Barring my one issue with regards the breathability of the front panel Rapha's Cargo is without doubt one of the best pairs of bib shorts I have ever used. Supremely comfortable, perfect fit and well thought out features, it will be the one pair of shorts I chose when I want to smash out big mile, multi-day rides.
Long distance comfort
Front waist panel could be more breathable
By James Bracey
When first launched the Rapha Cargo short made quite a stir and divided opinion as to the relative merit of storing items on your legs that would normally have a home in jersey pockets. Personally I couldn't see the point and dismissed them as a gimmick. That was until I started to focus on long distance rides and now, I am most definitely a convert. After well over 1500 miles of wearing them in the past couple of months, I can safely say the Rapha Cargo short quite possibly is the best pair of shorts I have ever worn.
There are two version available, this pair and the Core, with these being the top of the tree version and are easily identified by the use of a super lightweight and water resistant fabric for the main body of the short. A fabric that makes it a little more suitable for wearing during a wider range of weather conditions.
The bib uses a lighter, more breathable fabric to keep things comfortable on longer rides. As highlighted above, the biggest difference between these and other Rapha bib shorts is the inclusion of storage pockets. There are four in total spread over the lower back and on each thigh.
Each has the ability to swallow a substantial amount of items, allowing you to ride in just the shorts and a t-shirt if you so wish and still carry everything you would in a normal jersey.
Fit and comfort
The cut and fit of the Rapha Cargo has proved to be exceptionally good and the main fabric has a nice level of compression to really support tired muscles at the end of a long day in the saddle. Talking about saddles, the Cargo feature Rapha's proven Brevet chamois pad. This is not only properly comfortable but has the added bonus of being very quick drying.
I used the shorts for six days straight on a recent LEJOG and was able to wash the shorts and have them dry completely overnight without issue. Leg length and the minimal silicon grippers are just about perfect to round out the package.
The water resistant material performs very well at adding a little extra protection when the weather turns bad and, like the chamois, dries rapidly so keeps you as comfortable as possible. The only issue I have with the use of this material is it isn't as breathable as that used in a normal short.
This caused quite a bit of skin irritation around the front of the short along the panel above the chamois as sweat was unable to escape as easily (this can also be the case with the thigh pockets if you carry anything made of non-breathable material). I would possibly suggest that the top of the front panel could be made better if this section incorporated a more traditional, breathable short fabric.
The additional visibility/reflectivity included on the Cargo short is also second to none. A large panel runs along the base of the spine to provide rearward visibility. Two tags run at the back of the thighs to attract attention whilst pedalling and are supplemented with two large bands of reflective material and two large pink daytime visible bands under the thigh pocket's mesh material.
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