Comfort Will Reign

Comfort Will Reign

To solve a problem, you first have to understand it. The complete overhaul of our range of women’s chamois pads was driven by a predominantly female team to create cycling shorts made for women, by women. For the final word on a project all about comfort, we spoke to four of our female wear testers.

08 March 2019

Claudine Rousseau

Head of Atelier at Rapha, weekend rider.
Wears our Core Cargo Shorts.

Rapha’s atelier is a creative space, an incubator for new ideas and a testing ground for initial prototypes. Designers work in tandem with the atelier team to experiment, innovate and bring initial concepts to life, completing the majority of a product’s design and early prototyping in house.

How did the women’s chamois project come to fruition?

The project was put in motion around three years ago and the whole thing has been driven by our brilliant Design Manager, Maria Olsson. We have a hugely talented team in London who work collaboratively, cross functionally and externally with our manufacturers to ensure all products are made to the highest standard. As the product team is a predominantly female force of passionate cyclists, it has been particularly exciting for the team to test and refine the new women’s chamois pads first hand through each stage of their development.

Why was it so satisfying to work on our women’s chamois pads?

As tends to be the case in the sportswear industry, technical innovation is often applied to men’s products before it is applied to women’s so it is refreshing that Rapha decided to lead with a women’s product.

Yewande Adesida

Rower turned rider, studying part time for a PhD in biomechanics.
Wears our Explore Cargo Bib Shorts

As a part-time student looking at wearable technology, Yewande has as keen an interest in sports clothing as she does in sports themselves. A rower for six years, she fancied a change of scenery and cycling seemed a safe bet. Over two years on, Yewande is a keen track cyclist, a member of the SES Racing Track Cycling Sprint Team and regularly tests Rapha products.

Anna Mcleod

Ultra endurance mountain bike racer.
Wears the Explore Cargo Bib Shorts.

Any chance she gets, Anna is out on her bike, or rather bikes. Road, cross, mountain bike, she races them all and has already stood atop the podium earlier this year. She has raced some of the toughest ultra-endurance races in Europe, riding the length of France and the breadth of the Italian Dolomites en route to impressive victories. This season, Anna is taking her riding to the next level with insights from a coach and entries to high-level UCI races.

How did you start out cycling?

I started off by commuting to work just to save a bit of cash then, I entered a sportive called Ride London. That was all it took to get me hooked on cycling, after that I did a mountain bike race and thought I’d go all in and sign up to something much more difficult.

Which race did you enter?

I entered the French Divide, a 2,500km race across France that is almost entirely off-road and completely self-supported. I really enjoy riding off-road and going completely off grid.

Did discomfort affect you on the French Divide?

That race took me over twelve days to complete. Most of it is off-road so at some of the overnight stops there isn’t to option to grab a shower or wash your bib shorts. You have to be so careful to avoid saddle sores. Luckily, I didn’t have any issues but others weren’t so lucky.

How do you rate the new Explore pad?

I was always a massive fan of Rapha’s bib shorts, having raced across France and Italy in them. The old shorts set the bar very high but the new Explore pad in the Cargo Bib Shorts are noticeably better.
The highest compliment I can pay is that I don’t really notice them while I’m riding. The pad wicks sweat incredibly well without ever becoming damp and provides a level of support that’s great for long days.

Jess Duffy

Freelance producer and amateur road racer.
Wears our Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts.

Jess has a more varied cycling history than most. Like many, she started cycling as a student but since then has gone on to play competitive bicycle polo, lead cycling proficiency courses and raced for three years at the highest level of domestic UK competition. Despite her experiences, she remains as enthusiastic as ever about the sport she loves.

Latoyah Clark

Bike messenger from Hackney, East London.
Wears our Core Cargo Shorts.

A hectic schedule of around thirty drop offs each day leaves London bike messenger Latoyah with little time for stops. Of all the women who tried our new chamois pads over five rounds of testing, none ride as consistently as Latoyah. With practical mesh pockets to hold her tools and snacks, the Core Cargo Shorts are now her go-to pair.

How did you become a bike messenger?

It always seemed like a dynamic, exciting job, especially in the summer when the weather in London is actually quite nice. After working in fashion for a while, I decided I needed to be outside more often and switched.

How does a normal day unfold?

I start out from Hackney which is just north of the City, the main financial hub of London. I normally pick up a few jobs here in the morning but I have a radio with me all day so I just tune in and the jobs crackle through the airwaves.

Jess Morgan

Amateur track racer, fixed gear enthusiast.
Wears the Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts.

Cycling started out as a cheap way of getting around London for Jess but has become a full blown obsession over the last six years. A fixed gear crit racer first and foremost, last September, she completed a challenge of a very different kind, riding over 350km in a single day on Rapha’s annual Manchester to London ride.

Three new chamois pads designed specifically for women, each three years in the making, all with a single goal: to make our women’s bib shorts the most comfortable in the world.

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