Product Review: Rapha’s Classic Bib Shorts for Women

My first set of bib shorts were made by Castelli and were a men’s size. At the time, I thought that it wouldn’t matter and that they were decently priced, so I purchased them. That was a huge mistake. I was also generally irritated because all the women’s bibs I could find for around $100 were far too short and came in the most unattractive patterns, and I liked the simplicity of the men’s bib. Misogyny presents itself in many unfortunate ways in all cultures. In the way of cycling, one way is by making the women’s bibs more revealing. The short-shorts versions of women’s bibs are made that way not because we are shorter on average (actually, women’s legs are typically longer), it’s because we’re expected to show more skin. Don’t get me wrong, I love short-shorts and I wear them quite often. But, what I wanted were bibs that would actually be a practical and comfortable length. Anyway, Let’s just say I rode with those men’s bibs for over a year… and they did not fit me well. Now that I’ve been riding with a better bib, I’ve realized how uncomfortable the men’s bibs actually were.

I know that people in the cycling community seem very split about Rapha and Rapha’s products. As a luxury cycling brand, Rapha gets a lot of flack in the community for being over-priced and for seeming like an exclusive club. In my opinion, Rapha makes fantastic products that are extremely comfortable and well-designed. In most instances, their products are not much more expensive than other brands(a lot of bibs I’ve looked at cost around $200, whereas Rapha’s are app. $235). I own more Rapha than I am willing to admit; however, I’ve never paid full-price for anything and I do not plan to do so in the future. I had been eyeing the Women’s Classic Bib Shorts for a while and I waited for them to go on sale. I bought them as soon as they dropped in price, and they were well worth the money and the wait.

These are the most comfortable cycling shorts I’ve ever worn. They are made of a blend of nylon, polyester, and lycra, and have a number of artful panels sewn together to create the least amount of rub and the most freedom of movement. Rather than just being two lycra panels sewn together, there are several pieces that contour the thighs. In other words, wearing these bibs is like putting on a second skin.

Not my image, seen on Rapha's website. This gives a good view of the extensive padding, providing a very comfortable ride.
Not my image, seen on Rapha’s website. This gives a good view of the extensive panelling, a wonderful feature.

I also love that this is a full-suit and not just padded shorts with straps. Having the extra layer in the front adds a great amount of support for my breasts, which I’ve been very thankful for. There are some obvious features that these bibs have–they are extremely lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking, and the mesh top and open back add to breathability. The zippered front and the zippered back-pocket(in the featured image, the pocket is the pink, rectangular panel on the back) are very useful. I’ll put my keys and ID in the back-pocket and any other essentials in my jersey. I’ve had these for well over a year and have noticed pretty much no wear and tear, and I ride often.

The chamois pad is even more impressive. It sits in just the right places and feels like cycling on a cloud. The only thing to consider is that most of the padding is concentrated on the sit bones–so, if you’re a more aggressive rider, these don’t have a ton of padding in the front. That being said, I ride pretty aggressively and have found the chamois to be more than adequate.

On top of all the technical specs, these shorts are very attractive. They are a beautiful matte-black and are generally unimposing, unlike other shorts I’ve seen. They look lovely, and Rapha’s branding is subtle.

Overall, I would absolutely recommend these bibs to any dedicated cyclist that wouldn’t mind dishing out the money. They last a while(on top of that, if you buy directly from Rapha they will repair them if they get damaged), and if you race, enjoy competitive rides, or long-distance rides, these shorts will earn their keep.

Rapha also has the classics guarantee–so, if you don’t trust my judgement, you can try them out for 30 days and send them back for a full refund, no questions asked. I think Rapha does this because they know people aren’t likely to send them back… they are so well made, I couldn’t imagine a better bib.

Pros: extremely comfortable, great panelling, full-suit, perfect chamois, aesthetically pleasing, made in Italy(fair labour), repair service available, classic’s guarantee

Cons: the price


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