What does it take to make a bib short and call it ‘classic?’ I’ll give you a hint: it’s not classic technology. The Rapha Classic II Bib Shorts are recently updated with high-tech fabric, fit and stitching and they’re trying to become your go-to shorts.
Rapha Classic II Bib Shorts Features:
- 74% polyamide/26% elastane mix
- Updated chamois pad
- Size – specific chamois
- Available in a range of colours with complimentary Rapha logos
- Highly breathable back
- Soft grippers and flatlock stitching
- Rear key pocket
- MSRP: $235
These are the bibs that you’re looking for
There are plenty of dynamics to consider when choosing a bib short; do you want something very racy, or more comfortable? Is it worth shelling out hundreds, or is it better to make do with a more modest pair? Are you wanting to ride hundreds of miles for fun, or are you a racer? The Rapha Classic II’s are built to balance many of these concerns, but they definitely show the elite Rapha pedigree that they come from.
Let’s start with the fit. The Classic II’s are svelte and look good without being overly racy. This is a very soft lycra blend and it’s very stretchy, so it feels a little less like a dedicated race jersey. I found this very comfortable for group rides when I didn’t particularly want to wear my tightest, raciest kit around my buddies and then go for a drink afterwards. Interestingly, much of I appreciate about the fit comes from the fabric itself; the construction of the bibs is simple with minimal fabric paneling rather than a bunch of small, oddly-shaped panels to get a perfect fit. With that said, there are also more aero-friendly kits out there.
One interesting fact about the Classic II’s fit is that the size of the chamois pad varies with the size of the bibs (three pads over six sizes). This is actually somewhat unusual, as it’s rare to vary the size of the chamois pad at all. Obviously I can’t comment on the effect of that variable sizing for comfort in other sizes, but I’m sure that this is something that people on the extreme ends of the fit spectrum will appreciate.
In practice, I have been very pleased with how well the pad has performed over time. A key thing for me is how the pad edges are built into the body of the bibs, and these particular ones almost disappear into the body fabric; that is, there are no abrupt edges that can cause chafing or pressure points. I haven’t had any issues with the chamois and, like the very best outdoor gear, I have kind of forgotten that it’s there. That is always a good sign.
Moving to the other end of the bibs, the design of the shoulder straps also merits some attention. The back of the bib is basically a big cut-out oval and goes right down to your lumbar spine. The idea is to maximize breathability, and it works well – but for some of my tightest/raciest jerseys (ie, the ones that maybe don’t fit well), sometimes there was exposed skin of the jerseys rode up my back. Not necessarily the bib’s fault at all, but an indicator of how low they go. There’s also a small pocket down here for keys or even a phone, and that fulfilled its function perfectly well.
At the same time, I really like the design because it basically becomes a shoulder harness rather than two straps. The result is a design that spreads force out over a larger area, and I never had the angry-looking red spots on my skin that I sometimes get from conventional bibs after a long ride. So, overall, I feel that the top of the bib (straps) are just as well-designed as the main body of the shorts. Your mileage may vary and they are a little tricker to put on.
In use, the bib shorts perform very well. The grippers on the legs are totally adequate to the job without feeling overly sticky on your leg. I didn’t have any problems with movement and my legs are probably average for most recreational riders. I cannot power a toaster but I do pedal plenty.
- Very comfortable overall
- Great pad, rides for miles without trouble
- Good grippers for the ol’ legs
- I personally like the large cutout and harness-style straps
- Can carry a phone or other essentials in rear sleeve
- They’re pricey
- More aerodynamic bibs exist
The Bottom Line: Rapha Classic II Bib Shorts
What’s my overall verdict on the Classic II’s? Well, Rapha doesn’t really mess around in the first place, and they especially don’t mess around on something that they’re going to call their ‘classic’ bib short. There are nicer options in the Rapha lineup, but there are not that many bib shorts that are objectively nicer than the Classic II’s. I highly recommend them.
Buy Now: Available from Rapha