Rapha Women’s sleeveless base layer review£50.00

Merino for on and off the bike

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Some cycling products are just as useful off the bike as they are on it. The Rapha Women’s Base Layers are one such collection of products.

We tested the Women’s Sleeveless Base Layer in grey. It’s made from a very fine merino weave, feels incredibly soft against the skin and contours exceptionally well to the body.

During the test period we gave this product an absolute flogging. We wore it most days of the week on the bike. And because merino never smells, we wore it most days of the week off the bike. And because we liked it’s soft and attractive feel so much, it’s entirely possible we slept in it most nights too.

The cut at the neck won't cover all bra types, but does provide high comfort when on the bike :
The cut at the neck won't cover all bra types, but does provide high comfort when on the bike :

Sits just a tad low on the neck to adequately cover our bra straps

The cut of the singlet allows total freedom of movement at the arms and sits discreetly under work wear. We would have liked it to come a fraction higher at the neck to allow the option of wearing it on it’s own without revealing our underwear.

The fine weave did an excellent job of blocking wind chill when riding. It also worked well to wick sweat during short commutes under a work shirt. No chafing, no rubbing, this mid-cool season layer performed its job with class.

We found the rapha women's base layer to be perfectly breathable and perhaps a little too odour resistant :
We found the rapha women's base layer to be perfectly breathable and perhaps a little too odour resistant :

This base layer would stretch out before smelling like it needed a wash

The length made it a winner off the bike too. Given our 25 hours/8 days a week wear pattern we found we had to wash it before any smell set in, mainly because the weave would stretch making it too long to wear comfortably with cycling shorts. We cried a little whenever this happened, unsure how we ever survived without it.

Given the versatility and the non-take-off-ability of the Rapha Women’s Sleeveless Base Layer, the price tag represents pretty good value. Merino is never cheap, and this garment certainly performs better than looser or scratchier merino products that have a slightly lower price point.

That said, we liked Rapha’s Sleeveless Base Layer so much, that in the spirit of more braggable hygiene levels, we could have done with more than one of them – making it a more costly investment than we originally hoped. Lucky Rapha provides up to 20 percent off the price if you’re buying three at a time.

Kath Bicknell

Freelance Writer, Australia
Cycling academic and product tester, Kath brings expertise from the research world to discussions on technology, equipment and performance. She's ridden road and mountain bikes for most of her life and loves that no two rides are ever the same. Based in Sydney, days in the sunshine are her favourite, as are rides with challenging ups followed by pumping, playful descents.
  • Age: 34
  • Height: 164cm / 5'5"
  • Weight: 56kg / 123lb
  • Waist: 66cm / 26in
  • Chest: 84cm / 33in
  • Discipline: Road, mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: All of it
  • Current Bikes: Santa Cruz Bronson, Specialized Amira Pro and a pub bike
  • Dream Bike: I dream about lots of bikes
  • Beer of Choice: Strong flat white
  • Location: Sydney, Australia

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