First Impressions: Rapha Women's Jeans

When I found out last year that Rapha had starting offering women's jeans I was on their site looking at them faster than you can say "Ciocc."  My male friends had always spoken so highly of their Rapha jeans, and I swear that one of them has worn the same pair every day since I've known him and they still look like new.  So I was excited, and then I saw the price tag and was sad, but hey, this is Rapha we're talking about.

So imagine my surprise when my Christmas gift this year turned out to be a pair of these (thanks Mom and Dad for fueling my addictions), and after a bit of a wait to get the proper size, I finally got them to try out.

The only jeans I have to compare them to are REI's Novara jeans, which I absolutely love.  I've been meaning to write a proper review of those since I've been wearing them for well over a year, but I digress.  I was also supposed to have a pair of Ryb Denim jeans to compare these against, but I'm 90% certain I'll never actually see those.

So, here's an awkward shot of me trying to take a photo of myself wearing these jeans while riding the Feaux-khion.

Not a real Takhion.  Not even close.
These are, by definition, skinny jeans.  Rapha's site describes them as such, and for someone like me who had never worn skinny jeans ever, there was a bit of a shock factor putting them on.  They're skin tight, but not in a constricting way, more of in a fit-like-a-glove way.  Admittedly, I was at first sure that I wasn't going to like them and that they weren't for me, but after wearing them for about ten minutes I was fine.  

One thing I do want to note here is that I tried two sizes: 30 and 28 (sizes are based on waist measurements).  I tried the 30 because I wanted the jeans to be a bit bigger in the legs, but to me it didn't feel like the leg sized changed at all from the 28 to the 30, just the waist size.  And the 30s were comically big in the waist, so I ended up with the 28s.  

The material is really nice, and like all Rapha products these are high quality and extremely well made.  Little touches like the reflective Rapha logo inside the leg, the pink stitching, and the lining inside of the pockets really make these feel like way more than just your average pair of jeans.  And, off the bike, they look great and are really comfortable as well - these are definitely nice enough to use for multiple occasions.

As far as on the bike goes, I was a bit worried at first because these jeans lack the seamless crotch that other companies sometimes use.  This is made up by the fact that because these jeans are a tighter fit, there's no loose fabric to bunch up and rub and cause friction, and these really do feel like riding in cycling tights!  The seams are also offset, so even if they are a bit looser on you there won't be a problem anyway.  Plus, there's no worry about catching anything in your chain, and the material isn't cloying so these can be worn on moderate as well as cooler days.

One foot on the ground because trying to take these while riding would have inevitably resulted in my death.
 I did notice that there didn't seem to be a lot of room in the knees when I was pedaling, and that the back of the jeans (which are mid rise and supposedly come up higher in the back) sat lower than I'd like them to.  Also the pockets are sort of wimpy - I can't fit my phone in the front, which is a bummer.

So far I've done only fifty-ish miles in these on three different bikes, so I really don't have a good idea of how they'll stand up to wear and tear or if there will be any sort of break in just yet.  Here's what I can say about these compared to Novaras:

Pros: Much better looking and much more flattering.  Skinny cut means no chainring eating jeans and no irritation from loose fabric.  Comes in black and blue (I'm wearing the blue here).  No blue dye residue. 

Cons: Three times the cost.  Skinny cut might not fit all body types.  Less reflective bits.  Don't keep you quite as warm as the Novaras (and difficult to layer beyond tights underneath).  Not as much freedom of movement.  

Both jeans are comfortable, that's for sure, and both are versatile.  I feel like the Novaras are rugged enough to wear camping, and the Raphas are nice enough for a night out.  My first pair of Novara jeans lasted over a year with daily use, so I'm curious to see how well the Raphas hold up in comparison.  The biggest let down for me on these is the price, but I do know that Rapha stands behind their products and does offer repair if something like a crash happens, so there's at least that peace of mind.  

I'm just really happy that there are starting to be more options for women.  Thanks for acknowledging us, Rapha!!

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