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Finding a stylish pair of trousers or jeans to cycle in is pretty easy as long as you’re not too particular about functionality and durability. Add those two factors and your search becomes a great deal harder. Getting stylish cycling trousers that are hardwearing and built to take the rigours of your time on the bike whilst still looking smart when you’re at your destination has to take a lot of factors into place. It’s easier to get over pants but that does mean carrying a bag to store them in.
However if you do want to keep it light, ideally you want trousers that can work for both. Now as we all know the tiny shores of the UK do see a fair bit of rain so now you’re not only looking for stylish looking trousers that are hardwearing and functional you’re also after a pair that are going to keep the rain out or at bay for as long as possible. And you search goes from a few choices to barely any.
Indeed I’ve only spotted 1 or 2 trousers that include the water-resistant part and that’s the last piece in the puzzle for as close to perfect cycling trousers. One of the spots are these softshell trousers from cycle style powerhouse Rapha, specifically made for city cycling.
There’s so much detail gone into these trousers, so much has been considered. In Rapha’s own words these are designed for the worst conditions the city throws at you and to achieve this they’ve made them from a breathable and water resistant material which is also very substantial and made to last.
There’s a seat panel which has been made to be more comfortable and protection made from abrasion-resistant nylon. It’s not like wearing a pair of bib shorts with a pad but it does add a little bit of cushioning against the seat and helps you slipping about. If you have a bike without mud-guards like I do these trousers have been given a neoprene panel at the rear to make sure you don’t get probably the worst thing, after wet feet, from cycling in the rain.
These are straight cut trousers and I think a more snug fit in the legs might be a nice variation in the future to suit people’s tastes but they fit well and have a nice tailored finish about them. They’ve been proofed with a water-resistant coating and the type of material gives you some insulation this is aided by a soft brushed tricot lining on the inside which feels very cosy against the skin and adds another layer of warmth.
They’ve got waterproofed zip protected pockets front and back, deep front pockets and reflective bits along the trim. They’re really a fanastic pair of trousers. The type of material means they do feel and appear different from chinos or jeans but they are still quite smart and give a stylish feel when you’re not pedalling anymore due to the tailoring. Only 1 colour choice though which is a shame but that could be down to production and in future more maybe introduced. They do come in 3 different leg sizes, short, regular & long which is a nice choice to be given.
Rapha’s softeshell trousers are actually the cheapest trousers Rapha sell and for the amount of detail, protection and style you’re getting for them they are very good value for money when you take into account the price of cycling trousers, still £110 is a decent wedge. The type of material will not appeal to everyone but function had to play some part in the finish also they are very much more suited for the cold and wet seasons so in dryer patches you maybe happier with a pair of jeans made for cycling as the style and cut will be more fashionable.
As with my review for the Rapha Rain Jacket – there’s no care instructions for recoating the trousers after a while which is the only drawback of the entire product. A simple link on the Rapha site would be good enough.
In conclusion. They’re tough, functional, stylish and they’ll keep you warm and dry. Now that’s as close to the perfect cycling trousers as I can find.
You can buy the Rapha Softshell Trousers from Rapha for £110 (although if you can wait for new year they usually have good savings on and you could get it for closer to £70.