If you're looking for comfortable bib shorts for every occasion that won't cost the earth, then it's well worth considering the Rapha Core shorts. They get all the basics right and look great too.
Excellent leg grippers
Leg length may not suit everyone
'Stick with what you know' is not a mantra you should probably carry into every aspect of your life, but when it comes to bib shorts, it's one that can be particularly helpful.
Since trying the Rapha Core bib shorts, they've become my go-to shorts - I've struggled to find anything that suits me better.
That includes Rapha's own Pro range of shorts, its more premium offering compared to Core's more entry level position.
At £85 (direct through Rapha) a pair still, it may not be considered entry level for everyone, but I definitely feel the quality lives up to this price point in this instance.
The Rapha Core shorts are built around the Classic chamois, used across the whole Rapha Classic range. It potentially doesn't have the technical build of some of the pads in the higher range shorts, but it's simply designed and I've found it extremely comfortable.
See more: Rapha Core bib short at Rapha.cc
Compared to the Pro shorts, which run quite tight and could ride up around the crotch, the Core shorts have a secure fit that wasn't too tight and provided no chafing. In fact, you may want to consider sizing down in the Core shorts compared to the Pro versions. I'm a comfortable medium in the Core shorts but sit on the cusp between medium and large in the Pro versions.
The fabric, which is made up of panels flatlock stitched together, has a nice stretch and is breathable enough that I would automatically opt for these for my longest rides.
The leg grippers are potentially my favourite part of these shorts. Sizeable silicone leg grippers keep the shorts in place but aren't constricting and I've never been concerned about these loosening up or changing fit over time.
One thing that may not be to everyone's taste is the length of the legs in the Core shorts. They're quite long with potentially a good couple of centimetres more than the the standard Pro shorts. Unlike the Pro range, there's no option for longer or shorter bib shorts when you buy the Cores. I really like a longer cut short, but it's something to consider before you buy.
They also come up fairly high around the waste. It means you won't get any accidental belly on show when you're off the bike, but it also means they aren't the easiest for access when you need a comfort break.
Still, I've been finding the high waste very comfortable and along with the wide, stretchy bibs, give a secure fit. The bibs are another good addition here. They're nice and wide and don't dig into your shoulders and have an even distribution across your back.
One small gripe I've had in using these over a number of years now is that the fabric seemed wear and thin reasonably quickly when washed a lot. It's hard to say how that might compare to other shorts as I've used these much more than anything else, but it was disappointing that within a year I needed to replace them.
See more: Rapha Core bib short at Rapha.cc
Nonetheless, these are my number one shorts right now and I think represent good value for the quality of them. Personal preference of course may mean these aren't quite as suited for you (if you like a shorter leg for example), but if you're looking for reliable and all round bib shorts for any occasion, these are worth considering.
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Follow on Twitter: @richwindy
Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.
An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL6 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).
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