It’s been said repeatedly (by us mostly) that adventure is where all the innovation is happening in the road category. Several reasons for that, some of which I shared in an article last week about the 3T Strada. And, earlier this month, Rapha announced Explore featuring cargo bib shorts.
I’m not saying bike shorts with pockets is breaking that much new ground—ask anyone who commutes in Carharts with a padded brief underneath. But for cyclists like me that prefer to not carry stuff on their backs or in panniers, more pockets are welcome. If the aesthetics of it look familiar, Giro’s New Road was ahead of their time by about 6 years. Ironically, where Giro’s line performed the best was mountain biking.
I suspect that’s where I’ll ride Rapha with Explore kit too and on the Iron Horse with my brown bike. I may not be pinning a number on and lining up for a race anymore, but baggies don’t suit me, never have. A less race-oriented, more casual look does.
That’s one of the reasons, besides exceptional materials, I’m riding in Alpinestars so much. They’ve got a super comfortable short with a large pocket on the back and a technical shirt that can get worn for days without needing a wash.
Rapha’s answer to the technical shirt you can ride in and do other stuff is called their Technical T-Shirt and it’s made from a cool and dry wicking fabric. A loose cut doesn’t get sticky in the heat and there’s a hidden reflective trim for visibility if you get caught out after dark.
The shirt is why Rapha sews pockets on the short. The shirt has none. Rapha added pockets on both legs and the upper back for a phone, energy bar, and vape pen. The cargo bibs are made from a new, lightweight Shadow material, that sheds water as you ride and are comfortable up to 30 degrees centigrade, making them the ideal bibs for every ride. The same material that sheds water also dries fast.
I’ve owned bibs from Rapha since they launched…take care of them and the last seemingly forever. Rapha insists the pockets won’t stretch out are secure and on the back inconspicuous and unnoticeable. That means if you want to wear them under a pair of street shorts you can and stash your phone, a money roll, or whatever.
Like all Rapha Explore comes at a premium price and their fans are willing to pay. The Cargo Big Shorts cost $270 USD and the Tee is $75. In cooler weather, I’d pair the tee with the also excellent Brevet base layer for another $100.
If you’re looking for a deal on Rapha, the spring 20% off sale is happening now.
Cargo Big Short Features
- Leg pockets with secure stretch closure keep small items
- Back pockets mean you can forego the usual jersey
- Two reflective stripes on both legs
- Reflective stripe on the back of the shorts, ideally positioned for visibility on the road
- Lower front yoke makes for easier toilet breaks
- Same comfortable upper as Brevet Bib Shorts, with added stripe detail
- Proven Brevet chamois pad, perforated to dry quickly, tested for long distance comfort
- Brevet fit suitable for long days in the saddle.
Brevet Base Layer Features
- Permanent antibacterial treatment for days of freshness
- Brevet stripes under the arms
- Flatlock stitching to seams to minimize chaffing
- Close-to-skin fit for comfort and ease of wear.
Learn more about Rapha’s Explore on a mini site dedicated to it. I have the shorts and tee in and riding as soon as the rain stops.
Also published on Medium.