Long days on the bike during the Australian summer call for kit that can withstand some serious punishment while keeping you feeling as cool and fresh as possible.
We've been riding in Rapha's lightweight kit offering on some of the hottest days to see how it copes.
Words - Mike Boudrie Images - Andrew Clifforth
We've tested a few Rapha products at La Velocita and while they are all different in function I've noticed there's a certain feel everything that make's it way out of their warehouse. The Lightweight Jersey and Bib Shorts are no exception. They have the quality in the hand that is hard to articulate.
The Lightweight range is obviously designed for hot conditions. Something that we are more than familiar with here in Australia. Rapha tells us that this kit is 'for the hardest, hottest and most demanding conditions'.
Without going into all the detail, the Lightweight Bib Shorts use fabric that is more breathable than other Rapha kit, the chamois pad is lightweight and perforated and there is an improved leg gripper over the previous version. The jersey has pockets designed for more stability and support and the fabric is designed to be fast drying and has mesh side panels for breathability.
Designed for the heat, I put this kit to the test on some of the hottest days over the Christmas period out in the dry and exposed Western district... on one day I found the thermometer giving 40 degrees a nudge by the time I got home.
Out of the bag the Rapha Lightweight Bib Shorts just felt really comfortable, the fit was spot on, the leg grippers hold without pulling, the chamois is soft, there was no pressure over my shoulders from the bib section and they just felt right. On the bike it's just the same. The feel is great and any fears I had about the lighter weight chamois not performing are soon forgotten.
Out in the super hot weather I'm soon covered in a mixture of sweat, sunscreen and water. Not once did the bib shorts gripper even think about moving. There's three rings of silicone on the wider than normal for Rapha gripper that work together not to pull but just hold.
I'd describe the compression and hold as somewhere in between the Pro Team bibs and Classic Bib Shorts. Comfort levels are high and I'm sure they would qualify as an all day choice for some of the big events coming up between now and when the weather turns.
I've got the previous version of this Jersey and there's a noticeable difference in this iteration. Rapha has done a great job keeping the jersey light while not having it stretch about all over the place as soon as you start loading anything into the pockets. There's three massive pockets and a zipped pocket, I'd actually go as far as saying the pockets are too deep. At times I found it a bit awkward getting my hand high enough to get down into the middle pocket. On the flip side it all but eliminates the risk of important supplies going missing on long rides.
In the tough heat the Jersey did a great job, it lived up to Rapha's fast drying claims and airflow is fantastic. Comfort is really high and if you don't wear a base layer the jersey feels soft and comfortable against the skin. There's nice detailing and the jersey is really well finished, with a quality lightweight zipper, silicone waist to keep everything in place, comfortable neck and arm ends.
- Lightweight Bib Shorts - Six sizes - XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Lightweight Jersey - Six sizes - XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL
- Lightweight Bib Shorts - $260
- Lightweight Jersey - $155
WHERE TO BUY
Head to www.rapha.cc to check out the range.
No matter what your view is on Rapha, there's no denying that the kit they produce is some of the best in the business. The performance and comfort offered by this lightweight combination is right up there and when put in the 'hardest, hottest and most demanding conditions' they got the job done.