Review: 50 Mile Review: @rapharacing Pro Team Thermal Bib Shorts
With the temperature reaching a balmy 14.5 degrees centigrade for 2 hours it seemed that spring was on its way, no matter that it was still January – for one glorious afternoon we could forget about floods and snows.
What better time to get out on the bike in shorts? Well sadly the new Rapha Pro Team Thermal Bib Shorts didn’t arrive until the next day, by which time the temperature had dropped to a far chillier 6 degrees again, but let us not worry about trivialities like that!
On first inspection the shorts look like a normal pair of Pro Team shorts by Rapha, they are plain black, with Rapha logos on either leg, one in white and the other in a reflective black colour – very stylish. They are, however, slightly heavier than the Pro Team shorts for 2 reasons, the first of which is apparant the moment you put them one, they are slightly longer in leg length, going all the way down to my knees, and they also have a slightly thicker material, a brushed Thermoroubaix fleece inner no-less.
The added length and the increased thickness came in super handy within moments of starting to ride, the typical coldness to the tops of the thighs disappeared within a minute and for the next 2 hours I didn’t have to concern myself with that feeling of ruddy redness creeping into the legs, I think I was actually quite surprised by the level of insulation that the shorts provided. One thing I did notice which you may want to keep an eye on is the extra length obviously takes them closer to the skinnier part of your leg, so you may find yourself with slightly baggy bottoms – not an issue for me in this case as the medium sized shorts were a nigh-on perfect (read as potentially too small, I am 5’7″) snugness.
With flat seams for comfort and a super Cytech pad they are certainly comfy enough for longer rides, Rapha bill them as suitable for racing and ‘high-tempo’ riding, which seems about right, these are certainly not designed for mid-winter naked legged pootles around the lanes, and whilst they might do the job, I would be more inclined to keep my heart rate up a bit higher.
They are more than likely going to be worn with a pair of knee warmers (Merino of course – review just coming) to turn them into an adaptable set of 3/4’s for colder riding, but as the spring does arrive they would be suitable on their own, worn under tights they provide an extra layer of heat which will keep you satisfied on the coldest of mornings.
Now onto the price….at £170 they are quite the investment for what is, in effect, a niche item. More expensive than most winter tights, and certainly more expensive than most bib-shorts, they are a hit to the wallet and no mistake about that. BUT, and I am reticent to stand-up for such a price-tag, they do do a splendid job, keeping my legs warm on chilly rides, and negating the need for frantic thigh rubs upon arrival back at home.
Do they work? Yes, certainly. Are they expensive? Undoubtedly. Will I be shaving my legs earlier in the year and wearing them tomorrow? Most assuredly.