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The cycling boom is in full swing and it's shifting from being solely a leisure activity to an integrated part of everyday life for many people. The correct clothing and accessories are becoming must-have items, and Rapha's Technical Trousers fall perfectly into that role – they really are a do-it-all piece of kit, ideal for the urban rider.
Rapha describes these as 'a pair of hard-wearing trousers for riding around town, commuting and travelling', and calls the fit 'slim', but I'd say they're closer to the relaxed end of the slim spectrum, which makes for more comfortable riding. They're a progression from Rapha's (now defunct) Randonnee trousers, and feature the same style waist, cut higher than a standard pair of trousers so that there's no unsightly gap when you're leaning forward on the bike.
Looks-wise, they have the appearance of – and sit like – a classic pair of chinos, but to wear they feel totally different, much lighter and more comfortable with none of the bulk, plus they come with an added element of stretch to make them more suited to physical activity.
They are constructed from a lightweight, breathable material that's 94% nylon and 6% spandex, giving them the required flex needed for exerting effort in the saddle that a regular pair of trousers don't provide. The lightweight but sturdy material is quick drying, and also offers some crease-resistance: you won't turn up to a meeting or restaurant looking dishevelled, and they're great for travelling, ideal for packing in your luggage or when you're crammed into an economy seat.
The bike-specific features aren't revolutionary by any means, but they're applied with Rapha's signature eye for detail. There are two zipped side pockets for keeping your valuables safe when on the move, with the zips neatly hidden behind small fabric flaps so they don't look too obviously utilitarian when you're off the bike; the lining of these also feature some laser cut vent holes, although it's hard to tell if these offer any real advantage to comfort.
There are two further rear pockets, one zipped and one buttoned, with a pink high-vis tab that can also be tucked away when not needed.
There's also a double button closure with a zip fly, and belt loops if required. The inside of the waistband is lined, as are the reinforced seams, with white piping, and the rear pocket lining features a cool geometric illustration and accompanying embroidered quote (hey, it's a Rapha staple), the kind of details only the wearer knows about, or can see.
Both legs turn up to reveal high-vis pink piping for some extra visibility when in the saddle, but this is completely hidden when rolled down and back into 'civilian mode'. The right leg can also be rolled up to reveal a large reflective 'Rapha' logo.
The relaxed fit and stretch of the material makes for a really comfortable riding experience. There's no feeling of restriction and there's plenty of give there if you feel the inclination to really hammer on the pedals. On that note, overheating due to more strenuous riding isn't too much of an issue either – sure you can build up a bit of a sweat, but the breathable qualities of the material allow you to cool off pretty quickly.
For longer commutes it might be worth considering combining the Technical Trousers with some padded underwear, but generally the hop-on/hop-off riding these are aimed at wouldn't really require this. The strategically placed seams also mean you don't get the discomfort or chafing that standard trousers might cause.
The lightweight nature of the material means they're ideally suited to springtime or autumnal riding conditions – they don't offer much protection against the cold and in really warm weather shorts would probably be a better choice. Though quick drying, they don't offer any significant water resistance so it would be best to pair them with some decent mudguards, or at least an Ass Saver-style guard.
Off the bike, they're a really adaptable pair of trousers that can be casual or smart depending on what you pair them with. There's very little compromise in style, or any real visible signs that they're a pair of practical trousers. The surface of the material is really easy to brush clean and any slight scuffs or marks you may have picked up while riding can be easily wiped away.
In terms of colour options, Rapha has stuck to a classic, muted palette which pairs nicely with almost anything else from the wardrobe. The four options available are: black, carbon grey, dark navy and dark green. Sizes range from a 28in to a 36in waist, with three different leg lengths (30, 32 and 34in), so they'll cater for a broad selection of riders.
At £110, these aren't cheap – not a surprise to anyone familiar with the Rapha brand – but you're making a sound investment in a pair of trousers that are pretty much a do-it-all item of clothing. They're not the most expensive either: the Chrome Madrona trousers we reviewed earlier in the year offer a similar range of features and come in at £120. But Velocity's Climber Trousers sit comfortably below the price of the Rapha trousers at just £85.
If protecting yourself against the elements is a high priority then the Vulpine Rain Trousers might be worth considering, but they come in at a slightly more salty £140.
Overall, these are a very good wardrobe addition for the Rapha connoisseur, or a great purchase for the budding man about town.
Impressive, comfortable and stylish addition to your wardrobe, and well worth the investment
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Technical Trousers
Size tested: 34 waist, 32 leg
Tell us what the product is for
Rapha says: "A pair of hard-wearing trousers for riding around town, commuting and travelling."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Relaxed fit, Reflective piping inside both legs, Large reflective Rapha logo inside right leg, Lightweight and breathable stretch fabric, Quick drying and crease resistant, High-cut back for on-bike fit, Offset inseams for comfort, Fold away hi-vis tab and trim, Zipped side pockets, Zipped rear pocket, Button rear pocket, Fly front. Narrow belt loops, 94% nylon, 6% spandex
Well made, with good attention to detail.
Superbly comfortable in all aspects, on and off the bike.
No visible wear and tear from several weeks of riding and washing, but longer term testing would be necessary to give any firm opinion on durability.
Great fit, slim but with necessary room and flex on the bike.
Sized up really well, waist sizing was ideal, slim leg looks good and sits well.
Most comfortable bit of urban cycling kit I've tried for a long while.
No question that they're at the pricier end of the market, but a sound investment for a pair of do-it-all trousers.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Simple, wash on a standard 30°C cycle.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The comfort and styling.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing really; there's nothing that stood out as problematic.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Falls somewhere in the middle, there are more expensive options out there that offer a similar range of features and style, and there are a couple of cheaper options, as I mention in the main review.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Supremely comfortable, well-fitting and adaptable pair of trousers. There's not much to argue with about these.
About the tester
I usually ride: KHS Flite 100 Singlespeed/Fixed, Genesis Equilibrium 20 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
Oli has been a road.cc staffer since day one. He's the creative and photography force behind the site, and has got a keen eye for good quality, well designed cycling kit. You'll find him on his bike most days whether it's commuting, riding with his kids, or tackling a climb on Zwift. He's got a penchant for a steel frame and has had 'fit mudguards' on his To Do list for nearly 8 years now. Likes: France, gin, cat memes. Dislikes: fitting mudguards.