The Souplesse range by Rapha is produced with the same fabrics as the Team Sky kit, and while there are a few elements we felt could be improved, overall these score highly and are this tester's go-to shorts for long rides.
Rapha’s bib shorts have long been the standard for measuring comfort and quality in women’s bib shorts and the new Souplesse bibs are no exception. These soft and stylish bibs easily made BikeRadar's best of the best list for 2015 and I regularly wear them for long adventure rides (including a 14.5 hour race at the Dirty Kanza 200).
With a slightly thicker chamois, the Souplesse Bibs are prefect for long days in the saddle or when adventuring out on bumpy dirt roads. However, the chamois did feel bulky at times and it wasn’t as comfortable for crits or in road races where it’s important to feel light and agile on the saddle.
The straps are of the classic design at the front, sitting either side of the bust. At the back, a single strap sits comfortably between the shoulder blades, keeping the everything securely in place while riding.
The Souplesse elastic leg bands are soft and gentle against the skin but grip just enough to keep the bib’s legs from riding up. Like Giro’s Halter Bibs, the Souplesse leg material is quite different from the leg grippers and created some bulging at the seams. If you've worn Rapha bib shorts before, these will feel tighter but they're cut to be a more race fit, with compressive qualities, and Rapha advises going for the size you'd usually reach for with Rapha products.
While they're on the more expensive side, Rapha’s Souplesse bibs are a great investment for riders who plan to go long or simply want a quality pair of bibs that will last for years. The crisscrossing straps do little for bathroom accessibility but when comfort is key, Rapha is at the top nearly every time.