I've been testing Rapha's £40 Light Support Bra as well as its Medium Support Bra so this review covers both. Essentially, I really like them both – they're mostly comfortable and forgettable, with the Medium Support just edging it if I had to choose, though it wasn't always that way.
After giving Rapha my measurements, I received medium sizes in both support guises. Call me weird, but I prefer to step into my sports bras and slide them up into place rather than pull them on over my head. (And remove them the same way.)
In medium, the Medium Support bra wasn't stretchy enough to do this, nor stretchy enough to easily go over my head/shoulders. I also didn't realise at first that you could remove the pads, so with these folding up, and the bra getting rucked up as I tried to pull it down into place, I was less than impressed.
No such problems with the Light Support bra, which is stretchier and has no 'annoying' (initially) pads to mess around with.
Maybe I'm on the cusp, but after sizing up to large in the Medium Support I've been very happy with the fit. I've grown to like the pads too. There's a small opening at the side for removing and rearranging, and I do appreciate the extra bit of coverage they provide, especially when it's cold.
Medium or light?
The bras are aimed at slightly different wearers, the support labels being to do with the type of riding you do rather than the level of 'help' you need from your bra. The Light Support is for more relaxed, long-distance riding, the Medium for racing and higher tempo stuff.
To be honest, I didn't notice any huge difference in how well they did their job. I've worn both happily on short, fast(ish) rides and longer days, although the Light Support does soak up sweat in the underband more than the Medium Support. Also, even though the Light has a 'seamless construction' (apart from the seams at the top of the straps), it does have joins in the elastic edgings and these can occasionally irritate. They're slightly lumpy, and it'd be great if Rapha could find a way of doing without.
The Medium Support bra has seams both sides (under the mesh lining), and seam edges where the mesh lining opens up for access to the pads. I didn't find any of them uncomfortable.
Apart from the underband of the Light Support bra, both bras seem to cope well with sweat – there are perforated areas in both, front and back (the whole central rear section of the Medium Support bra), and at the sides of the Light Support.
According to Rapha, the bras fit cup sizes from A-D, which is quite a big range. I can only say that for my Mrs Average B they were fine; I'm not sure how well they'd cope with a D cup. Perhaps wearers could let us know in the comments.
As for value, the Light Support costs the same as the Terry Cyclo Bra reviewed by Caroline a couple of years ago, while the Medium Support is £5 cheaper than one of my old favourites, Castelli's Rosso Corsa Light Bra.
So, overall, both bras are well made, comfortable and do the job of holding you in place while you ride, and covering your modesty when it's cold. And if you get the size right you should be able to either step into them or pull them on over your head.
Very well made and forgettably comfortable, in light or medium support guise
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Make and model: Rapha Medium Support Bra
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 has invested more than a year of research and development into creating its cycling bras. The Medium Support Bra, for high tempo rides and races, is lightweight and supportive. This cycling bra is cut from a technical, high-stretch fabric and is designed to keep you secure during hard efforts and races, yet still feel barely there.
With reduced bulk in areas of high pressure, such as shoulder seams and chest, the Medium Support Bra sits perfectly on the upper body in a riding or racing position. A slim underband, higher compression across the chest and structured cups with removable pads create a slimline fit.
Laser cut holes in areas of high sweat create exceptional ventilation and a light mesh lining works to increase heat transfer on hot days. The cut-out back of the bra is designed to layer with the Souplesse Base Layer and Souplesse Bib Shorts. A contrast pink Rapha logo is on the reverse of the underband."
"The Light Support Bra, for longer adventures and gentler spins, is cut from a soft, high-stretch, sweat-wicking fabric. This seamless cycling bra is designed to give generous coverage whilst providing just the right level of compression and support demanded by cyclists.
Featuring wide, soft straps and a wide, knitted underband to give support around the bust and to reduce movement, the Light Support Bra is cut to sit perfectly on the upper body in a riding position. Twin layers of fabric maximise support while open-knit panels in areas of high sweat give exceptional ventilation. The yarn is treated with antibacterial properties to ensure that you stay fresh throughout your ride. Ideal for layering under the Classic Jersey and Classic Bib Shorts or for use off the bike in other low impact sports such as yoga."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Laser cut ventilation holes in areas of high sweat
Structured cups with removable pads
Tailored to create higher compression across the chest
Slim, high-stretch underband
Reduced bulk in areas of high pressure
Model wears a size medium and is a 34C (UK) bra size
High-stretch, double-layered fabric
Wide, high-stretch underband
Wide shoulder straps
Open-knit panelling in areas of high sweat
Model wears a size medium and is a 34C (UK) bra size
Machine Wash 30C
Wash dark colours separately
Do not bleach
Do not dry clean
Do not tumble dry
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Both bras are very well made.
Rate the product for performance:
Comfortable. Medium Support doesn't get too sweaty; Light Support underband does hold on to quite a bit of sweat.
Rate the product for durability:
Seems good so far. 'Underband' on Medium Support is starting to curl slightly and showing some signs of staining (white fabric on test).
Rate the product for fit:
Good fit - in Large for Medium Support, and Medium in Light Support...
Rate the product for sizing:
Medium should fit – and does in the Light Support version – but the Medium Support was too tight so I sized up to Large.
Rate the product for weight:
In medium, the Light Support is 85g and the Medium Support 73g.
Rate the product for comfort:
Both are very comfortable, though the Medium Support just edges it over the Light Support, to my mind.
Rate the product for value:
Not the cheapest sports bras, but not outrageous.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
Easy – 30-degree wash. White underband isn't looking quite as white as it used to.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Both performed well; to be honest, I don't have to worry too much about 'support', but I felt confidently covered.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Stretchiness of the Light Support bra; smoothness of the Medium Support, and the 'modesty' aspect of its removable pads.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Underband of the Light Support does soak up sweat on hot days/rides, and slight irritation from where the elastic edgings are joined.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
Both bras are very good and so I've scored them 8. The Medium Support is probably my favourite of the two, with no niggles – the Light Support holds on to sweat and occasionally irritates but only if I'm sitting around in it, but it's also a tenner cheaper.
Age: 51 Height: 169cm Weight: size 10-12
I usually ride: Vitus Venon My best bike is: Paulus Quiros
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,
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