A good spots bra needs to be:
- Easy to get on/off
- Breathable with high wicking fabric that doesn’t chafe or rub
- Ideally able to create a nice shape, as opposed to giving you a ‘mono boob’ look
Women with DD+ breasts will need to take into account more fit and comfort criteria than those who can get away with an in-built bra in a running top – we’ve got more detail on the requirements here.
I’ve broken my review up to look at each important component individually…
At the end of the day this is what matters most.
Jumping up and down in this bra was not comfortable. I could not run in this bra. However, the Medium support bra is not designed for running, it’s specifically made for cycling.
I’ve always thought the best test of a sports bra was on the rollers, when you’re using high cadence, and on the turbo, when getting out of the saddle with no distractions. In both cases I was happy wearing this sports bra, and I didn’t feel the need to double up as I might with some other crop tops.
On the road, again, I noticed no movement in general riding and was perfectly comfortable. The only exception was over some sort of pothole/ridge in the road which gave me a bit of a jolt and reminded me to suggest that this is not a bra for a breasty mountain biker.
Crop top style sports bras with no fitting straps are generally more stretchy around the rib cage, which means I’m usually more comfortable in these when completing high intensity intervals or racing. This was certainly the case with this bra. I’ve worn more sturdy style bras that have made me feel restricted in breathing, and the offering from Rapha provided none of this hinderance.
The Expert Opinion on Support
I was concerned about recommending a bra for cycling that I knew I was not able to jump around and run in comfortably.
So, I spoke to Emma Sharland – a PhD student at Portsmouth University which houses a Research Group in Breast Health. The centre is internationally renowned for research on the biomechanics of the breast and Sharland and colleagues have carried out a number of studies into the way breasts and their support affect women in sport.
Sharland told me: “From a scientific perspective we have found that the more supportive a bra is, the less breast movement and subsequently less breast pain would occur. So we would advise going for a higher level of breast support if you can. There are lower supporting bras available that are typically advertised for lower impact activities. Most of our research is running which is a higher impact activity in terms of load bearing compared to cycling so you may not need the highest level of support for cycling.”
I cannot stress how much I love the fabric this bra is constructed from. It’s like no sports bra I’ve ever worn – its silky in its softness. I washed the bra several times, tumble drying it once (which is on the ‘banned’ list, but hey, I’m living on the edge) and it responded with no complaints.
The material does wick sweat, and I didn’t feel any chill from droplets cooling on my skin when wearing it. This said, it was still damp on removal, but this doesn’t particularly concern me as I’ve get to find a sports bra that isn’t.
The bra is designed to work with Rapha’s Souplesse base layer and jersey, and indeed the straps of the base layer do sit in a way that means they hover directly over the bra, which is a pleasing feature, if not completely necessary.
Easy on and off
There are no added details to aid putting the bra on, aside from stretchy material – the bra pulls over your head and that’s that. This makes for easy undressing after a ride which I like.
However, there are also no adjuster straps. This is nice if the bra fits you perfectly, but personally me and my awkward shoulders might have liked to be able to tighten the straps, thus uplifting the boobs and improving the fit.
The bra comes with some removable pads. At first, I thought these were a bit silly, I’ve no desire to add extra bulk to my body on the bike, be that breast bulk or otherwise. They also sit a little bit oddly, being not the same size as by boobs – particularly in the white bra where they’re more visible, and it looks a bit like I’ve shoved a pair of tea bags down there.
BUT – these do serve another purpose. They create a nice streamlined looked under a jersey, yes, but they also go a way to preventing that ‘peanut smuggling’ look we sometimes get when the temperature drops on a ride, so for that reason I appreciated having them.
I love the material this sports bra is constructed from, it’s stretchy, breathable and wicks away sweat as well as having a fairly delicate and traditional style for a sports bra.
In terms of support – it did the job on the the bike. I wouldn’t wear it to go mountain biking or for anything more high impact. If you want a bra that you can use across sports and require more support, I’d tell you to look elsewhere. If I were making changes, I’d want to add strap adjusters to help create a closer fit on the shoulders and thus add extra support.
You can see both the Medium Support bra for £50 and Light Support Bra for £40 here.