Rapha Pro Team Road Shoe: Best For Racing and Sprinting
Ultra-Stiff, ultra-precise, and easy to adjust.
This February Rapha dropped a new pair of road specific shoes. Gone are the days of rebadged Giro based models. The new Rapha Pro Team road shoe is entirely a Rapha creation. It’s a high tech, high performance, product and, as with most Rapha gear, a joy to look at. I’ve spent the last few months testing these new Rapha shoes. Checking to see if the performance is on par with expectations.
The Powerweave knit upper has to be the biggest feature of the Rapha Pro Team Road shoes. The synthetic design provides breathability and flexibility while keeping the weight low. 3D knitting technology allows for more precise shaping without unnecessary seams or material. It allows the entire upper section of the shoe to use just a single out of the way seam.
Knit upper is precise and looks good but it’s hard to clean.
The rest of the design is no less precise and high tech but it is more conventional in a shoe of this caliber. The tongue uses a traditional split design rather than the wraparound style some companies are using right now. At the bottom of the shoe is a shiny carbon sole with fixed cleat holes and plastic feeling heel and toe caps. The rear heel cap is replaceable should you wear through it. The front is not replaceable and not high enough to protect the shoes from toe rub.
A pair of BOA dials handles closure, and adjustment, for the Rapha Pro Team road shoes. Personally, I find this somewhat surprising just from a style stand point. Although Giro is the modern brand most well-known for laced shoes I kind of expected Rapha would go in that direction as well. Think about how Rapha positions their pieces though and the choice makes more sense. The Pro Team collection is fast, lightweight, and precise so the instant micro-adjustability of the BOA system is a good match.
Double BOA adjusters make for fast fit customization.
The first point of discussion of the fit has to be stiffness. Knit cycling shoes tend to be towards the lighter, less stiff, end of the spectrum. Often knit shoes are best for climbing and all-day rides while stiffer shoes use bulkier materials. In this regard Rapha bucks the trend. These are some of the stiffest shoes I’ve ever ridden with. The ultra-stiff sole is then combined with a narrow, grippy, heal cup and a precise fit from the knit upper. Adjust the BOA system so that it’s tight but not uncomfortable and your foot will not move separate from the shoe.
The Rapha Pro Team road shoes are so stiff that over the time I’ve been using them I’ve moved them primarily inside for racing on Zwift. I’m not doing these types of rides at the moment but they would also be a good match for short, hard, mid-week training rides. Long solo rides through the country don’t require ultra-stiff shoes. Despite that, I have done plenty of six to eight-hour rides with them and they work. I that’s your primary need though the Rapha Pro Team shoes shouldn’t be your first choice.
The Rapha Pro Team Road shoe is best for short, hard, mid-week training rides or races.
It has also taken me a bit of time to get the fit dialed in. Although the double BOA dials make it fast to dial in even pressure across the upper, I had some alignment issues. The Rapha shoes come with different arch support options. Being that I almost always fall right in the meat of the bell curve for fit I did not expect to need to change anything. It wasn’t until I swapped in one of the alternative arch supports for my right foot that things became comfortable. I’ll let you decide if needing to make a change is a win but Rapha does make it an easy option.
Given their status in the lineup, and Rapha’s reputation, you’d expect the Pro Team road shoes to be more expensive than they are. Priced at $355 the Pro Team road shoe is less expensive than competition from Fizik, Giro, and Shimano. It’s hard to call a $355 shoe a bargain but compare these to the competition and they kind of are.
The Rapha Pro Team Road Shoe is one of the more affordable options on the market.
The bottom line is that the Rapha Pro Team road shoes are best suited to a specific type of buyer. Some people prefer a very stiff sole and a very locked in fit. If that sounds like you then these are perfect and also happen to be a pretty good price.