Rapha is a cult brand that's loved by many, but thanks to the oft commented on price tags, the kit is coveted by even more longing riders who dream of owning their clothing but just can't justify the spend.
Enter 'Core' the new capsule range which features one jersey in three colour options, and waist shorts for women. Men have the option of bib shorts which aren't available in a women's fit with this range - Rapha say their current best sellers for women are waist shorts, but they hope to add bibs soon.
The jerseys still come in at £75, with shorts at £80 - this might seem pricey compared to some brands, but next to Rapha's more premium offerings, this is a major drop in spend for the customer.
The kit sits at a similar price point to the Team Sky Replica kit, which wouldn't have been to all tastes. The chamois in the shorts is the same padding used for Classics and Pro Team Kit - clearly Rapha have kept a dedication to absolute quality where they feel it really matters. Attention has also been paid to keeping the fabric breathable, and to the practical details - for example a zipped pocket is still included and the jersey is finished with a silicone impregnated rear gripper to ensure it stays in place on the bike.
Savings come from using fewer panels in the shorts, fewer stitching styles, and slightly cheaper bands on the grippers around the sleeves and short cuffs.
We’ve yet to try this kit out on a ride, due to the general wintery nature of February conditions. However, at first try we’re impressed with the attention to detail and extra features, such as the colour match zip and puller, white Rapha armband on the inside of the left sleeve and stylish wide finishing hems.
We do notice, in a nod to Euro styling, the shorts seem somewhat longer than those we’re used to, finishing not far above the knee, and the jersey is also fairly short.
We were pleased to note that the waist band fits high, just below the belly button, to ensure they’ll never fall down or become dislodged, and there’s a wide band at the front to reduce the chances of any nasty digging in. The rear band is however a fairly standard elasticated affair, which reminds us a bit of our Granny's M&S trousers and probably wouldn’t be our first choice. The good news is it doesn’t appear to dig in at all, though, which is what really matters.
The kit is sized much like the Classics Range - we wore an XSmall jersey with Small shorts, and we'll be bringing you a full review soon. The Core range is available to buy now, and you can see it here.