Rapha's Souplesse II kit for women is designed for hot-weather riding and is constructed from lightweight materials.
What is it
Rapha's Souplesse II kit for women arrives just in time for summer. The updated pieces are designed specifically for hot-weather riding and are made from lightweight materials. Rapha has also shifted the fit on the jerseys to be more form fitting and updated the bibshorts with the goal of making them more comfortable for long days in the saddle. If you live in a hot climate and regularly spend long hours on the bike, the Rapha Souplesse II kit might be an investment worth making.
- Lightweight fabric in Souplesse II jersey soft and comfortable against skin
- Jersey fabric perforated down back and under pockets to add breathability
- Longer sleeve length gives jersey finished look with no arm warmer gapping
- Souplesse II bibshorts have comfortable chamois
- Bibshorts include lightweight upper that breathes well
- Entire Souplesse II collection very expensive
- Jersey's lightweight fabric needs careful handling to avoid snags
- Jersey's race cut and light fabric leave little to imagination
- Souplesse II arm warmers aren't insulated, would prefer a thicker option
- Included sports bra breathes well, but provides minimal support
This season's Souplesse II collection from Rapha includes an updated jersey, base layer, bibshort, arm warmers, socks, and sports bra. On the whole, we liked this collection. It's designed for warm weather and performed well when we headed for the hills on a spring day in California. It also features Rapha's careful technical design work and stylish appearance.
One of Rapha's signature elements is their fabric sourcing. The Souplesse Jersey II has a soft hand, with a feel and drape that reminded us of a summer silk shirt. There are perforations down the spine and a waffled, mesh fabric under the pockets for additional breathability. This is one of the more comfortable hot-weather jerseys we've worn. The light-weight fabric does tend to cling, and you may find it less flattering than some of your other jerseys. But we liked the feel of the fabric and the performance of this piece enough that this was a minor concern.
The Souplesse II Bibshorts are designed along traditional lines. If you like to run your hemlines short, these may not be your first choice. Thanks to our relatively short inseam, we turned them up at the hem. The t-back on the uppers is comfortable and made the bibs more breathable than some other options we've tried. The Souplesse has lower profile straps than some of Rapha's previous offerings for women and we're fans of this cut. The leg openings avoided the dreaded sausage leg effect we've sometimes experienced with less well-designed bibs.
Obviously, chamois fit is an individual thing, but we found the Rapha chamois comfortable up to three hours. Deadlines prevented us from putting in a full-day in the Souplesse bibs, but we're pretty confident they'll stand up to whatever abuse you have in mind for them. If you're looking for a quick bathroom stop, these aren't for you; they are straight-up, take your jersey off bibshorts. Overall, we liked both the performance and fit. If cost were no object, we'd be tempted to buy a pair for every day of the week.
Rapha's attention to detail extends to the accessories in the Souplesse II collection. We liked the length on the arm warmers, which fit even our unusually long arms. We would likely reach for a more insulated option, but these would be a nice to throw in your pocket for a descending a long climb on a summer day. On an evening ride, we found they didn't stand up to the chill of the coastal fog.
We were intrigued by Rapha's decision to make a sports bra, because this is a market crowded with options. We liked the lightweight fabric and smooth seams on Rapha's design. For A and B cups, the Medium Support Bra will offer light support. It worked fine for us on the road bike, but we wouldn't take it gravel riding or on a mountain bike session. On the whole, we'd be more likely to reach for a more supportive option, despite the breathability and soft feel of the Rapha top.
One last thing: We like that Rapha's size charts are accurate and that their size runs encompass a wide range, by the standards of the bike industry, from XXS to XL. Using the size chart, we are able to pick the correct jersey and bibshort sizes, which is sometimes a challenge with women's clothing lines. The jersey is designed to be "race fit," so it is body skimming. If you prefer a more relaxed fit, try going up one size.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Price: Souplesse Jersey II - $175; Souplesse Bibshort II - $265; Lightweight Arm Warmers - $55.00; Medium Support Bra - $75
More info: rapha.cc