The Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Bib Shorts are a stripped-back version of the company's regular Pro Team bib shorts. They've been developed based on feedback from Team Sky for use in hot conditions, where keeping cool is a priority, and they really are the business - if you can find the weather to suit.
We've seen Rapha and Team Sky push the boundaries of lightweight fabrics: remember that infamous Chris Froome see-through skinsuit? Thankfully for my modesty, these new shorts don't push the boundaries quite as far as that. Phew.
They're like the regular Pro Team shorts, and comfort is about the same, but the key differences are in the lighter weight fabric used and slimmer and lighter mesh bib straps. The pad is perforated so it's more resistant to sweat build-up, too. The regular Pro Team bib shorts aren't exactly heavy, but alongside these Lightweight ones, the difference is tangible.
From the moment you pull them on, the shorts feel lighter around the legs. I took them on a couple of press trips to warmer climes, and on some of the longer mountain climbs in the heat of the day, the shorts definitely felt more breathable and airy in comparison to regular shorts. The difference isn't huge, but it is noticeable, and on long and sweaty climbs it's an appreciable improvement. Whether it's an advantage is another matter, but they certainly feel cooler.
The fit is regular Pro Team fare, which is to say they're very fitted; they are designed for the skinny Team Sky athletes after all, so they're very snug.
The leg openings are excellent. There's minimal silicone gripper, it's more the compression qualities of the wide band doing a great job of keeping the shorts nicely lined up with your tan lines.
The new bib straps don't have much stretch to them, so getting the shorts on requires a bit more wrangling to get the straps over the shoulders. Once on, they sit flat and are comfortable, not exerting too much pressure on the shoulders.
A reminder that these are shorts designed for racing is the radio pocket at the base of the back, including a label to write your name. Rapha has missed an opportunity to shed a bit more weight here: it could have done away with this pocket, which is unnecessary for most people buying these shorts.
If you predominantly cycle in hot weather (lucky you) or you run hot, the Pro Team Lightweight Bib Shorts could be enough of a difference to make cycling more comfortable for you. They're also £10 cheaper than the regular Pro Team shorts (and the ones with green highlights are currently discounted to £135), but I feel for most UK cycling the regular shorts are a better all-round option. If you're heading to the mountains for a week though, I would be packing the Lightweight shorts.
Great shorts for hot weather cycling, but of limited appeal to UK cyclists
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Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Bib Shorts
Size tested: Black/White, S
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?
Modified and stripped-back for racing in the heat.
Rapha says: "The pro peloton has a long history of modifying their kit and equipment – including snipping away at the straps of their shorts to create a lighter garment for hot days. With this in mind, Rapha's designers have dedicated a summer-specific bib short for racers, using lightweight fabrics and a perforated chamois to enhance moisture transfer and leave riders feeling cooler in the heat.
"The bib straps are made using a far lighter mesh than the original Pro Team Bib Shorts, and have been trimmed to ensure less coverage of the skin. The lightweight perforated chamois is more resistant to sweat, while still delivering comfort for long days in the saddle. The seat panels of the shorts use a resilient performance fabric to prevent wear, while the short's side panels are made from a very lightweight and breathable fabric to enhance moisture transfer. The grippers use a fine silicone print across a broad surface area to give a secure and comfortable fit."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Lightweight fabrics and chamois
Durable seat panels
Cut-away bib straps
Silicone print grippers
They're £10 cheaper than the regular Pro Team bib shorts, but they have a short operating window. Live somewhere hot? These are for you. UK cyclists will be better served by the regular Pro Team shorts.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Much cooler feeling then regular bib shorts when riding hard or racing in hot conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really good fit and lightweight material used in the shorts that is more breathable in hot weather.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The bib straps aren't very stretchy and getting them over the shoulders can be a challenge.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd stick with the regular Pro Team shorts for UK cycling.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Excellent attention to detail and the lightweight fabrics and mesh bib straps do make a noticeable difference, and for riding or racing in hot conditions you might appreciate the difference. The regular Pro Team bib shorts are a more practical option for UK cycling though.
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, mountain biking
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.