Autumn is a season notoriously difficult to dress for. Temperatures often sit in that awkward middling range where it isn’t chilly enough for a full winter kit, but it is a little bit too nippy to have your pins on show. Often around this time of year, weather forecasts can show crisp blue skies and sunshine, but when you least expect it, the heavens can open. There are countless occasions when I have been caught off guard with no rain jacket stowed in my back pocket, left to crawl woefully home soaked and shivering.
Leg warmers and arm warmers can be a solution, but these aren’t always the most comfortable choice; leg warmers can cut in that unflattering point on the thigh, and arm warmers can slide down and leave you with a slither of cold arm on show. With Rapha’s newest additions to its Autumn/Winter collection, the brand has found a close to perfect solution to the predicament of dressing for cycling in these middling conditions. Clearly made by those who ride bikes themselves, a thoughtful design process is clear in both Rapha’s Pro Team Training Tights and Pro Team Long Sleeve Training Jersey.
Rapha Pro Team Training Tights
With the new Pro Team Training Tights, Rapha has removed my need for shorts and leg warmers, something that I am very relieved about. For years, I’ve struggled to dress for these changeable spring and autumn time conditions because I haven’t been able to find leg warmers that fit right and stay up without sacrificing the blood circulation on my legs. The Pro Team Training Tights are made of an extremely breathable, lightweight material that wicks sweat and has the barely there feel of leg warmers without sacrificing the flexibility, comfort and security that bib tights offer.
The lightweight feel is made possible by the fully recycled nylon and elastane material that makes up the main body of the tights. This material feels smooth and has a shiny finish, and is quite thin (but still remains opaque and seems durable so far). Like the Pro Team jersey, the Training Tights have a compressive fit which is great for intense efforts. The cuffed hems at the bottom of the tights ensure that they stay firmly in place, while Rapha’s redesigned bib construction at the rear is supportive while maintaining a ‘barely there’ feel.
Like with all Rapha bib tights I own, I found the pad in the Training Tights extremely comfortable for varying ride durations, including when I was in an aggressive race position sitting far forward on the saddle. Rapha says that this chamois is size-specific, too, meaning it is optimised for each rider depending on the size of bib tight which they purchase. The Rapha Pro Team tights don’t have an easy solution for nature breaks in the female version, although they are marketed as a garment for shorter, high-intensity efforts rather than all-day adventures. The reflective logos on the sides and rear of the tights also give peace of mind when out in the early hours of the morning or late at night.
The Pro Team Training Tights retail for £180, which is a reasonable price and fairly middling in the market. It’s important to note that these tights likely would not be the best investment if you want a pair of bibs to see you through the entire winter – I don’t expect they’d be warm enough in temperatures below 8 degrees celsius. However, if you often find yourself scratching your head about what to wear during autumn and spring and are not a fan of leg warmers, then these are a wardrobe staple.
Rapha Pro Team Long Sleeve Training Jersey
Made to be the perfect accompaniment to the Pro Team Training Tights is the Long Sleeve Training Jersey. Rapha says the long sleeve carries all of the features from its coveted Pro Team Short Sleeve Training jersey, but with added sleeves to make it more suitable for cooler weather, The jersey is made with a non-perforated fabric to the front, and the same 155gsm fabric as the short sleeve version on the back. I found this was a great combination for temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees. It wicked sweat well and had the flexible feeling of a jersey but the added warmth on the arms was an asset.The Pro Team Long Sleeve definitely has a race fit that is most suitable when in an aggressive, on-bike position. It should be noted that this tight fit means that long sleeve baselayer can’t fit comfortably under the jersey, which does limit its versatility. Like the Training Tights do with leg warmers, the Long Sleeve jersey does negate the need for arm warmers in middling temperatures, something that I was grateful for.
Despite being a garment that is mostly designed for intense efforts and shorter rides, the pockets on the Training Jersey expand meaning that ride essentials can be slotted in without any issues. The jersey comes in a range of bright colours which is great for riding in low light conditions. Cuffed sleeves and hem match that on the Pro Team Training Tights, and they keep the jersey firmly in place as well as blocking out any wind. Rapha says that the jersey has an anti-bacterial treatment which keeps it fresh. The jersey retails for £105 which I’d say is a reasonable price for a garment which can be used in a range of temperatures.