30 Days of Rapha – Monday Night Raw

Commute: 25 miles roundtrip
Weather: Cloudy Temp: 75 deg.
Rapha Kit:  Rapha Merino Base Layer, Cross Jersey, Fixed Shorts
Accessories:  Merino Socks, Fixed Backpack, Rapha Silk Scarf

This is Monday night raw. Not the WWE wrestling that runs on televisions everywhere (including mine). No I'm talking about the Monday night raw you experience when you conduct a simple experiment in riding comfort, and get it wrong.

Let me explain. a few days back I mentioned that the padded seat in the Rapha Fixed Shorts didn't necessarily work for longer rides when layered over bib shorts (too padded, too hot). And that had me wondering about alternatives on today's commute. Hence the experiment.

Dispensing with the bibs I tried wearing the Fixed shorts without anything underneath. I believe it's referred to as "going commando" That may work for special forces, but when was the last time special forces conducted a mission on bicycles. About a quarter mile into my 12.5-mile commute I knew I'd made a big mistake. A smarter man would have turned around and tried something else, but I convinced myself that science and you, the readers, deserved a definitive answer.

I rode the rest of the way and gathered a lot of very raw data. Now I can sum up the answer in one word, Ouch! For the ride home I happily wore the bibs shorts I'd brought along underneath and spent a lot of time out of the saddle.

Last week in Portland Slate, Daniel and I were talking about things we liked, and new pieces we hoped for. Daniel loves the Fixed Shorts and spends plenty of time in them. He'd like to see knickers in a heavier wool. I'd be interested in knickers made in the same lightweight fabric as the Touring Shorts, perhaps a shade tighter in the leg. That would be a great riding trouser more compatible with a protective bib layer underneath.

Time to put a little more cream on the raw data.

18 Responses to 30 Days of Rapha – Monday Night Raw

  1. Pingback: 30 Days of Rapha – On the Trail of Recovery | VeloDramatic

  2. Pingback: 30 Days of Rapha – Monday Night Raw

  3. chris tree says:

    I have just found your blog! And I am enjoy it. It’s great. With beautiful photography, beats my lame effort of self takes with my mobile phone.

    Enough of the sicophancy.

    I ride in Rapha jerseys pretty much all the time, but haven’t tried their shorts/bibs etc. And what with the weather on the turn (here in England) new warmer/dryer gear is always welcome. I may have to check out some of the products that you rate. Especially the classic softshell, and the new stowaway.

    I winced when I read your ‘Raw’ data post today. A few weeks back I went out with a pair of running tights on under my bibs (my longs were in the wash). Let me tell garments engineered for running have seams in different (read wrong) places for cycling.



  4. scott says:

    i feel your pain. first time out in the fixed shorts, i too rode commando on a 50 mile charity ride. i found the front pocket stitching to be, um, intrusive. i have since worn smart wool merion boxer and merino long johns underneath. much better.

  5. Scott,

    50 miles… you’ve got tougher skin than mine (great effort for the charity), I was thinking about nipping into some bushes and putting the bibs on around mile 5. I’ll have a look for those boxers.

  6. jez hastings says:


    great site and most enjoyable.

    i am a friend of brian palmer and we ride together on islay.

    having seen the TAB have you thought about setting up a lending library?
    this has also been suggested to bp too…at debbies after the spedding sprint when he has a mouthful of carrot cake and expresso!

  7. Hi Jez,

    Pleasure to have BP’s riding partner aboard. If I remember correctly you were off gallivanting in London with Mr. Palmer recently and you’ve done London-Paris together. My friend Tim sent me sign up information about next year’s LP ride, suggesting we should give it a shot. We’re thinking seriously about it.

    On the next photo excursion to Scotland I’ll definitely be dropping by for a loop with both of you, and a stop at Debbies; I’m a sucker for carrot cake.

    The TAB is a cry for help, and I hate to say it, but I’ve fallen behind a bit with the updates. Oh, no!

    Good to hear from you.


  8. P says:

    I just found a use for my new winter tights… I wore mine hunting this past weekend (i might be the only person using rapha gear to duck hunt), and stayed really warm. Although, I don’t think my non-cyclist hunting partners will quite get the “wheelsucker” written on the rear. They are so much better than my Under Armour. I think I will also use them when skiing later this year… The tights are a solid addition… Also, I bought two pairs of 3/4 bibs and the first pair were destroyed by my saddle bag velcro that was sticking out on each side… I called Carey and told her there was something wrong with them, then she asked if I had a saddle bag underneath, and yes that was the cause… She said the same thing happened to her, only once of course. Enjoy your blog, but again, I ask the question: have you become a Rapha advertisement? or is this still your “personal cycling journal documenting my favorite rides, gear and the search for balance on, and sometimes off, the bike”. I thoroughly enjoy it, but either you are vying for your spot as a continental rider, or you are providing some serious marketing for them. Cheers!

  9. Hey Pravi,

    That’s too bad about the tights. I’ve managed to avoid damaging any Rapha gear but I remember leaning on the seat in front of me on a Calmac ferry wearing a new Briko jersey. They’d long since removed the headrests from the seats but left the rough velcro strips in place. When I pulled away I had ruined the finish of the jersey front. I was pretty annoyed.

    You definitely need the winter hat to go along with the tights for the next hunting trip. I mentioned in one of the posts that it has duck hunter written all over it when the flaps are down.

    No thoughts of becoming a continental rider (not fast enough), no thoughts of becoming a Rapha model (not thin enough), no thoughts of a marketing position (they’ve already got great people and they couldn’t afford me ;-). I wanted to do a long form piece in the blog… I love Rapha… have a closet full of their clothes (nothing else comes close) and so that’s what I’ve done. Ultimately what I write and photograph is to please myself, I’m happy if others see merit in it but I’m entirely comfortable in my own skin, and don’t need validation at this point in my life.

    If you’ve followed the series so far you know I’ve covered a lot of ground that’s not entirely Rapha centric. Hang in there with me. Next month I’ll be back to slagging Garmin, detailing a new single speed conversion and covering a product or two I got to review at Interbike.

    Oh, and did you bag any ducks?

  10. CT,

    All the fall/winter gear is great but you’d probably get the most wear out of the Stowaway jacket year round. I’ve got the black one, but the acid green is cool too.

  11. P says:

    I understand and was just having fun. I too like the stuff and think your photography is great and prose entertaining. I do have two of the winter hats. My wife has instructed our housekeeper not to wash or dry any bike gear anymore as she ruined the bill of my black hat by drying it and the bill curled up. I just got the black and blue hat and the black and blue jersey in the mail last week with the winter tights. No ducks bagged last weekend as season opens next week, my aforementioned hunting trip was for deer… Yes, too many hobbies. I will document the rapha duckhunting hat for you. The only problem is that it costs TWICE as much as the Filson one… By the way, I was intrigued by your comment on the Portland bike show and Vanilla. How are the 2009 speedvagen Road and Cross bikes? I may get in line for the speedvagen or at least try and check them out when I am on the west coast/portland for business.

  12. Richard says:

    I’ve got to stop reading this ’30 days’ feature! I was gripped by the green eyes late last week and ordered some (more) kit.

    Took delivery of the Winter and Cross jerseys today – superb order turnaround. Was in two minds about which jersey to go for so ended up getting both (largely due to the ace reviews the Winter j’s received on these pages) and stuck a multicolored cap on top of the order for good measure.

    So, out and about in the Kootenay cold today with a Rapha baselayer, a Fixed jersey and the Winter jersey on top was just about perfect. Clear-ish skies, a 20-30kph wind and ambient temps of around 4C / 39F.

    Moisture wicked away like nobody’s business and I remained toasty without overheating – the vents on the Winter jersey are a great detail and work perfectly. It’s a tremendous bonus that it also feels amazing to wear and looks good off the bike too.

    The pockets on the Winter jersey are roomy enough for my middle-of-nowhere self support system – meaning I could leave the musette behind. And perhaps worthy of a mention is the pump pocket nicely concealed within the left rear pocket. That the Rapha site doesn’t appear to mention this excellent feature was one of the reasons I was in two minds about getting it.

    Very happy I did though. Top marks all round.

  13. Pingback: 30 Days of Rapha – Riding Down Hope Street | VeloDramatic

  14. Richard,

    I was speaking with Daniel Wakefield Pasley last night and we both think in terms of “collecting” Rapha kit. He works there BECAUSE he’s an unapologetic fan of the brand, and NOT the inverse… a fan because he works there, which is usually the norm.

    He was just as excited about getting his Winter Gilet this week as we are about our acquisitions.

    Glad you liked the two new pieces. Did you get the Winter Jersey in Blue or Black?


  15. Pravi,

    First of all congratulations on having a housekeeper. At the risk of being labeled even more of an elitist THAT is outstanding. Recouping some of the time spent doing chores would be welcomed around here.

    I’m no expert on Cross bikes, having never ridden one until I borrowed Slate’s Seven last week (and he’d swapped road wheels and tires for whatever he normally runs on it). The Vanillas at the show looked beautiful, were kitted out with good componentry, and come with a solid pedigree. I’d bet they’re fantastic. You should arrange an appointment with Sacha to see one and report your impressions.


  16. Richard says:

    Went for the Winter J in black. As a designer, my wardrobe seems to be full of black top layers. And there’s no doubt that I can get away with wearing this piece in front of clients – the Fixed jersey too. The superb quality married to functional simplicity, style, thought and attention to detail in Rapha clothing obviously pays dividends on the bike. But off the bike, the clothes still look incredibly sharp – even on me.

    So OK, they might be a little more expensive than other brands. But what keeps me coming back for more, is the fact that in my experience at least, the stuff just lasts forever and keeps on looking great, ride after ride, wash after wash.

    I’ve been ‘collecting’ Rapha kit for a good few years now. There’s a certain ‘something’ about the Rapha brand story that hooked me very early on – as weird as it sounds, it was like being into an amazing band that no-one else seemed to have heard of. I think the fact that such obviously talented and creative people (like Mr Wakefield Pasley) want to work with Rapha because the stuff is brilliant speaks volumes about the brand. One gets the feeling that Rapha’s all genuinely by and for cyclists. And their enthusiasm for, and influence on what makes excellent cycling clothing is certainly evident in every single bit of kit I own.

    Whatever those boffins are up to, it’s working.

  17. Richard I think you’ve given me an idea for a new Rapha product. The “boffins” would be a pair of thick-framed retro glasses/goggles. Maybe the lenses flip up.



  18. Richard says:

    Hang on, they look almost exactly like my work specs!

    At the risk of hijacking your blog some more – just got back from another early lunch-break ride on what the forecasts are predicting to be the last road riding day of the year in these parts:


    Same combo top layers as yesterday (clean baselayer obviously), about the same temperature (5C) but no wind and no cloud. Pristine – though typically forgot the camera. Threw in some more sustained climbing (around 1000′) to assess the Winter J in a more rigorous light and I’m totally delighted with the result.

    In addition to providing itch-free warmth, the merino layers whipped the moisture off my skin and popped it right out the jersey. On closer inspection, there’s a little bit of ‘beading’ on the inside of the chest – right by the zipper, but my other layers are/were essentially dry. The paired layers obviously work. (Fast descents have left me feeling not 100% convinced about the windproof-ness of the Winter J, but I certainly didn’t chill to any uncomfortable degree).

    And I have to say I was skeptical about the bonnet – I tend to run quite hot so doubted I’d ever need it on the bike. After this morning’s ride, I’m converted.

    Whatever they’re up to, it’s working.