Rapha Pro Team Flyweight Jersey and Pro Team Bib Shorts II Review
If you're reading our review of the Rapha Pro Team Flyweight Jersey and Pro Team II Bib Shorts, you'll be pleased to know that this kit is not just hype, but objectively some of the best stuff you can find in cycling apparel at any pricepoint. Just about anyone could objectively assume that. But what sets this bit of kit is that its excellence isn't due to a raft of marketing speak, nor is it due to proprietary technologies. Rather, the key here is the details, and this is where Rapha truly knocks it out of the park.
In this review, we'll cover the value of the Rapha Pro Team kit. In future reviews, we'll cover Rapha's new Core kit (Core Jersey and Core Bib Shorts) and offer up a direct comparison between the two.
Rapha Pro Team Flyweight Jersey
Typically, high-end jerseys tend to be lighter and airier but a load more fragile too. It is a tough tradeoff, particularly for me, as jerseys that are more able to withstand washes at the expense of a little bit of bulk are worth my while. How is the Rapha Pro Team Flyweight Jersey then in comparison? In a word, chill. Certainly looking at the jersey does not instill a sense of it being a “chill” jersey. Fit is skin-tight and racey. That starts with the cut, which sees the front of the jersey rise up toward the belly button. Less fabric used means fewer things to bunch up around the torso. Interestingly enough, there is no gel gripper up front, meaning that even as your jersey might naturally ride up, it’ll come back down. It is a nice touch and one that works well with a jersey as fitted like this.
The back of the jersey is home to four pockets: three standard pockets and a fourth zippered one on the right side. There’s almost no pocket sag, and having that zipper pocket is a nice touch of security. Pocket sag is often an issue with lightweight jerseys so it's nice to see I can load up my pockets without issue. The race cut continues up toward the shoulders, which are far more comfortable when you’re in an aggressive, attacking position than upright. The sleeves are on the longer end of the spectrum, though not as long as that of an aero jersey like Rapha’s Pro Team Aero Jersey. It leaves plenty of room to move the sleeves up if you need to carefully curate your hard-earned tan lines. The sleeves themselves are on the slimmer end, though the lankiest of riders might find them a touch loose. Rapha tends to nail the details and that remains the case here. The zipper works like a well-oiled machine - no lubrication necessary. Rapha has integrated mild reflective material in the Pro Team stripes, and there is a small bit of reflective piping just below the pockets too. The Pro Team stripes make an appearance at the bottom left of the zipper alongside a raise Rapha logo, both of which adding a bit of dimension to an otherwise stationary plane of fabric. The stripes on the back happen to be reflective too - again not necessary, but a nice way to add functionality to the jersey. Finally, there are a few easter eggs to be had: the inside zipper pocket has a small blurb about the Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and the inside of the jersey has a place for you to write your name. I fit neatly into a size extra-small, and at my size, there was no excess fabric one might have when in an aggressive, attacking position. There is some stretch to the fabric too, however, leading me to believe that there is room for those less svelte than I in this jersey. To be clear: it isn’t as restrictive as some of the raciest jerseys I’ve worn, but the Pro Team Flyweight does not fit all body types. Rapha's other's lines, including their Classic Jersey, Core Jersey, and Brevet Jersey offer a bit more room should that be the case.
Ventilation is a key attribute of any lightweight jersey, and the Pro Team Flyweight does not disappoint. Long, hot days in the saddle are still long and hot, and I likely would still be just as tired or sweaty in a thicker jersey. But the ventilation found here is impressive and better than just about any jersey I’ve tried. Lighter jerseys might ventilate better, but they often border on too thin after a few washes. They also don’t offer the SPF 40 protection that the back of the Pro Team Flyweight offers. Therein lies the chill of the jersey. In my experience, fabric that sits closer to the skin naturally pulls sweat away just a bit quicker. Further, a lighter fabric might saturate more quickly, but it can also allow moisture to evaporate just a bit faster too. So while race cut fit looks like serious business, not being weighed down with sweat after a hard effort means you’re feeling more air and maintaining that chill. The chill also comes in durability; while most lightweight jersey require a bit more attention and upkeep than a standard jersey, this feels just a bit more substantial.
Rapha Pro Team Bib Shorts II
What constitutes a good pair of bib shorts? People might have different answers, but the overarching response generally comes down to it being something they don’t need to think about. I certainly don’t have to think about the Rapha Pro Team Bib Shorts II when I use them, which to me is perhaps the highest praise I can give to it. The Pro Team Bib Shorts II a dual-density chamois with a structured feel that is firm around the sit bones and softer as you go out. Rapha claims it is size-specific, and being a Pro Team short, not for everyone. It is actually fairly thin, and a touch thinner than the likes of Assos or Giordana. That being said, I’ve ridden them on the same 2.5-hour loops as my worn-in Assos and Giordana bib and all three were plenty comfortable. Part of that has to do with chosen density, as the chamois places denser padding in key location, and complements it with slimmer padding where support isn't as important.
Moving outward, the bib themselves are compressive, as one would expect from a high-performance short. It is true to size, but there is less stretch than other brands we have here too. There are multiple panels, cut specifically to allow more stretch in some places than others. Details here are excellent, like the jersey. The straps here feature flat bonding to keep them low profile against slim fit jerseys. Higher up is a stretchy lightweight mesh that feels a bit old school, but does a good job of wicking sweat away. This area accomodates two small pockets on the lower back (beneath a jersey) for a small wallet or a bit of cash, and the bibs feature a spot to write your name and number, just like other pieces of Pro Team apparel. The seams, while on the chunky side, are unnoticeable on while riding. Finally, Rapha offers these bibs in two leg lengths to ensure you find the right fit. Pictured here is the standard leg length, which for me at 5'6" is about right.
While not as lightweight or breathable as something like the Rapha Classic Flyweight bibs, I would personally trade weight for the level of structure and compression something like the Pro Team II Bibs has on offer. Muscle support matters during hard efforts and long rides, and some of the lighter shorts I’ve tried lack that. No such issue here. A good pair of shorts, in an ideal world, is something you don’t think about once you’re using it. Finding that short is a tough task however, as finding said short is almost as much an exercise in personal preference as a saddle or a pair of shoes. So while I feel that the Rapha Pro Team Bib Shorts II is a worthwhile way to spend your hard-earned cash, picking up a pair here and trying them on will be the best way to ensure you find the right short.
We can talk all day about the measurable performance benefits of high-quality cycling clothing, and in terms of seated comfort and sweat-wicking, this jersey and pair of bibs are some of the best one can buy for the money. And the jersey and bibs come at a price: $179 for the jersey and $279 for the shorts. However, like lots of things in cycling, your favorite piece of apparel isn't determined solely by performance, but by how it makes you feel. Of course, the appeal is in the eye of the beholder, but the Rapha Pro Team Flyweight Jersey and Pro Team Bib Shorts II have most anything else out there beat in sheer charisma, cachet, and attention to detail that will leave a smile on your face every ride. Have any questions about Rapha Pro Team apparel or Rapha in general? Contact by phone during business hours or any time by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Cody Wignall.