The Rapha Souplesse Aero Jersey is the top worn by the Canyon SRAM pros, redesigned with a new fit and new colour options. The close-cut fit doesn't leave much to the imagination, so no flapping to slow you down, but I didn't find it the most comfortable under the arms, which was a bit disappointing given the price.
Whatever else it does, it certainly looks the part. If you don't fancy the Canyon SRAM team colours, the options are dark blue or high-vis pink. Both are plain yet stylish with small detailing including Rapha logos on the sleeve, rear and front of the jersey. The textured material on the sleeves also adds a subtle new element to the design.
Rapha claims that this is its most aerodynamic jersey for women, combining a smooth fabric to enhance airflow over the body with textured sleeves to break up the airflow and reduce drag. At road.cc we don't have the resources to test Rapha's claims, but it certainly feels fast. It is a slim race fit with the collar, sleeves and hem sitting flush against the skin and no excess fabric left to cause unnecessary drag.
Made from stretchy polyester and elastane, the body of the jersey leaves little to the imagination and is one of the closest fitting race jerseys I have ever worn. I am usually an 8-10 and wore a small, which Rapha equates to a women's 10. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to go any smaller but I found it to be a good fit and generally true to the size guide measurements. I would recommend focusing on the measurement chart as opposed to the 'size conversion' chart if these conflict when choosing a size.
I really wanted to love this jersey the moment I saw it but came away slightly disappointed. The main reason was that I found the seams attaching the sleeves to the body of the jersey quite uncomfortable. This improved when in a riding position as opposed to standing up, but still caused some soreness and chafing around the front of my armpits. A bit of Vaseline did the trick, though, and hasn't stopped me riding in it.
The body of the jersey is thin and lightweight, wicking away sweat effectively and keeping me cool on hot rides. The textured sleeves are almost mesh-like and a mesh panel along the rear base of the jersey further helped to keep me cool. The low, close-cut collar is not only apparently aerodynamic, but also very comfortable, especially on a hot day.
The jersey has three rear pockets with a mesh lining to increase ventilation, as well as a zip-up valuables pocket.
With an RRP of £130, the Souplesse Aero Jersey doesn't come cheap. While it is stylish and high performing, I was disappointed with the discomfort from the seams around my arms, and for that reason I wouldn't be willing to pay this price.
Having tested the Rapha Souplesse Lightweight Jersey at the same time, I found that, which is made from largely the same fabric, more comfortable while still being lovely and light in the heat and a slim race cut. That, plus the slightly smaller price tag, means that unless Rapha can prove that the Aero jersey is significantly faster, I would choose the Lightweight over the Aero.
Stylish, aero and cool, but needs to be closer to perfect for the price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Souplesse Aero Jersey
Size tested: Small
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?
Rapha says: "The quickest women's jersey we've ever made. Proven by wind-tunnel testing and ridden to victory in the women's peloton. Streamlined and cut for racing, this is a cycling jersey designed for racing and high-performance riding."
Without the resources to properly test aerodynamics claims, it certainly feels fast and performs well when riding hard in the heat.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rapha lists these features:
Streamlined, aerodynamic fit cut for racing and high-performance riding
High-stretch, smooth performance fabric on body
Aero-optimised, textured sleeves
Lightweight, breathable fabric
Close-cut aero collar
Lightweight zip (quick running moulded plastic teeth)
Zip lock to prevent jersey opening while riding
Three rear, expandable pockets with bonded-on reinforced panels
Mesh inner on rear pockets for improved ventilation
Rapha logo printed on left arm
Elasticated rear bottom hem for snug fit
Feels very well made with good attention to detail.
It feels fast and keeps you relatively cool on hot days.
Had no issues so far and seams appear durable and well made.
Close-cut race fit and stretchy fabric leaves little to the imagination, but if you want it aero then this is ideal.
I wore a small and am an 8-10. I'd say it's definitely true to the size guide measurements but these don't completely match up with the "size conversion chart", which classes a small as a 10.
One of the lightest jerseys I've ever worn and performs well in heat.
Mostly, the stretchy fabric and fit were very comfortable, but there was some chafing around the armpits, though not enough to stop me riding in it.
At £130 it is expensive, and at this sort of price I wouldn't expect the seams to chafe. Having said this, you can pay a lot more for an aero jersey.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Washed fine on a standard 30-degree cycle.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed well. Stayed cool in hot weather and feels aerodynamic and fast.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Looks very stylish and extremely light weight.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It chafed under my arms. A bit of Vaseline sorted it out, and didn't stop me riding in it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
I spent a long time deciding between a 6 or 7. It is a high quality, stylish jersey and I really enjoyed riding in it, but the price tag and chafing under the arms are offputting. In the end, the more I rode in it, the less bothered I became about the seams, and I generally do love it otherwise, so I think a 7 is right: it's good, but I wasn't as impressed as I wanted to be.
About the tester
I usually ride: Planet X London Road My best bike is: Bowman Palace:R
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, track
Ashia is a Maths student at the University of Bath and has been riding and racing bikes for the past 6 years after a track taster session at her local velodrome had her hooked. Most weekends, she can be found out racing, be it track, road, criteriums, time trials, triathlons, or cyclocross. Whilst she is fiercely competitive and loves to race, she is still on the look out for anyone hiring a "full time cafe rider" when she graduates.