Review: Rapha's New Performance Trailwear Clothing

Aug 18, 2021 at 12:12
by Mike Levy  
Rapha Performance Trailwear


A month ago, if you had asked me what comes to mind when I hear someone say Rapha, I would have described fit and fast-looking roadies wearing pricey black kits with a dash of white or pink. And probably some oversized and overpriced glasses to boot. And maybe an extravagant coffee shop if I was feeling snarky.

The general consensus is that it's nice stuff, sure, but it's also on the expensive end of expensive, which makes their new 'Performance Trailwear' mountain bike range even more interesting. Relatively speaking, it's priced competitively with other high-end mountain bike clothing. It's been far too hot to even think about the jacket, but here's what I make of the bibs, shorts, and tech t-shirt.


Rapha Performance Trailwear
The Trail Short costs $150 USD and feature an integrated belt and clever pockets.


Trail Shorts

The Trail Shorts come in blue, green, or the black pair that I'm wearing here, and they're made with a 88% nylon and 12% elastane mix that feels surprisingly robust compared to what I was expecting. Instead of being your lightweight, flapping in the breeze trail bike shorts, they actually feel like they're going to not fall apart, a novel feature for mountain bike shorts.

As far as details go, there's an integrated and lightweight belt that's adjustable via two plastic clamps, as well as belt loops... in case you want to use two belts?
Details

• Integrated belt w/ cinch system
• Cut for use with or without knee pads
• Two hand pockets
• Two zippered pockets
• Made w/ recycled materials
• Includes fabric repair kit
• Colors: green, blue, black
• MSRP: $150 USD

The cargo pockets are both angled back enough to keep your phone from swinging around and also big enough to fit a full-sized phone into. They even put tiny pockets in those pockets to help hold the phone in place, as well as two normal pockets up front so you have somewhere to put your hands while standing around awkwardly at the trailhead like a mountain biker.

Fit-wise, my size small gets a 30.5" waist and 13" inseam. That leg length grows 0.4" (or 1cm) for each size, and Rapha says the leg openings are cut to play nice with knee pads. They also come with a repair kit with matching fabric.


Rapha Performance Trailwear
A lightweight integrated belt makes adjusting fit easy. Strangely, there are also belt loops.
Rapha Performance Trailwear
The clasp slides into place, so it should be beer belly-proof against popping open.

Rapha Performance Trailwear
Hand pockets so you look less awkward at the trailhead.
Rapha Performance Trailwear
The side pockets hold a phone from swinging it around, making it invisible while pedaling.

Review

The Trail shorts aren't what I expected, which was a lightweight, shorter length short that's maybe just a couple steps away from Lycra. I mean, it is Rapha. Instead, the fabric is thicker and heavier, also known as "more durable over time," and more in line with what I'd want as an enduro or all-mountain short, whatever those are. Personally, I'd prefer a lighter-weight material, especially for long rides or in the heat, but I have to concede that almost every short I've ever owned hasn't lasted long for that same reason; they're all torn open and patched at the crotch. It's early days, but I doubt that'll happen to these.

Rapha might have come up with the perfect pockets. The two zippered ones are angled back just so as to keep your heavy phone from swinging around (the phone spot inside helps as well), and they're large enough that even the biggest will still fit. One small detail that counts: the zipper pulls are not just easy to grab, but can also be yanked close without the fabric bunching up, making it easier to get your whatever back in while on the move. The integrated belt works well, too.

Fit-wise, they're a bit long for my tastes, although the leg openings feel a bit baggy when you're not wearing pads. They're just right when you do, though. For what it's worth, fellow editor Mike Kazimer says these are his new favorites, and he's been extremely happy with the material, fit, and durability. If you're a trail rider who usually wears knee pads and needs something that won't rip after only a few months, these are worth looking at.



Rapha Performance Trailwear
Two pockets at the back of the $135 USD Cargo Bib can be used to carry things, but they're not as deep as I'd prefer.


Trail Cargo Bib Liner

I know you came to Pinkbike to read about my undergarments, so we'll start with the $135 USD stretchy stuff. These are made with recycled fabrics and use a mesh material in the legs to make them a bit more breathable on hot days. The 'Cargo' name lets you know there are two pockets at your lower back, one on each side of your spine, to carry smaller, lighter things, but you won't find the mesh pockets at the thighs that some of their high-end road shorts employ. There are wide silicone grippers at each stretchy cuff, and the chamois is on the thick side of things.
Details

• Two rear storage pockets
• Mesh panels
• Made w/ recycled materials
• MSRP: $135 USD
www.rapha.cc


Rapha Performance Trailwear
Bib straps are just the right length to keep from pulling or feeling loose.


Review

While bib shorts are a relatively personal thing, they really just need to nail two things: fit and function. I want my undercarriage to be able to survive 6 hours of pedaling on a hot day, and they need to have useful pockets for me to put candy in on those same days. Rapha gets high marks on the first, and a meh grade for the second.

I'm 5'10" and weigh 150lb, which puts me in a medium Cargo Bib Liner that felt bang-on fit-wise, so Rapha's online sizing chart can be trusted. I've had a few pairs of bibs that felt like the straps could have been half an inch longer, or maybe that much shorter, which can lead to them either feeling like they're pulling or the straps slipping down your shoulders. The Cargos do neither while you're hunched over on the bike or just standing around, and the legs are just the right length. The chamois pad is probably the most comfortable thing I've sat on this side of a velour La-Z-Boy, and they quickly became the only bibs I'd wear for my longest of long rides. And even on those days, I can't remember a single time when I had to reach down to move something or shift to a different position because of discomfort. The chamois is quite thick, but it avoids that 'hot diaper' feeling that I expected, even on the warmest, sweatiest of rides. Speaking of warm, don't buy the Cargo bibs for the mesh material on the sides of the legs that's claimed to help them breath better. I have no doubt that it's not entirely useless, but they don't feel any cooler than anything else.

Also, don't buy the Cargo bibs for their cargo'ing ability, because they can't carry much. Given their name, I'd love to see some mesh pockets on the legs like Rapha uses on some of their pricier bibs (which would make these cost more as well), but I'm more perplexed by the shallow rear pockets. It's not that I actually want to carry anything important, big, or heavy back there, but I found myself always reaching back to check if my rusty multi-tool, glasses, or candy had bounced out. It always seemed like they would, but nothing ever did fall out, to be fair. Regardless, why not make the pockets at least as deep as found on some other bibs? Sometimes I do need to carry something important, big, or heavy back there.



Rapha Performance Trailwear
The $74 USD Technical T-Shirt is a simple, comfortable jersey.


Trail Technical T-Shirt

Isn't a "technical t-shirt" really just a jersey that doesn't look as silly as most cycling jerseys do? Whatever you want to call them, they make a lot of sense for riders who want the benefits of fancy fabrics without looking like a rolling billboard for LoamBro™ and their latest "colorway." The $74 USD tech-t uses 100% polyester material, 68% of which is recycled, and the cut is made for a moderately loose, casual fit. Just like their other Trail items, the jersey comes with a repair kit that includes matching fabric samples.
Details

• Made w/ recycled materials
• Includes fabric repair kit
• Colors: light grey, dark grey, green, blue
• MSRP: $74 USD


Rapha Performance Trailwear
The recycled fabric is soft and lightweight.
Rapha Performance Trailwear
That stripe means Rapha.


Review

I've never understood why I'd want to pay so much money to look like a rolling billboard, but that's not the case here; it's very nice and I like the understated style. And you still get the (great-looking) strip on the sleeve to let people know you're Rapha-certified. It also fits well, with a casual cut that makes sense for those of us who like to keep it relaxed. The quality is top-notch and the fit is what I'm looking for, but I wish there was more functionality to it. I'd like to see a small pocket for a key, cash, credit card, or something to set it apart from other fancy t-shirts, even if it did add to the price. It's a nice shirt, but this one would be a harder sell for me if I was spending my own money.



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesMy clothing preferences aside, it's no surprise to see Rapha make a bunch of high-quality mountain bike clothing. I mean, that's kinda what they do in the road and gravel world anyway, so it makes sense to see it here as well. And while it's not exactly inexpensive, it's also in line with most other fancy offerings out there while offering a subtle, understated look with functional features. Mike Levy



98 Comments

  • 85 7
 Is it nice? Yea I'm sure.
Will it last a long time? Probably..
Does it still deserve to be roasted for being $360 just to kit head to toe?

ABSOLUTELY.
  • 26 2
 Please also note you can upgrade the bib to Kashima coating for silky smooth.. *errm*.. contact points.
  • 15 6
 cheap s**t doesn't hold up. If it lasts, for more than one season, you'll save money. Haven't used Rapha but if it holds up to the abuse, the price is justified. I stopped buying Fox MTB shorts and padded shorts b/c they wouldn't last...the only Fox shorts that made it multiple seasons for me was a pair of moto shorts.
  • 6 0
 @SATN-XC: Had a pair of Ranger shorts for two seasons now, numerous crashes and all kinds of weather, not a scratch on them. And they were a decent price.
  • 4 0
 @SATN-XC: I have a pair of fox shorts (lightweight airy ones), two solid season wear twice a week to mtb in. They are fine.
  • 1 2
 @redrook: my last pair of Rangers lasted 2 months before they developed a hole on the inside of the thigh. Wear obviously depends on riding style and saddle time but Fox doesn't cut it for me. Shop I bought them from gave me a credit to use for a replacement/different brand.
  • 4 0
 @SATN-XC: what counts as cheap? I've got a few pairs of TLD shorts from 9-10 years ago that still work.
  • 1 2
 @bdamschen: not knocking the cheap stuff if it holds up (a lot of it depends on how you ride). I mostly ride XC and there is a lot of time in the saddle and shorts under $100 typically won't hold up for more than one season. Fox gear typically has great crash protection but it hasn't held up for me with regard to saddle wear. If I pay $120+ for shorts or a bib and I know they will hold up, I'm in.
  • 8 0
 Is there some industry standard I’m not aware of that stipulates that riding shorts must be big and shapeless? No one wears shorts this baggy off the bike, why do we have to wear giant shorts on the bike?
  • 1 0
 @Hayek: loose b/c DH riders and enduro typically wear additional gear underneath, like body armor and such......just a guess, I have no idea.
  • 1 0
 @SATN-XC: and that makes sense. It’s the trail-specific apparel I don’t get. But it seems like WC DH racers wear much more tailored clothing than this with pads underneath.
  • 1 0
 @bdamschen: got a pair of TLDs from 2008. Not exactly breathable but still in good shape.
  • 1 0
 more shoulder to knee to be honest
  • 37 1
 Levy comes out of the woodwork to...checks notes...review Rapha clothing? Did he get demoted?
  • 90 0
 He’s too weird to say it himself but he actually recently got promoted to senior technical editor. Mostly because he’s old as dirt now. It basically means he’s certified to complain about the kids on his lawn and spout kooky theories about linkage forks. So essentially nothing has changed.

For real though he’s been focused on the summer field tests that are dropping soon, the podcast, and some other long term projects like grim donut v2.
  • 3 1
 @brianpark: so he's free to lurk in and out of the comments as he pleases, huh, haha. [Heard about the climbing tests he did in the smoke...curious to see how that went.]
  • 4 0
 @brianpark: So what i'm gathering is you promoted him, regret that decision and are now doing everything in your power to make him quit.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark
I would have liked to of seen Levy's trademark 'Multi tool in bib pockets' rather than a cellphone.
We've heard about it 300 times or so. Way to burn the community and display a phone rather than a trademark Levy gag.
  • 16 3
 "Raphahahahahaha....."

That's the sound of them laughing to the bank, btw.
  • 10 1
 is any of this being made with SPF protection? If not, thats a huge untapped market segment a lot of riders would buy into. Breathable and durable is great and all but as someone who rides in Texas, it would be awesome to have gear that provides SPF protection so I don't have to cover my torso every time I want to go on a ride. (I say this as someone who is at a greater risk for skin cancer due to my negligent lack of sun-protection when I was a kid).
  • 3 1
 It isn’t spf at all. Currently in Greece and using a tech shirt from Rapha I got sunburnt. Not badly but enough.
  • 4 0
 A super light long sleeve jersey that is subtle in styling that I can wear when its 75degree plus is high on my want list. Add some thicker material on the elbows and shoulders for crashes and bushes. Someone find me this jersey if it exists.
  • 7 2
 who down votes protection from skin cancer? lol
  • 10 8
 Have you never had a farmers tan? Don't all clothes provide SPF protection? I've got some "extra light" air in a bottle I can sell you for your tires, bud.
  • 4 0
 @TerrapinBen: normal clothing will provide a little SPF protection...maybe 5-10SPF. SPF 50+ is needed for actual sun protection. Last summer I had a skin cancer scare in two locations, inner thigh and back. Surgical center removed a 3 inch by 3 inch chunk of skin from both locations after initial biopsies came back as irregular (spots were no larger than the tip of a pen...no joke) and I was off the bike for 3 weeks until stitches healed. I will never stop biking but I need to use sunscreen every time I go. Gear that provides protection so I can stay out longer and not use lotion would be awesome (I know I'm not alone in this).
  • 2 0
 @jasbushey: This is exactly what I need also. I ride in a lot of brushy, scratchy areas and I always need long sleeves. Let me know if you find such a jersey.
  • 4 0
 @SATN-XC: I too prioritize spf in mtb and hiking gear. While some folks may luck out with the minimal protection offered by a simple tshirt, I will sunburn. Stay healthy man!
  • 3 0
 @SATN-XC : Durability may not be there, but several outdoor brands make things called sun hoodies/shirts that are lightweight and offer good UPF protection. Not sure what the difference is from SPF, but it is a good option.
  • 2 0
 @EvilBun: I also was going to add that your best bet may be shopping outside of "bike specific". Hiking shirts and sun hoodies could be your best friend as they are much more likely to be SPF rated. My buddy is an mtb guide in moab, and he exclusively wears sun hoodies FWIW
  • 2 0
 Shop Amazon for "Sun Protection Hoodie" or the like. Lots of options out there.
  • 3 0
 Yeti Turq Air jerseys are super light and 20+ UPF. The ones this year are killer. Short or long sleeve.
  • 1 0
 @crujonesisradd: badass....expensive at $90 for the short sleeve but cheaper than having to continue buying sunscreen. thanks!
  • 1 0
 @SATN-XC: look at club rides sun protection hoody. I recently got a very breathable Vuori long sleeve sun shirt and wear that for protection from sun and spiderwebs lol.
  • 1 0
 Not for everyone but I wear army and police ‘under body armour’ tops occasionally. The ones with a wicking body and poly cotton arms with Velcro patches. You can even put elbow armour in.
Not all the time but during gorse season they are friggin’ awesome. Also work well to keep the sun off and are cheap as chips. You think the arms may be heavy but not so. If they are good enough for 40’c patrols in [sore subject] then a couple of hour ride is no bother.
Camo for day rides, black for night rides.
  • 12 1
 As a dentist, I approve! On a serious note, it looks real nice. The rapha clothes Ive used has been great.
  • 5 0
 The technical t shirts are the best dry-fit workout shirts I have ever owned. They stay comfortable through long periods of sweating and dry incredibly quickly. I am a huge fan. They have small stitching and fit details that set them apart from most technical base layers. Worth every penny -
  • 10 2
 Levy, who wears a shirt under bibs???
  • 21 4
 Many riders do, especially when it's warm. But maybe not many riders on PB.
  • 13 2
 Roadies.. roadies do...
  • 4 0
 @mikelevy: Would that not make it hotter? Guess I've never tried.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: That might even apply to the bibs being worn over the base layer
  • 1 0
 @Sniff303: it's not so much a shirt as it is a baselayer. They're designed to be tight against the skin and wick moisture away fast. You'll be just slightly warmer, but much drier... so kind of a wash
  • 2 1
 @peterman1234: nope... you will be cooler. The fast-wicking provides an increase in an evaporative cooling effect.
  • 1 0
 @peterman1234: What mode is that on the laundry machine that's slightly warmer but much drier?
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: I'm one of them, mostly to stop the straps rubbing my nipples off. Marino in the winter and high wicking light weight base in the summer. I've got 3 bikes and none of them have curly bars btw.
  • 1 0
 @Mpblikes2ski: you're right that it has an evaporative effect, which is nice, but the extra layer (albeit thin) is extra material between the breeze and you. In short I would say baselayer is good to have on the climb/traverse, but it's keeping you a little warmer on the descent... which can be good, bad, or negligible depending on the temperature
  • 2 0
 It just fits the theme: Shirt under shirt goes well with the shorts worn under shorts that have pockets within pockets and belts under belt loops.
  • 1 0
 also helps with nipple chafeage...
  • 2 0
 I do. I like the Defeet sleeveless wicking undershirts. Or when it’s hot Nike heat gear. Lycra and tight. Gets wet and feels really cool. Plus a loose jersey over top slides on the undershirt and provides a bit more dirt rash protection. Also keeps my gut and tits from jiggling too much.
  • 4 0
 I just wrecked pretty good in my Rapha jersey and got a few holes on the backside. The included patches were super easy to apply and now I'm ready to ride again (once my ribs stop hurting) without any holes! The fit and feel of the Rapha mountain bike gear is awesome, I'm a fan.
  • 2 0
 me too -ripped it - I have yet to patch - like the feel and fit - very good
  • 4 0
 The shorts look & sound a lot like Abit shorts, but double the price. Also Abit shorts support evergreen mountainbike alliance... just a plug for them
  • 1 0
 Just checked out Abit, looks nice! I'll likely buy my next shorts from them!
  • 3 1
 Everyone's focused on the less important part of this review: The nice-but-expensive clothing.

This is the first time I've seen Levy frozen, not fidgeting, and can really tell what his tattoos are. That rocket sort of reminds me of Samorost's design, a nice feature. But who's the dude on his left forearm? Is it... himself? Are there people out there with tattoos of their own faces on their bodies? And how many of those did he have done in prison?
  • 1 0
 Tobey Maguire?

Which leads to several follow up questions...
  • 1 0
 steve-O
  • 3 0
 Looks at review, looks at jorts and 5 year old riding shirt. Yep I am going to keep my $$$.
  • 1 0
 Why are shorts sooooo long these days?
A size large would be a roughly 14"inseam...
Maybe it's just me (5' 9") but I don't really want my riding shorts nearly touching my socks.
  • 1 0
 I bought the shirt, shorts and socks. He’s my review. Shirt is nice and would buy again. Shorts are shit and fit like shit I’ll probs sell on eBay for way less than I paid for them. Socks are nice.
  • 1 1
 i thought assos making an attempt at mtb trail clothes was bad enough then rapha goes those dentists need something else to choose from. & yes i did buy assos when i was a roadie long before they introduced absurdly weird names for some of their clothing.
anyways sorry rapha, no long sleeve tshirts nor trousers (yea american english, you’re pants…) i’m out.
  • 2 0
 The Tech Tee price is wrong, in the UK it lists for half the cost of the shorts, so maybe 75USD?
  • 1 0
 Even then, 75USD is still wrong on so many levels
  • 2 0
 And I was having buyers remorse on some tld skylines impulse buy yesterday at local shop for $89.....
  • 2 0
 Their design is just too progressive man. I mean, they have one stripe. On one arm.
  • 11 10
 $150 for a t-shirt is not a reasonable price point. I hope that no one buys this product and normalizes this.
  • 18 0
 It's $74 - It was wrong in one spot in the review Smile
  • 45 3
 $74 for a t-shirt is not a reasonable price point. I hope that no one buys this product and normalizes this.
  • 1 0
 @TerrapinBen: Oh, they do. Indeed they do.
  • 1 0
 wu tang was selling a $100 t-shirt at their merch table the other week so this is all makes sense.
  • 7 2
 Wu Tang is actually cool though...
  • 2 0
 @Monsterman156: it's 2021. Wu-tang is probably about as cool as mountain biking.
  • 1 0
 I just bought some shorts off Amazon I’m pretty stoked on, this just makes me more stoked.
  • 2 0
 $150 for shorts with a clasp that looks like a... ahem... ding dong! lol
  • 2 0
 What size jersey are you wearing @mikelevy ?
  • 2 0
 Medium
  • 1 0
 We have a new pizza place opening in the area called Roberto. Previousl ownership was Luigi.
  • 1 0
 Why put a key in a jersey pocket when you can stuff it down your shoe? Weirdo.
  • 1 0
 LOL fair point
  • 3 3
 wow. 150 for some stupid shorts that make you look like your not even wearing riding clothes.
  • 2 0
 Intrigued
  • 1 0
 Levy's wiry arms ooze old-man strength
  • 1 1
 Clothing that works to expensive? Wal-Mart to the rescue... With clothing that's not any cheaper.
  • 1 0
 looks fine. it all looks fine.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy - side note; is that a HST gonzo fist tattoo on your shoulder??
  • 2 0
 Yup
  • 4 4
 $150 tee.. woof
or is it $74?
  • 4 1
 its still to much money either way
  • 3 1
 It’s $74.
  • 1 1
 1st thing that came to my mind was Rafa's mom... Especially at that price.
  • 2 1
 dont be a raphack boi
  • 1 0
 Clothes are clothes!
  • 1 0
 What baselayer is that?
  • 1 0
 It's a Giro undershirt.
  • 3 4
 Show up to our zone wearing this and you will get slapped
  • 1 2
 Rapha bringing Gucci prices to MTBing apparel.
  • 5 0
 It's not inexpensive stuff, but it's priced the same as a lot of other mountain bike clothing. Would I spend this much on MTB clothing? No, but I'm a cheap ass who does huge rides in a t-shirt. Is it nice stuff? Hell yes.
  • 4 6
 Hahahahaha, $150 for some Walmart shorts, you're crazy.
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