Rapha's Pro Team bib shorts are very, very good shorts that put in a strong performance across the board... although the price tag might be enough to make you yelp.
Where shall I start? How about the seat pad, on the basis that if the pad is no good, you might as well not bother with the rest. Thankfully, Rapha use a top-end endurance pad from Cytech, chamois builders to the stars.
The Multi-D Anatomic pad covers quite a large area but much of it is shallow so it doesn't feel particularly bulky. That said, there's excellent cushioning where you need it, with various densities of foam used and various thicknesses from 3mm to 10mm, and plenty of channelling including a central channel to reduce pressure on the perineal region.
Those channels help with airflow too and the antibacterial surface layer works hard to shift moisture so the climate stays comfortable on long, hot days in the saddle. All in all, I got on really well with the pad whatever the length the ride; it's a definite winner.
The lowers are made from a supportive nylon/polyurethane fabric and the multi-panel construction makes for a consistent fit throughout. There's an extra reinforcing panel through the seat area - the bit that's most likely to wear - and silicone grippers hold the bottoms of the hemless legs in place comfortably.
You get a large logo on each leg, one black and one white. To be honest, I thought they'd crack and start to peel almost immediately but so far so good. They're still looking tidy.
The dye used in the lowers features Coldblack treatment, which is a new one on me. Coldblack is a finish that's designed to reduce the heat build up in textiles. Does it work? Coldblack have figures to say it does. Maybe they're right but did I notice any appreciable heat difference between these shorts and any others out on the road? No - there are way too many variables to tell.
The uppers are a very breathable nylon/elastane mesh and, again, the multiple panels mean they fit superbly. We're all different sizes but what I mean is that the panels shape the uppers before you get into them. It's not a question of stretching the fabric into the right shape around you. There are two little race radio pockets in the back section that, I'm guessing, not many people will use for their intended purpose. They make a handy stash for a couple of emergency energy gels though.
As usual with Rapha, the build quality is superb with fine stitching throughout and impressive attention to detail that sets these shorts apart from the crowd.
Are they worth £155? Well, you could get two, maybe three pairs of bib shorts for this price if you wanted, so if value is your big criterion you could do much better. Three pairs of standard shorts would doubtless last much longer than one pair of these.
At the other end of the spectrum, a pair of Assos T FI.Mille S5 bib shorts would set you back £169.99, the Assos T FI.13 S5 shorts are £225.99, and the Castelli Body Paint bibs (that Dave is testing right now) are £180, so it's not like Rapha are out on their own in terms of pricing.
These shorts perform really well, they're extremely comfortable and they look great, and if you're willing to pay for that, they'll serve you well.
Top-performing shorts with an excellent seatpad, although you're paying a premium price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team bib shorts
Size tested: Large
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?
They're designed as racing shorts although they're suitable for anyone who gets the miles in on the road.
Rapha say, "Technical racing bib shorts developed exclusively with Rapha Condor Sharp pros. The anatomic, Cytech pad has been chosen for the maximum range of movement, whether you're spinning up a col or chasing down a breakaway. It is also positioned further forward for an aggressive bike position and is reinforced with a robust fabric panel. The shorts have good stretch but are tight, supportive and durable. The shorts dyestuff features Coldblack treatment to keep you cool."
The fit and the seatpad are both top notch.
The build quality is good and the reinforcing panel under the seat adds a little durability but, realistically, they'll last about as long as any other shorts
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I might. They do enough in terms of performance and looks to make me consider it despite the hefty price tag
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, as above
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.