Rapha Softshell Trousers >> $140
The lowdown: Stylish pants with a performance edge
Pros: Water-resistant and stretchy material for comfortable spinning with a Cordura backside for durability
Cons: Weight is too heavy for warm days
Having sold my car a few months ago, I’ve landed headlong into the world of commuting by bike. My ride to the office is roughly 10 miles each way, and five are along a gorgeous creek-lined bike path — hardly the “sacrifice” some think it to be. However, I do live in Boulder and it does get cold here — sometimes very cold.
I ride a steel commuter bike with waterproof Ortlieb panniers (amazing, by the way), so I can carry quite a bit of gear; however, less is usually more on the bike, and one of the ways I can save weight by avoiding carrying an entire change of clothes with me to the office.
Most of the commuter and casual clothing from Rapha is nicer and of higher quality than just about anything I have in my personal wardrobe, so I was certain that anything I picked in the range would be more than adequate for a day at the office. The goal was to find something to ride in that was warm enough for cold days, but would work better at the office than the tights I would normally wear when temperatures drop.
The softshell pants from Rapha are, as one would expect, perfect for the job.
The pants are similar to the Rapha Softshell jacket, made from polyester and spandex and treated with a water-resistant coating. The lining is a soft, brushed, tricot, giving them added warmth and comfort. The pants fit like they were tailored, slim throughout the leg, but with the blended spandex fabric, they stretch perfectly well to make pedaling feel natural and unrestricted. The leg opening is tapered, but not quite enough to obviate the need for a leg strap on the drive side to prevent a greasy pant leg.
The seat panel is abrasion-resistant Cordura, which will last longer than just about any piece of cycling kit you own. Another brilliant detail is the neoprene rear panel, especially helpful for those who haven’t yet discovered the genius that is the fender.
The pockets function like real pant pockets should, holding anything you would want to carry in a regular pair of jeans. They have a reflective trim and a stretch waistband with a soft gripper to hold them in place — if you need it — and there are belt loops as well.
One word of caution for the fair-weather rider: on days above 50 degrees, you might think about another option because these things border on oven-like on some days; when the mercury starts to get close to 50-60, you might consider the regular Rapha trouser — another stylish, comfortable option with thinner fabric and no lining.