Rapha's Women's Collection Just Keeps Getting Bigger and More Beautiful - Total Women's Cycling

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Rapha’s Women’s Collection Just Keeps Getting Bigger and More Beautiful

We took a full wardrobe worth of Rapha kit to try out - here are our first impressions...

Rapha have always taken women seriously – organising mass participation rides like the Rapha Women’s 100 and ensuring they offer a near equal range in kit.

The focus on equality in offering has deepened even more so with their new winter range – and their decision to partner with brand new pro women’s team Canyon // SRAM as they part ways with the men’s pro Team Sky.

The winter range from Rapha continues to include some of the cult favourites – the Women’s Classic jersey still reigns supreme and the Souplesse continues to offer a race fit option.

However, there have been some changes – Rapha souped-up their jerseys and jackets with some stunning new splashes of colour and patters, and the city range just keeps on growing with some amazing smart and casual options.

The only real drawback? Well – you better have your credit card handy!

Here’s a look at some of our top picks from the winter range – some new, some old favourites we could just never leave behind… 

All photos by Catherine Gaskell and Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

Women’s Souplesse Jacket – £190

Designed for riding hard when the weather is cold, the Souplesse jacket features a durable water repellent softshell treatment on the front and sleeves. Wearing the jacket on a blustery December day, we felt warm – even too warm as we heaved backpacks and assorted cameras up the hill in Richmond Park. This is definitely a jacket for days when conditions are chilly and your attitude chilled.

The brand have waved the reflective wand over several areas – but it’s mainly the colour that gives it a stand-out appeal. Available in blue (*cough – purple*) with plum details, or black with a vivid pink back, you’d struggle to be missed.

There’s a tiny hideyhole zip compartment in the left sleeve for holding a solitary key – though we’re not sure we’d actually use this.

We do love the offset zip. Rapha say this makes layering easy, but with the close to form fit and warmth of this jacket, we don’t see ourselves layering much. We tried both an XSmall and a Small – the size differences were incremental which made us wonder how accommodating the XLarge would actually be.

When wearing the XSmall, we wore it with the Women’s Souplesse base layer – a very light mesh construction that is based on the Team Sky Pro Team version.

Women’s Reflective Souplesse Jacket – £230

After better night time visibility? This version has a  reflective panel in the back, and the stripes look pretty epic in the day time too, but they do of course come at a cost with a pretty massive price hike.

If you like your matching accessories, there’s a great merino wool headband which we loved. Affordable, too, at £20 this little accessory made a huge difference to our comfort on a chilly, windy day and is well recommended.

Women’s Waterproof Rain Jacket – £180

Everyone we know who has one of these raves about it. Designed to be a lightweight, breathable waterproof, Rapha’s version is more substantial than most traditional packable jackets. That means it provides excellent protection in the rain, but doesn’t ball up quite so small to fit into your pocket. The choice is yours…

The offset zip style continues – as does the back panel patterning, this time with reflective polka dots which prove that safety and style are not mutually exclusive.

Whilst we’d suggest sizing up in a Souplesse, we’d recommend going down in the rain jacket – the Small rain jacket had a little too much breathing room which made it flappier than it needed to be.

Women’s Souplesse Long Sleeved Jersey – £130

This cult favourite jersey, which will form the base the the Canyon // SRAM team kit, hasn’t changed a lot. But Rapha have introduced new colour options for 2016.

Initially, we weren’t too keen on this ‘Chartreuse’ yellow – but it really grew on us, and the attention to safety (which Rapha’s ‘Men In Black’ have been criticised for lacking) is ever present in the reflective stripe down the back.

We paired the jersey with the rather famous £130 GT leather mitts. In a size small these were absolutely tiny – so it might be worth checking your size in a store if you can!

Underneath it all, we went for the 100% merino base layer – this silky soft layer kept us warm and felt luxurious against the skin.

We paired it all up with Rapha’s 3/4 length padded waist tights. We weren’t 100 per cent on the 3/4ers – the material was comfortable, leg grippers weren’t too tight, but we felt the legs were a tad too long and could have been closer to mid-calf for a clear selling point over the full winter tights.

No climbs near you? Up the gears and fake it!

Women’s Padded Tights – £160

Rapha’s waist tights haven’t changed a great deal this year – in fact our reviewer cycled to Richmond Park in the 2015 version, only to swap them for a near identical 2016 a pair!

They still feature a high waist at the back, with a lower front and a doubled over panel for comfort, plus a lovely fleecey lining.

Women’s Classic Winter Tights – £140

These winter bibs are chamois free, which means you can team them with your favourite shorts. However, at this price if we’re honest we’d quite like to see the chamois included. They’re again fleece lined, soft and stretchy, with the addition of a ‘body’ to transform them into bibs.

The bibs feature a great mesh back, which means plenty of breathability when you’re working hard.

Rapha City Range

Not content with kitting us out for the ride alone, Rapha have been slowly but surely growing their women’s city range for a few seasons.

Smart and to the point, we’re basically in love with the Deconstructed Blazer. Made from 44 per cent wool, it’s warm even in the winter – but features a breathable mesh lining so it genuinely is cycling specific. We felt incredibly well dressed in it, teaming it with the Liberty+ print merino sweatshirt. However, the outfit comes with a pretty special price tag, at £280 for the blazer and £100 for the jumper! Whose been good this Christmas?!

We topped it all of with Rapha’s jeans (£150) – we loved that these used a high stretch, resilient denim, cut high at the back so you don’t show your bum off when riding. The waist fitted nicely in size 26, though we could have done with some breathing room on the calfs (especially if we wanted to show off the cool reflective piping on the inside by rolling them up!)

For those after a more casual look, Rapha have still more options! We picked up the women’s leggings (£90), which now come in a choice of black or purple. These are super stretchy and fit to form, and use a double-bonded fabric that makes them more resilient than most leggings.

Keeping it casual, we added the Liberty+ bomber (£130) – a soft, breathable jacket which features a handy valuables pocket with concealed zip and again uses the Liberty print which marks out Rapha as a true fashion giant as well as an excellent cycling specific brand.

You can see all of this kit online at the Rapha site here.  What do you think – will your stocking contain some neatly wrapped items with tiny pink ribbons attached this Christmas? 

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