The latest (and most pricey) in Rapha’s bib shorts line-up, the Powerweave bibs are designed for fast-paced riding and racing.
While the knitted fabric panels and cut are spot on, they fall short when it comes to the chamois and colourway.
Rapha Women’s Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts specifications and details
Available in a single, mid-grey colourway, the Pro Team Powerweave women’s bib shorts feature a lightweight, two-part construction.
It’s the woven side panels that give the bibs their name, using Rapha’s proprietary Powerweave fabric, which the brand claims to improve sweat wicking compared to conventional fabrics used on other cycling shorts.
This knitted fabric extends to the raw leg hem. The fit gives a longer leg than average, nearly to the knee, while the bottom 4cm of fabric incorporates an elastic yarn to keep the leg hem in place without the addition of silicone grippers.
Up-top, the Powerweave shorts use a conventional bib design, with 4cm-wide straps bonded to the back panel. Here, the Powerweave fabric flanks a featherweight, semi-transparent striped central panel.
Rapha’s premium, women’s-specific Pro Team chamois is featured, though the pad placement seems further back than usual. The large, capitalised Rapha logo is displayed in a pink yarn on either thigh.
Rapha Women’s Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts performance
A close-fitting, compressive fit without feeling restrictive is the highlight of the Powerweave shorts, as well as the generous leg length and absence of tight leg grippers. Absolutely no sausage-legs seen here.
The somewhat rigid, yet elasticated straps sit perfectly over the shoulder and don’t shift a millimetre. Although the bib and back-panel design works well on the ride, having tested many great pee-friendly bib designs, I’d be somewhat reluctant to go back to a conventional cut such as this.
The most noticeable aspect of the bibs once fitted is the placement of the chamois, which feels more rearward than on other shorts. This is curious for a bib short designed for racing, and therefore a more aggressive position, where the interface with the nose of the saddle becomes more important.
In the drops, only the thinnest edge layer of the multi-density pad was in contact with the nose of the saddle and front of the vulva, which was less than comfortable.
I believe that a redesign or repositioning of the chamois is necessary to make these shorts that I’d happily use and recommend.
I got in touch with Rapha to troubleshoot the pad placement: it’s currently investigating the issue to check my sample wasn’t from a faulty batch. I’ll update this review accordingly when I hear the results.
While the breathability of the knitted side panels and the thin back panels seemed to be good, I was left somewhat embarrassed to find that the mid-grey colourway of the main material really highlighted sweat patches in the folds of the crotch.
At the time of review, I felt the option of a darker colour would help eradicate this, such as the navy colourway that’s only available in the men’s fit.
When I asked Rapha about it at the end of the review period, it confirmed the sweat issue has also been experienced by its customers, and that a black colourway (which should solve the issue) is in the works to replace the grey for some time in 2023.
I also found this mid-grey colour hard to coordinate with, compared to a standard black bib.
Having said that, if you’ve got nearly £300 to spend on bibs – and you like a grey colourway – you might have a better selection of jerseys than I do.
Rapha Women’s Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts bottom line
The Rapha Women’s Pro Team Powerweave bib shorts are neat concept in principle. The powerweave fabric works well, the cut has been well thought-through, and I’m pleased to hear that a black colourway is on the way.
However, further design work is needed, primarily in the chamois department, to make these bib shorts worth consideration – especially with such a hefty investment required.
|Price||AUD $495.00EUR €350.00GBP £295.00USD $395.00|
Compression weave material
Lightweight 7-panel construction
Laser cut, seamless bib straps
Seamless leg grippers with elasticated yarn
Rapha Pro Team Women’s chamois developed with Cytech
Mid-grey colourway only