Over the past few months, we’ve been testing a selection of garments from Rapha's new Women’s City Collection. The classy looking, practically designed urban wear expands on the company’s high-performance road and cyclocross attire.
The tops offer excellent warmth without weight or bulk, making them well suited to commuting. In fact, the entire selection we tested, as shown in the gallery above, fits in a 17L backpack with room to spare.
The pants are well suited to pedalling. They are designed with a medium-high waist that covers your lower back when seated. A nice, even stretch in the materials means no hot spots, rubbing or pulling when riding.
Jeans for cycling? The comfort surprised us...
In terms of comfort, the Women’s Jeans (£150 / US$220 / AU$230) feel like our most loved denim mated with our favourite yoga pants. The tight line, flattering pocket placement and dark blue or black material keeps them looking sophisticated.
The stretch of the cotton/nylon/elastine fabric means they move well with the body on the bike, are flattering over cycling thighs and still allow their wearer to carry out a full stretching routine once at home (great if you’re in the 90% of cyclists who have an ITB issue at some point). We were pleased to discover they didn’t lose their shape or hold on to odours despite almost daily use during the test period.
The style and fit of the Women's Merino Breton is a highlight for us
Another item we tended to reach for daily was the Women’s Merino Breton (£120 / US$170 / AU$190). Merino features heavily in the city range. The fabric offers warmth without bulk, and doesn’t hold on to moisture or smells.
The Breton is a light, loose fitting jumper available in black, grey or mustard. We tended to carry it with us on warmer days as well cooler ones, in case of a sudden temperature change or an office with the air-con set to uncomfortably low. The material proved quite durable and only has a couple of minor pulls as evidence of a lot of time spent commuting and walking with a backpack. It doesn’t wrinkle when jammed into said pack either.
The Women's Rain Bomber jacket
The Women’s Rain Bomber (£220 / US$330 / AU$340) offers the waterproof qualities of Rapha’s Women’s Rain Jacket we’ve tested previously. Unlike most cycling jackets, which are quite thin and rely on pedalling to keep your core temperature up, this one has a mesh inner lining. Wool is used in the cuffs, which kept us warm off the bike too. The bright red colour feels visible on the roads and a fold out storm flap increases its functionality further without impinging off-bike style.
The Women's Leggings in grey
While we were pleased with the performance and versatility of most items, we felt the Women’s Leggings (£90 / US$140 / AU$140) could do with further refinement. They were a little looser than other pants in the same size, perhaps pointing to use in the yoga room as well. We found they tended to give an anatomically revealing effect on the front. The vertical lines of the city-inspired grey print exaggerated this issue, however a plain black colour is also available.
Other features of the leggings were well thought out. These include a stomach firming waist (which achieves its goals without uncomfortable pressure), a lack of seams where they contact the saddle and a visibility strip on the right leg. They are a solid option for the commuter who wants a garment like this to provide more than one function.
The front panel of the Printed Bomber is highly reflective. Although not so much at the back
The Women’s Printed Bomber (£160 / US$245 / AU$250) echoes the print on the leggings, but in a reflective material that shines brightly in response to light. The length is similar to Rapha’s Souplesse jerseys and great for commuting with no bulk around the waist.
The main fabric of the Printed Bomber is a thicker polyester/merino blend than the Breton adding extra warmth for colder months. Off the bike we liked the style provided by this jacket, but found the short waist meant it wasn’t as warm as we sometimes hoped.
Having said that, there are more than enough other items in the range to complement the Printed Bomber for extra warmth, from thermal base layers, to the mid-waisted jeans, a selection of merino hats and headbands, and luxury leather gloves.
While Rapha’s City Collection has been popular with men, this is the first time the company has offered such a comprehensive collection for women. For us, the collection has the aesthetic appeal and quality of women’s fashion brands like Country Road or Sportscraft, carefully constructed to include the functionality of more sports oriented labels like Icebreaker.
Given the quality and performance, the range is competitively priced. Although, that statement may not apply to the Women’s Leather Town gloves at £160 / US$245 / AU$250
Although what at first seemed expensive, the pricing has proven on par with these competitors. In fact, the retail price of the Rain Bomber and Leggings has dropped significantly since the items launched.