For three years Rapha has been developing an all-new women’s chamois design, working closely with women who crank out the kilometers – from their Canyon//SRAM pro riders to year-round commuters, plus including their own staff. The results for 2019 are actually three different pads for a wide range of riding style, and size-specific pads like we saw in the men’s collection last season to provide even better fits.
Rapha’s new size-specific, dual-density Women’s Chamois
One of Rapha’s strongest selling point in our eyes has always been the quality & comfort of their chamois pads, which finely balance soft & supportive padding, yet standup to multiple seasons of riding. Now women get the same concept of size-specific pads, based on pressure mapping study. But while men got three widths, women get two different pad thicknesses in each version to better support different sized-riders. All chamois pads are the same shape (and foam densities remain the same within each family), but XXS-S shorts get thinner padding suited for lighter riders, and M-XL shorts get more supportive, thicker padding.
The new Women’s Chamois comes in three versions – a thinner, denser “Pro Team” version pad in new Souplesse bibs, a thicker quick drying perforated “Brevet” style pad in new Cargo bibs, and a third softer, lower-density “Classics” style pad in the upcoming Core shorts. All of the new chamois pads feature dual-density foam padding – softer to eliminate pressure up front, firmer at the sit bones for support – plus seamless construction, a pre-molded shape & long-lasting anti-bacterial treatment.
(Yes, we realize that this is a lot of an article about chamois pads, but we don’t show any. Rapha didn’t give us any images of the pads themselves, and there are no photos on their website or social media yet.)
Rapha Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts
The new Souplesse Detachable Bibs take the pro-level shorts raced by the women of Canyon//SRAM and add a new mesh bib strap design with a self-centering magnetic clasp at the back to make mid-ride bathroom breaks faster & easier. Release the low-profile buckle with one hand without removing your jersey to pull the shorts down for a quick & less exposed pit stop. Then simply pull the strap back down under a jersey and it securely locks back in place when you get it close.
The $270 / 230€ Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts use a thin, high-density performance or ‘race-oriented’ chamois along the lines of the men’s Pro Team line. The new bibs feature a softer compression lycra fabric with fewer overall seams than before, now bonded in several places for less chafing and better stretch. Low-profile leg grippers, a padded panel behind the new magnetic claps, reflective tabs & fast drying mesh bib straps finish them out.
Rapha Women’s Cargo Bib Shorts
The new Cargo Bib Shorts bring the same banana-hauling capabilities that made the men’s version a hit, even if a bit strange. Of course more realistic riders will find that soft fruit isn’t the best thing to put in any shorts’ pocket. But quick access to more compact snacks and things like a phone or small wallet can be super convenient, and open up the possibility to replace a conventional jersey with a lighter weight top without losing your carrying capacity. The Cargo Bibs get big mesh pockets on both legs overtop Brevet style reflective logos, plus a couple of rear mesh pockets where the shorts & bib straps come together (just under a typical jersey pocket location.)
The $270 / 230€ Women’s Cargo Bib Shorts come in black with pink detailing or dark navy blue with white details, and feature the thickest & quick drying Brevet-style version of the new Women’s Chamois, with a perforated mesh layer designed for long days in the saddle and to be washed & dried overnight for the next day’s adventure.
A key new feature of the Women’s Cargo Bibs is a new lighter weight Shadow fabric that mixes protection from changeable weather with ventilation. The lightweight stretch-woven fabric is wind & water-resistant, yet apparently comfortable riding up to 30°C / 86°F. Plus, when it does get wet (or you wash them), it dries super quickly. The bibs include a reflective rear stripe across the butt, and use the same comfortable full mesh zipped bib upper as the standard Women’s Brevet Bibs.
Women’s Core Cargo Shorts
Details are a little thinner on the new Core Cargo Shorts as a Core line update is expected in a month or so. What we do know is that they bring the benefits of the two large leg side cargo pockets to a lower pricepoint, and into a wide-waistband pair of shorts for those who aren’t a fan of bib straps.
The Women’s Core Cargo Shorts will get a third new Women’s Chamois, here thick & softer in line with Rapha’s Classics range. Price is expected in Core’s affordable sweet spot at $130 / 115€, with a stretchy black fabric that promises compression & modesty.
New Rapha Women’s Chamois bibs & shorts availability
The two new pairs of performance women’s bib shorts with their new chamois pads are available now. The new Cargo Shorts are expected to be about a month behind with more details & real availability expected in March.