UK outdoor brand Rab has now brought its expertise to mountain bike and gravel kit. How well does it stack up against the established MTB brands though?
Rab says one reason it has launched the Cinder range is because many of its cyclist employees were using garments from the rest of its line up anyway. Perfect sense then, to refine and repurpose its fabric and tailoring know-how, learned over decades, for cycling-specific design and fit.
You can see Rab’s heritage here in the in-house Matrix fabrics used across this Crank short. The main material is a thin, breathable soft-shell fabric that’s 151gsm and extremely rapid drying. There’s then a tougher, gridded, micro-ripstop, textured fabric on the sides, back of thighs and the seat zone, which is also stretchier.
The Crank sits just above the knee (without being too short) and is treated all over with a fluorocarbon-free DWR coating to resist splashes, although this was much less effective than Endura’s treatment.
The inseam is offset with a curved panel where you sit, so there’s less chance of seams digging in against the saddle, and the waistband fastens with two Velcro straps with a good range of adjustment. The whole package feels lightweight and comfy with the raised rear waistband sitting snug against the back.
There are only two side hip pockets, although long thigh vents also allow access to Rab’s liner shorts stash pockets; £100 extra if you buy into the whole ecosystem. The pockets have plenty of room to stash a large modern phone, but on both legs, contents can default to a more backward position than desired, and we ended a few rough descents with our phone almost spun round to the buttocks inside the zip pocket. It’s also a bit easy to pull mesh pockets inside out by mistake when accessing your phone on the trails – likely a bit of a drawback for the Instagram-obsessed. We also found that, like Rab’s jersey, the material snags too easily as the summer vegetation starts to invade our trails.
The Rab Cinder Crank is a well-dialled short with excellent breathability and big thigh vents that can dump heat. However it’s not as stretchy and free-flowing as the best on test – the 7 Mesh or Endura. The Crank's price is high too.