Rapha Women’s Classic Jersey Review

So, having rode the Rapha ladies jersey for a few weeks now, i decided to pen a bit of a review for ladies out there interested in Raphas first ladieswear capsule range….
The Classic Jersey is offered in their iconic black – borrowing the classicly popular colourway directly from the masculine version, or alternatively the colour I selected to try, a gorgeous rich red, both with cream contrastic arm detail.
Crafted from Sportswool, the jersey is a perfect three season piece for the discerning female rider. I tested the jersey whilst demo-ing some rollers for Elite at the Icebike trade show, and was inside and riding in high temps. The jersey wicked the sweat away wonderfully, it managed to feel light and unrestrictive. And the great thing is I also rode this jersey on one of the chillier February days we had, coupled with the included armwarmers and a modest sleevless baselayer, and found i was at a comfortable temperature throughout the ride, not overheating, but also not freezing on descents and such when my torso received a bit of a battering from a significantly strong breeze.

The jersey has what I find to have been the most pleasing pocket set up iv ever encountered on a jersey. Three full sized pockets adequatley hold all ride essentials, for me its a phone, tube, levers, gilet or packable jacket, energy bars/gels and a co2 cantister. The middle pocket features and internal sleeve pocket to keep a pump secure, and a fine job it does too, holding my mini carbon pump. The jersey hides a low profile zipped pocket to the right of the open, allowing you to secure debit cards and notes secure in the knowledge they arent going anywhere except into the hands of your barista once at the obligatory cafe stop. Overall, the pockets are great in that they wont sag down when loaded, and part of this is due to the clever drawstring design around the bottom of the top, ensuring that problem that so often occurs with womens jerseys – they can sag the back of the top and make it baggy when carrying your essentials, simply doesnt happen. In addition, a nicely profiled reflective tab is also employed on the back, for that small piece of mind in regards to added visibility.

The jersey is cut great for the female form, with a slightly fluted shaped to it, ensuring it hugs the areas we needs it, but gives more room for those places we differ to men, namely our chest and hips. The length is great, I personally love my tops to be race cut and figure hugging, but at the same time decent in their length, and Rapha doesnt fail to deliver here, cutting it long enough to provide ample coverage whilst sitting on the hips comfortably, but simultaneously the jersey doesnt bunch, hugging the torso all the way til the bottom. The neck is also cut shallower in comparison to the mens equivalent, and boasts the same bite tag for zipping/unzipping whilst on the move. The sizes run true to form, im riding a UK size 8, and its a perfect fit. Rapha offer a full range of individual sizes from 8-16, ensuring ladies of all shapes can enjoy that perfct fit.
The full legth zip is a revelation, and something I wish more clothing companies would deploy in their female specific tops…. when wearing a wicking baselayer to cover our modesty, we still have the option to unzip fully on long exposed climbs when in danger of overheating.

The jersey arrives with complimentary armwarmers in cream with matching coloured piping depending upon your choice of black or red. Now I must admit, iv never cared for armwarmers before… I found mens small were cut short and didnt quite reach my wrists, but my skinny biceps ensured I was forever yanking them back up. Not a very pro look im sure you will agree.

Rapha have managed to convert me to the virtues of the armwarmer. I have now been able to fully appreciate their versatility. When first pullling them on they felt quite tight, however once riding , they felt unrestrictive and provided amuch needed barrier from the elements. The grip at the top combined with their sleek profile meant that during a two hour ride I did not have to adjust their position or pull them up once. Which I initially found quite remarkable, but then I remembered thats actually how amrwarmers should function, and the fact these have been tailored specifically for the dimensions of my female arm meant they function precisely as they were designed to.

Overall this item has without a shadow of a doubt cemented itself at the pinnacle of my jersey collection. Its pretty much everything I would hope for in a cycling spcific jersey. A super cut designed for my body shape, but without adding the horrific hawaiian flowers or lame childish patterns and swirls sadly so often seen on clothing when companies put little thought into their womensrange. The jersey looks great in either weekend warrior lycra clad training mode, or city courier style coupled with jeans or plus fours, so its will surely appeal to a wide range of female cyclists, whatever their taste.
Personally I have always wore Rapha pieces from their menswear line in XS, and was a massive fan of their subtle design features and classy simple looks. I took comfort in the fact that if I didnt particularly find the womens items that enthralling I could always continue to enjoy their smaller sized mens items. After wearing the jersey I can say I wholeheartedly plan to wear the ladies range, due to the fact its taken all the strands I loved from the mens range and simply but perfectly refined them for a female specific fit. Which i believe is the fact that will prove this range a winner for Rapha, they are simply refining what they already know is successful amongst the extended peloton of cycling fans, regardless of their gender.

The classic jersey as tested by Bianchista is available in black or red in sized XS-XL for £120, and includes fleece lined armwarmers.

Rapha Ladies Ride

This Thursday Regents Park wash awash, sadly not with hundreds of cyclists, keen to test the new Rapha clothing and meet the team, but with actual raindrops!
The skies were a shade of grey not dissimilar to the Rapha grey longsleeve jersey, and the heavens opened and seemed reluctant to subside. 
However, in the heart of Regents Park, the Garden Cafe was pleasantly warm and filled with welcoming cheer courtesy of Rapha, namely in the form of shelter, coffee, wine and of course, cake.  The full range of products was out of display for attendees to test ride around the park (and one would be hard pushed think of a better way to test their fabulous stowaway jacket in such miserable conditions). Many ladies opted to don the robust all conditions jacket and head out into the drizzle to put it through its paces.

Rapha had staff on hand (even their MD) to mingle with the ladies (and a handful of men too) who had braved the abismal weather , and discuss their debut ladies capsule range. The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastioc, as the tills rung and suddenly the cafe turned into a rich sea of red stowaways and cream armwarmers.

After refreshments were enjoyed by the group, it was time to present the Rapha Condor ladies racing team. The six riders were presented to the group and the various equipment sponsors were detailed to the crowd. Their lineup features some fantastic talent, and I cant wait to see them harvest some results this year. I really hope that they own the race at the Smithfield Nocturne, on home ground…

Their full team roster is Claire Beaumont, Rachel Przybylski, Angharad Mason, Tracy Corbett, Natasha Perry and Rebecca Curley.

The team then rode a few laps around the park, inviting anyone wishing to join in along. It was great to speak to their riders in a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere, getting to ask them all about their backgrounds and their racing schedules for the season. 

 Overall it was a lovely evening, and Rapha should seriously consider organising more (perhaps bi-monthly) informal rides for their female clientele. The whole evening was relaxed and friendly and it exactly whats needed to kick start more women into riding togther and igniting a passion for riding. Congratulations must go to Laura for organising a most enjoyable evening, its such a pity the weather put a dampener on things. Hopefully more of these events will come to fruition. It would be fantastic to enter summer looking forward to social rides where women can feel at ease and perhaps learn some skills such as group riding, and become motivated by having a regular group ride to attend and meet like minded riders.

Track World Championships TV Schedule

World Track Championships – Copenhagen
Wednesday 24 March 1900-2100 BBC2, 1800-2100 red button, all online (UK only)
Victoria Pendleton goes for Great Britain in the 500m time trial (final 1830 GMT) and Chris Hoy returns to the track where he crashed last year, bidding to help better last season’s team sprint silver (2125 GMT).
Thursday 25 March 1830-2000 (BBC2), 1800-2030 red button, all online (UK only)
Olympic bronze medallist Chris Newton goes for Great Britain in the scratch race (1845 GMT), Vicky Pendleton and Jess Varnish go for gold in the women’s team sprint and Chris Hoy bids to add the world title to his Olympic crown in the keirin (final 2050 GMT)
Friday 26 March 1900-2000 (BBC2), 1800-2030 red button, all online (UK only)
Anna Blyth will look for a British medal in the women’s scratch race (2030 GMT) and Jason Queally could make his GB comeback as part of the men’s team pursuit quartet (2050 GMT).
Saturday 27 March 1415-1630 (BBC1), 1630-1730 (BBC2), all online (UK only)
Vicky Pendleton defends her women’s sprint crown (best-of-three final from 1615 GMT) and look out for the multi-event omnium, which will be a new Olympic discipline at London 2012.
Sunday 28 March 1350-1730 BST (BBC2) , all online (UK only)
Britain’s sprint king and queen are both in action as Chris Hoy goes for gold in the men’s sprint (best-of-three final from 1610 BST) and Vicky Pendleton bids for a third medal in the women’s keirin (final 1630 BST)