Cyclist’s Closet: Rapha’s Women’s Performance Roadwear + Giveaway
British-made Rapha cycling clothing is known for their intense functionality and their simple elegance. Rapha’s classic style is subdued, well-fitting and fashionable without being trendy. It’s nuanced: many of the pieces have color on color markings which don’t scream the brand name. The clothing is favored for its high performance, comfort and attention to detail. It may be a joke that some people have engraved on their Road Id wrist band, “Don’t cut my shorts – they’re Rapha!” But the truth is the brand has loyal, dedicated fans/customers.
There is a whiff of cycling nostalgia inherent in the Rapha designs. Simon Mottram, the company’s founder is an avid cycling buff who was inspired by the “golden years” of Continental road racing in the 1960’s and 1970’s. He liked the simple aesthetics of simple stripes and rich solid colors and has combined those retro looks with high quality materials and modern technological touches to form the Rapha line, which was first introduced in 2004. Six years later, Rapha unveiled their women’s line of high performance road riding pieces with input from a London-based women’s team who continue to put the clothing to the test in extreme conditions.
Rapha’s CEO, Simon Mottram, said of the range: “We had so many requests from women who love Rapha clothing and wanted the same but with a women-specific fit. This was our inspiration and we are offering something befitting the class and style of the sport and the women who are involved in it. We realized early on that the women’s range should be an extension of the men’s one and we’ve avoided girly colors and floral prints. A passion for road cycling is at the core of everything Rapha does and as with the men’s clothing each product will contain a story label inspired by the legends and character of the sport.”
One could have a little sticker shock when looking at the prices. Rapha is an expensive line of cycling clothing (although not as expensive as Assos), but they pride themselves on their quality and style. Rapha always uses high quality materials: lightweight, windproof and water resistant for their jackets, fabric with soft feel and high tech wicking ability for the jersey, and merino-rich warmth for the winter cycling jersey.
Care is taken that the Rapha clothes will last for years and garments are constructed with reinforcements in places that typically wear first such as wrist cuffs on the jacket, sleeves & shoulder seam areas. Zippers are high quality and care is taken that jersey zippers will never touch your bare skin. The jersey has a soft fabric sleeve between you and the zipper. Waist cords with friction locks are in both the jacket and the jerseys and can easily be adjusted during a ride to keep in or release body heat as needed. The shorts use top quality pads (designed especially for women) and have a panel construction. They are designed with an emphasis on cut and comfort for the road cyclist who plans on putting in hundreds of miles on their bike: the front panel is doubled over rather than stitched to prevent digging in while riding and the seams are positioned to prevent chafing and finished with soft, flat-lock stitching. The shorts are cut long in the leg and are much more flattering than most shorts. (Personal note here: they are my hands-down favorite shorts even after several century plus rides.) The arm warmers have a brushed fleece inner and soft gripper tape to hold them securely in place. They are finished with contrast piping and color-on-color logos.
A few of our favorites from Rapha:
Women’s Wind Jacket: a great three-season cycling jacket
It is very lightweight, yet is able to block the wind and is water resistant enough to handle a sudden shower. Note the little details that set Rapha apart: a soft fleece chin guard to prevent the zip from chafing (it is also on the back of the collar.) The full-length zipper is stylishly and assymetrically placed. It’s structured to effectively keep out the water with a reverse coil, which means the back of the zipper faces outward. The long-cut back of the jacket drops down far enough to keep off that spray of road grime and has been stitched to prevent the back from flapping up. A waistcord with friction locks makes it easily adjustable. The women’s Wind Jacket has a structured fit with stitched darts in the chest and a little wider fit at the hips. Reflective details are placed along the sleeves and the Rapha logo is reflective as well. It can be packed up in a small bundle and stowed away in a jersey pocket to be used as needed.
Women’s Classic Jersey
The classic jersey is exactly that: an understated look that is extremely versatile. It’s a high performance jersey that will be just as great in five years as it is when new. The full-length zip jersey is made from a soft high performance fabric that will effectively wick away sweat. The three back jersey pockets also feature an additional sleeve which will nicely hold a CO2 pump in the middle pocket. The right rear pocket has an eyelet to run headphone wires through. A semi-hidden 4th zipped wallet-sized pocket is accessed behind the left pocket. A set of complimentary cream-colored arm warmers for colder conditions is sold with the classic jersey.
Women’s ¾ Bib Shorts:
Rapha’s classic cycling bibs designed for women are made from durable fleece-backed fabric. The shorts have a high-rise front chest panel for additional support that uses a softer fabric than the leg panels. The back has large cut-away sections in the back to prevent overheating and high quality mesh fabric on the straps. A back pocket on the rear center bibs is placed to store small items. (The female -specific contoured pad is the same as the high quality one in the classic shorts.)
Look for the care instructions tucked within the pocket areas. Generally the care is similar to other cycling clothes: cold water machine wash, the shorts and jacket will need to be hung to dry but the jersey can be tumbled dry on a low heat setting.
Highly versatile winter long-sleeved cycling jersey (in Blue w/ cream accents, size large)–Shown at left and sleeve detail below
Rapha’s versatile cycling jersey works as an outer- or mid-layer. Cut from a merino-rich material the soft and breathable jersey wicks moisture away from the skin quickly yet also maintains body heat in cold weather. This flattering jersey has a slim fit and is cut long in the back and arms for a better shape on the bike. The full-length zip has a lockdown puller and a soft fleece chin guard to prevent chafing. There are three main cargo pockets, with an inner pump sleeve and a zipped valuables pocket with O-ring puller to keep items dry and secure. (The gray-blue shade of this jersey is similar to the color of a lake on a cloudy day; it’s very subdued.)
Plus the winner will receive a pair of Rapha Over socks which combine a wind resistant, robust and flexible fabric with classic cycling style (size large)
Rules of the Rapha/Cycle & Style Giveaway: To enter our giveaway for Rapha’s long-sleeve jersey and socks, comment below and use your real (first) name and a valid e-mail. We’ll make a random choice from among the best quality comments to select the winner. (Sizes are as stated and cannot be exchanged. So it’s either a gift for you or that special someone!) We’ll choose a winner at the close of November 2011 and they will be notified via e-mail on December 1st. If we have trouble getting a hold of you, we may have to choose another, so please use a valid email. We can mail to addresses within the US or Canada.