Thermal bib shorts have their place, especially for fast-paced winter rides – do the Rapha Pro Team Thermal II bib shorts perform?
These Rapha Pro Team Thermal II bib shorts are designed to provide maximum comfort and performance for a period of time when you’re inevitable trying to pile on the miles in less than pleasant weather.
In their construction they’re both water resistant and windproof, which I’ve noticed on my training rides primarily because I’ve stayed warm but also because the material feels thicker and tougher than Rapha’s other shorts and tights.
The shorts have a two-piece construction, with a softer material covering the front of the shorts while a tougher material covers the thighs and tapers down to compressive cuffs.
The Rapha Pro Team Thermal II bib shorts are warm and and they’ve kept the wind out nicely on blustery loops out on the Kent lanes without any noticeable gaps or draughts sneaking in. This is no doubt helped by the extended front that covers the core area, into which if you tuck in a decent base layer you’ll be kept snugly warm. An insulating softer fabric lines the inside of the shorts and also adds comfort to the ride.
Where things get interesting is with the cut and fit of the Rapha Pro Team Thermal II bib shorts. These are very compressive shorts, especially across the hips where you can feel them squeezing you. It’s not a surprise that these are part of Rapha’s ‘pro fit’ line but regardless, I didn’t find these a fit-and-forget product when riding, and I’m not sure Rapha’s claims of an “unrestricted range of movement” bear out in reality: they were tight in the crotch area.
The length of the legs is also shorter than I’m used to, especially compared to the likes of Castelli, but this is mitigated by the fact thermal shorts are usually paired with knee warmers or leg warmers.
With these comments in mind, it’s worth trying them on and comparing them to Rapha’s Classic Thermal bib shorts (£170) to help you decide whether to spend £200.
The Rapha Pro Team Thermal II bib shorts are warm and water resistant but their performance-orientated fit and tightness across the hips won't be for everyone.