By Brandon Bilyeu
Core Jersey: $80
Core Bibshorts: $115
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: online, retail
Core Jersey: Red, Green, Dark Green, Yellow, Pink, Black, Violet, Navy, Light Blue, Turquoise, Off-White
Core Bibshorts: Black, Black/White, Dark Navy/White
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: 25+ hours
Core Jersey: XS-XXL
Core Bibtights: XS-XXL
Reviewer Measurements: 5’10” (178cm), 150 lbs (68 kgs), 33″ (84cm) waist, 33″ (84cm) inseam, 37″ (94cm) chest. Size Medium fit me well, see additional fit comments below.
Rapha Core Collection
Rapha has a reputation for quality kit, but also for steep prices. What is overlooked by many is Rapha’s value-oriented Core Collection. At surprisingly affordable price points you still get Rapha quality and style, but with less bells and whistles that drive up the costs. Designed as everyday riding kit, the Core Collection prioritizes function and durability over aerodynamic fit and exotic materials.
Core Jersey – Relaxed Fit, Relaxed Price
- Relaxed fit, sits just off the skin
- Many color choices with Rapha’s signature white armband
- Mid-weight materials are hard wearing and should last many seasons
- Full length zipper
- Three rear open pockets plus one zippered
- Men’s and Women’s versions available
- Stiff front zipper needs two hands to open/close
- A little heavy for hot days, but there is a Core Lightweight Jersey
The Rapha Core Jersey sticks to the essentials to provide comfort and function. A full-length zip makes for easy on/off and venting. Three rear pockets provide plenty of storage room for long rides and a fourth zippered pocket keeps small valuables secure. The solid waistband with grippers at the rear holds the jersey down and supports loaded pockets. The sleeves are mid-length and do ride up a little due to the lack of grippers, but remain comfortable. The mid-weight material, while not ideal for high summer, feels like it will last forever and still looks like new after numerous washings.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference between the Core Jersey and more race-oriented jerseys is the fit. Skin tight jerseys might be great for racing and Wednesday Worlds, but are not exactly the most comfortable for recreational riders who like unrestricted breathing and not showing off their midriff at the coffee shop. The Core Jersey cut is a moderate step back from race cut with the material siting just off the skin and a longer torso. The Rapha size chart proved accurate and size Medium fit me well. Worth noting is that if you want a tighter fit sizing down will likely work quite well because the long torso will keep the pocket location from moving up to your shoulder blades.
Fit and comfort on the bike is very good. As expected, the long torso does bunch up around the waist, but a fair tradeoff for a good fit off the bike. The pockets are well located for easy access and are generous in size and stretch. The looser fit does catch a little more wind, but the heavier weight material means there is no flapping in the wind. I tested the yellow color and appreciated the added visibility, as well as the low-key styling and small Rapha branding.
My only really complaint is the front zipper. It is small gage and there is a lot of friction so single-handed zipping is impossible. If you tend to constantly move the zipper for ventilation then the Core Jersey might be a little frustrating. The good news is the same zipper is used for the pocket so there is no chance of the zipper sliding down and dumping your valuables along the roadside.
Bottom Line – At this price point I am very impressed with the quality of the Core Jersey. Nothing feels cheap or compromised and it should last for many seasons. A great option as a go-to jersey for your non-race days.
- Good fit with plenty of stretch to accommodate all body types
- Comfortable and well placed chamois
- Soft leg grippers and no sausage leg
- Cargo version available
- Black or white bib strap options
- Men and women versions available
- Chamois fall a little short for really long days in the saddle
The Rapha Core Bibshorts are excellent, especially at this price point. Starting at the bottom, you get modern raw edge leg grippers with silicone dots, but for cost savings this edge trim is a separate panel sewn onto the shorts instead of a continuation of the short itself. The edge trim and short material compression is fairly well-matched resulting in only slight ‘sausage leg’ syndrome. Rapha utilizes flatlock stitching for most of the seams which helps avoid chaffing and irritation. The legs offer plenty of stretch, mild compression, and are a more classic three-quarter length, not the modern to-the-knees cut. The short portion is available in black or dark navy.
The bib straps attach to the high waist of the shorts and have a large cutout in the rear to help dissipate heat. The solid, thin strap material has hemmed edges that are surprisingly low profile so I didn’t notice any pressure points. To avoid black bib straps showing under light colored jerseys the Core bibs are available with either black or white straps.
Chamois comfort is quite personal, but I got along with the Rapha Classic chamois just fine. Moderately thick and relatively low-density foam provides good comfort and support without being intrusive. A center channel avoids pressure where you don’t want it and the soft cover feels good against the skin. I found that up to 5 hours in the saddle was great, but beyond that was I starting to wish for a denser foam.
The fit should definitely cater to a wide range of body types with ample stretch throughout the shorts and straps. This translated to good comfort both on the bike and off, with no straps crushing your sole or bunched up material when standing Size medium fit me well, snug on my fairly large thighs and cut a little generous in the torso, more friendly to those who don’t shy away from mid-ride cake and after ride beer.
Bottom Line – The Core Bibshorts offer a price to performance/comfort ratio that is very compelling. If you want great bibshorts but don’t want to spend $200+ a pair, I recommend you look at the Rapha Core Bibshorts.
Brandon Bilyeu is an avid recreational roadie who lives in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys road, track and ‘cross racing. He’s also a year-round bike commuter and is a mechanical design engineer by trade. Click to read Brandon’s full bio.