Rapha Core Jersey and Core Bib Shorts Review
Most premium cycling brands do their best kit exceptionally well. Rapha is no exception, delivering attention to detail, high material quality, and performance to boot. Doing the basics is a bit more complicated, and arguably more difficult. Do the Rapha Core Sleeve Jersey and Core Bib Shorts deliver on the Rapha name, or are they more an exercise in vanity on Rapha’s part?
In this review, we’ll cover Rapha Core Jersey and Core Bib Shorts kit. Be sure to read our review of Rapha’s top-spec kit - the Pro Team Flyweight Jersey and Pro Team II Bib Shorts - and a direct comparison between the two coming up soon.
Rapha Core Short Sleeve Jersey
Rapha Core products make a necessary sacrifice of most details, but keep the essential goodness found in other bits of Rapha kit. The fabric of the Core Short Sleeve Jersey is fairly uniform but has a smooth, rich feel to it overall. Each Core jersey receives flatlock stitching around the shoulder seams and waist, but move to a raised hemming in most of the body and sleeve edges. The bottom back of the jersey features a rear silicone elastic gripper that keeps the jersey in place while allowing the front to move around with you. Just above that are three open pockets that are made of the same sturdy material as the rest of the jersey as well as an additional zip pocket on the side. Moving up toward the collar, the jersey sees a zip guard at the top by the chin to prevent irritation. This is accentuated by a medium-height collar that does a good job of staying upright. The edges of the collar are ribbed with a slightly more elastic material, just like the sleeves.
The soft material gives the jersey a bunch of structure, meaning the pockets don’t sag when loaded. This also means that the jersey is a bit less stretchy than others at the same price point, though I still think there is enough stretch to accommodate myriad body types.
Fit is on the relaxed side of things, with decent lateral stretch and a front that comes down fairly low. It is a bit boxier than I would like around the waist, but that shouldn’t be an issue for the vast majority. And thanks to it's classic Rapha design language, the jersey is something that looks good both on the bike and at your favorite coffee shop. The jersey itself comes in just about any color under the sun, ensuring you can match your jersey to your mood. There are always tradeoffs with cycling jerseys, regardless of price point and that remains the case here. That soft material is a bit thicker than most jerseys, which I found particularly apparent when riding in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It isn’t a bad thing; I was still able to ride in warmer temperatures without issue, but there is a price to pay for a jersey that feels so refined.
Rapha Core Bib Shorts
Finding a quality pair of bib shorts is easy with an unlimited budget, but a bit tougher at the entry points. Good thing that when you strip away the frills of Rapha’s bib shorts you still have a strong base, one that makes the Rapha Core Bib Shorts hard to beat at $115. The short material itself feels dense compared to other bibs at the same price point, offering a good amount of stretch to accommodate different leg sizes. Flatlock seams are used throughout the bib, though the seams are on the chunky side. Silicone leg grippers inside of the leg bands are similarly substantial. The bib itself has a reassuring heft to it that feels high-quality. It is also soft to the touch, and the bands are wide enough to evenly distribute load without digging into your shoulders.
One thing that may not be to everyone’s taste is that the short material comes up fairly high around the waist. The material continues past where one’s torso might bend, eliminating whatever friction there might be around the waist. Another thing to note with the Core Bib Shorts is the inseam length. It is about 1” longer than most other shorts around the same price point, so if you’re into curating sharp tan lines through the year you might need to move the short around a bit. What hasn’t found any complaints is the chamois pad. The Core shorts use the same chamois as the Rapha Classic range. It isn’t the most complex pad in the world, but in and of itself is supportive with plenty of cushion for those who want some obvious padding.
Simply put, the Rapha Core Bib Shorts are a no-frills pair of bib shorts that do just about everything well. Some parts, like the stitching and silicone grippers, are a bit bulkier than Rapha’s other kit, but they are reassuringly stout and certainly made to last. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Strip away the frills and extras, and at their core, Rapha’s core line has the goods to impress just about anyone. There is a level of refinement that isn’t always the case with cycling apparel at these price points. And while the pricepoints for Rapha’s core kit - $80 for the jersey and $115 for the bibs - aren’t bargain basement, you can’t help but feel that you’re getting a lot for your money.
Have any questions about the Rapha Core Short Sleeve Jersey, Core Bib Shorts, or Rapha apparel in general? Give us a call during business hours, or send us an email any time to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I bought a Core jersey and bib short bundle last year. I’ve had products from other big names in cycling clothing over the years and whilst there might be some who see Rapha as a bit of an elitist brand I don’t spend money on stuff for the name. These are fantastic comfortable well designed and high quality looking like brand new after over 20 washes. The pad is still spot on and the Castelli entry level shorts I bought in 2020 are faded and ready for mountain biking undershirt duties after one summer. Rapha has amazing customer service and I have been nothing but impressed.
Paul Whittle on