This is version 2 of Rapha's Lightweight bib shorts, which use a specific pad and different fabrics to make shorts that are 50g lighter than Rapha's classic bib shorts and that are genuinely cooler on hot days.
The styling is typical Rapha. There's a coloured band on the left thigh and a Rapha logo on the thigh in translucent materials. It is subtle, but easily recognisable too. I tested these bib shorts with the matching super light weight jersey, so I could assess the combined outfit. From a distance the Chartreuse yellow is not as bright as it might seem in the photos, but it suits a sunnier day.
The shorts are a simple all-black look, bar the yellow band and white straps. There is a cut out in the back of the mesh, which aids cooling, but does handle and look a little odd. It is tempting to put a hand through the hole, mistaking it for an arm hole, but that is only a slight distraction when putting the bibs on.
The leg grippers are quite different in design from other shorts. Rather than a laser cut hem or a thick strip of silicone, they use three thin strips of silicone, which really works well and is easy to adjust. Once on, the bibs are really very comfortable and the leg fabric stays exactly where it is put.
The main fabric of the shorts has a sun protection factor of 50, so no sunburnt hips with these on, and they are opaque.
I rode with the matching super lightweight jersey on a few properly warm days out into Essex, with the temperatures touching 30°C in the shade. The pad is really excellent. I didn't feel as warm and sweaty as I have done on similar hot days with other shorts. The perforation and design of the pad do seem to have a cooling effect.
The mesh fabric of the upper and straps also helped with the moisture transfer to keeping me feeling cooler. Even some steep, albeit short climbs didn't make me too hot.
The best way to describe the shorts is that I didn't really notice them, I could just get on with riding. The pad is described as lightweight, but compared to the 'cross bib shorts I own from Rapha, I thought it was actually more comfortable.
The grippers work well too, there was no creeping up of the fabric on my thighs, nor any bunching in between my legs. The shorts have also washed well and seem to dry quickly too.
I'm planning on taking these with me to ride in Provence in the summer and hoping to stay nice and cool with them. The colour is even growing on me, though my family are of the opinion that the colour might suit someone a bit more tanned than I am.
The Rapha Lightweight bib shorts are at the expensive end of the market, but this sort of high summer or climber bib shorts are a new area of development. Each company making this ype of shorts is claiming unique fabrics and a superior design.
I think these work well for hot conditions and would be worth buying if you intend to ride in temperatures of mid twenties and up for a sustained period, but a regular British summer might not get warm enough to justify them.
Excellent, comfortable bib shorts for long, hot days of summer riding
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Lightweight Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Lightweight and breathable summer bib shorts
With a newly improved gripper and new colour ways, these shorts are designed for hot summer conditions. They use a soft, stretch Fabric for breathability, which is also lighter than other Rapha Bib Shorts. The Fabric also incorporates sun-block treatment. There is a lighter mesh on the bib section and a larger cutaway at the back. The chamois pad was developed exclusively for Rapha and is lightweight and perforated. The bibs are stitched for comfort and durability.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Proprietary perforated pad
Larger cutaway back section
SPF factor 50+
Lightweight Bib Shorts (medium size): 168 grammes
Colour-matched leg stripe and side panels
Lightweight, extra-wide gripper
Colour-on-colour Rapha logos
Well thought out and comfortable bib shorts, gripper and strap design is good and pad is excellent.
Perform as well as you could want, you feel cooler than a regular set of bibs and they are light too.
Wearing well so far, they wash well, dry quickly and have stayed in shape.
Probably the lightest set of bib shorts I own, yet this has not compromised the comfort of the pad.
Great fit for me in a medium, cool feeling and comfortable, leg grippers hold the shorts in place. Fit best when in the saddle, slightly taut when walking about and not on the bike.
Expensive, but cheaper than some regular shorts. Justifiable if you ride in hot conditions regularly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great airy set of bib shorts for a hot day. I find my self reaching for these when it is sunny.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The pad is really comfortable on a hot day.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Very little, even the colour is growing on me.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, looking forward to riding in France wearing them.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 193cm Weight: 70kg
I usually ride: Condor terra-x My best bike is: Cannondale CAAD10
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Brompton