I’m in the middle of an article, coming soon, that is going to discuss some Fall/Winter/Spring clothing options, and as part of that, I had the opportunity to stop by Rapha in Portland. If you look at discussions about Rapha in any forum you are likely to find that a lot of people have opinions about them. It’s one of those brands that people seem to be really passionate about. So much so that I often found people posting comments like “just here to read the comments” when Rapha items get brought up.
It’s a definite OSX/Windows or Canon/Nikon touchpoint, but for me, I look to things that work and don’t worry much about that noise. Rapha is a premium brand, and that seems to bug people because they feel like you have to find the hidden gem that’s better than it should be, or it’s not worthwhile. Here’s the thing, though, sometimes it’s worthwhile to just go spend an appropriate amount of money and buy something you know is great.
For years I built my own computers. I got a great deal on them, and they were uniquely mine. After a while, though, I got to a point where I stopped wanting to deal with the hassles of being my own tech support. I wanted a computer that worked and being in the creative industry, I wanted to work on the same systems that my peers were using. I went out, and I bought a Mac. It cost more, but it was a brilliant piece of hardware. It almost never had a problem and when it did, I got in touch with Apple.
Rapha is a bit like that experience. Sure, you could spend a lot of time hunting for the diamond in the rough, you could hunt the closeout sales for top brand gear from last year, or you could just go buy a piece from Rapha and expect it’s going to be damn good. One is not better than the other, it’s just a different way of dealing with things.
The first thing I want to talk about is the Pro Team Thermal Bibshorts. These are not something I would ever have sought out on my own. In an initial reading, it makes no sense to have a fleece lined bib short. If it’s cold, throw on some leg warmers or tights. I’m glad they introduced them to me, though. They have become my absolute go to.
I’ve always described my own team kit as pretty nice stuff. In general, I’ve passed on reviewing bibshorts because I like to wear my team kit, and it’s a good quality product. People recognised me when out on my regular routes, and I was never left wanting for more. I haven’t worn the team kit on a single ride since I first put on the Rapha bib shorts. The chamois is incredible. It completely transforms the feel of my saddle and absolutely makes things more comfortable.
It’s not just the pad that’s great, though. I love the feel of the heavier fabric, and the fleece inner is luxurious. Moving up, the fit across your abdomen is really nice, and the shoulder straps are very comfortable. If I was one to ride with headphones, I might really appreciate the radio pocket, too. But I don’t personally have a use for it. I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but this is a really good piece that you won’t be sorry about having purchased.
It might sound like an odd item category, but in the Fall or Spring, when it’s just a bit colder, these are a great alternative to knickers. They look great, are filled with thoughtful details, and they feel fantastic. I should also mention that at $290, they aren’t outrageously priced. Sure, you can get cheaper stuff, but if you compare them to other top shelf brands, they are pretty much what you’d expect to pay. Bottom line, these aren’t cheap, but you won’t be sorry you bought them.
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