Words: David Evans | Date:
– The Rider, by Tim Krabbé
Many an exchange between riders has started with the old enquiry: “How are the legs today?” Answers can be bombastic exclamations of strength, coded and tentative excuses, and anything between. Whatever your answer, Rapha’s range of legwear will keep you comfortable and looking good on every ride.
Here’s a brief guide to help you sort your Classic Shorts from your Winter Tights, with advice on when to wear them, their women-specific features, and what to wear them with.
Women’s Classic Shorts
- What: Made from a breathable and comfortable stretch fabric, with a perfect on-the-bike cut.
- Why: Without bib straps over the shoulders, these shorts rely on a clever cut and stretchy leg grippers on the hems and waist to retain their shape. A high-rise panel at the back and a stitch-free front panel give these shorts the comfort of bibs without the hassle. Available in two leg lengths.
- When: A riding staple from spring until late autumn.
- With: Women’s Classic Jersey. Rapha Merino Leg Warmers on chillier days.
Team Sky Women’s Bib Shorts
- What: Women’s Classic Bib Shorts in Team Sky livery
- Why: High-performance bib shorts in the colours of Team Sky. The mesh straps have a zip down the centre of the chest for ease of use, and the women-specific Cytech pad is award-winning.
- When: Riding a stage of the Tour a day before the pros.
- With: Women’s Replica Team Sky Jersey
Women’s Classic Bib Shorts
- What: The archetypal riding bibs with a women-specific pad and mesh bib straps.
- Why: These shorts have been designed for long days in the saddle. Flatlock stitching prevents chafing, and the matt Lycra fabric transports moisture away from the skin. Available with pink detailing.
- When: Sportifs and longer rides.
- With: Women’s Souplesse Jersey
Merino Knee Warmers
- What: Knee warmers made from the finest merino wool.
- Why: An essential bit of kit for early morning starts, when the air is heavier and the sun lower. Start the ride with Rapha’s Merino Knee Warmers and, once you and the day have got up to temperature, roll them off and slip them into a jersey pocket. Great for pre-race warm ups, too.
- When: Early mornings and evening rides.
- With: Women’s Classic Shorts
- What: A subtly fragranced shaving cream.
- Why: Shaving your legs is part of the myriad preparations riders go through before racing and riding. Clean and shaved legs allow for easier massages and the application of embrocation. Ingredients include lavender, juniper berry and pine needle, creating a fragrance that is reminiscent of the slopes around Mont Ventoux.
- When: Also available as part of the skincare Travel Set.
- With: Summer Embrocation
Women’s ¾ Bib Shorts
- What: Bibs modified for a colder climate, with fleece-lined material and a high-rise front panel.
- Why: Sometimes a pair of knee warmers just aren’t enough to keep the cold at bay. These ¾ length bibs help preserve body heat against the elements – the longer legs are fleece-lined and the high-rise front panel protects against the wind.
- When: Colder and windy days.
- With: Women’s Long Sleeve Souplesse Jersey and Women’s Gilet.
Team Sky Women’s Shorts
- What: Women’s Classic Shorts in Team Sky livery.
- Why: All the features of the Women’s Classic Shorts with the iconic blue stripe of Team Sky. The waist and leg gripper details are in matching blue, and the shorts feature all the same sponsor panels as the team’s kit.
- When: On a ride to see a stage of the big race.
- With: Women’s Replica Team Sky Jersey
Women’s Winter Tights
- What: Fleece-lined, full-length bib tights with reflective detailing.
- Why: Riding in the winter is as rewarding as it is testing. The dark winter months demand the most from your clothing and equipment and the Women’s Winter Tights have been designed with this in mind. Foot loops and a women-specific shape keep the tights in position, while the wind-resistant, brushed fleece lining keeps out the cold.
- When: On days when others wouldn’t go out for a ride.
- With: Women’s Classic Bib Shorts and a Women’s Softshell Jacket.
Women’s ¾ Tights
- What: Three-quarter-length tights without bib straps.
- Why: Bib shorts are unparalleled for comfort and performance but do require a bit of extra time when getting kitted up for a ride. These ¾ tights use the same construction as the Women’s Shorts to provide a similar fit and functionality to bibs, without the hassle of over-the-shoulder straps.
- When: On more relaxed rides in cooler climates.
- With: Women’s Classic Wind Jacket.
- What: An emollient balm with a scent inspired by the fauna of Mont Ventoux.
- Why: Whether it’s from pushing a gear past the point of comfort, or from the wind, rain and road grime, a rider’s legs get a lot of abuse. Rapha’s Summer Embrocation contains a mix of active ingredients that replenish and protect the skin.
- With: Women’s Classic Bib Shorts