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Rapha Core bibshorts review

9 Jul 2020

The Rapha Core bibshorts bring the brand's style and comfort at a budget price

Cyclist Rating: 
Good fit • Hemless leg grippers • Yoke bibs
Pad is not as sophisticated as some • No reflectives

Rapha launched its Core range a few years ago. It cuts down on fancy features to deliver the basics at a price comparable to other brands’ offerings.

At around half the price of Rapha’s other bibshorts, the Core shorts offer a significant saving, although you still get lots of gloss black Rapha logos, so people are left in no doubt which brand you’re wearing. Otherwise, the visible parts of the Core bibshorts are uniformly black, with no reflectives to up your visibility.

But Rapha hasn’t skimped where it matters. That’s particularly true of the seatpad. It’s the same design as used in the original Classic bibshorts, although the latest Classic II has had an update.


It doesn’t feel quite as structured as some, with a central section of uniform thickness. But the padding is super-dense against the saddle, helping to keep your sitbones comfortable.

The edges of the pad are thin enough not to rub and they’re flatlock-stitched into the shorts, so there’s little chance of the seams riding up and irritating – that’s not a feature even on some flashy shorts.

Buy now from Rapha for £85

There’s a comfortably soft outer covering and a significant in-built curve to the pad that helps to prevent rucking.

So the Core bibshorts’ pad is really comfortable and which minimises the chance of getting saddle sore, even on long hot rides. It’s well supported by the fabric of the shorts too. That fabric is quite dense and elastic, so the fit is close and supportive.

Again, there’s not the range of different fabrics found in some more expensive shorts, but it does its job well and many of the seams are flatlocked so they lay flat and won’t rub.


Rapha hasn’t skimped on the leg grippers either. It’s an area where lower priced shorts sometimes save some cash by using simple sewn hems and narrow grippers. But the Core shorts have a wide silicone gripper and raw cut bottom edges, so they hold in place well without biting into your legs.

Up top, the bibs have a yoked design, with a large open section across the middle of the back. It’s an area that can get sweaty on warmer rides, so one less layer of fabric here is helpful.


There’s plenty of stretch, the straps are wide and, although they’re hemmed, the bibs hold the shorts up well without being noticeable as you ride. The material used is close woven, rather than being a more open mesh as in Rapha’s pricier bibs.

Buy now from Rapha for £85

Another nice touch is that you can get the Rapha Core bibshorts with either black or white bibs, the latter so that they show less under light coloured top layers.


A final detail, in true Rapha fashion there is a panegyric printed on the inside to enthuse you for the ride ahead: in this case an ode to riding on California’s Marin Headlands.

Although they’re a bit warm for the hottest days, the Core bibshorts are great for the usual British summer, where you want a bit more insulation for early starts.

They do everything you’d want from a pair of bibshorts extremely well, too, without pretensions to make you into a pseudo-pro. There’s a good reason why they’re often sold out on Rapha’s site.


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