- Adequate support in low impact activities
- Wide range of sizes
- Wide, obtrusive lower band
- Nipple visibility
- Support lacking for sprints
- Colour not quite as advertised
Price as reviewed:
Balancing comfort, breathability, and support is incredibly difficult in a sports bra. The ‘would like’ list is very personal and priorities differ. The support offered by this sports bra from Oakley won’t tick every rider’s requirements, but if staying cool is high on the agenda then this option may be the best on the market for you.
Ranging from XS to XL, the Ellipse Racerback is one of the few cycling specific performance sports bras that caters for women that have larger boobs—although, its simple compression style means the larger your boobs, the less support it is likely to provide.
To help determine the perfect size for you, the Oakley website has a handy Fit Finder tool which provides a size recommendation based on whether similar sized shoppers returned the item. With a usual bra size of 32C, a height of 177cm and weighing 63kg, this put me at a 58 per cent chance of success with a size medium—whereas a small would be an even more unoptimistic 42 per cent. As I normally sit on the small/medium border, I went for the medium and the (marginally) better than 50/50 chance it would fit.
Stretchy and thin sums up the feel of the material of the sports bra that is made out of 27 per cent lyrca and 73 per cent nylon. Although my boobs do not stretch the medium sized bra they sit comfortably, and it isn’t too roomy. This size would definitely fit a rider with slightly larger boobs. For me the medium works well as the shoulder straps and the fit around the side, under my arms, is spot on—I suspect a size smaller would have caused me some clenching in these areas.
The Ellipse Racerback is available in electric blue, blackout and the one I tested is advertised as burgundy. However the sports bra seems to be less dark red/brown as pictures on the website would suggest, but rather a vivid red and purple blend. It’s not a game changer, but good to be aware of if you aren’t a fan of vibrant colours. Also worth noting, when wearing a slender jersey in a lighter shade, the burgundy sports bra does peek through.
Several miles and a few long intervals later, there is still no sensation of clamminess, so this bra does deliver excellently on its promises of breathability and is also quick wicking. On the flipside, the thinness of this bra’s material does leave my nipples noticeably visible— even when warm. This did come as a surprise to me as it is not an issue I usually have. While this may be of no concern for many riders, for others this could result in discomfort when unzipping your jersey, for example, in the event of overheating on a club ride.
A few potholes and fiery sprints further along the ride, the bra’s support was put to the test against the roughness of Britain’s roads. While the support felt adequate when cruising along at a moderate pace, in both brief bursts out the saddle and on impacts with potholes, the bra disappointingly did not hold my boobs securely enough in place.
The lower band of the bra is a 47mm elastic strip which made the bra feel secure when I first put it on. But when riding, the wideness of this strip seemed unnecessarily chunky and it felt like it consumed my whole ribcage. That said, one positive of this design feature was that it did ensure there were no pressure points.
For £35 the Oakley Ellipse Racerback Sports Bra is cheaper than other cycling specific sports bra offerings, but more expensive than your standard sports bra you can buy at shops such as Sports Direct. It’s a great value option for the breathability it provides, but is only suitable for low support activities—which would cover a club ride, but not the trusty bra you’d reach for ahead of a race.
A good value sports bra that will keep you happily cool during summer rides for all sizes of women. Some riders may find the wide, elastic lower band irritating and restrictive, and would prefer a sports bra that completely hides your nipples. Not the bra I’d pick out the drawer for a sprint session but its support is perfectly suitable for longer in-the-saddle hard efforts—even for those that you’d usually get hot and sweaty doing.