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Road Cycling Clothing

Rapha Classic Women’s Winter Tights 2013 review

The Classic Women's Winter Tights are a new addition to the Rapha winter ensemble for 2013. Although comfortable, warm, and well-made, we're slightly bemused about the chamois pad, make that, the lack of it.

Overall, the Women’s Winter Tights from Rapha feel incredibly luxurious; soft, stretchy and light weight. Constructed from Italian Thermoroubaix material, brushed fleece is used on the inside to help with insulation but also to be soft against your skin.

A shock discovery, Rapha have decided not to include a chamois pad in their bib tights

The first noticeable feature is the chamois pad, or even, the lack of it. Rapha have created these bib tights to be worn over padded cycling shorts – this is the same situation for the men as well.

For the price you’re paying for these (£170), it’s frustrating that the pad is missing, as you need to wear another pair of bib shorts / shorts underneath, which adds bulk and additional layers I could really do without when visiting the toilet.

Breathable mesh bib straps and back

If you do buy these bibs, make sure you put your base layer next to your skin, don’t do what I did while getting ready in a rush. Layering in this order, bib shorts under base layer, then Rapha tights, finishing with a long sleeve jersey, topping the ensemble off with a jacket.

All I will say is that I managed to get in a right pickle trying to excavate the bib short straps underneath that lot – a straight jacket may have been easier…

High fronted bibs with zipper to keep everything in place

That aside, the Rapha winter tights feature lots of design detail that I do think warrant the price tag. There’s the foot loops that help keep the hems riding up and although there aren’t any zips at the ankles, I actually prefer this. Why?

When I’m wearing tights, it’s usually cold enough that I need to combine with overshoes. The pressure from the overshoes, often mean that bib tight ankle zippers can dig into my skin and often cause sores. This isn’t a problem with the Rapha winter tights, as there’s no zippers to be seen. 

Foot loops keep the hems from riding up, but if you’re not keen Rapha say you can cut them off

These bib tights were tested from zero degrees upwards, and although there’s no windproofing; they proved more than capable of keeping me toasty, while not overheating. They were worth their weight in gold, keeping me warm and comfortable on a couple of rather ‘fresh’ winter riders.

As a curvy size 10, at 5’4″ – I tested a size small. Admittedly they were snug – the medium would have been too large – however they were incredibly comfortable. The only downside in relation to fit was that the legs felt rather restrictive around the knees. It was rather noticeable, as I caught myself thinking, perhaps after a couple of washes they may loosen off – they haven’t after 5 washes.

Zipper pocket on rear of bibs, be careful not to store things that can get damaged from moisture

Other key notable features include; a roomy zipped pocket on the rear, however, it’s not much use as it sits quite high up the back and I’d prefer to pop my ride essentials in my jersey.

In terms of the bib portion, the full length cam lock zipper stops just above the tummy button and the rear of the bib is constructed of mesh fabric to aid ventilation. It keeps your torso warm and toasty, and I found the extra support around the bust most welcome.

VERDICT

If you’re a Rapha fan and can afford the luxury then these bib leggings are fantastic, as they keep you toasty in the saddle. However, I’d much prefer to spend £170 finding a pair of tights that include a comfortable chamois pad too.

PROS

– Kept reviewer warm down to zero degrees
– Comfort built into design, flat-lock stitching, no ankle zips, and foot loops

CONS

– No chamois pad, additional bib shorts/waist shorts need to be worn underneath
– Restrictive around knee area

Sizes available: XXS – XL
Colour options: Black and hi-viz pink OR Black and white
Price: RRP £170
More information: Rapha

What Rapha says about the Classic Women’s Winter Tights

The Women’s Winter Tights are an essential piece of clothing for cold winter cycling. They are made from durable Italian Thermoroubaix fabric and have a brushed fleece inner throughout for maximum insulation. The tights have no pad and are designed to be worn over padded cycling shorts.

Key features:

  • Insulating Italian Thermoroubaix fabric
  • Ergonomic fit
  • High-cut Lycra chest panel for support
  • Reinforced seat panel
  • Flatlock stitching to prevent chafing

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