The Chapeau City shorts are well-made with subtle, cycling-specific features for round-town riding.
The clothing range of Devon-based brand Chapeau is split into two distinct parts: performance-led clothing for road cycling and casual clothing with cycle-specific features for short rides or commuting. These shorts are part of the latter range and you can also wear them on top of bib-shorts for slightly longer rides when you want the comfort of a chamois, but can’t justify full lycra.
First things first, casual cycle clothing often comes with claims that it “looks as good off the bike as on it” but these shorts are one of the few items I’ve worn that, to the naked eye, don’t scream “cyclist!”. We’ll resist the chapeau pun, but top marks to Chapeau for that.
The design is simple and smart, and the shorts come in two colours: plain black and the black pinstripe option we’ve tested, which is closer to dark grey.
The shorts have a straight leg cut and extend to just above the knee. They also have a tailored waist, with a zip fly, two buttons (of which the outward facing one is a smart, metal Chapeau-branded button – a pleasing touch) and four deep, open pockets (two on either leg, front and rear).
As for those cycle-specific features, the shorts are made from a 67 per cent cotton, 29 per cent polyester and four per cent elastane mix, with the elastane built in to the crotch and back panels.
Regular shorts can feel a little coarse when riding a bike but the added stretch in these, plus the soft feel of the fabric, works very well. The shorts move well with your legs when riding, and the fact the fabric is very light, and has some polyester mixed it, means they breathe well enough for the type of riding they’re designed for.
The shorts have four belt loops, two on the front, two on the rear, with those at the back made from a reflective material. And that’s it as far as cycle-specific features go – they’re subtle but work well, though we’d like to see a little more reflective material subtly incorporated elsewhere, perhaps on one of the rear pockets, where it wouldn’t risk being covered by a shirt, and at least one of the pockets to have a closure (a zip or buttoned flap, for example) to keep any valuables safe.
Six sizes are available, from XS to XXL, and our medium sample fits my 32″ waist perfectly. The £69.99 price tag makes these a premium pair of shorts (though the price is line with rival offerings) and it’s for you to decide whether the distance of your round-town riding warrants a specific pair of shorts.
What you do get besides that, however, is a smart pair of shorts which I’ve worn far more off the bike than on it, a testament to the fact that they work as a good pair of cycling shorts, but are fairly indistinguishable as such.