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The Rapha Pro Team Long Sleeve Thermal Jersey is an extremely comfortable, close-fitting top with fabrics and seamless construction that make it great next to your skin. Rapha intends it as a midlayer, so it's not windproof or even particularly insulating – things you might expect from 'thermal' jerseys – and arguably poorly named. Used correctly it is reasonably warm and very comfortable though, and I kept reaching for it whenever the weather suited.
With sizes ranging from XS to XXL (88cm to 118cm chests), the Rapha Pro is designed to be a skin-tight, figure-hugging style with no excess. While Rapha does not claim any aero benefits, the close fit will likely help if you wear it on its own. I found it comfortable this way down to about 10°C.
I tested the XS, and with my 88cm chest I am on the limit of the size and the tight (but not restrictive) fit is very evident. Sizing up might be wise, particularly if you are not keen on a very tight fit. The fabric does have a reasonably high level of stretch, with the main body fabric being 92% polyester and 8% spandex.
The cuffs are tight but still easy to get in and out of (unless you're wearing a watch), and the neck line feels ideally placed. I found it incredibly comfortable, and the high front and dropped rear suits the more aggressive position I prefer. The fabric felt smooth and barely detectable next to my skin, and the seamless construction is great. I found myself choosing this jersey whenever I could.
Being called thermal, you might expect some decent warmth from this, but it's limited. Rapha describes this as a midlayer so really its usefulness will depend on what you wear under and over it, but for reference I found it good enough on its own, as I said above, to around 10°C – though I tend to run quite warm. It's also not windproof, so as an outer it's limited.
I was also comfortable in it up to around 17°C, which again probably tells you a bit about its insulating properties. For less intense riding, I can see it being comfortable into the 20s, and it could be ideal for early morning starts where you know the temperature will increase as you ride.
The full zip is easy to use with a big puller, and there's a zip garage at the top to prevent it catching your skin. There are a few patches of reflective fabric too, and it's good to have this very bright orange option – there are four other choices though, including navy and black, if you prefer the stealthy look.
I found the three rear pockets on the tight side. I was able to fit a phone within a protective case and a day's worth of food items such as cereal bars on either side, but any jacket or gilet will need to pack very small to fit. Even my skinny little Gore Shakedry filled the pocket and was difficult to put in and take out, with a notable bulge.
The small zipped essentials pocket on the side is big enough for some keys, a card or cash.
With an RRP of £150, it's at the upper end of the jersey market. There are a few more expensive offerings, such as the MAAP Force Pro Winter at £160 or the Cafe du Cycliste Audax at £188, but they're also considerably more thermal (and consequently bulkier).
While it's expensive, a little limited for pockets and arguably not as warm as the 'Thermal' part of the name implies, this is an exceptionally comfortable jersey that I found myself reaching for at every opportunity. With tweaked pockets and a significant price drop it would score higher, though.
Exceptionally comfortable close-fitting jersey, but not that warm and very expensive
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Men's Pro Team Long Sleeve Thermal Jersey
Size tested: XS
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says: "The Pro Team Long Sleeve Jersey is a versatile mid-layer created to provide warmth without weight on rides in cool conditions."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
High collar for warmth and protection
Reflective details for visibility in low light
Mesh-lined rear pockets with low-bulk seamless construction
Snaplock, easy-glide zip for on-the-fly adjustments
Elasticated hem and cuffs for stability and stable fit
Chin guard avoids irritation
Not the most insulating mid-layer, but effective in warmer weather.
Skin-tight fit, as intended, with enough stretch to make it very comfortable.
Being close to the upper limit, this was a very tight fit for me. While I was happy and found it very comfortable, if you're not after such a close fit I would suggest sizing up.
Very comfortable, even on day-long rides.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems. Washed at 30 degrees. No loss of colour or change in shape.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's very comfortable. The rear pockets are tight and quite small though, which makes it harder to load up for longer rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit and comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Tight rear pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
£150 for a jersey is at the upper end. There are a few more expensive offerings, such as the MAAP Force Pro Winter at £160 or the Cafe du Cycliste Audax at £188, but they're also considerably more thermal (and consequently bulkier).
It also isn't hard to find much cheaper warm midlayers, such as the Gore Progress Thermo at £89.99 and the Santani Colore at £99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much so
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If I was scoring this jersey on comfort alone, it would be at least a 9; as I say at the end of the review, it’s an exceptionally comfortable jersey that I found myself reaching for at every opportunity. However, I’m giving it 7, because it is a really good jersey, but it’s arguably not as warm as the 'Thermal' part of the name implies, the pockets could do with a tweak, and it’s very expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is: Cannondale SystemSix
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, sportives, mtb, Lots of gravel style riding