The new Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex jacket offers all the performance of the unique Gore-Tex Shakedry fabric with a few Rapha details, at a price that isn't excessive compared to other Shakedry jackets. It's totally waterproof, very breathable and impressively packable.
- Pros: Waterproof, breathable, packable, cheaper than other Shakedry jackets
- Cons: Dark colour
You're essentially getting the stunning performance of Shakedry with Rapha branding. Rapha fans will love it! Rapha has until now sought out its own fabrics, but it has clearly been unable to look past Gore-Tex's stunning Shakedry waterproof fabric and so this winter launches two new jackets built around it, the Pro Team Insulated and the Pro Team Lightweight tested here. (They're currently only available to Rapha Cycling Club members; non-members will have to wait until Thursday to buy.)
Shakedry is the very best waterproof fabric from Gore-Tex, the culmination of 30 years' development, and first launched in 2016. The fabric is unique in having a two-layer construction with the outer surface being the actual membrane. Water beads off and since there's no DWR treatment, the waterproofing ability does not diminish over time or through multiple machine washes. But the real upshot is that it's more breathable and packable than any other waterproof on the market.
There are several companies now using Gore-Tex Shakedry and, for the most part, they are all nigh-on identical. The Rapha jacket adds a few signature details like the Pro Team stripes and the iconic armband, but otherwise there's not a lot to distinguish it from any other Shakedry jacket.
One reason for this is that a current technical limitation of the Shakedry fabric is that it's only available in a few pretty dull colours, which even Rapha hasn't been able to get around. People concerned with visibility will want to make sure they've got plenty of lights, or spend their money elsewhere, such as the Core Rain Jacket II which does come in bright colours. (Or Gore's Shakedry Viz adds coloured panels.)
One point of difference not found on other Shakedry jackets is a thin flap covering the main zipper with a larger Velcro flap. Considering the zipper is waterproofed and not a weakness for the elements on other Shakedry jackets, it seems rather a moot difference and just served to make it a little trickier to unzip the jacket one-handed. The zipper is two-way which makes for slightly easier temperature control.
There are no compartments other than a very small mesh pocket on the inside. It can be used to store a few bits and bobs, or it can be used as a stuff pouch to compress the jacket into a very small size. It's not quite as nice or easy to use as the zipped pouch that comes on some Shakedry jackets. I found it easier to simply roll the jacket up, after which it fits very easily in a jersey pocket ready to be deployed into service. And it's so light you won't notice it, with the size medium tested here weighing just 125g.
The fit is good, on and off the bike. It's a shape that works best on the bike: the front waist is higher, the rear is dropped down for good lower back and bum coverage. A stretchy rear waistband keeps it in place.
The sleeves are a good length and the elasticated cuffs help when pulling the jacket on and off, as well as ensuring a good seal to prevent cold air flowing up the arms.
There's no stretch in the fabric but the cut and shape are good enough that I experienced no restriction of movement. It's comfortably roomy, with space for a couple of layers underneath – a good thing for the winter as the Shakedry doesn't offer any insulation. I suspect I could have downsized for a more streamlined fit.
I've been testing this jacket for several weeks now, and luckily I have had some rubbish conditions to put it through its paces. This included a trip to Germany for three days of very wet and muddy gravel biking with Shimano. There it had to endure being pasted with gravel and grit, having a muddy bike slung over the shoulder, scrunched up into a pocket when the sun came out, washed in the hotel room sink and squashed in the bottom of my suitcase.
© Irmo Keizer
It handled it all with ease. The performance is on a level I've come to expect from Shakedry. It keeps you totally waterproof. It's as close to a magical shield to the rain as it gets. Overheating is managed well if the sun comes out; I never found it to be a sweaty experience like rain jackets of the past. And you can always open up the AquaGuard zipper to let some air in if you need to cool down.
© Irmo Keizer
It's been through the washing machine a couple of times, just a regular 30-degree wash, and water still beads off the surface as it did when it was brand new. That's the beauty of Shakedry, there is no DWR treatment to wear out over time. Toughness is a worry with the Shakedry fabric – Gore recommends it only for road cycling, and not for use with a backpack, but I've used it cyclo-cross and gravel biking, and with a backpack, and so far it is just fine. But you might want to be careful.
There's little here that improves on the Gore Shakedry jacket that has been available for several years. Pleasingly, the price is not ridiculous by Rapha standards – at £220 it's cheaper than Gore's own versions, circa £240-250, and the 7Mesh Oro at £250 and Castelli's Idro at £260.
Yes, it's a lot of cash to spend on a jacket, but Shakedry really is a genuine game-changer when it comes to riding in the rain. Given how much rain we get on this small island, I'd say it's actually a good investment if you do plan to ride outdoors. Personally, I reckon Shakedry is the single best innovation in cycling in the last decade.
It's Gore Shakedry with Rapha branding and a not crazy price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Rapha says: "The Pro Team Lightweight GORE-TEX Jacket combines the lightweight, hydrophobic SHAKEDRY™ fabric with a streamlined fit to create a the most protective, superlight layer for wet weather. Water simply beads and runs off the outer surface of the jacket's two-layer laminated material. No saturated face fabric means no chilling effect, and keeps the jacket extremely light and easy to pack down. Every seam is lined and each binding on the jacket's hem, cuffs and collar are carefully engineered with a lightweight, elasticated closure for comprehensive weather seal."
With protection from the elements assured, the highly breathable fabric also allows body heat and moisture to escape, meaning you can work hard in the rain without overheating. Should your efforts be rewarded with brighter skies, the jacket folds down to stow in half a jersey pocket. At just 49gsm, the fabric has an extremely low pack volume. Once you're back home and out of the storm, hang the jacket using its integrated hanger loop. It'll be dry in no time, ready for the next ride.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Waterproof AquaGuard zip
Signature Pro Team placket with velcro fastening
Reinforced zip guard at hem to protect bib shorts
Sweat-wicking lining inside raised collar
Integrated pack pouch inside right side panel
Bonded cuffs designed to sit snugly on top of gloves
nb. Not to be worn with a backpack
Very well made.
Shakedry sets the current benchmark for rain jackets.
I will continue testing the Rapha jacket to asses durability, but so far it has been just fine and I'm still using an original Gore Shakedry jacket that shows no signs of wear or lacking water repellency.
The best in class.
It's far more breathable than any other waterproof fabric. You can wear it when it's not raining, and you can avoid stopping all the time to take it off, which is nice.
It's actually a bit cheaper than other Shakedry jackets.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
A doddle to look after.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps you dry without overheating.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Lets you enjoy riding in the rain.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
The same gripes with all Shakedry jackets, the lack of colours and reflective details, but they are a small price to pay for the performance.
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Yes
Would you consider buying the jacket? Yes
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
There's very little to find fault with here.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.