The Rapha leg warmer is insulating, comfortable, and with a panelled construction that eliminates chafing. The cut is extremely close, however, and we’d recommend considering a size larger than usual.
The conditions of our test period provided temperatures from zero degrees to eight or nine for a series of rides begun early in the morning and completed around midday. The Rapha leg warmer kept us warm on each.
As might be expected from Rapha, a brand with its flag planted firmly in the premium sector of the cycle market, this leg warmer is far removed from the traditional single piece of fabric rolled into a tube and secured by a single line of stitching. Not only is it left and right specific, but it has a back and front, too. Happily, labels stitched to the inside of each guided us through this sartorial minefield. Correct orientation ensured the zips rested on the outside of the leg and placed one of the many panels formed by the various seams above the knee.
Such attention to detail resulted in a knee warmer that was not only aesthetically pleasing but also more comfortable than many we’ve tested, typically those that place a single seam at the back of the leg. That said, it remained, when all was said and done, a leg warmer, and cyclists with limited budgets might purchase a simpler design and reinvest savings in garments where a sophisticated construction is likely to yield greater benefit.
Our test pilot, a 5’11”, 11-stone rider, with the ‘guns’ you might expect after 25 years of competitive riding, found Rapha’s medium sized leg warmer tight to pull on, and reported a close fit that demanded a sympathetic approach to prevent seams from popping and damage to the ankle zips. Despite being able to ride without discomfort, he would still have opted for size large to prevent a certain ‘shortness’ at the ankle caused by positioning the narrow opening on the thigh. We compared the width of the opening with the hem of the Pro Team Thermal Bib-Short with which it was tested (click here for our ‘first look’), and which is designed to grip a lower, narrower part of the thigh, just above the knee. The opening of the leg warmer was only marginally wider.
The Rapha leg warmer is an insulating and comfortable item for cold weather riding with a construction more sophisticated than most of its type. Such sophistication commands a price, however.
Size: small, medium, large