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Dressing for the outdoors is a constant challenge of managing variables: temperature, wind, precipitation, and for those dedicated to really getting their blood pumping in the cold, level of intensity. When it comes to endurance sports in cold weather—whether it’s running, cycling, nordic skiing, or alpine touring—I always think of a piece of advice my dad gave me as a foolhardy teen more focused on looking cool than dressing practically, “If you’re not cold when you start, you’ll be hot as soon as you get going.”
This simple but sticky piece of advice has served me well over the years as I transitioned from snowbound runs in heavyweight hoodies to breathable baselayers. And I remembered it when I set out for a sub-freezing ride in Rapha’s Pro Team GORE-TEX Infinium Jersey ($217). Clipping in, I was cold. The jersey lacks any insulation, and I wore just a wool baselayer t-shirt underneath. But as I pedaled toward the veritable non-stop criterium course that is Brooklyn’s Prospect Park loop, the reliable warmth kindled by moderate effort slowly began to build.
By the time I left stoplights behind and hit a rhythm of crushing laps, the jersey’s real performance benefits started to show. GORE-TEX Infinium Windblock technology acted as named and prevented wind from passing through. When you’re averaging speeds of 20 to 25 miles per hour, keeping out the chill of the wind makes all the difference, but one of the major issues with windblock fabrics is that they often inhibit breathability, leaving the user overheated and eventually soggy and cold. This wasn’t the case with this piece.
Riding hard, even in winter conditions, generates plenty of heat and perspiration. With the right weight of baselayer, this all-time piece from Rapha remained fully breathable and regulated temperature with the efficiency of an alpine-intended GORE-TEX shell. It’s a rare phenomenon to be comfortable spinning outdoors on a road bike for multiple hours in sub-zero temps–even more so after riding hard.
We weren’t blessed with a mid-ride snow shower while testing this jersey, but we encountered plenty of winter rain. While not fully waterproof against a downpour, the jersey repelled light showers with ease. We can only hope for a few snowy laps throughout the season to experience the full range of protection and performance this capable piece offers.
There’s a lot to love about this jersey from Rapha, but the Pro Team fit might not be for everyone. Laying close to the body, this jersey, which is cut for an aerogynamic riding position, is all about comfort in the saddle. As in, the fit is a bit awkward when standing and sipping a coffee after a ride—but that’s not what a GORE-TEX bike jersey is really built for. This piece is about riding hard, no matter the weather. And the spicy lime green color, though it might be an acquired taste, is sure to turn heads on the road.