Rapha has been expanding its range of hot weather clothing over the past couple of years, and its new Flyweight Bib Shorts are its coolest and most breathable yet. Along with superb seated comfort from a well-shaped and cushioned padded insert, that makes them a great option for hot summer cycling.
Rapha has employed the lightest fabric it has ever used to make these bib shorts. The lightness of the fabric is instantly revealed when you pull the shorts on; they feel much lighter than the Pro Team Lightweight bibs I reviewed a couple of years ago. They feel cooler than regular Rapha or other brand shorts, a subtle but discernible difference.
The fabric is very stretchy, enhancing the excellent fit, and supremely soft against the skin. It also has a shiny finished compared to the more matte appearance of Rapha's regular bib shorts. Can't say I'm a massive fan of that, but I do like the white hem and asymmetric logo colouring.
Despite how thin the material is, it's not fragile. It has proven to be perfectly durable during the time I've been testing them, and there certainly appears no drawback for the lightness. Still, these shorts wouldn't be my first choice for an adventure ride where you're likely to be tackling overgrown bramble bushes.
The thin and lightweight fabric means less heat buildup, but Rapha has also treated the fabric with coldblack, a treatment that reduces heat build-up. The combination of the two factors really does mean the shorts don't absorb or retain much heat and they never felt excessively warm on even the hottest days. If you run at all hot you'll love how cool these shorts make you feel.
Seated comfort is provided by the same padded insert as used in the Pro Team Lightweight Bib Shorts. It's a very comfortable chamois, definitely one of the most comfortable on the market, and excels on very long days in the saddle where there's no deterioration in comfort. It's perforated so it's more resistant to sweat build-up.
The top half of the bibs is made from a lightweight mesh, with two wide bib straps over the front and a large mesh rear panel, providing extra cooling when it gets hot. The edges of the bib straps have flat hems that eliminate chafing if worn without a base layer.
I found the fit is a little more generous than the Pro Team Lightweight shorts. The panel design is simpler and the high stretch factor of the material ensures the shorts are a little less restrictive in all areas, especially around the openings. A silicone dot gripper lining the hem helps to keep the shorts from riding up when you're riding hammer and tongs.
Like your bib shorts long or short? Rapha offers two length lengths, regular and short, with a 1in difference between the two. The latter is intended for shorter riders 'who prefer a higher hem on the thigh.' The fashion does appear to be for longer shorts, almost down to the knee cap, but Rapha shorts are just the right length in my opinion. Well, they line up nicely with my tan lines at least!
For riding in hot weather these are a good choice. Even if it's not south of France hot, just warm, they still provide good performance. I felt cooler wearing these shorts compared to regular bib shorts. Whether that impacts your performance is another matter, if you're doing a 6-hour ride in hot weather any little difference can obviously help. What they are is more comfortable when it's hot.
The Flyweight shorts obviously go well with the Pro Team Flyweight jersey I also reviewed recently. Wearing the two together provides outstanding performance in hot weather, and noticeably keeps you feeling cooler when the temperature increases. They each deal with sweat really well too, staying dry at all times.
Comfortable and cool bib shorts for hot summer rides
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Flyweight Bib Shorts
Size tested: Small
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?
The Flyweight Bib Shorts are designed for riding in hot and humid conditions. The shorts are made of an extremely lightweight, soft four-way stretch fabric - the lightest we've used in our bib shorts - that has been treated with coldblack® which reduces the build-up of heat. The upper section has a breathable and lightweight construction, with a thin mesh that stretches to fit over your shoulders. The chamois pad is the same perforated one used in the Pro Team Lightweight Bib Shorts. Featuring coloured uppers to pair with the Flyweight Jerseys, allowing you to look - and stay - cool as you take flight in the heat. The bibs are available in two lengths, regular and short, with a difference between leg lengths of approximately 1 inch. The short option is for shorter riders or those who prefer a higher hem on the thigh.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Available in two leg lengths - regular and short, with approximately 1 inch variation in length
Lightweight, soft four-way stretch fabric
Treated with coldblack to reduce absorption of sunlight and keep your legs cool
Rapha logo printed on left leg
Lightweight mesh stretch upper for comfort and breathability
Bonded elastic binding for a smooth finish
Lightweight silicone dot gripper to hold the shorts in place
Perforated, quick drying chamois pad (same as Pro Team Lightweight Bib Shorts)
For riding in hot weather, these are excellent
Despite the thinness of the material, durability hasn't noticeably suffered, and there's no sign of wear and tear in the usual places
The stretchy material provides a very comfortable fit
They're lighter than Rapha's standard shorts, and you do notice that on the bike
Both fit, fabric feel and the chamois provide excellent comfort
For hot weather riding, heck even if it's just warm, these do work well to justify their price tag
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems at all looking after them
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Work well in hot weather
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great fit and comfort in hot weather
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The shiny finish, but that's purely a subjective criticism
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
While expensive compared to many bib shorts on the market, they're priced in line with Rapha's regular bib shorts, and if it's hot weather riding you have planned, these are noticeably more comfortable
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.