Rapha Premium Denim - long-term review

Rapha Premium Denim – long-term review


A few of months ago (already?) I reviewed Rapha’s Indigo Denim and promised to follow-up with their other denim offering – the Premium Denim.

Now, these are similar in many ways, so one could assume that they share the same positive traits of the Indigo Denim, but then you would also have to assume that they share the same shortcomings, especially when compared to Rapha’s previous version of their jeans.

Let’s find out.

Just how premium are these, and why?

Well, from what I can tell, it’s all in the material. Sure, there are a few other smaller features that differentiate the Premium from the Indigo denim, but the main one is the material.

Rapha Premium Denim - long-term review

It’s nice and soft. Soft enough, in fact, that you would definitely hesitate to call these denim at all. That’s not a bad thing – unless you’re expecting an actual pair of denim pants, in which case I suppose you’d be a little puzzled and possibly a little disappointed.

However, what’s more likely to be the case is that once you slide the Premium “jeans” on, the fact that the material is so comfortable takes precedence. Score one for “premium”.

The fit

Pretty much the same as the Indigo denim. If you need a refresher, click here. If you want the short version, they’re slim but reasonably stretchy, slightly tapered, with a little too much room in the trunk, and quite a tall crotch.

There are two things that I will make an extra note of here.

First, these seem to have a little more stretch than the Indigo denim, which works well both on and off the bike. Nice and comfy.

Second, that tall crotch. I’m really not a fan. Firstly, I don’t like the aesthetics. I’m not into particularly low-cut jeans, but these are a bit much. Crucially, however, it just doesn’t work on the bike.

Rapha Premium Denim - long-term review

Normal jeans on the right, Rapha Premium Denim on the left – 6cm longer in the crotch.

A common feature on cycling-specific jeans is the higher back, designed of course to alleviate the inevitable plumbers-crack when bent over on the bike.

Both the Indigo and the Premium Denim just went high all the way around. As I mentioned in the previous review, the long crotch tends to just get in the way on the bike. I find that the extra height in the front just wants to sit uncomfortably high on your stomach when bent over on the saddle, whereas the low-front/high-back combo is just right.

Otherwise, the on-bike fit is quite nice. Slim legs mean you don’t have to roll them up to keep them out of your chain if you don’t want to, and the soft material and plentiful stretch makes moving around in them quite a nice experience. No problems here.

Rapha Premium Denim - long-term review

Off the bike, I find the fit to be a little bit less tailored looking than previous versions, and less so than my other normal jeans. I’m not really a big fan of the tapered look in general, but these don’t fit all that neatly around the top, in any case. Different body-types may fit them better, and different tastes, obviously, may prefer it more than I.

The finish

Very nice. Until the first couple of washes.

I don’t know if they’re supposed to “wear in” quite this much, but I certainly wouldn’t have thought so. Though the Premium Denim is holding up quite well in the grand scheme of things a number of months on, it only took a few wears for the softer material to start to go a little bit fuzzy in places and for a bit of fade in any sort of contact area to set-in. They look rather older than they are.

Rapha Premium Denim - long-term review

They’re wearing quite well in terms of anything specifically related to cycling, at any rate.

Some online comments refer to the idea that you could wear these around the office quite easily, but I have to say that, my pair at least, ended up looking rather casual indeed in no time at all. I follow the washing instructions and hang to dry, for the record.

Other than that, the strange omission of a change pocket on the Indigo jeans is rectified on the Premium, which adds a larger zipped pocket within the left-front pocket. And, the sumptuous pocket-lining of the trusty old Sprinters Jeans is back, which I’m sure you can tell I’m a fan of. The rest of the features are standard Rapha (pink lining and reflective logo in the leg).

Rapha Premium Denim - long-term review



Overall, my impression of these is the same as for the Indigo Denim. They’re nice, but it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Even if I wasn’t comparing them to the high bar of the older Sprinters jeans, the premium denim leaves me a little wanting. Especially for the $255 price-tag.

They are comfortable, well put-together, nicely detailed, functional jeans. But, they are also curiously tailored with the high waist/long crotch, slightly frumpier fit up top, and the fact that they look rather tired so soon. They are good on the bike apart from the high waist business, but I would struggle to honestly say they’re any better than a standard stretchy pair of jeans.

So, they’re nice, but there’s less here to really make them stand out from the crowd. Let’s just say that I’m not itching to lash-out for a another pair of trousers from Rapha at the moment. I’ve loved their shorts, and maybe I’ll consider it if they ever re-issue the Sprinters jeans…

Rapha Premium Denim - long-term review


All images: The Sticky Bidon