6 months later – long-term Rapha Sprinters jeans review
I can still say that they have been the most comfortable, best looking, and highest quality pair of jeans I have had to date, although this particular pair was unfortunately not perfect.
These jeans are still 95% the same as when I first received them. That is to say, they haven’t shrunk in any way. They have not faded in any areas. The knees have not blown out. The reflective “Rapha” logo on the inside of the leg has not the slightest amount of wear on it. The denim over the front pockets, where keys and wallets and phones live, show no signs of wear, unlike many other jeans I’ve had. The zipper, rivets, labels, belt loops – all fine.
I often cuff these, having opted for the longer leg (which is a great feature), and they have gone a little fuzzy in that area, but that’s pretty standard and no worse than anything else I’ve had. Nothing to be concerned about.
They are still fantastic to wear on the bike, and are in fact even better off the bike. I’d even recommend these to people who don’t even cycle.
Basically – I love these jeans, and as a result, I have pretty much lived in them since first putting them on.
But… there’s unfortunately a but. That other 5% which prevents me from concluding this review here and now.
It’s the butt. It’s blown through, albeit only in one tiny spot.
In the 2 month update, I reported that there was a little wear showing up on the edges of the back pockets but that it didn’t look like there was any significant wear beyond a fine outer layer of thread. Mostly cosmetic, and not really all that bad. Reasonably insignificant.
That got a bit worse over time, but even though it wasn’t across a large area, the dark denim almost highlights the very white material beneath the fine outer layer of dyed material.
“Oh well”, I thought. “It’s still not that bad, and they’re so nice to wear, I don’t really care.”
But then the wear spread a little, and a worn patch started to show up beside the back pocket where there was only one layer of denim. It appeared to be the same sort of wear as on the pocket, which is to say that it looked like it was just the fine outer layer of material. So, although it was another white spot on the back of my dark denim, at least it wasn’t wearing through.
And then a few weeks ago, I had a closer look at it.
As it turns out, I’m down to just a few threads. There is daylight showing.
This is especially odd when you consider that the rest of the jeans look like they would last years, such is the lack of wear. In the end, though, it would seem as though these ones were let down by one relatively small, but very worn, area.
Before I go any further, I feel the need to attach a disclaimer and address the fact that clothing of this nature will see a high degree of variation when it comes to how it is used. They’re cycling jeans, so obviously they will be subject to higher amounts of wear than jeans you don’t cycle in. Saddles are all different, with different materials and possibly even riding styles that may cause more or less wear. Essentially, I want to point out the obvious and say that just because Rapha thought the wear on my jeans was odd, that doesn’t mean that these won’t eventually wear out, with “eventually” coming sooner or later depending on how they are used or abused.
Ok, so the question is, then, would I buy another pair? This goes back to my final thoughts on the Cadence Raw Denim which started showing wear reasonably early (though they are reinforced in those areas) – should I expect anything more from a pair of cycling-specific jeans (or otherwise) that get used regularly? Is six months sufficient for the lifespan of an article of clothing of this nature?
None of the saddles that I use have any rough stitching or material on the contact points, so that can’t be it (plus, if they did, wouldn’t my bibs or other jeans show similar wear?). So I was left wondering if that is indeed what I should be expecting from a high-end pair of cycling jeans that are specifically designed for this kind of use. Rapha’s website says:
Developed specifically for Rapha in Italy, unlike regular denim, the jeans are resistant to abrasion and won’t deteriorate at key wear points, particularly around the seat.
Sure, “resistant” may be a relative term (although “won’t” is pretty conclusive), but “unlike regular denim” I’ve had, these have worn through more quickly than I expected.
I wasn’t sure what to do, so I asked Rapha.
Turns out, Rapha doesn’t think so. Like me, they thought that this was unusual. With the rest of the jeans looking pretty much brand new, this isolated wear seemed odd.
Anyways, they asked to see them, I sent them off, and now have a new pair to start over with.
So as it stands, I find myself in a position where I still think very highly of Rapha’s Sprinters jeans, and I can say without question that their legendary customer service has been nothing short of amazing.
What I can conclude after six months can be summed up with this – after being without them for a few weeks, when I finally got to put them on again it was like coming up for air after going without for too long. That certainly sounds dreadfully over-dramatic, but that’s quite seriously the reaction I had when first putting them on again. They’re really that nice to wear.
All images: The Sticky Bidon