Rapha Classic Winter Tights  £170.00

8/10

Warm, well fitting, comfortable and well made

Weight 253g   Contact  www.rapha.cc

by David Arthur   January 16, 2013  

Rapha's Classic Winter Tights are luxuriously comfortable with a supreme softness next to the skin, provide good freedom of movement around the knees and provide just enough insulation for the winter.

Compared to Rapha's Deep Winter tights, these uses a lighter Thermoroubaix fabric with a Thermolite fleece finish that keeps the legs warm in a range of temperatures from about 2 to 12 degrees. That seems to characterise most of my rides of late, and the Classic Winter Tights offer a comfortable level of warmth.

As usual, Rapha understand what details ensure you'll want to wear them a regular basis. All the panels are stitched together with flatlock seams, which reduce the potential for discomfort and chafing. The cut is just right, with a good shaping around the knees helped by strategically shaped and cut panels and pre-shaped legs. They come up nice and high at the front too, providing a good overlap on the lower torso for extra warmth. A long zipper makes getting them on and off easier, and allows for easy comfort breaks.

At the legs are wide thin mesh stirrups. You don't notice them in your shoes when riding, and they ensure a good seal inside overshoes when worn over the top. Around the back is a large mesh panel to ensure good breathability, and it doesn't prevent your chosen base layer from doing its job of wicking sweat away from the skin. There's a small valuables zipper pocket on the lower back, which I admit I haven't found any use for yet. But it's an extra pocket if you need the storage space.

I've been giving these tights plenty of use recently, my first pick when they're clean and dry from the wash for nearly every ride. They're clearly built to withstand some abuse. The stitching is of the highest quality, there's been no loose threads or popped stitches. The fabric is still looking as new as when they were first pulled from the packaging. I can see them lasting through ten hard winters of use quite easily.

Every brand likes a signature detail and Rapha is no exception. The left leg has the same white vertical panel that features on their other tights (and on the front of their three quarters) and is a nice touch. I'd prefer if it, along with the reflective piping lining, was placed on the right leg for better visibility to other road users. The white stripe doesn't stay white for very long either, given how grimy the roads are, and is a good test of your washing skills. A spray with some stain remover does the trick. The final little detail is the word 'Wheelsucker' printed on the backside.

I really like the freedom that having tights without an integrated chamois provide. There's no concerns with comfort wearing separate bib shorts and these tights over the top. In fact I'd say it's a lot more comfortable than many tights with integrated pads that I've tested in the past. There's numerous benefits of tights without a chamois; an extra layer of material over your knees and hips for warmth, and you can wear them on consecutive days, provided you don't get them filthy dirty, which makes them good for daily training rides or commuting duties.

That just leaves the price. Ah the price. For a start, they're in the ballpark, and they're actually cheaper than the similar Assos LL.607 tights. But there's no getting away from the fact there are high quality tights with more features and built in pads available for a good chunk less cash than what Rapha are asking for these tights.

I can envisage the detractors commenting below this review already, but let's just remember that no one is forcing you to buy them. It's a free market and there are tights available to suit everyone's budget. If your wallet can stretch to the Rapha Classic tights, you're getting a high quality, comfortable and high performance pair of tights that will still be doing good service many years from now. I have some pairs of tights that are approaching ten years of service, and based on the quality of the Rapha tights over the past couple of months, I have no reason to suspect they won't still be in use many years down the line.

Verdict

Warm, well fitting, comfortable and well made.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Rapha Classic Winter Tights

Size tested: Medium

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's Classic Winter Tights are essential for cold winter cycling conditions. Made from Thermoroubaix fabric, the inside of the tights has a brushed, Thermolite fleece finish for maximum comfort and insulation. Designed to be worn over bib shorts.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Rapha's Classic Winter Tights are an essential piece of clothing for cold winter cycling. They are made from durable Italian Thermoroubaix fabric and have a brushed fleece inner throughout for maximum insulation. The tights are designed to be worn over your favourite bib shorts so there is no pad and they have mesh stirrups that can be easily removed. The tights are shaped to provide an ergonomic fit and additional muscle support.

Other features include a mesh panel in the back of the tights to help regulate body temperature and a fully-lined zip to allow you to answer calls of nature quickly and easily. The tights have a discreet zipped valuables pocket in the lower back and are finished with flatlock stitching to prevent chafing. The left leg has a contrast stripe with a printed Rapha logo and there is an additional 'Wheelsucker' logo on the seat of the tights

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Flatlock seams everywhere and excellent quality construction shows in the wearing of these tights, and certainly goes some way to justifying the high price.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

They provide the right level of insulation for a temperature range of between 2 and 12 degrees in my experience. The freedom of wearing your own tights under them is great, but won't suit everyone, it does mean you can get more use out of them before washes, so you'll end up wearing them more often. Fit is excellent especially around the knees.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

So far they're proving to be very well made and very durable, and despite dozens of washes are still looking brand new. These have the quality of construction feel that should see them last 10 years or more.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

Worn over your favourite bib shorts, they are impressively comfortable. The fabric is supremely soft next to the skin, and all the little details just contribute to how nice they feel on the bike.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

You don't even get a chamois for the money. To be fair to Rapha, you can spend even more on tights without a pad, but they're still right at the pointy end of the pricing spectrum. You can get feature packed padded tights for a lot less cash however it's also got to be said that if you are in the market to buy a pair of top end tights the price tag is not necessarily going to be a deterrent especially as it isn't out of line with similar offering from other high end brands.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

These are being pressed into regular service and for hard training rides and gentle pootles around the country lanes, they're fantastic.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The softness of the fabric next to the skin, and the great fit.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The eye-watering price tag. The pointless little pocket.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? I would need a payrise first.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

If they were £40-50 cheaper, they would get top marks for sure.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

 

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

First comment, may as well get the ball rolling. I personally own a lot of Rapha kit but i just don't see the point in these. I just feel that if it's cold enough to justify full tights, it's probably icy and therefore you don't want to risk coming off and putting a hole in £170. But then i do stick to shorts until it gets below 0.

posted by karlowen [65 posts]
16th January 2013 - 12:54

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That little pink thing on the strap completely justifies the price.
I wish my crappy bib tights had a little pink thing.
I hate my life.

posted by Some Fella [616 posts]
16th January 2013 - 14:03

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Not sure I agree with the 10+ years from now statement, maybe if you didn't take them out of your wardrobe. I've worn out a few pairs of premium shorts and tights within a couple of years which is why I don't bother with them anymore. You can buy something equally as good from the likes of Lusso for a fraction of the cost. Not saying they last any longer but you can buy at least twice the amount.

posted by bike_food [86 posts]
16th January 2013 - 14:31

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I have them and like them a lot, although I don't see them lasting 10 seasons. I'm thinking 5. Seams are comfortable and stitching is good, but I do get a loose thread from time to time. Nothing is coming apart, though.
I'm waiting to get another pair till I can compare them with Castelli team kit.

pedalpowerDC's picture

posted by pedalpowerDC [188 posts]
16th January 2013 - 18:47

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I love my Rapha kit, I really do, but I can't bring myself to be decked in it from head to toe. So, while Castelli are doing padless tights for 50 quid I'll take those, spend the rest on Rapha's top notch jerseys and jackets where I can appreciate the little details, and avoid looking like the cycling equivalent of Porsche Man with the baseball cap and bomber jacket overload.

I'm sure they're lovely though.

posted by Nick T [613 posts]
16th January 2013 - 21:52

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I have tried on loads of tights this year and bought a couple because I didn't think I could justify the price - what a mistake - these Rapha tights are the most comfortable and best fitting tights I have ever had. Buy cheap buy twice!!!
Remember - if you do come off and hole them Rapha will repair them for nothing - how good is that.

posted by lbuch [13 posts]
17th January 2013 - 8:18

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When I can afford it I'm a sucker for a bit of Rapha - a man of my advanced years doesn't want to necessarily look like a day-glow clown - but I do wish they'd make their kit somewhat less 'Euro-centric' - the small amount of tasteful hi-viz detailing is always on the wrong side! Angry

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posted by Cosmicned [22 posts]
17th January 2013 - 8:33

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lbuch wrote:
I have tried on loads of tights this year and bought a couple because I didn't think I could justify the price - what a mistake - these Rapha tights are the most comfortable and best fitting tights I have ever had. Buy cheap buy twice!!!
Remember - if you do come off and hole them Rapha will repair them for nothing - how good is that.

Buy cheap buy 3 times from Castelli and it still works out cheaper.. Wink

Fixie Girl's picture

posted by Fixie Girl [105 posts]
17th January 2013 - 13:49

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Some Fella wrote:
That little pink thing on the strap completely justifies the price.
I wish my crappy bib tights had a little pink thing.
I hate my life.

Rolling On The Floor

PC

pschristian's picture

posted by pschristian [4 posts]
17th January 2013 - 16:17

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lbuch wrote:
if you do come off and hole them Rapha will repair them for nothing - how good is that.

I did this with my Grand tour gloves actually (purchased for £25 quid in the sample sale) and they repaired them for me. An absolutely amazing job too. I now have a second pair (more sample sale bargains) that i'm keeping hold of for when (if) these ones ever perish.

posted by karlowen [65 posts]
17th January 2013 - 17:32

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Bought mine in the sample sale for £40. (What else can you buy for £40?) The quality, performance and comfort are exemplary. On my third winter and they're still like new. What's more (and as someone else pointed out here) if you have a bad chute and get a hole in them, Rapha will repair them for you, Gratis.

Their basics are steep but worth it (buy in the sale) and their customer service is without equal. You get what you pay for.
I must admit I am often genuinely puzzled why so many people have such a problem with this kind of hard working endeavour. Assos and Castelli both offer pricier items without the helpful & very friendly backup, yet don't attract the same criticism / derision.

And, No - I dont work at Rapha (and only have a modest disposable income so I try to buy good stuff which works well and lasts).

posted by herohirst [50 posts]
18th January 2013 - 15:46

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herohirst wrote:

I must admit I am often genuinely puzzled why so many people have such a problem with this kind of hard working endeavour. Assos and Castelli both offer pricier items without the helpful & very friendly backup, yet don't attract the same criticism / derision.

That's not my experience. I had a very positive conversation with Assos customer service when a pair of shorts started wearing out quicker than I thought they should. I returned them on the last day of the two-year warranty period and they replaced them with a new pair, which are still going strong. I'm not sure how they could have been any more helpful and friendly.

I agree you get what you pay for. If I could afford it, I'd be kitted out from head to toe in top-notch gear. But I can't. So I'm not.

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [562 posts]
18th January 2013 - 19:56

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Had a Rapha winter jersey since 2007. Last estimate was over 100 washes. Still going strong and looks brand new. Works out at £20 per year so far. You get what you pay for.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [929 posts]
19th January 2013 - 0:58

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"you can wear them on consecutive days, provided you don't get them filthy dirty..."

But you still have to wash the shorts you wore underneath these though, right? So not actually saving any washing at all... Or am I missing something?

Still, look and sound like ace tights.

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posted by rotparisolev [2 posts]
23rd January 2013 - 21:51

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