Every woman spends her life searching for the perfect pair of jeans, ones that are comfortable, look great, aren’t too fashionable but just stylish enough, are versatile, and even forgiving when she puts on a pound or two. Most never find those jeans. Somehow, maestros of cycle clothing Rapha have managed to address the female cyclist’s equivalent quest, the search for the perfect cycling shorts. I am going to show my hand right from the word go, here, I cannot recommend these shorts highly enough!
Made from silky, stretchy non-shiny lycra, these are as close as you can get to riding naked, although probably significantly more comfortable. The fabric acts like a second skin, moving with your body as you ride, and with good moisture transfer properties to keep you comfortable and dry no matter how warm the conditions. The longer cut in the leg may not appeal to those who like to show a little limb, or want a tan up to their armpits, but it will most certainly appeal to anyone looking for a more flattering cut. The effective leg grippers are positioned just right to not bite into more generous thighs, but also not low enough that they pinch tendons. Sizing was absolutely perfect, and just that little bit forgiving.
Clever shaping of the lumbar area, with added grips means there’s no worry about gaps appearing between jersey and short, even when riding on the drops, while a soft panel at the tummy area means a flattering shape and no cutting in.
Most important though, the female specific pad is without a doubt the most effective and unobtrusive and comfortable I’ve ever had the pleasure to ride on. It’s just the right thickness and density, a great anatomical shape, has no irritating seams, it wicks well and remains comfortable throughout the ride, and it’s not even overly visible from the outside.
Bearing in mind that you will probably neglect all your other shorts from now on in favour of only ever wearing these, cost per wear is not an issue. If Rapha brought out some other colours, that’d be birthdays, Christmases, anniversaries and Valentines sorted for the rest of my natural life.
I’m not sure if it was an awareness of the value of the kit I was wearing, and a feeling that my riding should somehow live up to that, but I’d swear I was faster wearing these!
Buy them. You know you’re worth it.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women\'s short
Size tested: 12
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at female road cyclists looking for a flattering longer cut short, combining the comfort and performance of Rapha's men's shorts without the inconvenience of bibs.
Does just that. The closest thing to a skinsuit for those who wouldn't even consider one.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Matt black, soft, strong lycra fabric
Female specific deluxe pad by Cytech
Soft gripper at thigh and lumbar area
Shaped lumbar region to prevent drafts
Flat lock stitching
Reflective tabs for visibility
Beautifully crafted. Flawless construction.
Like riding in a second skin, only more comfortable.
Wicked moisture well, even in hot conditions
Worth treating with the respect you would afford a cashmere jumper. Not fragile, but you'll want these to last as long as is humanly possible, and with the number of times you'll probably wear them, it's worth taking precautions.
Velcro is the enemy of such soft fabric.
Don't iron them (it say so in the instructions). Why would you?
So comfortable you could genuinely forget you're wearing them.
They are staggeringly expensive, but you really cannot put a price on this kind of comfort and quality.
Start saving now.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A superbly designed and constructed pair of shorts, that perform as well as Rapha would suggest they should.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
More colours would be nice.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing. The price if we're going to be really picky.
Did you enjoy using the product? Immensely.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? At the drop of a chapeau.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Other short designers pay attention. If Rapha can produce a short like this, why haven't more?
*editor's note: On the basis that perfection doesn't exist on the Earthly plain we really, really don't like giving products 10. However, Leonie insists that these shorts really are perfect so on this occasion we're giving in
About the tester
Age: 37 Height: 1.65m Weight: 67kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, general fitness riding, mtb,
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.