Rapha's Pro Team bib shorts are luxuriously comfortable shorts that happily go the distance, with a great fit and smart appearance.
Rapha's Pro Team kit, designed in collaboration with its sponsored pro riders, has been around for a number of years. The shorts have been tweaked and improved in that time, with better quality stitching and a variety of colours so you can colour match your riding kit - choose from pink, white or yellow for the Rapha logo.
You get a sense of the Pro Team fit when you pull the shorts on, they're a bit snug. Once you've manoeuvred the Lycra into place though, they're extremely well fitting shorts. The shape and position of the various panels ensures a good fit that is very racey, some will find them perhaps a little tight. They're not called Pro Team for nothing. Once you're pedalling, there's no restriction of movement.
The Lycra material used has a good degree of stretch, with a very high level of support. You feel cosseted in them, but they're not trying to do the trick of compression clothing. The material is treated with a coldblack dye that is supposed to reflect the sun's ray's. The hot weather we've had recently (though rapidly a distant memory) gave ample opportunity to put this to the test. I honestly couldn't tell the difference over regular shorts.
As has become popular with top-end shorts, the leg openings feature a wide seamless elastic band, with small gripper details, that does a good job of spreading the pressure over the legs, not too tight, but tight enough to ensure they stay put, and don't do that annoying gradual slide up the legs as you pedal.
Inside is a padded insert made by Cytech. Compared to some of the fancy pads that some shorts in this price range come with, this is a very simple pad. Its shape and generous padding ensures it's highly comfortable. It's the same as the one used in the Classic bib shorts, which is no bad thing as they are easily among the most comfortable bib shorts on the market. I've done a 10-day sportive in the Alps with regular 6+ hour days on the same chamois, and it's remarkably comfortable. If you want a pair of shorts that will still be comfortable after that sort of duration, you really can't go wrong with these.
The bibs straps are lined with mesh and comfortably support the shorts over the shoulders. There is a race radio pocket, a sign of their pro race design influence, which you could probably use for an MP3 player if you're desperate to make use of the feature. I mostly ignored it.
The fit and detailing of these shorts is superb, and comfort that provides, along with the padded insert, delivers mile after mile comfort. From racing to sportives and even touring, these are comfortable shorts to ride in. The insert is well-positioned and works exceptionally well in an aggressive position, such as when you're on the drops. After several hundred miles and plenty of 30 degree washing machine cycles, they're proving durable too.
Style is a subjective matter, but the understated look and small flash of colour provided by the contract logo makes them a good choice for anyone who can't stand some of the more garish cycle clothing available.
As nice as they are, I'd plump for Rapha's equally comfortably, and slightly more generous fitted, Classic shorts and pocket the saving.
Supremely comfortable and well-fitting shorts with one of the best padded inserts currently available.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team bibshorts 2013
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?
Offering the same fabric, fit and construction as Rapha's Team Sky Pro Bib Shorts, the latest Pro Team Bib Shorts have been designed in collaboration with leading riders.
Featuring pared-back styling and striking contrast details, they are made from a Lycra-based fabric which is both supportive and durable. The fabric is treated with coldblack®, a highly-technical dye that reflects the sun's rays to keep the fabric cool against the skin. In hot conditions, this means the body needn't expend unnecessary energy to keep cool, and can use it instead to improve riding performance. All Rapha's pro-grade bib shorts use the same award-winning Cytech pad.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Tight, supportive and lightweight
High-grade leg grippers for comfort and stability
coldblack® technology for superior cooling
Anatomic Cytech pad
Permanent wicking treatment
Multiple panel construction for optimum fit
Reinforced seat panel and bonded seams for comfort
RAPHA block logos on legs
Name label for team laundry use
Race radio pockets either side of spine
Extremely solid construction with hard-wearing durability.
You'll be hard-pressed to find shorts more comfortable than these. The fit best suits racers and performance minded cyclists, as they are very fitted.
No concerns so far.
The padded insert used is among the best currently available, but you get the same insert in Rapha's cheaper Classic shorts.
Yes they're bloody expensive, but the fit, comfort, details, durability and yes, I have to mention it, style means they just about justify it. Some people are clearly going to be put off by the price, but if you're not, here's a top-end bib short with supreme comfort.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For fast riding and long rides, they provided ample comfort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit is excellent and the insert is so comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
That price, there's no getting away from it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes I would.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
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.