Robin Wilmott slips into this new Rapha Cross outfit and braves the rain, grass, grit and general winter grimness to put this ‘fashion-forward’ jersey and shorts combo through its paces.
Rapha has supported cyclocross with its limited range of themed clothing for several years now, and the 2018-2019 season sees a new jersey design, which we’ve matched with some usefully extended road shorts to get you through the winter’s worst.
Termed as the Cross Long Sleeve Race Jersey – there’s a short sleeve version too – this jersey’s fit is based on the Pro Team race jersey, with cyclocross additions. If you’ve not tried Pro Team gear before, check Rapha’s fitting guide, as it’s less forgiving than normal.
This year’s pattern mixes teal, red, white and pink with the black base colour in to a geometric design, criss-crossed by parallel lines. Rapha’s Cross colours are easily recognisable in this striking pattern, and there’s a full-length zip with a curved, moulded pull that’s easy to grab quickly while riding, a thin embroidered pad integrated into the right shoulder to assist bike shouldering, and a silicone gripper across the rear for retention.
The fabric is extremely stretchy, and fits as close as a skinsuit, but with a lightly brushed inner face and sufficient thermal properties to keep you warm without overheating. Flap-free sleeves end in tight cuffs that don’t interfere with gloves, and the average height collar isn’t too tall. The three rear drop pockets are designed to stay flat so as not to catch the wind or a carried bike, and there’s a small zipped valuables pocket too.
Rapha’s Pro Team Bib Shorts II build on the durable comfort of the originals, and add a much improved leg gripper. The wide, slim Lycra band with internally printed silicone dots grips effectively, and spreads the pressure over a greater area.
The mesh bibs have folded and bonded edges, reducing jersey show-through and increasing long ride comfort, and the dual density pad is externally contoured and extremely comfortable. Multiple panels provide great support and this version is longer in the leg, for extended thigh coverage that’s very welcome on cold days, and not at all restrictive.
WE SAY The Rapha Cross jersey is attractive and technically practical RAPHA MERINO MESH BASELAYER, SLEEVELESS £50 This lightweight merino-blend baselayer offers excellent next-toskin comfort, rapid moisture wicking and breathability, warmth and antibacterial qualities.