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Rapha’s range of cycling shoes has just expanded with the addition of a range-topping Pro Team road shoe.
The Pro Team shoes are the product of over two years and 20,000km testing, and have already been spotted in action on the feet of riders from EF Pro Cycling including Lachlan Morton. Now, they’re just about ready for release – they’ll be available to the general public from 27 Feb, and to RCC members from two days earlier.
The Pro Team shoes are a deviation from the British brand’s current lace-up models, the Explore and the Classic, in that they feature a BOA closure married to a woven ‘Powerweave’ upper.
Powerweave, according to Rapha, is an entirely new fabric developed with “world-leading weaving technologists” Avery Dennison that was birthed after a process of experimentation with dozens of existing materials found all of them wanting.
Compared to existing fabric uppers constructed from microfiber or knit, the proprietary fabric is apparently both stronger and stretches less, improving power transfer. The upper is subject to a hydrophobic treatment which improves its suitability in wet conditions, whilst also breathing well on hotter days – although we’ll be curious to see how well Powerweave keeps water out in properly grim conditions.
The seamless, single-piece upper sits atop a full-length carbon fibre sole, with a thermoplastic polyurethane toe tread and replaceable heel tread. There’s a fixed three-bolt cleat fitting, with titanium hardware.
The rear of the shoe features a molded external heel cup that purportedly reduces weight while also minimising heel lift.
Rapha says that the size and width of the shoe is in line with the existing Explore and Classic models, but with the promise of a snug “glove-like” (or, perhaps, sock-like?) fit across the top of the foot. According to a Rapha representative we reached out to for clarification, the Pro Team shoes feature a new last “slightly reduced in the forefoot to account for the …. single layer of PowerWeave fabric which is substantially thinner than the microfibre used in our other shoes.”
In the shoes is a customisable insole offering medium or high arch support inserts; a third ‘neutral’ fit can be achieved by fitting no insert. This insole is the same as that in the Explore and Classic shoes.
Weight for the Pro Teams is a claimed 220g per foot (size 42), and they’ll be available in three colours – black, light grey and a very EF-appropriate purple/blue melange. RRP is US$355/AU$450/£260/€310.
Given our mixed experiences testing the Explore gravel shoes, we’re curious to see whether the combination of a more supple upper, BOA dials and slightly tweaked fit can unlock the potential of these shoes. James Huang has a set in for testing, and will report back on his findings in due course.