As the name suggests, the Rapha Women's Pro Team Crit Bib Shorts have been designed specifically for crit racing, to be fast but also comfortable. Their high-stretch, lightweight fabrics are aimed at giving riders an aerodynamic advantage, while the reflective logos are bright and eye-catching. They're a little pricey at £175, but I found them comfortable on long training rides as well as racing, which makes the cost a little easier to swallow.
Crit races typically involve racing around several laps of the same circuit for under an hour, so comfort and an aerodynamic advantage are key to performing well. I can't verify the aerodynamics, but Rapha has used lightweight fabrics, bonded seams and a dual density chamois from its Pro Team Bib Shorts II to create a comfortable and high quality product that certainly won't hold you back.
The chamois is sewn neatly into the shorts so there is a smooth transition between it and the Lycra. The pad is denser on the rear for added comfort for your sit bones and it's really comfortable. I have a pair of Rapha Core Shorts that are a couple of years old and found the chamois in the Pro Team Crit Bibs noticeably more comfortable, especially as the distance and intensity of my rides increased.
Part of the testing period was in the last of the summer heat, and after things got a bit hot during rides on a warm day I can confirm that the mesh on the body is fast drying. The straps are very stretchy, which makes them easy to get on and off, and should also mean the shorts will fit riders of different heights comfortably.
The flat bonded edges of the bib section are unnoticeable on the skin – there's no discomfort or chafing. It's a subtle design detail that I feel give the bibs a more racy feel, reducing bulk and (perhaps) giving an aerodynamic edge – not one that would necessarily shave seconds off your time, but make you feel confident that you're not wasting any energy when racing.
The small, low-profile silicone dots inside the hems work well at keeping the legs in place – the shorts didn't move during any of my rides and didn't cause any discomfort.
There is a radio pocket on the back of the bibs for those doing 'proper races'. I doubt it'll be used for that purpose by many – as Jamie mentions in his review of the men's Pro Team Crit Bib Shorts, racers over category C have to wear club colours – but it's useful for stowing an emergency gel.
I think Rapha has done a brilliant job with the design for these bibs – apparently the inspiration was taken from road markings flashing under a racer's wheel as they go around a crit circuit. The Rapha logo on the leg is also reflective in low light, an added safety feature.
The logo and patterns used in the bibs match those in the Pro Team Crit Jersey that I also tested. I think they make a very nifty matching set and received very positive comments when I wore these on rides with friends.
As with the jersey, I tested a size small but could have gone down to an XS for a really skin-tight feel; this matches what Rapha advises on its website. Rapha has a size guide specifically for its Pro Fit range – be sure to check this out to get the correct fit.
I have washed the bibs several times at 30 degrees, as advised by Rapha, and they've come out like new each time.
Priced at £175, these bibs are at the higher end of the market, though there are more costly options out there – the Pro Team Bib Shorts are £195, and Gore Wear's C7s, which performed really well and were liked for being exceptionally comfortable, are £179.99, though these aren't aimed specifically at short circuit races.
You can spend less though: Rapha's Women's Pro Team Training bibs and the BioRacer Epic bib shorts are both £140, while Santini's Women Legend Bib Shorts cost £110, although Emma had issues with the high neck, so they might not be everyone's cup of tea.
Overall, Rapha's Pro Team Crit Bibs are comfortable, aerodynamic and look brilliant. The overall fit and quality are great for long rides and short intense sessions. They're not cheap at £175, and you can undoubtedly buy bibs for less that will perform well, but they probably won't look as snazzy or feel as race-ready as these.
Good aerodynamic fit, comfortable and a great design – perfect for short races and long rides
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Pro Team Crit Bib Shorts
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says, 'A race-ready women's bib short designed specifically for criterium racing.
'Crit racing is a discipline apart, deserving of dedicated kit. The Women's 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 feature a streamlined, single seam construction for a compressive yet comfortable fit. Low-profile silicone leg grippers keep the short stable during the toughest efforts while a reworked RAPHA logo on either leg adds a flash of colour. Our race-ready Pro Team chamois pad features dual-density foam for optimal support and an antibacterial top sheet for long-lasting comfort. The upper section is made with a lightweight, breathable fabric whose mechanical stretch provides excellent support. High-stretch panels over the shoulders ensure a close fit for riders of all heights and bonded edges make for a low-profile fit beneath a race jersey. For clear communication during the chaos of a crit, there's a radio pocket on the back.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- Pocket in the back of the bibs for a radio communication during a race.
- Lightweight, breathable fabric.
- Bonded seams on the upper part of the body
- Low profile silicon dots to keep the bottom of the shorts in place
- Stretchy straps over the shoulders to ensure a close fit riders of all heights.
- Flashy Rapha logo on the legs which is reflective in the dark.
- Chamois pad is made from a 'dual-density foam for optimal support and an antibacterial top sheet for long-lasting comfort'
The shorts feel like they have been well constructed, all seams are tight including the bonded edges of the bib section.
The bibs performed really well – they're comfortable, lightweight, and have a great fit.
I tested a size small but would probably go for an XS for an even tighter feel; the size matches with Rapha's online guide.
The bib section feels particularly lightweight; they're very well suited for warm days or races when you will get hot.
The chamois was very comfortable during training sessions and long rides.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed at 30 degrees and came out like new.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They performed really well, with numerous features to guarantee comfort and aid aerodynamics.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, fit and the design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really, bar the price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're at the higher end of the market. You can spend more – Rapha's Pro Team bib shorts and its Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts are £195, and Gore Wear's C7s are £179.99 – but you can also spend less: Rapha's Women's Pro Team Training bibs and BioRacer's Epic bib shorts are both £140.
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
Expensive, yes, but great quality, comfortable and beautifully designed. And you can wear them for training too.
About the tester
I usually ride: Liv Langma Advanced 1 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, Triathlon