Review: Rapha Souplesse Bib Shorts
Just before I started writing, my husband asked what I was going to say in my review. My response was, “Does just saying ‘They’re a dddreeeeaaammmm, they're my go-to, and I want to get five more and you should too.’ work?”
There comes a point in a cyclist's life where the outstanding, all day fit, feel and performance of the bibs becomes a top priority - where you want to find the bib shorts to take you from tolerating a ride to indulging in a ride. These are those bibs.
From when I slipped on my pair of Rapha’s redesigned, 2017 Women’s Souplesse Bib Shorts to testing them on the road, gravel, trail, and trainer I wasn’t disappointed. Not only do they perform off the charts, but you look and feel like a total baddie when you wear them.
The Souplesse Bib Shorts focus on fabrics, finishes and seam placements to provide a more comfortable and supportive fit. The latest version of these shorts closely match Rapha’s Pro Team collection, which is “obsessively researched and developed with input from leading men’s and women’s WorldTour teams” according to Rapha.
Okay, here’s my breakdown on the bibs:
Rapha has a long reputation for performance and fit, and these bibs don’t disappoint. In fact, when doing some nosing around online, I found previous Souplesse Bib Short users have found this latest version to be a mark above the previous designs. The fit has compression qualities, without causing the stuffed sausage look on the legs (thank goodness!).
I have sensitive skin, like “I think about going outside and get a sunburn” kind of sensitive skin. I’ve had many bad reactions to the grips on the cuffs of bib shorts after long rides. The cuffs on these bibs not only stay in place, so you don’t have to worry about keeping your razor sharp tan lines, but even after 4.5 hours in the saddle on a hot day or intervals on the trainer, I had no issues.
Nothing drives me more crazy than being on a long ride and feeling like my bib straps are digging into my shoulders. The way Rapha constructed their straps - the newly shaped cut, the high stretch fabric which is also breathable and wicking - has minimized the pressure points across the shoulders while still providing support.
However, they do present the issue the majority of women’s bib shorts do: they are a serious pain when it comes to going to the bathroom.
If you’re like me, the majority of my rides don’t have built-in restroom stops, making you choose between ditch, tree, or tall grass as you find a break in traffic. Therefore, if you need to have a mid-ride bathroom break, be prepared to shed a little extra clothing than you would with a pair of dropper bibs.
Now to the chamois. Oh, the chamois. Straps, fit, compression, fabric and all the other pieces making up the construction of a successful bib are all excellent, but the chamois is where bibs become make or break for me. The chamois on the Souplesse Bib Shorts provides enough padding for all-day riding, but not too much to take away from the performance-oriented fit. I wore these bibs over and over and over again. Washing them one day, air drying, and wearing them again the next day and the chamois dried quickly.
In the end, these bibs provide an outstanding, all-day fit with no sagging or gathering and no hoisting or readjusting needed mid-ride to keep you comfortable.
- Slim fit without making your legs look like a stuffed sausage. You get the benefit of the World Tour inspired quality without sacrificing comfort.
- They make you look cool AF
- Comfortable straps with breathable fabric
- Grips are perfect for sensitive skin
- You have to strip down to use the toilet.
While the Souplesse Bib Shorts are on the higher end of the price range and could be a listed as a con, you will not regret a penny as you wear these bibs mile after mile. They also have an entire new line of other women's gear I'm itching to try. But, overall they are stylish, comfortable, durable and classy. Or in the words of the abbreviated review I gave to my husband, “They’re a dreeeeaammmm, my official go-to and I need to get five more and so do you.”