If you wanted to make the perfect pair of trousers to pedal around town what would you be looking for? I’d go for something just below the knee, slim fitting with a low waist band so it doesn’t dig into your tum when you are bent over your bars, nicely tailored so it wouldn’t chafe and made in a material that is tough yet breathable and can handle the UK weather. Oh yeah, it has to look great too.
Well mes amis, in my opinion, Rapha has answered my call. The Rapha ¾ Trouser or Long Shorts are a truly a fantastic garment even if they do cost twice the amount of some of their rivals, at a princely sum of £135. The cut of this slim ‘plus four’ style shorts is excellent and sympathetic to the cyclists needs with an articulated knee and a twin skin seamless gusset which reduces chafing and wear to a minimum.
When a garment fits you really well, even when it is sodden with rain, it still holds its shape and performs without fault. The fabric used is a slightly stretchy, breathable, nylon based material, coated with millions of infintesimaly small grains of silicon. It looks like cotton but the material, made by Schoeller Switzerland called Nanosphere, manages to be moderately water and dirt repellent, anti-adhesive and self cleaning, the absorbent part is actually the weave of the fabric.
Importantly these 3/4 shorts dry very quickly and don’t sag when wet and remarkably they manage to shrug off most off the dirt, which is lucky because I know I shouldn’t be doing bike mechanicing or DIY in them, not at this price. But this is the thing, I do, and you can treat these shorts like any other because they can take the abuse. Even after a few months of solid riding in them, they still look like new.
Neat features like a zipped rear pocket for important loose stuff with the other rear pocket reinforced to take a mini U lock being stuffed in there. Flat fronted pockets make the shorts look uncluttered and a little zippered pocket keeps notes safe. Belt loops are provided should you wish to add security or accessorise with a belt. 2 belt loops are re-enforced and coloured in tweed to carry a U lock, I found this a little uncomfortable to carry my lock and it kept interfering with my saddle unlike the Fabric Horse holster which is fantastic but a Kryptonite mini U lock in the rear pocket worked great. A matching bit of tweed can be found on the bottom of each leg on the buttoned cuff adjusters.
Off the bike, these long shorts look smart, the dark navy blue is a nice change from black and the tiny embroidered Rapha logo on the left hand pocket lets people know in the most subtle way. The main difference between these and the Fixed shorts that I can tell is the gusset isn’t padded in these and it is in the Fixed pair but I still can’t work out why this makes them £15 dearer?
Probably the best un-padded, casual looking, cycling shorts out there, but at a price.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha 3/4 Shorts
Size tested: 34
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Rapha says "The ¾ Shorts are perfect for everyday urban cycling or riding beyond the traffic of the city. With a smart, ‘plus four’-style cut, they are made from a water- and stain-resistant fabric that is also extremely breathable".
My sentiments entirely.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Water and stain resistant, stretchy, breathable material.
Tailored 'plus four' style.
Tailored, slim fitting, 'plus four' style.
Button adjustment at the cuff OF each leg
Two flat front pockets, Samll zippered front pocket.
Two rear pockets, one zippered, one re-enforced to fit U-lock
Discrete embroidered Rapha logo
Seamless, 2 ply gusset
Usual high standard of finish, including a little story printed on the inside about Reginald 'the maestro' Harris.
Great fit, no chaffing even when wet, quick drying, smart look. It's a winner.
I have ridden with these hard for months and they still look like new.
No chafing even when sodden is a mark of a great fit. The material is stretchy enough to have enough give that it remains
I know people will moan about how much these short trousers are but what you are getting is fine tailoring from a small brand, not some re-branded, generic, off the peg stuff. Plus they are most likely to out last anything else of half the cost judging by the fact that they still look like new after a few months of testing.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I think I have fallen in love with a pair of short trousers.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, durability and sharp looks. And the re-enforced rear pocket to stash your U lock.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much so
Would you consider buying the product? I would buy 2
Would you recommend the product to a friend? YES
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
More colour ways maybe?
Editor's note: TR wanted to give these shorts a 10 but we wouldn't let him.
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 180 Weight: 80
I usually ride: Bike that I am testing at the time My best bike is: Giant CFR pro. Old school carbon converted to fixed.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,