Bontrager’s RXL short is an upper mid range short aimed at the enthusiast road rider and represents a considerable improvement over cheaper eight panel designs. The fitted design incorporates Contra, Profil and micromesh fabrics to offer an unrestrictive, contoured fit and from the outset feels a notable improvement over traditional full Lycra. However, their muscle fatigue prevention properties sound little more than clever marketing.
Without doubt Bontrager are on to a winner when it comes to the insert which stretches four ways and features tailored, variable padding ranging between one and nine millimetres in thickness, providing ample support without the sensation of sitting atop a loaf of bread. This also gives a more flattering look off the bike and left me considerably less self-conscious at rest stops. Despite its polyester construction the wicking and moisture management is very, very good, staying fresh despite several continuous hours in the saddle; they’d be my choice for warmer Audax mileage.
Plain black (aside from RXL lettering) is a definite plus for me, meaning they’ll complement pretty much anything in the cycling wardrobe while hiding any close encounters with the transmission. Cut is excellent, the large size tested feeling seamless and bespoke with no sags or imperfections, adding to the sense of refinement. The silicone leg grippers are very tactile and prevented the RXLs creeping up the thighs without marking your legs.
As you’d expect given the asking price they wash beautifully, looking like new despite being subjected to road grime and water logged bridle paths. They require a little longer to dry which might not suit everyone.
A fine fitting, fabulously comfortable short that's worth the high price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Bontrager RXL short
Size tested: L
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 RXL is an upper mid range short aimed at expert riders. It is also available as a bib option and is designed to offer uncompromising comfort and moisture management and it succeeds on all grounds.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Contra, Profil and micromesh fabrics coupled with a synthetic insert with four way stretch, variable thickness between 1 and 9mm for the optimum in tailored comfort.
Attractive, durable design that washes superbly.
Probably the best fitting and most comfortable shorts I have ever worn over any distance.
Precision, no compromise fit with excellent attention to detail-the insert being one of the best I have ever come accross.
Pricey but given the construction quality, fit and materials used, they're well worth the money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Faultlessly: everything you should expect from a short. Not totally convinced it works against muscle fatigue but I've never felt quite so comfortable after several continuous hours.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Precision cut and superb insert.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, were they looking for a high end short
About the tester
Age: 35 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
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: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)