Rapha has announced its newest top-of-the range Pro Team bib shorts and, as we’d hope from the brand, they’re high-tech and unapologetically expensive.
The Pro Team Powerweave bibs are “made for race winning movement” from a new woven fabric that claims to improve performance over the existing Pro Team shorts, offering a close fit, lower weight and better moisture management.
Powerweave fabric for fit and performance
It seems weaves are the hot new thing for shorts as well as shoes. Rapha recently launched a new Pro Team shoe made from woven fabric and the brand is not alone.
The new Pro Team bibs’ Powerweave fabric claims to improve moisture management and reduce overall weight by 20 per cent compared to the previous Pro Team II bib shorts.
Powerweave is made using a jacquard weaving process (yes, we had to Google that too) that differs from more basic techniques in that it allows control of individual threads.
It is usually associated with producing complex surface patterns for aesthetic purposes, and the concept dates back to the early 19th century.
Rapha notes that the existing Pro Team shorts use a knitted fabric rather than a weave. A weave can combine multiple types of yarn, while a knitted pattern is formed by continuously looping a single yarn.
A stretchy “compression fit” means fewer panels are needed and the new shorts have just seven panels, compared to 14 on their predecessors. This reduces the number of seams, making chafing less likely.
Rapha says it has also redesigned its chamois pad with higher density foam. The new pad is narrower and claims to be lighter, quicker drying and more breathable.
Other features of the Pro Team Powerweaves, such as integrated leg grippers and laser-cut bib straps, are de rigeur for high-end shorts these days.
Pro testing Down Under
Rapha says it developed the shorts in collaboration with riders from its sponsored team EF Education First Pro Cycling, including the likes of Mitch Docker.
We take the opinions of sponsored riders in press releases with a pinch of salt (they are, by their nature, biased), but Docker is apparently an avowed fan of the Powerweaves, citing their breathability in Australia’s baking heat and the comfort offered by the tight-fitting fabric.
If you’re itching to splash out on these fancy new bibs, you’ll have to be patient unless you’re a member of the Rapha Cycling Club.
The design Rapha is showing off in its press material is a limited-edition available to RCC members only.
A black version will be released to the public later this year, costing £275 / $375 / AU$465 / €325. This is £80 more than the current Pro Team II bibs and a hefty sum by any measure, but it’s in the same ballpark as top-end shorts from the likes of Assos.