The Domestique Critique: Rapha Core Collection Jersey

WOR01-base-detail-03_MEDIUMHonestly, I don’t even understand why Rapha introduced the Core Collection. In a 2015 interview with founder Simon Mottram, he was quoted as saying:

“Some people love us, and some people don’t like us, and that is fine,” says Mr Mottram, the 49-year-old chief executive.

“But our stuff is really good, and if someone is going to spend, say, eight hours on a bike… then their clothing should be really good.

“I don’t want to make bad shorts or jerseys just to hit a [lower] price point.”
If he meant that, and he has no interest in chasing pounds and dollars, then why aim for a new price point with this collection? This step plus the off-putting designs of the womens’ collections of late make me really question Rapha’s “prestige” and worth.
Onto the jersey itself, I purchased the navy Core jersey. I wear a size Small in the Rapha Classic jersey but Medium in Souplesse so since this jersey was said to be cut for comfort and less for aerodynamics I opted for a Small. My bust size is 36 inches, waist is 30 inches, hips 38 inches and I’m 5’3″ on a good day. The jersey retails online for $115 USD.
I’ve worn it for two months now. It’s been hot weather with little shade on most of my weekend rides, but I also do a lot of weeknight riding, when the temps dip and you almost don’t need arm warmers. This jersey does best in the latter weather situation. It’s made from 100% polyester, making it a heavier weight than the Souplesse but a step lighter than the merino-mixed Brevet jersey. It’s great when summer turns cool or fall and spring are approaching.
I had some trouble with the fit in various places. Rapha is proud of the addition of a “deep, laser-cut rear gripper lined with soft silicone” but it held nothing. In 10-20 minutes of riding the entire jersey was above my belly button.
 DSC00786I went fishing for that deep rear gripper several times an hour. I was more than a bit annoyed after the first ride.
The jersey wicked sweat well and didn’t smell bad after a long, hot ride. It didn’t show any sweat marks either, something you end up being embarrassed about in the light-colored Souplesse jerseys. They attribute the odor control to the fact that the materials has been treated with an antibacterial process.
I realize after I purchased the jersey that many Rapha customers also noted in the comments section about the bunching and pulling of the material. I tugged and shimmied often trying to smooth it out. It had a lot to do with the jersey riding up, too, I think. Perhaps the jersey just wanted to come right up over my head and off?
DSC00793 copy
I also had trouble with the zipper lip. I appreciate having one there, I’ll be the first to cheer that addition on a lower-priced jersey, but I couldn’t smoothly zip all the way up without the lip interfering. This meant that I needed to remember to fix the zip before a descent or live with the gap while zipping during the downhill.
Finally, the pocket space was much appreciated for a core collection jersey. Two full-sized pockets, one narrow middle pocket, and one side packet with zipper closer gave me ample room for all the necessities even on my longest of rides. But, I have always complained about the height of Rapha’s pockets on all the jerseys I own and this one was also tough to reach back and high enough to access my things.
 The Core collection jersey could be a good introduction to Rapha if you are afraid to spend all your paycheck in one go. But you are honestly better off buying a more quality comfortable piece from their Classic collection that will bring you all the same comfort and style but is constructed better. The simplistic but rich color options are excellent and many washings didn’t change that at all. But overall, skip ahead to a tried-and-true jersey.
 [1] Only shorts are offered for women in the Core Collection. Rapha is quoted as saying this is because “feedback that the design team got for this segment was that regular shorts would be the most appealing to the widest range of current and new customers.” Bicycling Magazine apparently thinks that if enough women raise their hand in class like good little girls we’ll get bib shorts. I say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Rapha, you claim to be for the discerning cyclist, right? Every discerning female wants a pair of bib shorts so respond accordingly. Equal is equal. Comment below to share.
[2] Rapha has such a reputation for being elitist for the sake of being elitist that a spoof website floated around. Cracking good time reading it too.





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