Exclusively debuted at the start of this week, then made available to RCC members only, Rapha’s all-new uniquely woven Pro Team road shoes are available now to the masses. Don’t call them knit, these Pro Team Powerweaves are something all together different. And I’ve been riding them through the winter to see how they fare in all conditions, even some off-road too…
Riding in the Rapha Pro Team Powerweave carbon road shoes
Normally, I would hope to get a new well-vented cycling shoe in to test sometime in the summer to see how they feel on hot days. But Rapha handed over these technicolor dancing shoes in early November, and wished me luck riding them through the winter. But as riding luck would have it, winter never truly took hold strongly in Europe, and I soon had some fairer weather days to try them out. Expecting the breathable Powerweave upper to let all the cold air & road spray in (before I read their tech specs, I guess) I wore thick socks & packed shoe covers, never needing to cover up in the end.
I was first surprised that the close fit at the toe box of the shoe seemed to work well for my size 43 foot, whether I wore Rapha’s thin Merino socks (one I wear all summer long too), their Pro Team Winter synthetic or even the thicker merino Winter socks. Rapha calls the fit ‘glove-like’ due to the way the Powerweave upper conforms to your foot, with the deep cut of the tongue still allowing plenty of adjustment for my low volume foot. Generally through cool to cold weather riding I’ve spent the most tie with midweight SockGuy merino socks, staying comfortable in a wide 8-18°C weather range (46-64°).
That does have me curious what will really happen when proper summer weather arrives. But I definitely could feel cold air flowing through when I wore too thin socks on a colder day, so perhaps they will be fine.
Beyond breathability itself, the Pro Team shoes are also treated with a hydrophobic coating that makes water droplets bead up on the outside of the shoe instead of coming through the weave. With only a short period of time in the shoes, it remains unclear how long that coating will perform. In practice that meant that riding wet winter roads, water would bead on the shoe and the wind passing while riding would blow the droplets off. Only on the tongue and Boa dials did the water seem to remain.
The Powerweave fabric itself doesn’t seem to absorb any noticeable amount of water either, keeping the shoes mostly dry even after a wetter ride. That said, I was never brave enough to ride them in real sustained winter rain without shoe covers, but I suspect most road riders would do the same. And simply water repellency is enough for the unexpected cloudburst or wet roads.
In the Details
The $355 / 310€ Pro Team road shoes are available now, after a pre-release to the Rapha Cycling Club community earlier in the week. Looking at the details, they offer all the road race-ready stiffness of a lightweight hollow, full carbon sole. Then a pair of Boa IP1 dials manage micro-adjust fit control that feels uniform across the entire foot thanks to the balanced flex of the Powerweave fabric – stiff longitudinally around the shoe, yet flexible over the top.
Want the full details on the new shoes? Then, check out our original detailed Pro Team shoe article.
Rapha claims a weight of 220g per shoe for a size 42. But my size 43 shoes were 547g for the pair, actually 270g for the left & 277g for the right. An extra 50g per shoe is more than 20%, but my real weights include the nice insoles with adjustable arch support. And in the end the Pro Team shoes still feel light & stiff, and are more than 40g lighter than Rapha’s previous carbon-soled, lace-up Classic road shoes.
Rapha Pro Team road shoes – Final thoughts
After a few months riding in them, the stiffness and power transfer to the pedals feels as good as any other top-spec race shoe I’ve ridden. Then, the comfortable, close fit is surprising in how well it feels with a wide range of socks, simply dialed in with the Boa setup. The purple/blue/pink color is a bit loud, and seldom matches either socks or bike, but black or white (gray) options are also available.
My biggest regret is that they are road shoes, not gravel/XC shoes. First off that is because I have been riding them through the winter, when I usually pack away road pedals in favor of the improved wet & icy walkability of mountain bike pedals. But really, the promised durability of the Powerweave upper, combined with its ability to resist water infiltration and stay comfortable in wide ranging temperatures, means that a similar construction is almost made for gravel riding if you put it on a walkable sole. Rapha has promised to use the Powerweave fabric in a number of upcoming products (first of which will apparently be a Pro Team road bib short), so I’m hoping a Pro Team Explore gravel crossover shoes is in the works as well!