The Rapha Brevet Men’s Bib Shorts are designed to offer comfort, extra storage in the form of pockets and visibility for long, long rides.
Rapha’s Brevet collection, designed for long-distance ‘brevet’ rides (also known as audaxes), has always been designed around these aims. It prioritises easy fits over tight, aerodynamic cuts, ensures there is room for anything you may wish to carry with you, and is suitable for a range of weather conditions.
This new version of the Brevet Bib Shorts lives up to these aims, but several features could be improved for a better experience on the bike and out on adventures.
Rapha Brevet Bib Shorts details and specifications
When Rapha launched its new Brevet collection in April 2022, it described the Bib Shorts as the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of cycling shorts.
While there is no can opener or corkscrew included, the shorts are clearly intended to cover a lot of bases.
On the right-hand side of the shorts is a single pocket, which provides room for you to stuff supplies.
The legs of the shorts have reflective dots arranged in two lines and a reflective logo on the rear.
Rapha says the seatpad in the Brevet shorts is ‘dual-density’. It has layers claimed to be quick-drying and to offer support, with an antibacterial layer on top for freshness.
The shorts use a sweat-wicking fabric in the main body and this is said to help regulate body temperature and work across varying weather conditions.
Rapha hasn’t defined the range of weather the shorts are intended for, but it does say the shorts work across mild to hot conditions and that the fabric provides UPF50+ sun protection.
The bib straps are lightweight and they have a large cut-out section on the back to aid breathability.
The bottom of the shorts is held in place by a narrow ring of material bound to the shorts with vertical lines of gripper material on the internal edge.
Rapha says the shorts are made using recycled nylon in a bid to help it achieve its sustainability targets.
Rapha Brevet Bib Shorts performance
Long-distance audax rides or bikepacking trips are currently beyond my capability – or possibly my ambition. However, I’ve put the Rapha Brevet Bib Shorts to test across a range of distances, disciplines, terrains and temperatures.
One of the immediately notable things about the Rapha Brevet Bib Shorts is their comfort in the main body.
I appreciated how the Lycra used for the Brevet Bib Shorts didn’t feel restrictive, moving with my body even when squirming my way around on a gravel bike.
It does feel thicker than the material used in some shorts, but this didn’t seem to lead to overheating, even when riding in temperatures above 30 degrees.
I tend to wear shorts that provide more compression, but I can definitely see the appeal of these shorts if you want a slightly more relaxed and forgiving fit, and the thicker material seems to avoid opacity issues.
The bib straps were also comfortable under my jersey. Some bib short straps can feel as though they force you into the hunched position you assume on a bike, but I was comfortable in these shorts even when standing up.
The seatpad isn’t as firm as I would usually like, but I found it comfortable and appreciated how it moved with my body.
On paper, the horizontal lines of gripper material at the bottom of the shorts make sense. Many brands opt for this approach because it can stop the shorts from digging in quite as much as the kinds of unbroken gripper bands seen on previous Rapha Brevet bib shorts.
In practice, however, I found the grippers and ring of fabric at the bottom of the shorts to bind slightly on my thighs. This wasn’t unpleasant, but it feels as though this design feature could be improved to live up to the comfort present in the rest of the shorts.
The pocket on the right-hand leg works well for stuffing wrappers and waste in. But Rapha has simply folded the material over to create the top edge of the pocket, without fixing it down in any way. This meant the internal edge often came out of place when I was pulling anything out of the pocket.
This might seem pernickety, but at £215 it would be nice not to have an issue like this with one of the shorts’ main features.
There are alternative bib shorts that have neater pocket designs for the same or less money. The Rapha Cargo Mesh Bib Shorts also cost £215 but have two mesh pockets on the legs with stitched top edges. The Castelli Unlimited bib shorts cost £90 less and have a pocket design with a flap over the top.
Rapha Brevet Bib Shorts bottom line
The Rapha Brevet Bib Shorts are a pleasure to wear for long distances, or simply on a regular basis. Yet, the leg grippers and pocket design aren’t as refined as they could be.
These shorts would be improved if the trim and grippers didn’t dig in so much.
If the pocket design was as resolved as the ones found on some other shorts, it would make the price tag a little more palatable.
Rapha should also be commended for using recycled materials in these shorts.