A sports bra that really does combine support with quick-drying properties. The Overband style seems to maximise cleavage which won't be a winner for everyone, but it does work and this sports bra easily passes the 'jump test'. I had to really ratchet up the straps to get the fit right, so perhaps this could do with some minor adjustment - but the only real pitfall is the price.
Finding a sports bra that is compatible with cycling, but still offers enough support, is no easy feat.
Cycling is quite unique in that windchill and long off-season base miles make for a strange mixture of high body temperature (and therefore sweat) plus the tendency to bundle up on layers. Any fabric against the skin needs to wick sweat and be breathable, but a sports bra also needs to be supportive - and supportive fabric is often thick, compressive, and not quick drying.
With the Solidarity High Impact Sports Bra, Maaree has provided a solid option that really does appear to meet both of these needs - though in doing so it has had to use a fairly rigid material and the RRP is much higher than competitors.
Maaree Solidarity High-Impact Sports Bra: construction
Road cycling isn't, of course, a high impact activity. However, according to experts at the Research Group in Breast Health, based at the University of Portsmouth, riders wearing a D+ cup are best served by an encapsulation or combination style sports bra, as opposed to a less supportive compression style often used by cycling specific brands. This bra starts from a 30C so it is designed for those with more breast tissue. There is a Medium Impact version for those who don't want something quite so heavy duty.
This bra is an encapsulation style, meaning it has two cups separated by a central channel. However, Maaree's party-trick is the 'Overband'. This refers to the curved panel along the top of the bra. Its goal is to reduce upward motion when exercising.
The Overband can be adjusted via sliding clasps on either side of the bra. You've got the standard sliders on the main straps, plus a clasp allowing you to turn it into a racerback, too.
Fastening comes from three widely spaced hooks and eyes, and the lower band is made from a stretchy but relatively tough fabric, offering a firm fit.
In terms of fabric make-up, Maaree doesn't give a lot of specifics on its website. The label details (printed on to the fabric to avoid any scratchy additions) states a mix of 85 per cent Polyamide and 15 per cent Elastane (exclusive of trims).
The body fabric feels thick to the touch, it's not soft and has quite a course quality which rustles slightly when scrunched up, but is stretchy. The cups use two layers of fabric. The back panels are constructed from a stretchy mesh whilst the central panel features one layer of the body material and one layer of mesh.
The bra comes shipped with its own washbag, to save you from damaging the hooks in the machine (or transferring colour from your black shorts, which I failed to avid).
Maaree Solidarity High-Impact Sports Bra: the ride
The Maaree Solidarity sports bra is unlike any other sports bra I've ever worn. The key difference is the rather rigid material. This feels compressive on, and certainly offers the support it promises. Initially, it didn't quite mould to my skin in the same way a more flexible fabric might. However, this has improved with washes. Not only that, it stays a lot drier.
Compared to one of my other favourites - the Shock Absorber Multi Sport sports bra, the Solidarity bra offers a similar level of support (which is, plenty, even for running), but with much better drying properties. When I take the Shock Absorber bra off after a session, the front panel is always soaked with sweat, and that's just not the case here. That statement alone should make it an absolute winner. The difference is most keenly felt when stopping for mid-ride coffee/cake breaks (or coaching points during outdoor track sessions) - wearing a wet sports bra beneath multiple layers cools your core temperature dramatically and it was a relief to be free from that.
I did find that the cups didn't sit quite right unless I pulled the strap sliders to their most extreme position, and also engaged the 'racerback'. When paired with the Overband tech, this did push my breasts quite high and create more cleavage than most sports bras. It wasn't uncomfortable but I did have the feeling of wearing my boobs around my chin during turbo sessions. The straps will of course stretch over time, so perhaps Maaree needs to tweak these slightly, I could have done with them being a touch shorter.
I typically wear a 28E or 30DD in standard bras, and opted for the 30DD from Maaree, whereas in brands such as Shock Absorber I up the band size to a 32 for sports. The fit was fairly spot on, with the band offering a close enough fit for good support without being overly restrictive. It doesn't leave marks when removed and nor is there any armpit chafing. Maaree also offers online fitting sessions so you can ensure you've chosen the right size.
Maaree Solidarity High-Impact Sports Bra: value
This is perhaps the Solidarity bra's biggest pitfall: it costs £64. The Multi Sports Sports Bra from Shock Absorber offers a similar level of support (if not, marginally more), but costs £39. However, Maaree's product clearly wins the drying ranks. I've been reaching for it instinctively whenever it's out the wash, I just don't know that I could stomach the cost of lining my 'sports bra drawer' with several of these.
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