Rapha Core has been a solid move opening up their signature quality & performance in a stripped back, simplified line-up at more affordable prices. Now Core expands, also updating some of the original, bringing with it Rapha’s excellent cargo shorts, a new line of kids’ jerseys, and those updated Core basics.

Rapha Core Cargo Bibs, and Shorts for men & women

When Rapha debuted their Explore Cargo Bib Shorts last spring, I was one of many to be a little skeptical. That was less on the benefits of more carrying capacity, but just trying to imagine what best to stuff in those side pockets. (Rapha’s banana hauling photos were the root of much fervent discussion!)

After riding in them it became quickly apparent that the extra pockets are super convenient, whether carrying an extra snack, even a heavy (& expensive) smartphone, or as a place to stash your used snack wrappers. As silly as it sounds, it is just quicker to access leg pockets than jersey pockets. And having more space to carry stuff means less need for bags on the bike for medium length rides, or just freeing you to ride in a t-shirt for more casual times on the bike.

Now that we are all sold on the cycling cargo shorts idea, Core Cargo means lower prices, more accessibility to more riders, and just more options. Men get the most choice (sorry ladies) with a $150/135€ pair of Core Cargo Bibs or $130/115€ Core Cargo Shorts. Both share the same two leg mesh pocket design with curved tops to get your gear in or out, plus Rapha’s excellent Classic premium chamois pad used in higher-spec shorts. Leg openings are laser cut and use simple printed on silicone grippers.

The bibs add a stretchy mesh bib strap top that also gets a pair of wide rear mesh pockets to carry more under a t-shirt (essentially in the same position as normal jersey pockets on the small of your back.) Otherwise they share the same supportive knit fabric, and minimal flatlock seams.

Women’s Core Cargo keeps it simple in shorts. You still get those two big mesh side pockets (one on each leg) but in a simple pair of shorts. We’ve got a rider already loving them, especially for riding when bib straps can be a hassle (think colder weather, where they make for easier, faster nature breaks.) Many women deal with fewer pockets on jerseys and biking tops (especially gravel & mountain bike tops), and our testers have already started to pick the Rapha cargo shorts out as a good first layer addition for mountain biking as well, if only to carry a wallet, keys & a small snack.

The $130/115€ Women’s Core Cargo Shorts use Rapha’s newly updated premium Classic women’s chamois pad for all-day comfort. Seams are kept to a minimum around the wide, soft waistband, cut lower in the front for comfort while pedaling. The shorts use a dense black fabric that offers a slight compression fit and no transparency, and legs are held in place with laser cut edging & printed silicone grippers.

If you want more storage, there is an Explore version of bibs – the Women’s Cargo Bib Shorts – that add the same bib back pockets as the mens too, with a great lightweight & fast drying Shadow fabric.

Rapha Core Jersey II

The new Core Jersey II is a bit more than a simple updated aesthetic. Of course the most obvious change is the inclusion of Rapha’s signature white arm band. The first Core opted for a single color look (even if the actual arm band was still there), but now it looks like Rapha has prioritized simple branding over trying to distinguish their separate jersey levels. That’s a boon for the entry into the Rapha ‘look’, since these Core jerseys sell for at least 30% less than any other jerseys in Rapha’s performance line-up.

The revamped $80/70€ Core Jersey II actually drops quite a bit in price, while getting a new, softer fabric and an updated fit. Rapha calls the new fabric a ‘marl’, essentially made from two color threads that give a little bit of a textured (or heather) look in contrast to the more shiny original Core. The new jersey also gets a closer fit in the shoulders, plus adds a stronger elastic opening to the 3+1 rear pockets for more secure carrying.

Rapha Core, Kids' Core jersey

The big (or rather small) new addition to the Core Jersey family is Kid’s Core. For $50/40€ you get all the features of the adult Core, scaled down for kids. Start them young, Kid’s Core comes in five sizes for riders from 116-164cm/3’10”-5’5″ tall, geared towards a 5-14 year-old riding crowd.

Rapha Core Rain Jacket II

Much like the new jersey, the revamped Core Rain Jacket II gets mostly updated styling as Rapha looks to be pushing for a more consistent look across all ranges. The big outward update is a return to their white contrasting armband vs. the single color look of the original Core’s debut.

The new $135/120€ Core Rain Jacket II is actually a tiny bit cheaper in Europe & the US, presumably due to a weakening Pound (since the UK price remains unchanged). It still is a no-frills taped seams, packable, fully waterproof jacket with a close-fitting cut that will keep you protected when the rain clouds open up.

Always important for refreshing your new season of kit (just a bit of sarcasm here), the updated Core comes in a new range of colors for 2019. Thankfully, Rapha Core sticks to some basics with the men’s, women’s & kids Core Jersey II all coming in the same simple black, dark olive green, navy blue, and signature hi-vis pink.

The men’s Core Rain Jacket II offers black, dark gray, navy blue, or hi-viz chartreuse yellow.

The women’s Core Rain Jacket II has one less color adding light blue to the black and navy options.

All of the new expanded Core is available now from Rapha direct or in-store through their global clubhouses.



  1. Rguy on

    People smiling and riding dirty bikes…I like this new image Rapha is putting out there rather than the tired ‘grumpy dude looking tough’ thing they had going for a while.

  2. Cryogenii on

    Wonder if they’ll add mountain biking as an option when you submit an online review of their kit…

    Just love the idea that it gives them kittens when I get my Rapha kit all muddy!

    Seriously, nice stuff though. Cargo bibs looks great for gel storage, instead of stuffing them up my shorts legs.


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