performed at its best during high-tempo rides where the temperature and conditions fluctuated as I gained and lost elevation. Under harder efforts the material of the jacket moved well with me and I appreciated the sleek fit. It does have some built in stretch but can feel somewhat constraining when you first put it on or if you’re trying to wear more than a baselayer underneath. It is not a piece for moderate tempo riding.
Once, memorably, I got home after a particularly wet hour and a half ride with soaked socks and a face frozen by windchill and as I removed the Infinium jersey realized that my baselayer was completely bone dry, even in the upper back where sweat tends to linger. Very few jackets breathe this well. On the other end of the spectrum I was comfortable riding in the upper 40s/lower 50s Fahrenheit—nearly wind-jacket or vest conditions—when pairing it with a summer-weight baselayer.
The pockets are perhaps the biggest let down of the entire garment—they are positioned high and are extremely tight. The middle pocket is nearly unusable—too hard to reach while riding and so compressive that larger items will dig into your back. Typically I like to use the middle pocket on a jersey or jacket for storing bulky items so that the mass is centered on my back: gloves or a hat removed partway through a ride, for example, but this doesn’t work while wearing this piece.
The lack of pocket access may not be an issue for some—specifically those being handed food from a team car, or for riders who prefer to carry extra food and clothing in a frame or bar-mounted bag. As for the fit feeling constraining—this can be alleviated for most by choosing a larger than typical size off the rack.
I chose the light yellow/green color as I wanted to be as visible as possible in the dark winters here but was somewhat concerned about staining due to road spray. Thus far it has held up well, provided it gets washed promptly after muddy rides. The other color options should do even better in this regard, as they are much darker.
Lastly, it would be nice to see some recycled materials present.
Value and conclusion
Priced at $290.00 / £215.00, this is a very expensive jersey, but one featuring premium design elements and a name brand material in Gore-Tex’s Infinium.
Gore makes an insulated version with similar materials for $220.00, but a more reasonable comparison might be against Castelli’s Perfetto RoS Long Sleeve at $249.99 / £220.00 as a true performance garment. As with many Rapha pieces, you might pay a little more, but if you like the aesthetics then it’s worth the difference. There’s also the Rapha repair service—in the event of crash damage Rapha will repair the garment free of charge.
If you’re out on the bike in all conditions, then a top layer that fits you well and keeps you warm and dry is a valuable thing. I think this jersey could be elevated further by making a few minor concessions to the fact that it will be worn like a jacket—a two way zipper, more usable pockets—which would bring it closer to 5 stars.
Price: $290, £215.00
Weight: 220 grams (size small)
Colors: Black, Lime Green, Dark Red
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