The Rapha Touring Shorts are an elegant, if pricey, solution to the inelegant problem of the permanently lycra-clad commuter, or for anyone who wants some cycling shorts but doesn't want to wear Lycra or indeed wants shorts to wear over Lycra.
If you ride into work there's always the dilemma of whether to go full roadie, or cover up the lycra and avoid the stares in the street. Rapha have looked at this and their rather aesthetic solution is the Touring Short, designed to be worn over bib shorts (but equally capable without them).
They have a nice close-fitting leg to avoid the billowing seen in normal shorts, and a high waist to keep the rear cleavage from showing.
There are two pockets. The one to the rear above the bottom is smartphone/wallet sized, and the other, where the 'condom pocket' on jeans would normally be on the front, is large enough for keys or a bank card. These are not really load-carrying shorts, then, but rather carrying the essentials type of shorts.
I've ridden both commutes and longer days, and found them to be comfy and irritant free, thanks in part to the satin tape on the hems which keeps the legs friction free during your pedal stroke. Speaking of comfort, the waist is adjustable which is useful should you wish to swap between wearing shorts underneath or not.
If it rains, or rather when it rains, they dry quickly but the light colour does highlight stains quite easily. They do wash well though.
It's Rapha, so there's a little bit of pink there and while they feature a touch of reflectivity it's nicely done. And it's Rapha, so of course they are expensive; £80 may well be prohibitive for many. Having a look around and it seems there's a growing number of firms that are settling into this price band, so while it used to be easy to mock the company for their stratospheric pricing it looks like there's plenty willing to spend that sort of cash on a pair of shorts.
I've had them for a couple of months now and found them to be comfy enough to be worn all day, and I've even found myself using them as short of choice when not cycling.
Pricey, but attractively styled and comfy with or without cycling shorts underneath
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Touring Shorts
Size tested: 32, Light Grey
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?
Designed for wearing over bibs, they are equally adept at commuting or longer day riding. I've used them for both and would agree.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Breathable fabric helps keep you cool and is quick drying although prone to showing grime in the light colour.
They feature a full-length gusset to prevent seam chafing and a non-slip waistband to keep them in place when riding.
Lightweight, comfy and quick drying.
They've been worn for commuting and during the transcontinental and have remained in great condition the whole time.
Totally subjective, but they are undoubtedly expensive, however that's matched by their comfort. I've worn them a lot so the value has been good, and I'll keep on wearing them into next year.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable for all day riding and wearing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort is key, but they look really good too; being shot of the flappy shorts was very much appreciated.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
They do show up the dirt easily in this colour which can be rather off-putting and leads to them being washed frequently.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, maybe not this colour though.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Comfortable, if pricey, alternative to going full-roadie for commuting, and day tripping.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 176cm Weight:
I usually ride: Rapide RC4, Raleigh SP Race, Hoffman BMX My best bike is: Rapide RC4
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, Adventure-packing, crossing-countries