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The Rapha Men's Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts are excellent, using innovative technologies combined with noticeable compression and a superb chamois. However, there is no getting around that price tag.
For more (and cheaper) options, check out our guide to the best cycling bib shorts.
I've had a pair of Rapha's Pro Team shorts for the last five years. Normally I wouldn't keep a pair of bib shorts for that long, because... they're bib shorts. However, although they are now admittedly further down the pecking order, they are still going strong and there has been no reason to get rid of them. The chamois is still very comfortable, the decals are still in place and they still look great. Only time will tell whether this Powerweave version will have the same staying power, but in other respects they're top performers.
The Powerweave material has similar properties to other high-end bib shorts I have used, such as the MAAP Pro Bib 2.0 and Castelli Premio Blacks I tested in the last couple of years. The material wicks very well, has compression built in, and even has elasticated threads that make grippers at the bottom of the legs unnecessary.
The material used down the front and up to the back also feels quite similar. However, down the side of the legs is where you really notice the difference, with a feel closer to cotton than what you would expect in a pair of bib shorts.
This material is noticeably compressive, to the extent that when you first put the shorts on they almost feel a bit small. But after a couple of minutes, they sit perfectly, offering compression and without any irritating wrinkles or creases.
To help with this comfort, Rapha has used fewer seams, with the stretch of the material allowing them to build these with seven panels. Fewer panels means fewer seams and the potential to rub and cause irritation on longer rides. That said, the Castelli Premios have even fewer seams, with only three panels, although to be honest both are supremely comfortable without any rubbing whatsoever, even during long rides on hot days.
On the subject of comfort, Rapha has used its remodelled race chamois, which is both slimmer and lighter than the other Pro Team models, and it's a truly excellent pad. I used these over several long and hot rides, on rough paths and glass-smooth roads, and there was no time when I wished I was wearing something else. The compression of the fabric seems to really help with this, not only with wicking but also because it feels like it holds the chamois closer in, creating less movement. Compared with the other top-end pads I've used in the last year or so it stands up well – it is definitely simpler than MAAP's and Castelli's, but is no less comfortable on long rides.
Up top Rapha has slightly adjusted the straps compared with the earlier models of this bib short, removing the cutout in the strap and instead just having a straight strap running all the way across the top of the shoulder and connecting the back panel. They sit flat against the shoulders and I didn't have any issues with twisting or digging in while I was riding or when putting them on, which is something that can happen with these thinner laser-cut straps.
At the back, a mesh panel helps to let heat escape easily and keeps you nice and cool.
These shorts do break the mould in a couple of ways, but the one that is perhaps most marked is that they are not available in black. As well as the blue version on test, which has little turquoise flecks down the legs, you can get them in a dark brown and a grey that's close to a black, but there is no standard plain black in the line-up.
At £300, these are comfortably the most expensive bib shorts we have ever reviewed on road.cc.
By comparison, those Castelli Premio Blacks are a snip at £250 (£30 more than when I tested them in 2021). There isn't a huge amount between them as they're both brilliant, but the Pro Team Powerweaves dry slightly quicker.
The MAAP Pro Bib 2.0s have gone up to £260, and again there isn't much between them, though again the Raphas dry a little quicker.
Though there is no getting around the price, the Rapha Pro Team Powerweaves are supremely comfortable bib shorts. From my testing of the MAAP and Castelli shorts in 2021 and 2022, I'd say there's little to choose between them – all three are fantastic – though the Raphas do dry quicker. They are among the best bib shorts I have ever used, and if you prefer a more 'natural' feeling fabric then perhaps that extra £40 or £50 is worth it – as long as you don't want black.
Exceptional bib shorts with an exceptional price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Men's Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for
They're aimed at racing and high performance road cycling.
Rapha describes these as an 'Elite-Level Race Bib Short'.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rapha lists these key features:
Compressive yet comfortable race bib shorts made for extended high-tempo rides
Highly breathable woven fabric draws sweat from the skin 2x faster for reliable temperature control
Engineered 7-panel construction saves on bulk – 20% lighter than Pro Team Bibs
Compressive weave optimises muscle support to aid with rapid recovery
Race-ready chamois pad with multiple layers of higher-density foam for optimal support
Laser-cut, ergonomic bib straps with bonded edges for pressure-dispersed support over the shoulder
No regular leg gripper – integrated, elasticated yarns woven into the fabric provide a stable fit
Very well made – strong stitching, impressive and innovative fabric, and few seams to cause issues.
Comfortable, compressing, and the best wicking I have come across in a pair of bib shorts.
My current set of Pro Team bib shorts have lasted for five years and are still going strong; I don't see anything about these that suggests they wouldn't last just as well.
The compressive qualities of the fabric mean that these sit very comfortably against the skin and create an impressive close fit without any real signs of creasing.
The large I tested fitted as I would expect.
179g is impressive, although Castelli's Premio Black hit the scales at 154g. Let's be honest, though, a 25g difference is the equivalent of having a gel in your pocket or not.
Supremely comfortable – the chamois is excellent, the fit is exceptional, and the wicking for hot weather riding is unrivalled.
The one downside – they are not just very expensive, they are the most expensive bib shorts we have ever reviewed on the site.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
You can just chuck them in the washing machine at 30 degrees and line dry.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very, very well. They are incredibly comfortable for long rides in a multitude of conditions and really show their class when the temperature rises.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The fit, not only the compression but also the way you can almost feel them adapting to your body.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £300, these are the most expensive bib shorts we have ever reviewed on road.cc.
Castelli's Premio Blacks are £250, while the MAAP Pro Bib 2.0s are £260.
Looking beyond those we've tested, Assos' range-topping Mille GTO Bib Shorts C2 are cheaper, coming in at £265, though Poc's Raceday Bibshorts are £320.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if my bank manager allowed it.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A truly exceptional pair of bib shorts that are comfortable, high performance, and fit superbly.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.