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Bib shorts should be black. Other colours can be tolerated on a case-by-case basis, but there’s little argument that the archetypal bib shorts are, and will always be, black. This is worth restating in light of the trend of World Champions opting for white bib shorts, something once unconscionable, made possible by the leaps and bounds in sublimation technology in the late-80s. As with any technological advance, the sudden availability of fabric vivid whites and lurid colours left many with nostalgia for the days of subtler tones and restrained styling.
As fun as it is to indulge in nostalgia on occasion it’s not generally a solid base for argumentation, so our case against white bib shorts rests on the hopefully more solid foundations of practicality and style. The Française des Jeux team learned the perils of the white bib shorts the hard way, switching in the past couple of seasons to shorts and jerseys in a rich blue. The team should stand as a warning to us all – they invariably finished the Spring Classics looking like your least favourite tea towel, smeared and stained with the muck of the land they had just raced across. Even on the most pristine days, any stray drop of energy drink or gel would stain their kit, somewhat diminishing their sheen of professional preparation. Just imagine how much work for the team’s soigneur was saved by their move to blue.
More recent offenders have included World Champions Philippe Gilbert and Rui Costa. By all accounts, both of these riders are well regarded by their contemporaries, directeurs and fans, and both have won races with no small measure of panache – yet both have sported white bib shorts as part of their championship ensemble. Undoubtedly, their choice was informed by a herd of designers, managers, manufacturers and sponsors, but they would have done well to follow Mark Cavendish’s example and worn black bibs with their rainbow jerseys.
For non-professionals, the choice is a far simpler one. Advances in garment technology have been a blessing for sports apparel companies, allowing the creation of clothes a world removed from the clingy polyester and heavy cottons of school sports fields. The level of performance we expect from a garment has risen greatly – its tailoring should be elegant, the fabric comfortable, high tech, and robust, its detailing intelligent.
These are qualities of the Rapha Classic Bib Shorts, which feature a matt-finish, high-stretch Lycra and an award winning chamois. Available in both men’s and women’s version, the Classic Bib Shorts have been worn over thousands of kilometres of the Rapha Continental, accompanied by just over 30,000 tins of chamois and shaving cream. Rapha’s cadre of Classic products have earned their distinction through a timeless mix of quality, style, and performance – and they’re all covered by the Rapha Classics Guarantee, allowing them to be tested for 30 days and returned for a full refund if they don’t meet your expectations.