Rapha has unveiled a brand new range of women's clothing, working alongside US brand Outdoor Voices.
For those unfamiliar with Outdoor Voices (we were!) the brand is a legging and active wear phenomenon - the most obvious comparisons to spring to our minds were Lululemon and Sweaty Betty.
The range consists of jerseys, a packable, waist and bib shorts, bar bag, light sports bra, cap, socks and cropped t-shirt. Sports bras are still an area where Cycling Weekly's tech team (female contingent) feels there's major work to be done, so we've called one in to test (as well as the bar bag) and will be bringing a full review in the coming months.
Whilst the collection features the chamois pads and quick wicking fabrics we expect from Rapha, the imagery and design takes notes from marketing more traditionally focused at the female market.
Whilst many female cyclists are seeking the cutting edge in tech and find marketing which mirrors the men's versions appealing, this approach seems to speak more to the fitness enthusiast who may have crossed over to cycling more recently. With the women's market rapidly growing (CW's women's audience has rocketed during lockdown), this can only be a welcome move.
Speaking about the range, Rapha's head of design Maria Olsson said: “Together with OV we set out to achieve a positive and inclusive experience for all women who love cycling, and also break down some of the barriers which can be a bit overwhelming.
"We wanted to bring everyone along on the journey through the graphics and colours of the range, without compromising on the technical aspects that we are known for.”
Here's a look at each of the items:
Rapha + Outdoor Voices Jersey (£120)
This is a lightweight cycling jersey which carries many of the characteristics we'd expect. There's internal taping to keep the pockets from moving around when full, plus a coin pouch and an additional zipped compartment. The see-through rear pocket has been designed for a phone.
The jersey comes in Dark Green, Pale Blue and Terracota.
Rapha + Outdoor Voices Wind Jacket (£130)
Rapha says this is the 'centrepiece of the collection', and it comes in a terezzo print inspired by the terrain of Mallorca.
The back panel features an overlapped design for breathability, and it comers with full width rear pockets as well as a small pouch for coins. There's a drop tail, with a reflective speckle pattern.
Excess material was used to make a matching essentials case and this comes in white or multicolour.
Rapha + Outdoor Voices Cargo Bib Shorts (£180)
Rapha's Cargo bib shorts differentiated themselves from the rest of the market with the additional pockets found on the quads.
The pad shares its DNA with the women's specific model in the Rapha women's Classic shorts.
These come in dark navy - with no black option. There's a full body upper with a cross over back.
Rapha + Outdoor Voices High Waisted Padded Shorts (£80)
For those not keen on bibs, Rapha and Outdoor Voices have made a high waisted option with a double layer waistband which aims to provide the security of bibs without the toilet break hassle.
These come with a shorter leg length, to ward off "embarrassing tan lines just above the knee".
The chamois is the same as the women's pad in Rapha's Classic women's shorts.
These come in Dark Green and Dark Navy. The shorts are designed to work alongside the Rapha + Outdoor Voices Cropped T-Shirt, which is made from '100 per cent cotton' and comes in lilac or white.
Rapha + Outdoor Voices Light Support Bra (£40)
We've got this sports bra on test at the moment. It's a lightweight support option, so not designed for running and jumping but appropriate for lower impact cycling. The aim is to offer a quick drying, wicking fabric, and a cut which supports the cycling position without chafing.
This is an over-the-head option, with no fastening or adjustability. It comes with removable padding which can help hide those 'smuggling peanuts' moments when the temperature drops at the top of climbs.
This comes in Dark Green and Pale Blue.
Rapha + Outdoor Voices Bar Bag (£50)
As the popularity of gravel riding increases, this bar bag can clip over the handlebars - but it can also swing over the shoulder and be worn as a handbag when off the bike.
We've got one of these on test, too. There's tons of space and pockets included, and the attachment is sturdy, though the size means you'd want to add some soft items like a packable to bulk it out and prevent the likes of pumps and multi tools from jingling noisily.
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan is Cycling Weekly's Tech Editor, and is responsible for managing the tech news and reviews both on the website and in Cycling Weekly magazine.
A traditional journalist by trade, Arthurs-Brennan began her career working for a local newspaper, before spending a few years at Evans Cycles, then combining writing and her love of bicycles first at Total Women's Cycling and then Cycling Weekly.
When not typing up reviews, news, and interviews Arthurs-Brennan is a road racer who also enjoys track riding and the occasional time trial, though dabbles in off-road riding too (either on a mountain bike, or a 'gravel bike'). She is passionate about supporting grassroots women's racing and founded the women's road race team 190rt.
She rides bikes of all kinds, but favourites include a custom carbon Werking road bike as well as the Specialized Tarmac SL6.
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