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Rapha Cotton Trousers



A superb pair of everyday trousers that combine great fit, construction and styling, whether on the bike or off

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

What the scores mean

Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.

  • Exceptional
  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Quite good
  • Average
  • Not so good
  • Poor
  • Bad
  • Appalling

There was a time when 'cycle clothing' and 'looking normal' couldn't even bear to be in the same room; they drank in different bars, and hung out with different friends. But in recent times feelings have thawed between these old foes, and with the boom in city cycling, clothing that works equally well on the bike as it does on civvy street is becoming the norm. Rapha's Cotton Trousers are a fine case in point.

These trousers are lightweight, simple looking and designed for everyday use, whether it's on or off the bike. They look as good with a pair of trainers and a T-shirt as they do with a smart pair of shoes and a shirt for more formal occasions.

> Buy these online here

They're a really good pair of trousers with some neat and very subtle cycling features. The fit is slim, but with enough room for movement when you're on the bike, and they have a slightly tapered leg towards the ankle. They certainly don't have a cycling look to them, in fact they're pretty minimal in terms of appearance and any features are really well hidden.

The Cotton Trousers are, pretty unsurprisingly, made of cotton. In fact they're 98% cotton, with 2% elastane thrown in to give that extra bit of flex and stretch when you're turning the pedals. They're superbly comfortable, lightweight and soft against the skin.

Rapha Cotton Trousers - riding.jpg

They're pretty hardwearing too – most surface dirt brushes off pretty easily and creases drop out quickly, so you don't need to worry about turning up to the office or pub looking dishevelled. And thought has gone into the longterm lifespan of the trousers, with Rapha choosing a fabric that wears in over time and creates a patina effect on the surface.

The trousers aren't going to be first thing to choose if you're heading out in inclement weather; they stand up well enough in a light bit of drizzle and a cold breeze, but anything heavier than that and you're going to want to pick something else from your wardrobe. They don't purport to have any weather beating properties, but it's something worth a mention.

The attention to detail is impressive: the side pockets and one of the rear pockets have zips so your belongings are safely stowed away without the worry of your phone spilling out onto the tarmac.

Rapha Cotton Trousers - pocket zipped.jpg

The seams and joins feel like they'll take some serious abuse before they even think about deteriorating, and inside they are piped in a contrasting high-vis pink, which you can keep hidden away or reveal by rolling up your trouser leg as you ride.

Rapha Cotton Trousers - turn up 2.jpg
Rapha Cotton Trousers - turn up.jpg

There's also a high-vis pink tab on the left back pocket, which, again, can be left on show or hidden away depending on your preference. Apart from the flashes of pink there's not much else in the way of visibility, but then again trousers are often pretty far down the pecking order when it comes to such matters.

Rapha Cotton Trousers - back.jpg

The waistband has sturdy belt loops and a zip fly featuring a good quality Riri zip, and the waist fastens with a sturdy rubberised button. If we're splitting hairs, it's quite common for cycling trousers to have a double fastening on the waist to spread the load, but here Rapha has just gone for the single button. It seems strong enough, and showed absolutely no signs of weakness during the testing period.

Rapha Cotton Trousers - waist.jpg

There's a wide range of sizes to fit all types of rider. The trousers are available in three different colours, black, beige or blue, and sizes range from a 28in to a 36in waist, with leg lengths in short, regular or long (at the time of writing, options in size 32 are limited).

> Check out our guide to the best casual/commuter cycle clothing here

Their £95 RRP is, on the face of it, pricey, but this is a top-end product for which you'd expect to pay top end prices. Any fan of Rapha, or similar high-end brands, won't baulk at a price tag like this for a versatile pair of trousers that look good, perform well, and will stand the test of time.

There doesn't seem to be a catch with these trousers. They have a near-perfect balance of performance as a good pair of trousers and performance as a good pair of cycling trousers. They're an item of clothing you'll end up wearing whether or not riding a bike is going to feature in your day – a sure sign of a well-made product.


A superb pair of everyday trousers that combine great fit, construction and styling, whether on the bike or off test report

Make and model: Rapha Cotton Trousers

Size tested: W32-L34

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 Rapha Cotton Trousers are an everyday, versatile pair of trousers aimed at the city cyclist.

Rapha says: "Cotton trousers with a slim fit and gradual taper at the lower leg, for everyday use on and off the bike."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?


- Classic slim taper

- Flexible cotton material

- Lightweight and soft

- Hi-vis detailing

- Belt loops

- Riri zip-fly


- 97% cotton / 3% Lycra

Rate the product for quality of construction:

They look good and the quality of the seams and stitching seems to be really robust.

Rate the product for performance:

Comfortable, great looking, and hard wearing.

Rate the product for durability:

During the test period they stood up really well and seem like they will last the test of time... but only time will tell.

Rate the product for fit:

A really nice fit, slim in the leg and nicely tapered. There's a wide range of sizing - short, regular and long lengths, and from 28-36in waist, though some of the middle sizes are unavailable.

Rate the product for sizing:

Sizing seems to be good; I tend to size up in leg length slightly for trousers that I know I'll be riding in, and these came out at a good length.

Rate the product for comfort:

Really comfortable, soft material and lightweight, the seams are in the right places so there's no discomfort when you're in the saddle.

Rate the product for value:

More expensive than your average pair of slacks, but then again these aren't your avarage pair of slacks. They're versatile, well made and good looking. Any fan of Rapha products would expect to pay this kind of price.

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Simple to wash on a standard 30 degree wash, and can be ironed on a cool setting. Rapha claims that the material is designed to create a patina effect over time as it wears, but obviously the test period didn't give us time to witness this.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Really well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The minimal styling, good construction and versatility.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Lack of weatherproofing so couldn't wear them on rainy days... and there are quite a lot of those at the moment!

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

I'm giving the Rapha Cotton Trousers a 9. My original thought was a high 8 but to my mind they just tip over into the 'Exceptional' category. Their simplicity and versatility as an everyday piece of clothing just makes them so good, and they stand out as a cracking pair of everyday trousers whether you're going to be riding a bike or not.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 30  Height: 5'10  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: KHS Flite 100 Singlespeed/Fixed, Genesis Equilibrium 20  My best bike is:

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: commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed

Oli has been a staffer since day one. He's the creative and photography force behind the site, and has got a keen eye for good quality, well designed cycling kit. You'll find him on his bike most days whether it's commuting, riding with his kids, or tackling a climb on Zwift. He's got a penchant for a steel frame and has had 'fit mudguards' on his To Do list for nearly 8 years now. Likes: France, gin, cat memes. Dislikes: fitting mudguards. 

Add new comment


Nevis the cat | 8 years ago

Judging by the pics somebody needs to go a waist size up....

HarryTrauts | 8 years ago

"A superb pair of everyday trousers that combine great fit, construction and styling, whether on the bike or off "

For £95 I would hope so! 

"The attention to detail is impressive: the side pockets and one of the rear pockets have zips so your belongings are safely stowed away without the worry of your phone spilling out onto the tarmac."

Are you being paid by Rapha for positive reviews?  Zips on pockets are not evidence of attention to detail.  Surely these are basic requirements on commuter trousers.

There are so many other ridiculous statements in this article!  This blinkered love of all things Rapha has to stop.  Even the 5/10 score for value is qualified with "More expensive than your average pair of slacks, but then again these aren't your avarage (sic) pair of slacks. They're versatile, well made and good looking."  See comments about M&S trousers above.  

And then there's "Any fan of Rapha products would expect to pay this kind of price." I'm a fan of their products but I'm certainly not a fan of their pricing strategy.  Some real world opinions from the staff at would be welcome from time to time.  So many of us have families and household budgets that mean, while we may be able to afford these prices, we simply can't justify paying them.

michophull | 8 years ago

I had a pair of the black Rapha trousers a couple of years ago. Got them in the sale. Ended up having them professionally converted to shorts. Very nice with padded skin shorts underneath on the touring bike.

TypeVertigo | 8 years ago
1 like

Absolutely no mention of the cloth material abrading? Or any measures to prevent said abrasion?

The number one reason why I don't enjoy riding in trousers or pants is because the pedaling motion, and resulting friction against the saddle, tends to wear holes in them around the inner thigh or crotch area. I've sacrificed a fair number of good jeans, even Levi's 508 Commuter "cycling specific" jeans, to this.

Any review of cycling trousers/pants/jeans that doesn't take this into account is sorely lacking.

rjfrussell | 8 years ago
1 like

I own a fair few bits of Rapha kit-  I think a lot of their technical stuff is excellent, and, as such, reasonable value.

But, this is a non-technical pair of trousers, yes?  For £95?

"Technical" features- pockets with zips?  In a commuting set-up, I suspect most people could have a work-around for a no-zip trouser pocket.

And minimal bits of hi-viz.

So what great things can we say about these trousers?

Hey-  the waistband features belt loops.  And a button.  And there is a zip fly.  (A GOOD QUALITY zip fly-  because, so many times, I have bought cheaper trousers where the zip has failed??)

I like Rapha.  I might almost say I love Rapha.  But this review, and possibly this garment... well... just pants.

leisurist | 8 years ago
1 like

They are not that flattering in that last pic. Seriously?

arfa | 8 years ago

wore a pair of these today in the rain and they were pretty effective at repelling light rain


as you get 3 for the price of 1 of the above they might be worth a review ?


Russell Orgazoid | 8 years ago

£95 for a pair of trousers. Bargain.

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