Impressively well constructed, the Rapha Women’s Core Cargo shorts have two features I’m particularly excited about. The first is Rapha’s new women’s specific chamois, and the second is that these shorts have pockets.
‘Core’ denotes that these shorts are part of Rapha’s lower priced range and while they don’t have quite the bells and whistles of some of the premium brand’s higher-priced offerings, the quality is still exceptionally high.
A low-cut front and minimal seams around the waist mean no digging in or rolling down when riding on the drops.
Firm, comfortable Lycra feels supportive and keeps its shape without bagging, creasing or pulling. The knee-length cut and wide leg bands are also comfortable, offering good coverage without leg squish.
The shorts have a wide, soft but secure waistband and leg cuffs, which means a good fit without sausage legs. Immediate Media Co
I tested a size L which corresponds to a UK14 / US10 and it sizes up accurately in my opinion. Because the Core range is aimed at everyday riding, it’s got a slightly more generous cut than the race-focussed Souplesse range, so if you sit towards the lower end of the size range or want your Lycra to be tightly fitted, you may wish to go down a size.
The pockets are a revelation, with one on each thigh. They are made from a stretchy mesh layer that sits over the shorts and give extra, easily accessible storage for items such as phones or snacks.
I’d never considered how useful extra pockets might be and while I don’t feel they’re essential, it is extremely handy to have your phone within easy reach without reaching behind you all the time. I’ve used them way more than I thought I would, especially on longer, more adventure or touring style rides.
Another revelation is the new women’s-specific chamois pad, which was designed in-house by Rapha based on three years of research and testing.
It has a smooth top layer without built in creases or seams, sits in a pre-formed curve shape and has a medium thickness with zoned areas of support (more padding under the sit bones).
The chamois on the Core shorts is slightly different to this version which is fitted to the Souplesse shorts, but has a similar look without creases or channels. Immediate Media Co
I found it very comfortable, providing just the right amount of support and cushioning without ever feeling intrusive.
The curved shape meant that it stayed exactly in place so I didn’t end up shifting around or pulling on the shorts to get it to sit in position.
The ultimate accolade is that I forgot I was wearing it, and just got on and enjoyed riding my bike without ever having to spare it a thought.
The shorts feature a mesh pocket on each leg, which are perfect for popping in your phone, snacks or maintenance essentials. Immediate Media Co
In terms of longevity, they’ve survived many rides — I’ve even used them as liner shorts under baggies for mountain biking — plenty of washing and are still in tip-top condition.
I’ve worn the previous incarnation of these shorts and they have lasted for several years of heavy use and are still going strong, which bodes well for the Core Cargo shorts.
Take them exploring, pop them on for commuting, fill the pockets and ride in comfort.
Rapha Women’s Core Cargo cycling shorts pricing, sizing and availability
The Women’s Core Cargo cycling shorts are available via the Rapha website and Rapha Clubhouses.
Sizes: XXS to XL
Price: £95 / €115 / $130 / AU$165