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Three-quarter-length tights are handy in spring and autumn, but they're also incredibly popular for summer for those who don't like exposing too much leg, and Rapha's Women's 3/4 Tights are extremely comfortable, breathable and come in a variety of colours.
Usually there's a strict code of 'black is the new black' but with their updated range for 2015, Rapha are offering no fewer than three alternatives to basic black, as well as the old favourite too. Available in black, navy, grey and dark grey, they mark a pleasant departure for those craving a bit of colour in their lives, even if it remains low key.
Aside from the variety of colours, these tights have a good range of features – an overlapping V-shaped flat front to the waistband for improved comfort, silicone gripper at the higher rise lumbar area, reflective tags (on both legs, for home and abroad) and grippers at the legs. The fabric is lightweight, luxuriously soft and silky, super-stretchy, and simply screams quality.
The fit is pleasantly high at the waist, particularly at the lumbar area, meaning that the soft, supple fabric doesn't migrate south during wear - something I have encountered in the past with similarly pliable tights and shorts. The leg length is around mid-calf and should please most heights, while the stretchiness of the fabric allows for any variations on curves or otherwise.
They are extremely comfortable and the Cytech pad does just the trick for a variety of ride distances without ever feeling bulky or intrusive. The weight of the fabric is genuinely versatile, light and breathable enough for even warm conditions riding, but giving just that bit of extra coverage to make them useful for chillier conditions too. At no point did I feel uncomfortably overwarm or sweaty. The waistband stayed nicely in position and there was no bunching up at the front.
Aside from their clear quality and excellent fit and performance, these are definitely on the expensive side. Significantly more than all but the premiumest (this should be a word!) brands, they mark a significant, but safe, investment. It really does just depend on how much you like the idea of that natty little coloured cycling outfit combo...
Superbly comfortable, great looking and luxurious feeling three-quarters that perform well but at a premium price
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Make and model: Rapha Women's 3/4 Tights
Size tested: Large
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Aimed at those looking for more coverage than shorts or bibshorts.
Spot on for three-season use.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
74% Nylon/26% Elastane blend fabric
V shaped front waistband
Soft gripper at back
High grade Cytech pad
Gripper at leg bottoms
Machine Washable at 30
Superb quality fabric, excellent pad and well put together.
Performed very well under a variety of weather conditions.
Fabric should last well but being so soft it is very prone to snags from Velcro glove fastenings, seat packs etc.
Beautifully light and suitable for a variety of temperatures.
Extremely comfortable both in terms of fit and also performance of fabric and pad.
They're a premium product, with unique features, aimed at a premium buyer, and as such are a sound investment, but these are a good bit more expensive than all but the most pricey around. Personal choice dictates if they are worth it for you.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well indeed and looked great with Rapha's Brevet Jersey and Gilet.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Cut, pad, colour choices, fabric, comfort.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably, as part of a one-off full outfit; definitely in the sales; or I'd drop hints for it as a present.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
A high quality pair of attractive and flattering three-quarters with the rare choice of colours other than black, but at a premium.
Age: 42 Height: 1.65m Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: Boardman Hybrid Fi My best bike is: Specialized Ruby Elite
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.