Rapha Technical Trousers review - can riding pants really fit in at the office?
Part of Rapha’s lifestyle range, the Technical Trousers are designed to be worn both on and off the bike. But is it really possible to wear riding trousers in the office and not look like “that guy”?
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Rather than “riding pants”, you should probably think of the Rapha Technical Trousers as a pair of trousers you can ride in. They are made from a durable, stretchy material; have a nice slim-fit and some smart styling features which are characteristic of the cycling-lifestyle brand. But they don’t have any water resistance and are not the quickest to dry. If you’re happy to pay $160 / £120 for a really nice pair of branded trousers which look good off the bike, then these are for you. If you want a dedicated pair of trousers for regular riding with more of a focus on function than style, you might look elsewhere.
Styled trousers that are practical for riding
Wear on and off the bike
Subtle and styled riding details
Not full on riding trousers
No water resistance
Rear pockets too small to secure a phone
No women's fit available
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Have the kings of bike fashion bucked the trend and made a pair of trousers that can be worn both on and off the bike? We pull on a pair of Rapha Technical Trousers in an attempt to find out and see how they compare to the best bicycle commuter trousers.
Rapha Technical Trousers: Design and construction
Made from Nylon with a little Spandex for stretch, the fabric of Rapha's Technical Trousers appears similar to that of walking trousers.
Unlike many riding trousers, they are a single front leg panel without darts or extra material to accommodate flexed knees whilst on the bike, a great advantage for looking normal off the bike.
They’re cut to be slim legged (albeit designated by Rapha as “slightly loose”) with a high back to prevent a chilly back when riding.
Aside from the material and cut, there are a few features that warrant the ‘technical’ classification: zipped and button fastened pockets, high visibility pocket closing, and reflective logos and high visibility seams on the inside leg which you can see when you roll the trouser leg up.
There’s a nice range of colours, some more formal than others. If your chosen hue is appropriate, then they’re certainly a smart enough cut to be able to wear in a smart casual office.
Rapha Technical Trousers: Fit
The Technical Trouser is sized like a normal pair of trousers or jeans in two inch waist increments and with two to three leg lengths per size. Our tester wore the same waist and leg size as his Levi’s jeans and they came up true to expected size. The trousers are a nice narrow fit around ankle and keep well away from the chain riding when riding. Disappointingly for the females amongst us – this writer included – the Technical Trousers are only available in a men’s fit.
Although Rapha describes these trousers as “high backed”, we found them to sit reasonably low on the waist compared to other riding kit and even our tester’s aforementioned Levi’s. The fit was improved by making use of the belt loops which helped prevent the rear gaping on the bike.
Rapha Technical Trousers: On (and off) the bike
The Rapha Technical Trousers are really comfy for day-to-day wearing and riding. The stretch of the material allows good unrestricted movement around hips and knees without it feeling pulled or tight.
The fit has worked well on the bike; there’s been no need to roll up the right leg to keep it away from the chain and sadly no chance to show off the reflective Rapha graphics.
As Rapha’s trousers don’t have shaped knees, there’s a risk of developing overstretched and thin patches - but so far the Rapha Technical Trousers don’t show any of this. This is despite a fair amount of riding and – the ultimate test of trouser knees – scrabbling around on carpets whilst playing with a toddler.
The material isn’t water repellent and it immediately wets out in the rain leaving the trousers feeling cold and clammy on the skin. Although they’re synthetic, we didn’t find they dried particularly quickly and we certainly wouldn’t want to rely on them on a cold, wet day.
We’ve had no problems with washing and they’ve been happy in amongst the other synthetics on a 30°C wash.
The front zipped pockets are plenty big enough for front pocket bits and pieces and even a phone. The double-button closure on the rear left pocket is a bit fiddly so we haven’t made much use of it practically but the coloured detail is nice.
Disappointingly the rear zipped pocket isn’t big enough to take a phone* securely. This feels like a bit of an oversight from Rapha, as riding with a phone in your front pocket is pretty uncomfortable and storing it in an unsecured rear pocket is a recipe for a lost phone (I know, I’ve done it).
*A 6” phone like the iPhone 11 is too big. A smaller 4.7” iPhone 7 does fit – but what self-respecting Rapha wearer would have a phone as old as mine?
Rapha Technical Trousers: Value and conclusion
As you’d expect from Rapha, the Technical Trousers are priced at the higher end of the market. $160 / £120 is a good chunk of money to spend on a set of riding trousers. Other non-waterproof trousers like the Endura Hummvee II are available for about half the price, but don’t benefit from the styling of Rapha’s offering.
The Rapha Technical Trousers aren’t the most dedicated pair of riding trousers out there but they are a really nice styled pair of trousers you can as happily wear off the bike as on it. As long as you have the money for them.
Rapha Technical Trousers: Specification
- Colours: black, grey, pale brown,, navy, wine
- Sizes: waist 28-36"
- Material: 94% nylon, 6% spandex
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Rachel has been writing about and reviewing bike tech for the last 10 years. Cynical by nature, Rachel never really trusts the marketing hype and prefers to give products a mighty good testing before deciding whether they're worth buying or not.
Rachel's first riding love is mountain biking where she's been European and UK 24hr Champion on more than one occasion. She's not just confined to the trails though and regularly rides - and occasionally races - on gravel and road too.
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