At road.cc 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.
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
Made from a high proportion of recycled material, the Rapha Men's Classic Bib Shorts offer excellent levels of comfort from both the fabric and the pad, plus a great fit. Good attention to detail like the rear key pocket all add to the quality and design, though they don't come cheap.
The biggest update to the Rapha Classics is that they now use recycled nylon, which Rapha says gives them a lower environmental impact.
Some recycled materials can give a slightly different feel to the original fabric it's replacing, but there is none of that here. The material used for the Classics feels beautifully soft against the skin and offers loads of stretch for a very comfortable fit.
It moves well with your body as you move around on the bike, and the bib straps don't apply any pressure to your shoulders when you are climbing out of the saddle.
The pad used simply adds to this all-round comfort. According to Rapha it uses several layers of quick-drying foam with a sweat-wicking, antibacterial top sheet.
I was wearing the Classics on some long rides during the recent hot temperatures and the shorts proved very breathable throughout. The central cutout on the back mesh section also aids ventilation.
This doesn't mean they are limited to the hot days, though – the Classics performed well from those heady heights of the mid-20s Celsius right down to the low teens.
The legs are always held in position thanks to the silicone grippers, and I like the fact that they are quite sizeable, so they too don't create any pressure points.
Overall quality is very impressive. All of the flatlock stitching is exceptional throughout and robust, too, just like the fabric. I've covered some decent mileage in these over the last eight weeks and they still look brand new. There isn't even any bobbling underneath from the saddle rubbing against them.
The sizing is realistic to the British population, I'd say. I wear a medium in virtually every other brand (apart from some of the European ones that come up a little small) and these fitted really well. The Classics have quite a fitted style to them without being super extreme and aimed at mountain goats.
The Raphas retail at £170, which some might think is crazy for a pair of shorts. But they aren't alone.
Maap's Women's Team Bib Evos (I'm currently testing the men's version) are a cool £190, although Emma thought they offered premium comfort and performance, resulting in a 9/10 score overall, despite the price.
The Le Col Categorie Bib Shorts II are more expensive, too, at £180. Iwein liked the comfort but felt let down by some of the stitching quality and that the fabric bobbled easily.
There are plenty of other shorts out there that offer loads of comfort and quality for a lot less cash, though – La Passione's Club bib shorts that Steve rated very highly cost just £105.
Overall, while the price looks huge against some very good options, it is reasonably reserved compared with others and, to be honest, apart from the fact they'll make your wallet sting, there really isn't anything to dislike.
A big investment, but well worth it in terms of fit, comfort and durability
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Classic Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says, "Our Classic Bib Shorts have been refined more than any other pair we make. This latest version of our award-winning bib short incorporates recycled fabrics with a lower environmental impact. Combining the highest-grade components with technically advanced fabrics, these bibs are for riders who refuse to choose between comfort and style. The lycra fabric is soft against the skin and has increased mechanical stretch to provide a comfortable fit across a range of body shapes. The uppers are constructed from a lightweight mesh which provides excellent breathability, with a central cut out on the back to further aid temperature regulation. The Classic chamois pad comprises several layers of quick-drying foam with a sweat-wicking, antibacterial top sheet for comfort on all-day rides. Updated low-profile silicone leg grippers keep the shorts in place, while new reflective piping on the side panels improves your on-bike visibility."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Dual-density 11mm chamois pad for all-day comfort
Size-specific, dual-density chamois
Available in a range of colours with printed Rapha logos
Highly breathable upper section
Updated grippers and flatlock stitching
Rear key pocket
Printed Rapha logos on each side
Branded flag label on uppers
58% Recycled Nylon
73% Recycled Nylon
27% Recycled Elastane
Sizing is realistic and Rapha's guide looks to be bang on.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No issues at all. Went through the washing machine a lot of times with zero problems.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Great shorts for both long and short rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great comfort levels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing to really dislike if you are okay with the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are up there with other premium offerings from the likes of Maap and Le Col, to name just a couple. Other brands like La Passione, Lusso and dhb offer very good quality shorts for a lot less, though.
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 overall score
A big chunk of money against some very good bib shorts in the marketplace, but I can't really fault the fit and comfort levels, which brings an all-round score of 8/10, purely because they are very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!