The Rapha Women's Long Sleeve Base Layer is a soft, breathable base layer made from merino wool that will prove useful time and time again, both on and off the bike.
This lightweight top is made from 100% merino, which might head off some of the haters at the starting line. Merino keeps the body a stable temperature no matter what's going on outside, and no matter how hard you're working. It also has the magic properties of not degenerating into a stinking mess after your first ride, due to wool's natural anti-microbial properties (best preserved by washing it at 30 in non-bio powder or liquid and not using sticky antiperspirants when wearing it).
This top by Rapha is made from the sort of high quality merino you'd expect from a premium brand, soft, pliable and very breathable. It's shaped to contour to female curves and is a simple design with long sleeves and a demure v-neck. The stitching is flatlocked to prevent any chafing when worn beneath bib tights etc.
Quite simply put, since this arrived on my desk, I've really only taken it off to wash it (occasionally). I've been wearing it on the bike pretty much constantly in cold weather, but also under big woolly jumpers and the like as a casual 'normal' top. It's just so comfy and pleasant to wear. It's well made and the good quality merino wears beautifully, on or off the bike.
Price wise, you're not really paying a premium for the Rapha brand in this case. Equivalent tops from merino specialists like Smartwool and Icebreaker would cost you around the same price. Yes, £65 is not cheap for a base layer top, but it's extraordinarily comfortable, will last for years and performs really well.
Soft, breathable, comfortable and not even overly expensive, especially given how long merino lasts.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's Long Sleeve Base Layer
Size tested: Meidum, Fig
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?
Intended as a base layer garment for female riders.
Spot on for this, but also doubles as a long sleeved t-shirt for under jumpers and suchlike for casual wear.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Flatlocked seams to prevent chafing
Machine washable at 30
Available in sizes XXS-XL
Lovely quality merino and well finished.
Warm when it needs to be, cool when it doesn't. Comfortable and very wearable.
If washed correctly should last for years and won't smell.
Extremely comfortable next to skin.
Built to last, well made and no different in price from other merino garments of a similar quality.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fabric, style, fit, colours.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing at all.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Absolutely. Would also consider buying as a gift.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Spot on for winter, spring or autumn layering. Well made and extremely good quality.
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.