rapha

FeaturedNews

132,000 cyclists join Rapha Rising Strava challenge to climb 4,600m in 3 weeks

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Thousands of cyclists across the world have taken up Rapha’s challenge to Ride Up and climb 4,600m through July, with more than 132,000 participants signing up for Rapha Rising on Strava with 10 days left to run.

Rapha Rising Strava ChallengeTogether they have climbed 429,133km, further than the distance from the Earth to the Moon (384,400km).

“We’re inspired to see so many riders setting themselves the challenge to ride the elevation of one of the toughest stages in cycle racing,” said James Fairbank, Head of Brand at Rapha. “It’s fantastic to see so many people pushing themselves out on the roads while one of the greatest cycle races in the world is taking place.”

Participants of the Etape du Tour, which takes place this weekend, will get the chance to cross off 3,529m of climbing in a single day. Rapha is official clothing partner of the Etape, which takes place on Sunday 16th July and runs over 181km between Briançon and the Col d’Izoard, the route of stage 18 of the 2017 Tour de France.

Rapha Rising Strava Challenge

Rapha launched its Strava challenge as part of the Rapha Rising campaign, a celebration of cycling’s love affair with the mountains which runs between 1st and 23rd July.

For more information visit rapha.cc/rapharising.

Join the Strava group here.

Rapha Rising Strava Challenge

Cycle ClothingWomen's Cycling

Rapha launches Spring/Summer 2017 women’s cycling range

Rapha Womens H1-17 Malaga
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Rapha has continued to improve and expand its women’s cycling range this season with new products for racing, training and long-distance riding. To highlight the range, the brand sent three riders on a training camp in Malaga to build their mountain legs and give the new products an outing in the warm Spanish weather.

Rapha has added hot-weather products to provide female riders with kit for all conditions and temperature ranges. With its focus on fabrics, finish and seam placement, the Souplesse range has been developed for improved on-bike fit with fabrics more closely matched to Rapha’s Pro Team collection, which has been extensively researched and developed with input from leading men’s and women’s WorldTour teams including CANYON//SRAM. Insights from the CANYON//SRAM team have led the development of the new season range.

Rapha Women's Cycling

The women’s Brevet range, designed for long-distance and multi-day riding, has been boosted by the addition of bib shorts with a perforated chamois and fabrics that can be washed and dried overnight. In the Classic range, the Women’s Classic Wind Jacket II and Women’s Classic Gilet II have been overhauled with a fabric update and increased reflectivity built into the seams. A new addition for SS17 is the Women’s Flyweight Jersey, designed for hot weather riding. The Flyweight is Rapha’s lightest jersey yet, and has been designed for wearing in hot and humid conditions.

Rapha women's cycling

The new additions to the range are the culmination of years of research and we have worked obsessively to perfect every detail

Maria Olsson, Rapha’s Pro Team and Souplesse designer, said: “We worked a lot on pressure points and how to minimise pressure across the body whilst still keeping you supported and comfortable. The new additions to the range are the culmination of years of research and we have worked obsessively to perfect every detail.”

Rapha Women's Cycling

Rapha’s commitment to the advancement of women’s cycling doesn’t stop with apparel: the Rapha Women’s 100 returns again this year on the 23rd July. The day will see thousands of women ride at least 100km, wherever they are in the world.

The Rapha Women’s 2017 Range

Rapha Women’s Souplesse Aero Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As worn by CANYON//SRAM women’s World Tour racing team and previously only available in team colours (reviewed by me here), the jersey has been updated for 2017. Inspired by our pro riders and tested in the wind tunnel, the fabrics are engineered to perfection and it is cut for an aerodynamic fit. The collar is cut to sit flat for aerodynamics and the fit is slim for maximum air flow over the body. With longer sleeves, aero fabric and minimal technical finishes, this jersey is the result of years or research.

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse Aero Jersey comes in sizes XXS-XL and retails at £130.

 

Rapha Women’s Souplesse Lightweight Jersey II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lightest jersey in the Souplesse range, the main body fabric is 110gsm which has excellent wicking and stretch for hot days in the saddle. Details and stitching have been made as light as possible, to make the jersey feel barely-there, with laser-cut ventilation holes for additional breathability. The pockets have a new construction with an internal wall, providing extra storage even in the smallest sizes without adding any bulk to the jersey. The backs of the pockets are mesh-lined for air flow next to the skin.

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse Lightweight Jersey comes in sizes XXS-XL and retails at £120

 

Rapha Women’s Souplesse Bib Shorts II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performance bib shorts for racing and high-intensity training, updated for 2017. With fabric based on the award-winning Pro Team Bib Shorts, these bibs are supportive, opaque and breathable. The mesh upper is constructed from a high stretch, high-wicking fabric and have been crafted to minimise pressure points across the shoulders. The shorts have a new low profile gripper that is raw cut with a wider impact area to minimise pressure points on the leg whilst staying in place.

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse Bib Shorts II come in sizes XXS-XL and retail at £175

 

Rapha Women’s Brevet Bib Shorts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Designed and developed for long days in the saddle. The straps have a lined mesh fabric for comfort whilst reflective stripes on the legs provide visibility in low light and poor conditions. With a higher front rise, the upper portion is designed to work like a base layer to provide warmth on descents or in cooler temperatures while helping with ventilation on climbs or in warmer conditions. The Brevet Bib Short fabrics and chamois are quick-drying and designed to be washed and dried overnight, ready for the next day’s riding. Cut in a Classic fit for comfort and breathability.

The Rapha Women’s Brevet Bib Shorts II come in sizes XXS-XL and retail at £180

 

Rapha Women’s Flyweight Jersey

 

Cut in a more relaxed fit than the Souplesse collection, the Women’s Flyweight Jersey is for riding in extremely hot and humid conditions. Lightweight and highly breathable, made from a high-wicking and fast-drying fabric, the fit of the jersey is designed to sit slightly away from the skin to allow air flow around the body. The collar sits low for improved breathability, unnecessary seams have been removed to improve moisture transfer, and a mesh yoke and lining inside the back pockets increase ventilation in areas of high perspiration.

The Rapha Women’s Flyweight Jersey comes in sizes XXS-XL and retails at £95.

View the full Rapha women’s cycling range here.

Cycle ClothingNews

Rapha Celebrates a Century of Style and Panache with special Giro d’Italia Coppi Collection

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Rapha is celebrating the 100th edition of Italy’s Grand Tour with events and rides in Clubhouses and a beautiful special edition collection honouring Fausto Coppi.

Events in Clubhouses Worldwide

www.rapha.cc/madeinitaly-events

Watch the racing at Rapha Clubhouses worldwide and join in the excitement of Italy’s greatest race. Rapha will be screening every stage (where time zones allow). Each Clubhouse will be offering delicious Italian food and drink as well as prizes during the live screening. Ride with Rapha on specially-planned routes; join a Clubhouse-led ride or download the file and do it yourself. Completing the route will earn riders a special edition Coppi poster, and there will be prizes for best dressed on the Rapha-led rides. Celebrate at special Coppi and Italian-themed events at Clubhouses worldwide – please visit rapha.cc/clubs to find events happening at specific Clubhouses.

The Coppi Collection

www.rapha.cc

Fausto Coppi (1919-1960) was one of the greatest cyclists of all time. Beloved by fans and fellow riders alike, the man from Piedmont, Italy, became known as Il Campionissimo – Champion of Champions. Coppi’s achievements were numerous. He remains one of the most decorated cyclists of all time and his palmares set new standards for the sport. For the 100th edition of the Italian grand tour, Rapha has created a stylish, luxurious range of on-and off-bike clothing and accessories to commemorate Italy’s most stylish sportsman and the golden age of Italian cycling. Using similar manufacturing and stitching techniques to the jerseys worn in the 1960’s, the collection pays tribute to the styles of the time. The design, patterns and details of each piece reflect different aspects of Coppi’s style and victories, drawing inspiration from glorious summit wins and his signature sartorial style. From lightweight and technical cycling attire to a full merino tracksuit, the range covers every aspect of a cyclist’s life on and off the bike.

Rapha Coppi Rosa Merino Jersey, RRP: £170

Rapha Coppi Rosa Merino Jersey

Inspired by the iconic pink jersey. Made in Italy, from thick double-knit merino wool with exclusive ‘headline’ graphic prints woven into the front, the jersey is designed to be worn on and off the bike.

Coppi Celeste Merino Jersey, RRP: £150

Rapha Coppi Celeste Merino Jersey

Inspired by colours Fausto Coppi wore throughout his career. Made in Italy using a fine merino wool, the jersey is designed to be worn both on and off the bike.

Coppi Nera Merino Jersey, RRP: £150

Rapha Coppi Nera Merino Jersey

Inspired by cycling’s famous Black Jersey and Giuseppe Ticozzelli, the footballer who rode Italy’s three-week tour in 1926, in turn becoming the basis for the jersey honouring the race’s last man. Made in Italy using a fine merino wool, the jersey is designed to be worn on and off the bike.

Coppi Flyweight Jersey, RRP: £100

Rapha Coppi Flyweight Jersey

A special edition cycling jersey inspired by Fausto Coppi’s first great victory, at Abetone in 1940. Designed for riding and training in hot and humid conditions, the jersey is made of a technical, perforated fabric that wicks sweat away.

Coppi Classic Bib Shorts, RRP: £180

Rapha Coppi Bib Shorts

With the same construction as Rapha’s bestselling Classic Bibs, these cycling shorts celebrate Il Campionissimo and are made to match the rest of the Coppi collection. Made in Italy.
Coppi Tracksuit: Warm up with wool

The tracksuits worn by bike racers from the era of Fausto Coppi were style classics. With simple, elegant colour blocks and logo prints – and paired with smart loafers on their feet – the riders looked as good off the bike as they did on it. The Warm Up Trousers and Warm Up Jacker pay homage to the great Italian and his effortless flair. Made at a factory in Italy that specialises in high-end knitwear, these luxury merino wool garments are crafted using a honeycomb texture double knit which provides a premium feel and finish.

Coppi Merino Warm Up Jacket (Limited Edition) RRP: £200

Rapha Coppi Merino Warm Up Jacket

This luxury Coppi Merino Warm-up Jacket is designed to be worn with the warm-up trousers. A distinctive rose-silver plated zip and puller echo those used in jerseys of Coppi’s era. Other special inclusions on the jacket include Coppi’s signature, which has been embroidered above the right sleeve cuff using intricate chainstitching, and a Rapha logo which has been needle-punched onto the left arm.

Coppi Merino Warm Up Trouser (Limited Edition) RRP: £180

Rapha Coppi Merino Warm Up Trousers

Luxury jogging pants made in Italy using the finest merino wool, with a design inspired by the off-bike clothing worn by riders in the era of Fausto Coppi. Pairs with matching warmup jacket. Woven using a honeycomb texture double knit which provides a premium feel and finish and cut in a slim, tapered fit.

Coppi Pack Jacket RRP: £150

Rapha Coppi Pack Jacket

Rapha’s popular City Pack Jacket with added elegant detailing including a new, glossy material, internal French seaming for a clean aesthetic and rose-gold zip as well as design details referencing Coppi and Italy. Made in Italy.

Coppi Silk Scarf RRP: £50Rapha Commemmorative Coppi Silk Scarf

A commemorative silk scarf detailing the unmatched palmarès of the great Fausto Coppi. Made in Italy of luxury silk to keep you both warm in the cold and cool in the heat.

Coppi Merino Socks RRP: £15

Rapha Coppi Merino Socks

Constructed from a merino-rich blend that is soft, breathable and naturally anti-bacterial, the socks are short and ribbed-knit, matching the trend in Coppi’s era. His signature is stitched on the sole along with Fausto’s First Flight – a reference to Coppi’s first great victory at the Tour of Italy in 1940 – in pink. Made in Italy.

Coppi Cap A, RRP: £35

Rapha Coppi cap

A special edition, 100% lightweight, cotton, four-panel cycling cap featuring graphic prints and motifs inspired by Fausto Coppi. Made in Italy.

Special Edition Coppi Glasses RRP: £200

Rapha Coppi Glasses

The perfect blend of classic style and modern performance for road riders, in a special edition design inspired by Fausto Coppi. Handmade in Italy with Mazzuchelli 1849 pink-hued acetate, with world-class Carl Zeiss green hued lenses. Based on Rapha’s popular Classic Glasses.

Cycle ClothingFeaturedReviewsWomen's Cycling

First impressions – Victoria reviews the women’s Rapha Canyon-SRAM team kit

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I have never been tempted to cycle in a team kit before. But then, I’d never seen one as beautiful as the Rapha Canyon//SRAM team kit, which is one of the best looking women’s cycle kits I’ve ever seen. Since the first images were released months ago, I’ve been on tenterhooks waiting for it to be released.

Finally, on Wednesday, it happened: the email arrived from Rapha and faster than you can shout ‘Strava!’ I was parting with an obscene amount of money. I’m aware that £300 for a cycling kit is pretty steep. But boy oh boy, I wanted it so badly.

But what you all want to know, I suppose, is how it performs. Well, the kit arrived on Saturday and the following day I wore it on an 85km ride to put it through its paces.

Rapha Canyon//SRAM women's kit

The Rapha Canyon//SRAM team kit is seriously good looking. Black, emblazoned with jewel tones and the subtlest of branding, it looks so slick. The aero cut of the team-issue jersey is divine: it’s far and away the most flattering cycling jersey I have worn. It’s close fitting in a way that skims rather than clings; the mesh sleeves are just the right length and fit; and, as I hate having anything fastened up to my neck, I’m happy to say it looks great unzipped a few inches. Sunday was an ideal day to ride out in the kit; the Coldblack technology used in the jersey to reflect the sun’s rays and wick away moisture was perfect in 28-degree heat.

Rapha Canyon//SRAM women's kit

The Rapha Canyon//SRAM team kit jersey is long: I can pull it right down over my bum. This is a very good thing: at 5’8” I’m fairly tall and, being somewhat top heavy, I’m delighted to have a jersey which doesn’t ride up. I didn’t have to tug it down at the front once. If you’re petite, there is a risk that it might be a little too long. I find Rapha sizing tends to be a little on the small side, so I ordered my usual size medium bib shorts and size large jersey to accommodate my broad shoulders and bust. It’s spot on for my frame.

Rapha Canyon//SRAM women's kit

The race fit Rapha Canyon//SRAM bib shorts look similarly great: they are really nicely cut and the styling is spot on. The bib straps are well positioned and soft – they didn’t cut in to my shoulders at all.

The leg length is generous, the leg grippers keep everything in place and the breathable fabric feels good. I did expect a slightly more robust pad; it doesn’t feel quite as supportive as the chamois in my Rapha winter padded tights.

Being a particularly sweaty cyclist, I’m obsessive about washing kit as soon as I’ve worn it. It’s already been through the washing machine and drip dried as per instructions, and all’s well.

Rapha Canyon//SRAM women's kit

 

The Rapha Canyon//SRAM team kit is far and away the best looking kit I’ve worn. Expensive, yes; but it’s one of the best looking women’s cycling kits of 2016, and I felt a million dollars wearing it. Well done Rapha and the Canyon//SRAM team for putting together such an iconic kit – I feel like this is a big step in moving the standard of women’s cycling kit forward. The designers have set the bar very high indeed.

The jersey is priced at £130 and the bib shorts at £170. You can view the whole range here.

Rapha.cc

 

Cycle ClothingFeaturedReviewsWomen's Cycling

Ten of the coolest men’s and women’s cycling jerseys for Summer 2016

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Victoria’s pick of the coolest women’s cycling jerseys:

The sun is out and the mercury is rising. All I can think about is getting out on my bike in the coolest women’s cycling jerseys of 2016. The Vamper.cc kit is, of course, our favourite – more about that here! – but that’s not to say there aren’t a lot of cool kits out there this season. Here’s my pick of the bunch…

Feel free to share your objects of desire in the comments, or tell us on Twitter what you’re lusting over.Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

Attaquer – Core Brush Women’s Cycling Jersey

The Attaquer Core Brush jersey in teal is vibrant and summery and bold and beautiful. We like the colour and the subtle fade of this graffiti-esque women’s cycle jersey, and from what we’ve seen of Attaquer kit, we’d expect the fabric to be top notch too.

AUS$179.95 – From Attaquer

 

Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

MAAP – Arrows Women’s Cycling Jersey

The Aussies really know how to do cool cycle kits. Maap’s Arrows women’s cycle jersey is sharp: we like both colourways, but the navy and coral really floats our boat. Properly cool.

AUS$180.00 – From MAAP

 

Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

Twin Six – The Artcrank Women’s Cycling Jersey

What’s black and white and red all over? The Artcrank women’s cycle jersey from Twin Six. This is not a jersey for the faint hearted, but we think it’s pretty fabulous. A whole peloton in this design might be migraine-inducing, for a solo cyclist, we think this rocks.

US$85.00 – From Twin Six

 

 

Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

Giro – Chrono Pro Women’s Cycling Jersey

We adore the nebular print of this Giro women’s cycle jersey. What can we say? It’s out of this world. Understated, chic and unusual.

£139.99 – By Giro, from Wiggle

 

Cool women's cycling jerseys 2016

Stolen Goat – Momentum Women’s Cycling Jersey

“Moving effortlessly from one colour to another, this jersey represents our freedom of movement on the bike.” – Well. We’re not sure about that, but we do like the trendy ombre-effect and the bold shades of this women’s cycle jersey from Stolen Goat. Very smart indeed.

£60.00 – From Stolen Goat

Matt’s pick of the coolest men’s cycling jerseys:

 

Velobici Verne

Velobici – Verne (Cannon Grey)

This lightweight short-sleeved three-season number from Leicestershire’s own Velobici had us drooling from the outset. A great colour combination with technical detailing to match, its sartorial credentials are firmly at the forefront. Those in the know will be able to spot your finery from afar and will duly admire.

£150  – From Velobici

 

 

Attaquer – GiroXAttaquer

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Is there any brand on top of their game like Attaquer are right now? If so, we would love to see them. With exquisite collaborations in conjunction with G!ro and Dosnoventa as well as a riotous range of cool cycling jerseys for both men and women, we’d sell our grannies* for pretty much everything they purvey.

*ok, not our grannies. But perhaps our souls.

£89.95 – From Giro Cycles

 

 

La Passione – Summer Diagonal Jersey (Blue)

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A return to true classic lines and hues, this summer offering from La Passione hits the mark in delivering bold shades in a powerful yet understated way. Showy but without bling, this jersey let others know that you know your onions…

£54 – From La Passione

 

 

Rapha.cc – Classic Jersey (Black)

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Sometimes it just has to be black, the unmistakable silhouette that sets off just about any bike. Rapha have nailed it with the Core. The subtle injection of contrast with the white and pink elements are understated and cool. A collection to remind you of the timelessness of cycling.

£110 – From Rapha.cc

 

 

Hunter Bros – Butterfly Jersey

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If you can allay your vehement dislike of flying insects for more than a few hours (yes, Matt – you!) this punchy number from Antipodean apparel artistes Hunter Bros will have you soaring above the crowd. Tell me you see beautiful kit like this in Richmond Park. Go on, tell me. You can’t, can you? Because you don’t. Let’s bring some style from Down Under to London.

AUS$155 – From Hunter Bros

 

FeaturedNewsWomen's Cycling

Canyon//SRAM unveils Zwift Academy concept to uncover raw talent in women’s cycling

Canyon//SRAM Zwift
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We appear to be in the midst of a golden period for women’s cycling: the emergence of the Canyon//SRAM team and its subsequent partnership with Rapha has shone a light on women’s road cycling in a way we haven’t really seen before.

In an effort to consolidate on this groundswell of support for the team and to harness the unprecedented interest in women’s cycling, Canyon//SRAM Racing has today announced an ambitious partnership with Zwift, the social fitness platform for cyclists.

During a live virtual group ride with Zwift users, Canyon//SRAM Racing rider Tiffany Cromwell declared the race was on to find a 2017 team mate, who would be identified, developed and launched into the pro peloton by her team & Zwift.

From March 2016, female amateur riders from all corners of the world will be invited to try out for a professional contract by riding Zwift in a winner takes all talent contest, more akin to Saturday night prime time television than the sometimes antiquated world of pro cycling.

“Unfortunately the development pathways for female riders don’t compare to the men’s side of the sport,” said Cromwell.

“But rather than swim against the tide, we’re taking the bull by the horns and shaking things up with Zwift. Cycling’s stars possess extraordinary physical attributes and we’re confident one or two of those rough diamonds are out there to be unearthed on the Zwift platform.”

Canyon//SRAM Zwift Academy
The program, officially called: The Canyon//SRAM Racing & Zwift Academy Project will also be supported by team partners Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp and Quarq.

Zwift and Canyon//SRAM performance staff are currently developing an initial series of tasks, likely to comprise of group rides and structured training programmes, to identify the physical attributes and potential of riders who enter the programme. The field will be reduced throughout 2016 until a final selection of three riders will compete on virtual and real roads for the opportunity to become a pro rider in 2017.

“This isn’t a marketing gimmick. Zwift is a global, reliable and data-driven platform,” offers Zwift CEO, Eric Min.

“We’re truly accessible and, with tens of thousands of users, we’re confident we can be a development platform for professional cycling. We’ve been working on a similar concept for some time so we were blown away when Canyon//SRAM Racing Director Ronny Lauke suggested it to us.”

“The world is full of young cyclists with raw talent that we may not be noticing,” added Lauke.

“That’s a huge problem for the sport and we want to challenge this as much as possible. Of course, there are other criteria to becoming a pro cyclist, like attitude, bike handling and a good tactical brain, but without an exceptional engine you won’t get too far. This is going to be an exciting adventure with Zwift.”

“With this team’s set of partners, anything is possible. I’m sure we’re about to see a truly unique story here, within the sport, as it springs from a disruptive, exciting program,” said Canyon Chief Brand Officer Frank Aldorf.

“Such a technology driven experience is a great match for our Canyon DNA and I am sure we will all be blown away by the talent it uncovers.”

“This program with Zwift and the Canyon//SRAM Racing team is a brilliant blend of technology and talent spotting. It’s one way to give young riders an opportunity that may have been overlooked before,” concluded SRAM Road Brand Director Christopher Zigmont.

The program, officially called: The Canyon//SRAM Racing & Zwift Academy Project will also be supported by team partners Rapha, Wahoo Fitness, Zipp and Quarq.

Cycle ClothingReviewsWomen's Cycling

Getting warmer: a review of the Rapha women’s winter collection

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The Rapha women’s winter collection features some very good looking pieces of kit; the long sleeved cycling jerseys and jackets are particularly smart. I’ve been testing the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket and Women’s Padded Tights in recent weeks.

The Rapha Souplesse women’s jacket is soft and comfortable to wear. It’s lightweight, hugs the body in a very comforting way and doesn’t ride up.

This is my first winter of road cycling and, as a winter creature who longs for cosy knits and boots all year long, I’ve been looking forward to bundling up and putting cold weather kit to the test. But this year, it’s hard. We’re now well into December yet the mercury remains frustratingly high: the challenge isn’t keeping warm, it’s staying dry and upright when high winds are buffeting you from every direction. For those of you reading from cooler climes, it’s been so mild this week that I’ve been able to wear short fingered gloves for commuting… So, while I’m testing winter kit, it’s not being put through its paces in brutally cold conditions and I can’t comment on its effectiveness in subzero temperatures.

The Rapha women’s winter collection features some very good looking pieces of kit; the long sleeved cycling jerseys and jackets are particularly smart.

I’ve cycled in the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket and Women’s Padded Tights four times now, in temperatures ranging from 6 to 12 degrees Celsius. They have also been worn in rain, drizzle and high winds. The jacket has been laundered twice and the tights four times.

Let’s start at the top and work our way down.

 

Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket

Style & Design Features

  • Water repellent
  • Form fitting
  • Reflective detailing for visibility at night
  • Zipped pockets on the sleeve and back for credit card and keys
  • Cosy brushed lining for warmth and softness

The Women’s Souplesse Jacket is available in black and pink, or the colour I’m wearing, which is described as blue. I can assure you it is not blue. It is most definitely purple – a lovely strong violet, with a contrasting back in a deep magenta hue.

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

Comfort & Performance

The Rapha Souplesse jacket is beautifully soft and comfortable to wear: it’s lightweight and hugs the body in a very comforting way. The lining is fleecy and feels, for want of a better word, snuggly against bare skin on milder days.

The off-centre zip is sturdy and easy to adjust one-handed if you’re feeling warm as you pedal (as I invariably do).

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

The jacket is fairly water resistant: not one to wear in a torrential downpour, but fine for drizzly outings. It’s breathable and the brushed lining means that it doesn’t feel damp and clammy making it a useful cycling jacket for the recent mild, damp weather.

Overall, the Rapha Souplesse Women’s Jacket is a cracking cut: feminine, flattering and not at all boxy.

It washed well at 30 degrees and dried overnight easily.

 

Fit & Sizing

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket errs a little on the small side: I’m wearing size Large which is comfortable but comparable in size to a Medium at Isadore Apparel or Rivelo. I’d definitely recommend ordering one size up from your usual.

I can comfortably fit a baselayer and jersey underneath the jacket which has plenty of stretch: it doesn’t feel restrictive with extra layers underneath.The sleeves are very nice: close fitting, plenty long enough and featuring a comfortable contrast cuff which feels and looks good.

Rapha Women's Souplesse Jacket

I would like the jacket to be a little longer in the front: the back is spot on but an extra inch on that front hem would be welcome. I’m not unusually tall at 5’7″ but it feels a little bit skimpy in body length.

Overall, the Rapha Women’s Souplesse Jacket is a cracking cut: feminine, flattering and not at all boxy.

 

To buy, or not to buy?

£190 isn’t cheap, but for a good winter outer layer, you can expect to pay upwards of £150. If we compare it to the well known Castelli Gabba and the lesser known Isadore Apparel Women’s Merino Membrane Softshell Jacket, I would say it is more versatile and comfortable than the former, and more flattering but less robust than the latter.

The Rapha Women’s Souplesse is a beautifully cut, comfortable women’s cycling jacket which is flattering for feminine curves with plenty of well thought out design features. I like it a lot – it makes me feel foxy when I’m out riding, which has to be a good sign. I would say it’s a Buy. (Or one to put on your Christmas list).

  

Rapha Women’s Padded Tights

Style & Design Features

  • High-rise waist with grippy waistband to keep them in place
  • ThermoRoubaix fleece-lined fabric for warmth
  • Back pocket
  • Reflective calf stripes for visibility

The Rapha Women’s Padded Tights come in one colour, black. They’re a really true, solid black and they’re not remotely see-through which is always good. (Nobody needs to see my cellulite rippling through flimsy Lycra.) I do think it’s a shame the tights don’t come in navy like the ¾ version; I’d happily switch it up from time to time.

Rapha women's winter collection

 

 

Comfort & Performance

One of the nicest things about these tights is the absence of any uncomfortable zips around the ankles. Zips to the side hurt my ankle bones and zips at the back hurt my Achilles tendon, so I’m very happy to wear a pair of women’s cycling tights that have a stretchy enough opening that no zips are required.

Rapha Women's Winter Tights

The waistband stays put nice and high thanks to the cut and the silicone grippers, so there’s no danger of a gap appearing between top and bottoms. (Nobody likes a gap between their top and bottom when they’re pedaling).

That said, for those of us with – let’s say – less-than-perfect abs, there is no escaping the fact that waist tights result in muffin top in a way that bib tights never do. I think I will be probably stick to bib tights in the future for a smoother silhouette (at least until the, erm, 100 stomach crunches I’m doing each day take effect….)

(Oh, who am I kidding? My squidgy abdomen is here to stay…)

The chamois pad is very comfortable indeed, and the tights have washed well (four times now, at 30 degrees and air-dried overnight).

The waistband stays put thanks to the high cut and silicone grippers, so there’s no danger of a gap between top and bottoms. (Nobody likes a gap between their top and bottom when they’re pedalling in the cold).

 

To buy, or not to buy?

The fabric is superb. The pad is very comfortable. They sit nicely on the waist, and they don’t have any irritating zips around the ankles. They get a wholehearted thumbs up for quality and comfort.

If you’re a dedicated winter warrior in need of comfort and warmth year round, the Rapha Women’s Winter Tights are a sound purchase – despite the slightly wince-inducing £150 price tag.

You can buy both items from the Rapha.cc website.

 

Cycling AccessoriesReviews

The Polar Soft Strap restarts my Garmin’s Heart (Rate Monitor)

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For many male cyclists there comes a point in the evolution of his cycling wardrobe when he will quite reasonably say to himself, “D’you know what? I just don’t wear enough hot pink.”

It happened to me recently and, it being a difficult itch to scratch, I spent a good few hours obsessing over a variety of visually vivacious apparel choices.

Rapha’s hot pink Backpack Rain Cover; the Bontrager 2016 Velocis shoe (which might yet find its way in to my wardrobe); Morvelo’s Half Tone Jersey: all were considered in my quest to inject a little pink into my palette.

But being a ‘dip your toe in the water’ rather than a full swan-dive and subsequent drowning kind of chap, I opted for a more subtle entry into the world of pink kit and chose the Polar Soft Heart Rate Strap.

Conveniently, this urge to ‘think pink’ coincided with what I initially thought were the final death throes of my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor.

It had started producing strange readings with unusual spikes and troughs, eventually indicating that my heart rate never went above 100bpm even on tough rides. I’m fit – but not that fit.

For those looking to inject a risqué frisson of colour into their cycling wardrobe I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Polar Soft Strap.

Having read a range of forum posts and articles I initially replaced the CR2032 battery, to no avail. It was only when I stumbled across an article by the ever-useful DC Rainmaker (be sure to check his blog out – it’s an invaluable resource) that a solution presented itself.

The article explained that the connections in my original Garmin strap had either corroded or had otherwise stopped working and that by replacing the strap with the Garmin-compatible Polar strap I could breathe new life into the heart rate monitor.

After the briefest of reconnaissance missions I ordered the strap directly from Polar’s site.

Polar Soft Strap
Polar offer a range of colour options for their Garmin compatible heart rate monitor soft strap, most notably HOT PINK

They offer the strap in a variety of colours: blue, white, orange, black and, most importantly for this reviewer, HOT PINK. You pay a small excess for a colour other than black – £15.40 as opposed to £14.00 – but this is a small price to pay to satisfy my lust for pink. (I’m aware that this review is treading a fine line…)

Polar also offer a bundle including a new CR2032 battery to completely clear the slate and refresh your heart rate monitor – this adds another £5.40 to the cost.

A couple of months in, I can attest to the quality of the Polar Soft Strap: it is comfortable to wear, and easily adjustable.

The active contact area is much larger than on the original Garmin strap, providing a surer connection with the monitor itself – I’ve had no instances of dubious readings when there is little moisture between the strap and my skin… (err…)

The black metal hooked clasp which connects to the fabric retaining loop provides a strong and firm closure and the materials used in the strap are high quality.

No-one can see it, but you know it’s there – like a politician with fishnet stockings under his suit

To summarise: for those of you suffering with HR monitor troubles and who think a new strap may present a solution, or for those looking to inject a risqué frisson of colour into their cycling wardrobe (sure, no-one can see it, but you know it’s there – like a politician with fishnet stockings under his suit) I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Polar Soft Strap.

It’s a good price and is well manufactured with better contact area connections than the original Garmin strap.

It makes perfect sense when considering matters of the heart (rate monitor)…