Being British there’s something in my heart for Rapha. I have been a Rapha fan, since 2007 when it was just starting up in the USA. Now in 2016, they have new product lines, one specifically called Core. It’s a line of apparel designed by the folks at Rapha for a more affordable price with high-end features that this brand knows too well.
“The Core collection is about optimising innovative fabrics and processes across the entire collection to reduce production hours and wastage. For example, the leg-gripper trim reappears in the jersey back, the material for the zip guard is used again on the sleeve tips, and bindings use rolled edges. This means we can produce Core garments without compromise, leading to a new standard for everyday cycling apparel.”
– Alex Valdman, Head of Design
I have collected a lot of gear over the years, I have tons of shorts which have what I call half life. One thing I do know well is that having nice gear ultimately improves your on bike experience. You feel better, you ride better and you are happier.
The new Rapha Core bib shorts are mighty impressive, sharing a lot of higher end technology and construction with the Classic and Pro Team shorts but at a much more affordable price point of $150 vs $290. When compared to the other brands $150 bib shorts, these are hands down winners. The first thing you notice about the shorts are that they have a similar sensation to their very good stablemate the “Classic Shorts”. As with everything Rapha – the hand-feel of the materials is top notch and the grades and finishes are excellent. The sheen on the Core shorts is a little more than the classic and the pro, so they look a touch shinier. I would say the Classic’s are the least / most matte finish.
A similar sensation to their higher end stable-mate the Classic short
The leg grippers on the Core are the largest I have seen, much more surface area than the Pro or the Classic (see photo), this for me is good and bad, a little inconvenience putting them on, as they do not slide on as easy (especially if you have super hairy legs), but much more gripping power when actually on, or even better when gripping knee or leg warmers. The silicone looks and feels durable with a fine criss-cross pattern which I can only guess is there to provide extra tooth “grippyness”
As with other Rapha products the Core shorts have a small inspirational quote printed on the inside of the straps. This one by Alex Valdman his is a nice touch, something they don’t have to do, but it feels good having it there. Alex is head of design at Rapha and also the guy that brought you the Giro New Road collection last year.
The Core shorts fit comfortably and are a nice length on the leg, the material is taught and holds great. There’s no snagging on the saddle and no excessive material to cause chaffing. The seams are all of the flatlock variety and you don’t feel them. One thing I did notice is that I could feel the label on these shorts, hopefully, a detail that Rapha will fix. The label is located at the front inside of the shorts so I compared the label with my Pro and Classic shorts, as seen in the picture there are a couple of issues. (core shorts left, mid = pro and right = classic)
Firstly the Core label is very large, it’s 3x the size of the Pro. Secondly, the way the label is stitched in points the label to the center of the body aka your private areas where as on pro and Classic it points away from your body. I’m a little hesitant to cut the label as sometimes cutting a label can create a sharp edge. Fortunately. I know Rapha test their product well, so by the time you get into some Core this will be fixed.
One thing you will notice about the Core shorts is a waistband where the straps attach, this might make them a smidge higher than other shorts. The waistband is very comfortable, of a supple material that add’s about an inch of material and makes you feel more snug. The Classic and Pro level shorts don’t have this , but instead, they extend the material which is already there in the panel of the shorts. Other than feeling a bit more secure / snug, I’m not aware of a further benefit.
Let’s talk about chamois…. we all know a good chamois means the world for the ride whether long or short. The Core shorts use a Cytech pad. It has slim, body-contoured padding and a soft, chamois finish. The Rapha logo is also debossed in the right-hand side of the pad, The pad is not as high grade or as firm as the Pro Team and lacks a couple of features such as perforation found at the front and rear of the pad. In the image below the Pro are on the top, Core on the bottom, you can see the construction and perforation difference.
The bottom line : Great bib shorts even at $200, but these are yours for $150. Grab a few pairs for your wardrobe.
Again , as with everything Rapha the hand-feel of the materials is top notch and the grades and finishes are excellent. This jersey reminds me a lot of the fit of my 2015 Pro Team jersey with a few differences. It’s definitely not a classic cut or a club cut, but it is more tailored one would say, not as aggressive and form fitting as a Pro Team jersey, but still very tailored with more room in the shoulders.
The sleeves are loose on my skinny arms where as the Pro Team is tight. The cut also feels like there is more room in upper chest and shoulders.
One thing I really like about the Core line is the understated script italicized Rapha logos, using tone on tone colourways . This also extends into the iconic armband, in the past, the armband would be a contrasting colour. In Core it’s identical to the rest of the garment as if it was not there, but is it not there?
In this case, even though it’s the same colour as the body, the band is a separate and different weight of material sewn in (see picture below, sewn in section is white on the inside), catching the light slightly differently and laying slightly different to the main body. This gives you the nice warm feeling that you still have the armband, in a unique and designed way. Nice design touches.
One thing I noticed was a stepped material construction detail, take a close look at the top of the collar to see this. This technique on several parts of the jersey where two materials are combined to use the best properties of each fabric in a way that makes sense. The collar combines a soft material inside with a material that has a little more structure on the outside, the offset is shown and makes for a decorative / designed detail. The collar is what I would call mid length, just right height for a summer jersey.
We always have stuff right, so the pockets become really important, I know some of my best loved jerseys are due to the pockets. The Core has 3 main pockets and a small off to the side zippered pocket, where I normally put dollars, but you could also put a credit card there. The pockets seem roomy and stretch a little bit, I would say they don’t stretch quite as much as the Pro Team pockets, but then again the Pro Team pockets you can really really stuff full, so I don’t see an issue with the Core pockets as far as storage. The “stepped” material design detail is applied on the tops of the rear pockets, a nice touch.
Just like on the bib shorts, the jersey gripper on the rear inside is wide, made from silicone and very grippy, it sits well and stays down when riding. The outside is smooth, well executed and feels silky. The inside and outside details are shown in the photos below. Jersey gripper
More and better jersey pictures to come, as soon as I get wise with photography 🙂