Woven upper; carbon sole; two Boa dials
Pros: Comfy, broken-in fit; micro-adjustable
Cons: Soles feel a bit flexy
Rapha's foray into a woven race shoe is so far an impressive one. The Pro Team Road shoes micro-adjust easily with two Boa dials, and the woven material feels broken-in, right out of the box. Early impressions are good, but the sole's slight flex might irk some racers.
- MSRP: $355
- Size: 44
I admit: purple wouldn’t have been my first choice, but these Pro Team Road Shoes from Rapha pull it off nicely. With an all-black kit, the color contrast on the single-piece woven uppers adds just the right amount of flair. Looks aside, though, the Pro Team Road Shoes have a lot of race-oriented features to get excited about. Most notably, the woven upper offers an incredibly comfortable fit.
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Woven, not knitted
Rapha joins an ever-growing list of companies jumping into the knitted-upper market — or have they?
No, not exactly Giro’s knit Empire shoes launched in 2017 and made quite an impact on riders looking for a comfortable, breathable upper with a unique look. The Pro Team Road Shoes capitalize nicely on that trend, though with a slightly different approach.
The Empires, and Fizik’s Infinito are knit, while Rapha’s kicks are woven. The difference is simple: knits feature one thread looped onto itself, while a weave features more than one material mated in a pattern. Rapha claims the weave is stronger, and it can create more complex patterns and shapes, thereby increasing the strength and comfort of the upper.
The two Boa dials micro-adjust both looser and tighter for quick, on-the-fly tweaking. They’re perfectly positioned as far as I can tell and snug up evenly over the tongue. Perhaps it’s a testament to the woven upper, but these shoes already feel broken in and supple, so I suppose the Boas have less work to do here. It’s quite nice.
A generous heel cup kept my foot planted, though I wouldn’t say this feature is as “grab and hold” as other shoes in the high-end category. I’m not sure how much that matters just yet; after a few more hard days in the saddle I’ll let you know.
Pro Team Road Shoes First Ride
I spent a few days on the trainer with the Pro Road shoes before I finally snuck out during some warm weather, here in Colorado. So if you want to count the trainer time as actual rides, I can tell you that the woven upper breathes wonderfully. The trainer’s a good testing ground for heat build-up, and I noticed two things: first, I wasn’t getting the usual hot-foot I get while logging an hour or more on the trainer; and second, I could feel the air moving over the top of my foot, near the toes when my Wahoo Headwind blew on the shoes.
Once I finally got outside during a warm spell here in Colorado, my initial thoughts on the Pro team Road Shoes didn’t change a whole lot. These kicks are quite comfy, and airy to boot. I do find the toe box to be a bit too narrow for my liking, a problem which manifested itself in a numb toe (the small guy on my left foot).
That’s a common problem for me, so I won’t pin that exclusively on Rapha; in general, cycling footwear could stand to be wider in the toe box. I was impressed with the tongue of the Pro Team Road Shoe, which feels super supple and comfortable over my very high instep.The Boa dials cinch up evenly over the top of the foot and it was easy to micro-adjust on the fly.
The sole of the shoe doesn’t appear to be super-stiff. I did notice some flex during my hardest efforts, but I’m going to reserve my final judgement of the Pro Team Road Shoe’s flex characteristics until I have several more rides in them. I’m particularly curious about how they will feel on sustained climbs, especially on steeper pitches.