Rapha Core bib shorts – review

Rapha's most affordable bib shorts to date don't skimp on quality or comfort

When Rapha recently launched the Core range they declared it as ‘the new standard in everyday cycling apparel’ – applying the London-based firm’s renowned obsessive attention to detail to a keener price point. The Core bib shorts, while not cheap at £100, are competitively prices, and offer a lot in terms of performance and, on top of that, value for money when compared to more expensive shorts.

While the Core jersey, which we’ve already reviewed, and bib shorts don’t have all the bells and whistles of Rapha’s more expensive products, Rapha also say they’ve managed to save cost by reusing fabrics across the range. For example, the same trim is used on the jersey as on the shorts’ leg gripper, so there’s a saving there. Rapha also say they’ve reduced wastage and production time, so, as far as they’re concern, the Core range isn’t necessarily about producing second-rate kit, but getting the best value for money at a competitive price point.

Rapha introduced the Core range, made up of a short sleeve jersey and bib shorts, in February
  • Specification

  • Price: £100
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Size tested: M
  • Website: Rapha

Starting from the centre of the Core shorts, the chamois is exactly the same as Rapha’s Classic bib shorts – I’ve ridden those for several years and always found the pad to be comfortable and durable. The first ride in these was good from the first pedal stroke. If you’re familiar with the £160 Classic shorts, you’ll know what to expect here, and if you’re not then the pad is the top-of-the-range model from Italian chamois specialists Cytech.

So the pad’s the same, but the rest of the shorts are slightly different in panel design to what you’ll find further up the range. Notably, the waist band which connects the leg panels to the shoulder bib straps is now three pieces of fabric, in stead of one. This adds a great deal of stretch, allowing for a better fit for a wider variety of riders. On the flip side, the extra stretch in the fabric mean the shorts don’t quite have the same snug, racy fit as higher up the range.

However, all in all, the cut is excellent, with the six panel construction following the contours of the legs well, and ensuring a really good fit when pumping away on the pedals. The flat locked seams are wide, comfortable and strong, therefore combining longevity with comfort. The subtle logo placement on the leg and lower back are very in-keeping with the usual Rapha style, and don’t look to be wearing any time soon. The shoulder straps are also wide, supportive and comfortable.

The leg gripper are equally wide and sit well against the skin, initial misgivings about the lack of ’stickiness’ in the gripper fabric proved unfounded and they stayed in place when riding. There’s little or no undue movement in the fabric, whether the leg grippers of lycra itself, during hard efforts or prolonged periods in the saddle, to the point where I had to consciously remind myself to pay attention to what the shorts are doing – and that’s only a good thing.

The Core bib shorts use the same Cytech chamois as Rapha’s more expensive £160 Classic shorts

The shorts were tested in temperatures down to around eight or nine degrees with knee warmers, and in recent warmer weather on their own, and I have no doubt they’ll continue to perform well as the temperature rises again heading into summer.

The final thing to mention is that the shorts are available in black and white (though only the colour of the bib straps) for men and just black for women, though there are also women’s waist shorts.

While the shorts don’t have the bells and whistles of Rapha’s more expensive kit, there’s certainly no skimping on quality or attention to detail


There’s a definite sense when wearing the Core bib shorts that they’ve benefited from Rapha’s decade-long experience in making more expensive kit – the shorts don’t feel cheap or compromised, but you’d hope that’s the case given the price tag is still very much the upper end of mid-range. The bib shorts feel light and relatively simple but there isn’t any element that lets them down or makes them feel drastically inferior.

Good shorts are central to a good ride; get these right and you’ll feel the difference. And that’s the point of the Core range – the shorts may not have the absolute ‘Sunday best’ quality of further up the Rapha range but you’ll use these again and again, without any complaints. And they make Rapha clothing, and the associated quality, that little bit more accessible.


  • Excellent, top-level pad
  • Sensible, flexible fit
  • Trademark Rapha quality and style at a more accessible price


  • Not much to complain about at all
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