The RK2 bib shorts are a new addition to the 7Mesh range for 2023, aimed at fast road and gravel. The shorts come in a pocketless or a cargo-friendly gravel adventure version and more importantly a brand-new female-specific model too. The Canadian brand says that the RK2s represent a total redesign and features a host of innovative features.
Design and specifications
7Mesh MK3 shorts have been constructed using an Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified fabric treated with cold black UPF to minimize heat build-up from the sun and give protection from UV rays.
A bib short is only as good as the pad inside and 7Mesh has specced their Performance Force chamois with a front cut out for breathability and is made from recycled fabrics. The chamois is mounted on a floating layer within the shorts which has been a feature across all of the 7Mesh shorts and is designed to help keep the pad in place when riding.
Although 7Mesh has used what they call clean finish construction, to achieve the shaping and chamois mounting there are a lot of paneling and seams on show making them appear a little less aesthetically refined.
You won't find any seams around the raw-cut hem though which gives a smooth finish from shorts to skin. A silicone-dotted pattern on the inside adds a little more grip and sits comfortably against the skin.
The pockets are also very cleanly integrated into the legs, sitting flat and unnoticeable when they don’t have anything in them. When needed the pockets have loads of space to store items and have a folded bottom which helps the pockets expand to consume and securely hold items.
The RK2 Cargo bib shorts only come in black and XS to XXL for both men and women. The non-pocket version costs $30 / £30 less and comes in the same color and size options.
I opted for a size medium which gives a compressive fit around the hips and legs which helps keep the bibs in position. This is important as the shoulder straps are only lightly elasticated and don’t feel like they contribute all that much to keeping the bibs in place. The tightness of the legs and the grippers on the hem ensures the longer short legs stay in position while pedaling too, something which I have had issues with previously when wearing 7Mesh bibs. The chamois is also locked in place too and I found it comfortable enough throughout my varying lengthed test rides.
The cargo pockets on the RK2’s are large enough to fit loads of stuff but maintain enough tightness to still securely hold small items. They are subtly integrated into the shorts so they don't shout ‘adventure time’ if you're heading out on a road ride. The only issue with the pockets is hem isn't sewn closed which can occasionally snag items as you pull them out. Despite not using the rear pockets on bib shorts that often it's still a feature that I missed on the RK2 Cargo bibs as I occasionally opt for a casual t-shirt rather than a jersey.
Visually they are subtle even with their larger leg outline logos. That said the extra seams around the crotch and slight wrinkling of material means they don’t look quite as clean as other bib shorts like MAAP’s Alt_Road or Velocio’s Cargo bibs. This has very little effect on riding or comfort performance, however with the premium pricing aesthetical nitpicking is justified.
The 7Mesh RK2 are very comfortable bib shorts with a well-considered fit and good compression levels. This makes them a great option if your riding frequently flips from fast road rides to long gravel adventures. The pockets are very subtly integrated into the shorts and offer plenty of storage while still being discreet when not in use. For some, the lack of rear pockets may be a deal breaker although the rear pockets on bib shorts never have a huge capacity anyway and are often rendered somewhat obsolete by jersey pockets.
While comfort and materials are up there with some of the best bib shorts, the underpants outline replicating seams, extra paneling, and the way the material wrinkles irks me a little. It's pure aesthetics and never a cause of discomfort, although I feel that considering the $280 / £230 price tag the finish could be a touch more refined.
Tech specs: 7Mesh RK2 cargo bib shorts
- Price: $280 / £230
- Materials: Body: 52% nylon 48%, elastane, Straps: 60% polyester, 40% elastane
- Colors: Black
- Size availability: XS to XXL
- Weight: 195g