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The new Rapha Souplesse Detachable Bib Shorts come with two big changes: a better chamois and a magnetic clasp designed to offer quick, easy pee breaks. Rapha bills these bibs as “high-tempo riding and racing bibs” and cites extensive testing with the Canyon-SRAM team in their development and testing.
Both changes improve the design immensely, but while the magnetic clasp works wonderfully, it could use some refinement.
The magnetic clasp is not a small detail in either function or actual size. It’s surprisingly large for a hard plastic bit that lives directly under the bottom half of your center jersey pocket. I can’t totally write it off though, because the clasp also works very well. The magnets pull the top and bottom together, while teeth on either side of the magnets lock the clasp in one position so it doesn’t twist or pull apart. It is quick to unclasp and re-clasp, and the bibs themselves manage to be both snug while riding and easy to pull down when you need to squat behind a bush.
If you’re one of the many women who carry an extra bottle in your jersey, you probably won’t want to wear these bibs on that day, but I had no clasp-related discomfort with softer things like vests and packets of blocks or chews in the center pocket. On the plus side, the clasp is low enough on my back that it cleared my hydration pack just fine. If you use a lumbar-style pack, you may not be so lucky.
The new chamois in the Souplesse Detachable Bibs is noticeably less bulky and more streamlined than older iterations from Rapha. Rapha uses a thin layer of high-density foam that they claim is “designed specifically for racing.” While I didn’t jump into any races with these bibs, I found the more streamlined design of the chamois an improvement over older styles during trainer intervals and 2-3-hour high-tempo rides.
The shorts themselves incorporate a yoga waistband with a high-waisted front to maintain a comfortable, secure fit in spite of the rear drop functionality. The fabric is lightly compressive and minimally seamed with reflective accents on both hips and light grippers on the thighs. There’s also stiffer, reinforcing material between you and the clasp, so you shouldn’t see much wear there over time.
In all, the shorts and chamois are great. The clasp has a lot going for it, but feels like a first-generation design and I’d love to see updates with a lower profile.