The Rapha Pro Team Crit Bib Shorts share many of their features with the Pro Team II bibs but are cut longer in the leg, which Rapha claims benefits aerodynamics. The limited-edition graphics on each leg are reflective and the dual density pad meant that I found the shorts comfortable even on rides much longer than a typical crit race. These shorts are not only stylish but also functional.
Rapha first created its Pro Team bib shorts in 2011 before they received a major update in 2017. Rapha says that these dedicated crit versions share the same lightweight fabrics and dual density chamois pad as the Pro Team II bibs, which is certainly a strong starting point. In 2017, David scored those bib shorts 8/10 and, perhaps to the surprise of some, these crit versions have an RRP £20 cheaper.
Perhaps the most noticeable change is the leg length. These Crit bibs have longer legs than even the 'long' version of previous Rapha bibs I've used, and for me this is a welcome modification. Looking around the peloton, longer bib shorts certainly seem in fashion at the moment, despite the issue of tan lines – not only this, but Rapha claims it is more aerodynamic, although I can't imagine the benefits are huge...
My leg length is pretty average for my 6ft 1in height, but if you are shorter and, in particular, have shorter thighs, then these could well come up too long on you.
As you'd expect from a 'race ready' pair of bib shorts, these are plenty tight enough and do have a degree of compression. The use of separate panels is effective without being excessive, and the high stretch fabric conforms to the body well.
The bib portion of the shorts is particularly comfortable, helped by the fact that it is highly breathable and lightweight. The bib straps are wide and the bonded edges mean that the straps lie flat and close to the body, which is particularly noticeable when wearing an aero jersey.
Having recently tested a pair of dhb bib shorts which have even lighter-weight bib straps with laser cut edges, I really feel that bonded edges is the way to go, as they balance function and weight without getting screwed up under a jersey.
For those doing 'proper' racing in these shorts, there is a radio pocket, but I feel like its use will be extremely limited given the requirement for club riders (the vast majority) to wear team colours for any BC racing if they're Cat 3 or above. Thankfully, the Crits are also very much at home on training rides – they don't have to be reserved for your local crit circuit.
They're helped in this regard by the pad, which, as with many Rapha bib shorts, is now size-specific – a large pair will have a different sized pad to a small pair. Unlike Endura, which also offers different sized pads in its shorts, you aren't able to request which size you want, so this could become problematic for some, especially those near the extremities of a size. Personally, I found it worked well but I did notice that the pad was wider than in some other shorts I own.
Over the past month I've found the bib shorts comfortable not only on hard, short efforts but also some metric centuries as well. They've got very grippy silicone printed onto the lower leg bands which do an excellent job of keeping the shorts in place, and are so efficient in fact that they take a fair bit of manipulation to get them into the right place when putting the shorts on.
Even after reviewing plenty of shorts, it's hard to know what sets a good pair of shorts apart from a great pair, though the fact these were first in the suitcase for a hot weather training camp speaks volumes. The dhb shorts mentioned earlier are ever so slightly more breathable but they are also more see-through. Another pair, Castelli's Aero Race 4.0s, are a favourite of mine, and to be honest I'd find it very hard to choose between them, they're both excellent.
One 'feature' that the Rapha Crit bibs have that many others don't is reflective logos. That whole blue/green decal reflects and really does look the business in low light. It also, if you squint, spells out Rapha, which took me way too long to realise! So not only aesthetically pleasing but, if you were wearing these for training as well as for crits, an added element of safety too.
At £175 the Pro Team Crit shorts certainly aren't cheap, but there are also more expensive choices out there. For example, the Rapha Pro Team Powerweave shorts cost a whopping £275! The aforementioned Castelli Free Aero race 4.0s have a cheaper RRP of £150 and in my opinion are the Crits' equal in terms of quality and performance, though the Castellis are arguably less interesting to look at.
Overall, I'm a big fan of the Pro Team Crit bib shorts. They're lightweight and breathable, the bib section is one of the most comfortable I've worn, and I also found the pad good even on much longer rides than the crits these are intended for. For me the leg length extension is welcome but shorter-thighed riders may now find them too long... There are plenty of cheaper (and also excellent) bib shorts out there, but these do look and feel pretty neat!
High quality, comfortable bib shorts with cool reflective bits!
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Pro Team Crit Bib Shorts
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says: "The Pro Team Crit Bib Shorts make use of the same lightweight fabrics and dual-density chamois pad as our Pro Team Bib Shorts II but diverge on design with a unique pattern inspired by road markings flashing under racers' wheels. For an aerodynamic advantage, the shorts are cut slightly longer in the leg, with a streamlined, single seam construction for a compressive yet comfortable fit. For clear communication during the chaos of a crit, there's a radio pocket on the back."
From what Rapha says, these are clearly designed for crit racing but they can do a lot more than that, which is good, as it would really limit their use, especially as nearly all Cat 3 and above racers have to wear team kit for BC racing.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Limited edition road marking design
Size-specific Pro Team chamois pad
Low-profile silicone leg grippers
Highly breathable uppers
Bonded edges to fit beneath a race jersey
Elasticated shoulder panels for improved fit
Single leg seam construction for low bulk
Radio pocket at the centre of the back
As you'd expect from Rapha and at this price, very good.
Excellent performing bib shorts, and can be used for a lot more than their name suggests.
All good so far, stitching is good and no peeling of decals as of yet.
I love the fit, some compression which is to be expected from shorts designed for racing, and I also love the longer leg cut.
Accurate; worth bearing in mind they're long in the leg.
Yep, they're light.
The bib section is one of the best out there; grippers are strong, and the pad worked well for me though others may find it quite wide.
The Rapha premium is certainly there but they're great performing and good looking shorts, which helps justify it. Performance-wise, you can get the same for less (saving £30 quid or so), but I'm not sure you'll find more for less.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These are good for racing but also a lot more than that – comfortable even on long training rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Reflective bits in low light look really cool.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing but the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Quite expensive – as I mention in the review, the Castellis perform equally well and are £25 cheaper, but to some won't look as snazzy. These are £20 cheaper than their predecessors from three years ago. We've reviewed lots of really great shorts around the £140 mark but also some that are a fair bit more expensive than these Raphas.
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 very good pair of shorts: they're lightweight, comfortable and I really appreciate the new longer leg. The bib section itself is excellent and lies flat against the body, and the overall quality is very high. However, you are paying a premium for that funky design as there are bibs that perform equally well for less.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,