Rapha says the Commuters are 'a pair of shorts for the rigours of the commute' and they're certainly that. They're comfortable and lightweight, work well with and without Lycra, and they'd be a good option for a multi-day ride where you want something light and casual to sling on at the end of the day.
Rapha uses a 94% nylon/6% elastane mix for the Commuter shorts, and the fabric is light and easy to dry. It's not especially stretchy but the elastane adds a bit of give. You get two pockets, one either side at the front, and one of them is zipped for valuables. There are no back pockets, which is a shame. Still, at least the pockets they have are useful, unlike the Rapha Touring shorts I also own. You can get a big phone or your wallet in them.
Rapha has opted for a captive webbing belt which sits only across the front of the shorts. It has a magnetic clasp and is easy to adjust, although as you cinch it up the buckle migrates to the right, which makes the front of the shorts look a bit odd.
Actually, everything about the front of the shorts is a bit odd. They're elasticated, so there's no button or fly; that means there's nothing to rub but they do have a bit of a house pants/old man trousers kind of a feel, and if you're not careful when tightening the belt they bunch up at the front which isn't a great look. You get used to pulling them flat across the front fairly quickly though.
On the bike they work well. I've been to the shops in them, and I've done a four-hour gravel ride in them, and they work very well either with or without Lycra. You could wear them touring if you prefer a casual look, or they're light enough and small enough to stash for time off the bike.
The material dries extremely quickly, and they didn't rub anywhere or cause any other issues. The hidden reflectives on the sides are a nice touch for a bit of extra visibility after dark. The material is holding up well, and they're simple to care for.
Overall I like them, and at £60 they're not especially expensive. They're a solid option if you're looking for something versatile you could wear for casual rides and off the bike too.
They're not directly comparable to something like the Specialized RBX shorts I reviewed recently; really they're more like a bike-specific take on Rohan travel shorts, or something like that.
They're not dissimilar to Alpkit's Strada shorts, which are the same price, so I'd say they're decent value.
One to try if you're not such a big fan of the Lycra look walking into the office of a weekday morning.
Good quality, versatile baggy shorts for commuting, touring or bikepacking
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Commuter Shorts
Size tested: 34W
Tell us what the product is for
A pair of shorts for the rigours of the commute.
These shorts have been designed to withstand day in, day out riding. With a fit based on our popular Randonnée short, they're comfortable, durable and carefully designed with a host of commuter considered features.
An elasticated waist with a high-rise at the back ensures a secure and comfortable fit as well as excellent coverage when you're on the bike. The integrated belt with magnetic snap closure allows easy fine-tuning of the fit. A zipped pocket keeps small valuables safe and reflective tape on the sides of each legs adds extra visibility on the road. Unlike the Randonnée short, these have cut slightly shorter for easy, unintrusive pedalling.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
One zipped pocket for securing valuables
Elasticated waist for easy on and off
Belt with magnetic buckle
High rise at back for coverage
Reflective side tape for visibility
Hanger loop in waist for drying
Slightly odd belt/front arrangement.
They size up fairly large.
Decent value, about the same as other similar shorts.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Simple cool wash has them nice and clean; quick to dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Light and comfy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Odd belt/waist arrangement at the front.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Same as the Alpkit Strada and similar to non-cycle-specific shorts like those from Rohan.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
Minor niggles aside, these are light and comfy shorts and I've worn them plenty. They're not especially expensive either.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura, Dward Design fixed
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.