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Rapha Pro Team Thermal Aerosuit review

Rapha Thermal Aerosuit arm
10 Feb 2016

You don't realise you need a Rapha Thermal Aerosuit until you have one, then try living without it.

Every now and again a product comes along that converts you a non-believer, turning the ‘Who actually needs this?’ question into ‘Who could live without one?’ And way back in October 2012, that product for me was the Castelli Sanremo Thermosuit, or the Castelli ‘Onesie’ as it affectionately became known. I was smitten within weeks, and for the subsequent winters. Until now. Because in Rapha’s Thermal Aerosuit, the Castelli Onesie has a genuine challenger for my affections.

The fabric

Essentially the Aerosuit is a tweaked blend of the Rapha Pro Team Jacket and Pro Team Winter Tights, meaning it’s made from a stretchy, insulated material that Rapha designer Graeme Raeburn describes as ‘weatherproof on the front of the garment, with a DWR [durable water repellent] coating on the back.’

Rapha Thermal Aerosuit front

It’s an interesting one for a piece of kit designed for the harsh elements of winter, as you might think a fully waterproof Aerosuit would be preferable, and for some people that might be the case. But from my point of view, the sort of rider that is considering something like the Aerosuit is likely to be exerting themselves on most rides, which will mean sweating. So, to be comfortable you want that breathability to stop the boil-in-the-bag scenario, and as current material tech stands that means a trade-off with outright waterproofness, and fit. The Aerosuit, then, makes the best possible fist of the fabrics and treatments currently available. Thus it laughs in the face of strong winds and driving rain, meaning that on even the wettest rides I never felt uncomfortably cold or sodden.

It’s an odd thing to say, but I even found myself rooting for the occasional grim day just to be able to go out in the Aerosuit and stick two-fingers up to winter whilst smugly logging Rule #5 miles.

The fit

The fit on the Aerosuit is bang-on, if racy. It feels light to wear, to the point where you might wonder if you’ve really put on enough clothes to go out riding on a cold day (I paired the Aerosuit with a merino baselayer by the way, although you could wear it without one). The fact it’s one piece only adds to this; there’s no bibtight braces or high frontage to overlap and feel bulky. The one-piece-ness also means there’s no need for constantly pulling down the back of the top half as with some jacket and bibtight combos.

Rapha Thermal Aerosuit rear

The other wonderful trait of the Aerosuit, and it’s this that cemented my love for the Castelli Onesie, is how easy it is to live with. One garment, one thing to remember to chuck in the wash, or pack. And add that to Aerosuit’s highly capable characteristics and you’ve got the perfect piece of poor-weather kit. Almost.

The faults 

If there’s one problem with the Aerosuit it’s that it is a little bit warm. I suppose you could say that it’s actually a problem with me (I get too hot) or a problem with the weather (it’s just not cold enough), but regardless, for the winter we’ve just had in Britain and my own core temperature, there were quite a few rides where the Aerosuit just proved a little too toasty. The flipside was that for shorter rides such as my 10km commute it was great – you start warm and finish warm without having to warm yourself up in the middle – but as soon as the temperature hit double digits on rides over 50km the Aerosuit became bit stifling. You can of course open the front zipper for extra ventilation, but then that rather does away with the brilliance of the figure-hugging, aerodynamic cut the Aerosuit offers, and past a certain point (just under my sternum) I found that the zipper was so slick that it slowly undid itself.

However, I’m prepared to forgive the Aerosuit for its overtly thermal properties. There’s every chance next winter will be like some post-apocalyptic ice age from start to finish, and even if it’s not, there were still enough cold-weather days and early starts this year and last to justify the Aerosuit. Yes, it’s a lot of money, but it’s still £70 cheaper than buying a Rapha Pro Team Jacket and Pro Team Winter bibtights. But the biggest boon of all is how it will keep you riding all year round, in total comfort.


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