Rapha Brevet bib shorts - review - Road Cycling UK

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Rapha Brevet bib shorts – review

Exceptionally comfortable shorts designed for long-distance riding - top marks, Rapha

The Rapha Brevet bib shorts are designed for long-distance riding and touring (they get their name from the brevet cards stamped at audax checkpoints), and, as a result, have a couple of key features – including a quick-drying chamois and large reflective stripe on the outside of either leg – to distinguish them from regular shorts. In use, the Brevet shorts are extremely comfortable – the key attribute for any shorts to be ridden all day – and performed perfectly for as long as they were ridden.

Let’s start with the chamois, as that really is the key part of the shorts. It’s based on the same excellent, multi-density chamois as used in Rapha’s top-notch Classics shorts, but has been perforated. Why? Well, that should help with ventilation for long days in the saddle but, more specifically here, is so the shorts can be washed and dried overnight, ready for another day on the road. That’s ideal for multi-day rides with minimal kit being carried.

The straps on the bib straps are made from a lightweight mesh material
  • Specification

  • Price: £180
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Size tested: M
  • Website: Rapha

The foam is also layered in such a way to offer comfort for those extended hours in the saddle, but it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t compromise the height or size of the pad, so it doesn’t feels unobtrusive when riding. It certainly matches the high standards set by previous Rapha pads but seems to be more comfortable as the hours in the saddle increase. The chamois also passed our drying test – based on indoor drying in the summer.

I used the shorts on a real mix of surfaces – country lanes, gravel tracks, bridleways and light off-road – where the added vibration from bumpy terrain can soon cause discomfort, but the Brevet shorts took all this in their stride -the different densities and layers of foam in the chamois kept numb bum syndrome at bay. Long-term durability is more difficult to gauge over the course of a review but the build quality is excellent, and Rapha’s own testing included 700km over several days in the Tour of Ara, and plenty beyond that.

The weight of the lycra used is good for use from late spring across to early autumn. They’re also fine in the heat, and while the shorts aren’t specifically designed for summer use, felt completely comfortable in and around typical UK summer conditions in the low 20s.

Up top on the bib straps, Rapha have used a mesh fabric. The shoulder straps are cut a little squarer than normal (near parallel to each other), with a large open area over most of the back, which helps with keeping the back cooler, especially if you use a pack on a tour. It’s actually quite handy for comfort breaks, too; either by design or luck. Still, if you are spending prolonged periods in the shorts, that does count for something.

A large reflective block on the outside of both legs increases low-light visibility 

The fit is spot on for a pair of shorts like this – extremely comfortable. The fit is engineered but not in a way that is too racy or so the shorts feel restrictive . It’s more of a second skin which still feels ok to walk short distances in, as well being excellent on the bike.

On the base of the legs, the grippers are also well-suited to the shorts. They’re fairly traditional in design, with a silicone-lined hem as opposed to the wider, lighter, elasticated band popular on shorts at the moment, and while that means you don’t get the seamless transition between the shorts and your leg, it does feel more robust.

The hem is lined with plenty of silicone gripper to securely hold the shorts in place

While riding, I experienced no rubbing or irritation, with the gripper keeping the shorts well placed, and with no need to re-position them over time. The leg length is a little longer than Rapha’s Core shorts which we’ve already reviewed, but that does leave plenty of room for the well-sized reflective bands on the outside of either leg – another feature aimed at all-day rides or touring, when you might start early and finish late.

Conclusion

Rapha’s Brevet bib shorts may be designed for long distances but, in essence, these are exceptionally comfortable shorts for all types of riding – and you needn’t be targeting an event like the 1,200km Paris-Brest-Paris ride to enjoy the fit, fabrics and attention to detail put into these.

Pros

  • Quick-drying and well-engineered chamois
  • Excellent fit for a range of riding
  • Super comfortable for long rides

Cons

  • Little to complain about, but this kind of quality comes at a cost

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