I'll admit to being oddly obsessed by socks - specifically cycling socks - and this Rapha Souplesse pair fully deserve the attention. It's probably the fact that a good (or bad) pair can make almost as much difference to long-ride comfort as the shoes you wear around them. Get the wrong socks and even the most spangly and high performance shoes are going to feel wrong.
For those who feel that Rapha's prices are just too high, it's worth bearing in mind that most performance technical socks are a similar price to the Souplesses. Yes, you can buy a half dozen pairs of cotton socks from M&S for that, but once you venture into technical yarns and seam-locked toes and the like, this is a fairly standard price.
The Souplesse socks look the business too. I'm fond of stripes or spots in a sock (Velominati be damned) and these are just the ticket in my book. They're also a a pleasingly obvious long ankle length; from a tan lines perspective sub-ankle socklets are great, but I find they can and do sometimes creep down into the shoe making it uncomfortable. If you're going to wear visible socks, celebrate them! It would be nice if there were a Souplesse mini, though, to fulfil this role and give a choice of lengths for those committed to their tan.
The fit is sleek and contoured nicely around my foot with no bunching up or intrusive seams. The fabric wicks moisture away from the foot quickly, leaving it comfortable and a good temperature, and the smoothness of the fabric means nothing interferes with how well your shoes fit. It's quite a lightweight sock, so best suited to warmer conditions unless worn with oversocks in spring and autumn, and the length of the ankle means this is a perfectly acceptable option.
Nice socks, I'd like a pair in every colour please.
Sleek and sexy special stripey socks
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Make and model: Rapha Women's Souplesse Socks
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?
Designed for women for hot weather riding.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Open mesh for breathability
High wicking yarn
Handlocked toe seams to prevent chafing
Machine wash at 40
Available in sizes XS-L (UK3-8 )
Beautifully made from high quality yarns, with nicely finished seams.
Superbly comfortable for long, warm conditions rides.
Keep them away from Velcro, but otherwise these are well made and should last a long time.
Nice and light.
Super comfortable, both in terms of their interaction with cycling shoes and the way the fabric feels and behaves. Tops grip well and stay put without feeling constrictive.
About the going rate for higher end performance-led socks so not outrageous.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Stripes, fabric, fit, comfort, moisture wicking.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Inevitably one will go missing...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Great high performance summer riding socks, as long as you don't mind visible tan lines
Age: 42 Height: 1.65m Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
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, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
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.