A quality pair of bib shorts is a cycling staple. Not only can bibs make or break a ride, regular use means they are the item you will wear out and need to update most frequently.
Rapha’s Women’s Classic bib shorts have proven to be a popular item for discerning female riders who are updating their cycling basics. Their high quality construction means they’re as comfortable at the end of a long ride as they are at the beginning.
We’ve looked at the Women’s Classic bib shorts before, in a comparative review that briefly examined the pros and cons of five different brands. The high turnaround of this item has seen Rapha extend the colour options for 2014 - as well as the black shorts with white bib, there are now black/black and black/pink options too.
All three use the same materials and construction that have given these shorts such a strong reputation. The chamois has a supportive, shock-absorbing, elastic feel. It soaks up road vibration, makes ill-fitting saddles seem comfortable and has no irritating seams. It stretches and contours appropriately with your body movement and is simply a pleasure to ride in.
The chamois is held in position well by a firm but soft material on the legs and thighs. The panels are held together with flat-lock stitching, which helps keep the garment in place without bulging or chaffing. A matt finish adds to the classy looking appeal of this garment.
We found the very back of the chamois moved a little when we were out of the saddle, which could be an anatomical peculiarity or because our tester was borderline between the small and extra-small sizes.
For many users, there's a small amount of 'sausage effect' caused by the snug leg grippers
The grippers at the leg are wide and firm and do their job well, without digging in or leaving lines in the skin. They tended to cause a small 'sausage effect' for a large number of users when they were standing, which was only noticeable when off the bike.
After a couple of months of regular wear this effect lessened, but not to the extent where the legs of the bibs were loose - we were still able to secure a gel under the bottom of the shorts during long rides. In short, the leg grippers, while initially tight, add to the durability and functionality of these shorts.
Although they're a one-piece, the mesh bibs breathe really well
The bib zips right over the torso, keeping the garment in place without any hotspots or irritations. This design is also flattering when paired with a tight fitting jersey.
The mesh fabric breathes so well that we were completely unaware of this section of the garment even on hot weather rides. The small pocket at the rear is a nice touch.
While the white bib works well under light coloured garments, it can look a bit naff under tight, darker-coloured jerseys. The two new colour additions use a black bib, which solves this fashion problem.
There's pink highlights on our sample, but other versions use a white logo
The pink highlights on our test bibs add a sense of fun to your cycling wardrobe and pair nicely with other garments in the Rapha range. The most visible of these is the logo on each thigh. The Women’s Classic bib shorts in black/black are a welcome addition for riders who prefer a more subtle appearance.
Rapha is quickly gaining a reputation as a go-to brand for boutique, high-quality and high-price cycling gear. At US$235/ £165/ AU$240 the Women’s Classic bib shorts perform better and last longer than many cheaper competitors, and remain more affordable than other elite or boutique alternatives.
While the Women’s Classic bibs pair up well with other items in the Rapha range, their real appeal is in their ability to pair up with just about any cycling kit. Smart design features and quality materials mean they fit and perform well, and this makes for many happy days out on the bike, just like a good pair of bib shorts should.