Rapha Bibshorts £120
Before, but usually after purchasing carbon wheels, bars and expensive saddles, the most important bit of kit in any cyclists kit bag is a quality pair of shorts. It’s an area that is often skimped upon, but it the one area that has the most pronounced effect on your enjoyment of cycling.
Rapha’s bib shorts look extremely simple from the outside but that veil of simplicity hides some good solid design, as RCUK has come to expect from Rapha. They're an eight panel design and the shorts cling to the shape of your body extremely well. The soft Italian mesh fabric is very comfortable next to the skin and removes sweat well. The legs are cut a little longer, so fans of rolling their shorts up to reveal the gripper tape will be pleased. The wide bib straps further enhance the overall comfort, and on the back there's a large cutaway section extending right down to the lower back for lessening sweaty backs.
The most important part of any short however, is the chamois. It’s an area that can make or break the shorts, so Rapha has opted for Nalini’s top of the range De Luxe pad. If you’ve nosed inside any of the current crop of high-end bib shorts (not something we'd want to admit to doing), the pad will look a little understated, and it's certainly a simple no-frills design. Effective it is though, and amply provides a high level of comfort, and the shape of the pad means it doesn't feel intrusive to cycling. The pad also doesn't hold onto moisture too much, with perforations all over it to help remove sweat.
Attention to details include discreet glossy Rapha logos on the legs, soft tacky gripper strips and a surprisingly useful small pocket for stashing house keys on the back – even with three pockets on your jersey, it still came in handy.
Available in any colour as long as it's black, and six sizes from XS to XL.