Rapha Pro Team and Superlight Jerseys

Rapha Pro Team and Superlight Jerseys

Complaining about the weather in Southern California is ill-advised, the way complaining about the pickup in a BMW is. Bitching about premium can get you shivved faster than a prison riot. I know better than to do it for the simple reason that other places have real weather worth complaining about. So having made that admission, I’ll now offer that LA has had two recent heat waves. No, this isn’t Austin-style triple digits, but Redondo Beach did vault in the 90s for the first time in memory. It was humid, too, though certainly not bayou-humid.

It was just the sort of occasion that called for Rapha’s Pro Team Jersey and their Super Lightweight Jersey. My taste in jersey cuts runs to the pro-style fit—that is, form-fitting, waist-length and stretchy enough to allow unrestricted movement. I first got a taste of Rapha’s take on this style last year when I reviewed their Sky Team Kit and honestly, I secretly wished at the time that I had more jerseys cut like that one.

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With this sort of fit, you’ve got to be prepared to wear something that’s honest as a six-year-old. It won’t go witness protection on that last bottle of wine you drank, and going a size up won’t work, either. For the record, I wear a small in this jersey, the same size I wear in other Rapha jerseys.

Whereas their wool-blend jerseys are stout enough for changeable days, just the sort of jersey you’d complement with arm warmers, the Pro Team jersey doesn’t come out until summer has arrived, if not in date, then at least in conditions. They wick well if only because your perspiration has no place to go except to the surface. The material is so light that I wash these in sweater bags to reduce abuse. Reinforcing the jersey to prevent undue strain on the fabric are two seams that run the length of the back. As if these jersey didn’t breathe well enough just as is, mesh panels are used in the sides and sleeves to further increase wicking, while the full zip will serve on those broiling days.

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A jersey this light might be a cause for concern for your skin, but the material has received coldblack® treatment and earned a 50+ SPF rating. I have done six hours in the saddle under a brilliant sapphire sky and can report no pink on my back or shoulders upon returning home.

Such a minimalist cut did require a bit of additional sunscreen, though. The collar is nearly nonexistent, so I had to apply zinc oxide around my neck where I displayed white skin normally hidden by my jersey collar.

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Like other Rapha jerseys, this one has three pockets, plus a fourth, zippered security pocket, as well as a cable eyelet and retention loops. Retail on this jersey is $210; not cheap, but given some of what’s out there for $150, this jersey is worth it.

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For those of you in Tucson, Abu Dhabi or Hell’s Gate, Rapha also offers the Super Lightweight Jersey, an even lighter weight edition of the Pro Team jersey. I wish that I’d had this when I was in Jamaica. One of the first concerns with any ultra-lightweight garment is durability. Rapha took the step of reinforcing the pockets (which are cut on a slight angle for easier access) so that they would be effective enough to hold some food and a phone, though maybe not a third 24-oz. bottle. Like the Pro Team Jersey, two seams run the length of the back to reinforce the garment. And like the Pro Team jersey, the Superlight jersey does include a fourth, zippered pocket.

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The particular version of the Super Lightweight Jersey I’ve been wearing is the Pantani commemorative jersey. Compared to the Super Lightweight jersey, the Pantani jersey comes in pink with custom graphics and with a bandana in the style worn by il Pirata, whereas the standard Superlights come in their usual solid color with arm band. The price jumps from $160 to $210, and a portion of that increase is donated to the Pantani Foundation which Marco’s mother, Tonina, started after his death.

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The Pantani Foundation helps disadvantaged youth by introducing them to sports. We have an uneasy relationship with our fallen heroes and public sentiment has dictated that we still express outrage rather than nostalgia for the riders we once admired. Rather than attempt to glorify Pantani with the foundation and the jersey, my take is that this jersey is an opportunity to use Pantani’s tragic story to help kids who might otherwise lose their way. Knowing there would be some push back against such a project, Rapha posted a brief Q&A with Rapha CEO Simon Mottram addressing their reasons for undertaking the collaboration. I applaud them for both the jersey and the clear communication.

For those who would like to see kids with few opportunities find hope through sport, this jersey is a chance to help. Fortunately, those who like the functionality but can’t square themselves with any part of Pantani’s past can still get the excellent jersey and save $50. Something for everyone.

5 comments

  1. Champs

    For a time, I didn’t believe Rapha could be worth it. Then I saw it raced by pros, up close and personal, at a CX race. It was the perfect, seemingly tailored fit I couldn’t find anywhere, with the firm and even tension of a master-built wheel.

    I still don’t have the budget, and probably none of the physique to wear it anymore, but someday…

  2. Rick Adkins

    I bought one of the Team Sky pro jerseys on close-out last fall, and it is by far my favorite jersey. The fit is perfect, and it is amazingly comfortable. I don’t have the perfect physique for it either, but I still enjoy wearing it.

  3. LsB

    Just in time. I didn’t know Rapha made a super light. I’ve been intending to get the Craft Elite Mesh Superlight Jersey for the hot months, but I’ll take a look at the Rapha’s first. Rapha brand is ace.

  4. mark mahan

    It’s difficult justifying the money for Rapha kit but once you break the ice and start using their products, well, it’s hard going back. The Rapha jerseys I own are the ones I wear the most because they’re so comfortable and good looking. Their vest is one of the best pieces of cycle clothing I’ve ever used. I wait for sales and hope something in my size is left. Sometimes I spring for a full price item, knowing that I’ll get years of great service from it. When you get down to the details, the fact is that Rapha stuff lasts a long time and gives you real pleasure every time you use it. It does seem over priced though, despite the quality. I mean, they are using factories in the far East, something that I don’t believe the other high-end cycle clothing manufacturer is, Assos.

  5. Aar

    I received and rode in my first Rapha garment today – a superlight jersey. The product quality was thoroughly as expected. However, nitpicking because this price point demands it, I did experience a few disappointments. First, the fabric is a bit more translucent than that of a similar jersey, like, say, the Assos Uno jersey. Another disappointment is that the arm construction does not allow for proper shoulder motion. Every time I raised my arm to signal for a turn, the jersey rode up and needed to be pulled down. This may be related to my adult physique but my other jerseys that fit similarly at other times do not do this. The last challenge I have with this jersey is that as thin and see-through as the fabric is, it doesn’t breathe as well as other cycling fabrics I’ve used. Again, these are nits and may be specific to my shape, size and expectations.

    The fabric and sleeve cut issues aside, this is an excellent garment. The styling, overall fit, construction, finish and overall impression are absolutely top notch. It may seem to be a tiny thing but the zippers on this garment are outstanding! On hot days, I’m constantly adjusting my zipper. On a climb it’s down. On the front and downhill, it’s up to the neck. The zippers on the front and on the “key” pocket of this jersey slide so effortlessly that I almost didn’t notice them. For the first ride I can remember, I didn’t have a zipper deliver resistance that took extra effort to overcome. That is not just due to using an excellent zipper. In my experience, for a zipper to perform this well, the cut, design and construction need to be darn near perfect to get an effortless zipper pull. As my shape improves, hopefully, the riding up issue will resolve itself and I can overlook my nits about the fabric. If so, this could become one of my favorite jerseys!

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