Rapha's new Core bib tights offer excellent comfort, insulation and performance at a price that is more attainable than ever before for the London-based brand, and they're a decent rival to any other options for the same kind of money.
The Core range has been Rapha's attempt to offer a more value conscious line of essential cycling clothing, and the bib tights, along with a jacket, are brand new this winter. The tights cost £120 with a padded insert, or £95 for a pair without a pad that you wear over your favourite shorts.
Despite the lower cost compared to Rapha's high-end bib tights, there's no shortfall in the quality. These are lovely, well-made tights and feel every bit as luxurious as any other Rapha garment I've reviewed in the past.
They're made from a brushed back fleece material, soft next to the skin and providing adequate insulation for cold morning rides before the sun has woken up. The bib straps are wide and stretchy with lie-flat seams that keep the tights in place without any restriction or tightness over the shoulders. The front of the tights is cut low enough to facilitate easy comfort breaks.
Inside these padded bib tights is the same chamois as used in the previous Core bib shorts and also found in Rapha's Classic range. It's a simple no-frills padded insert made by Cytech (a highly regarded manufacturer), well shaped and with ample cushioning to provide comfort for long rides.
The fit around the thighs, knees and lower legs is excellent. The panels are smartly shaped to prevent any restriction of pedalling motion, and you can't feel the stitching against the skin. The ends of the legs have an elasticated ribbed cuff, are no zips or stirrups here, but they don't need it: they're easy to pull on and everything stays in place nicely.
Branding is kept to a minimum, just a few subtle Rapha logos, but there are some reflective ankle stripes to add visibility on winter rides. They're understated and minimalist, with a clear focus on comfort and warmth which is really all you want from a pair of winter bib tights.
Despite Rapha's attempt to offer more affordable clothing with its Core range, these tights at £120 are still certainly not cheap and may be more than many will be willing to pay. They're not as pricey as some – Pearl Izumi's Pro Pursuits and Chapeau's Club Thermal Bibtight, for example – though of course you can buy cheaper: check out our guide above. But if you want a slice of Rapha quality and performance, and you want to make a decent investment for your winter cycling, these are definitely worth a look.
Warm and comfortable bib tights without the usual big Rapha price tag, if still not cheap, but they are lovely
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Core Winter Tights With Pad
Size tested: Small
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A new standard for performance, Value and comfort
Winter training is about focussing on the foundations of fitness. Get the basics right and everything else will fall into place.
The Core range is the result of thousands of hours of riding and development work, using knowledge gained on the road to focus on the essential elements that distinguish the best riding apparel. The Core collection sets a new standard for performance, value and comfort.
The Core Winter Tight is designed to keep you warm while you train or commute on cold winter roads, with legs made of a stretchy brushed-back fleece to keep your muscles warm, and bibs constructed from a lighter, stretchier material to emphasise comfort and allow perspiration to escape. Utilising the same construction as the best selling Core Bib Short, the seams lie flat and are contoured to stay in place through your full range of motion.
This version of the Core Winter Tight features the same proven pad as used in the Core Bib Short.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Brushed back fleece legs keep your working muscles warm
Wide straps provide exceptional comfort
Reflective stripes on the calves won't be covered by overshoes
Same pad as Core Bib Short
Brushed back fleece material on the legs
Bibs are made of a lighter, stretchier material for comfort and perspiration flow
Ribbed construction of ankle cuffs matches Core Winter Jacket
Reflective ankle stripes
Subtle tonal branding
It's up to Rapha's usual high standards.
Very good performance for the money.
So far they've been impressive but I've not put a full winter of cycling into them yet.
Fit is perfect really.
Sizing is just right and what I expected.
Very good seated comfort for those long base rides this winter.
The price puts them directly in competition with some serious rivals from Alé, dhb, Pearl Izumi and others, but they go a long way to justifying themselves.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No problems at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Comfortable and insulated on cold rides.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Nice pad comfort and great fit around the lower body.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing to dislike here...
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A really good pair of bib tights that will look after your legs this winter, ideal for training rides and commuting.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.