Englishmen are known to have a penchant for fine fabrics. However, Rapha prove that they’ve got a knack for design and trends, too. The Core Cargo Bib Shorts have 4 pockets and are the more affordable of the Men’s Rapha models on test, going for € 120. Can they keep up with their higher priced siblings, which cost twice as much?

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: Which are the best cargo bibs of 2023 – 13 cargo bib shorts in review.

The 2023 Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts | € 120

Specs & quality of Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts

First off, the Core Cargo Bib Shorts are very high-quality, and the materials don’t feel cheap either. We wouldn’t have thought that there‘s another Rapha model in the running that’s twice as expensive. The outer fabric of the Rapha Core Cargo Bib is densely knit and is intended to offer more comfort by reducing the number of seams around the hip. Personally, we liked the fit, though we couldn’t tell if that was due to the seamless hip area. Thanks to flat seams at all other relevant points, there are no pressure points here either.
Rapha offer a 30-day free return period. Moreover, if you damage the bibs in a crash, you can send them in for a free repair – that’s one way Rapha are making the industry more sustainable!

Cargo functionality of the Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts

With two pockets on the back and one on each leg, the bibs land around mid-field in terms of cargo carrying capacity. The back pockets measure 14 x 12 cm in size and are cut straight, so nothing can tumble out sideways. However, you have to reach into the pockets from above to access your things, which requires some practice. The leg pockets are well-placed and generously sized. Like some other manufacturers, Rapha print the logo in the pockets. This looks cool with the pockets empty, but less so with them half-full, and they’re nowhere to be seen with the pockets completely full. The four-pocket layout with two on the back and one on each leg is the most common in our test field. And it works. With the pockets empty, the dark blue shorts are very inconspicuous and can also pass as “normal” bibs.

The leg pocket with the logo inside.

Safety/visibility of the Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts

We must criticise Rapha for the fact that they skimp on reflectors for the Core Cargo Bib Shorts, reserving them for the considerably more expensive sister model. We believe that a pair of € 120 bibs should also have reflectors – visibility comes first!

Comfort of the Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts

The Rapha Classic chamois also treated our backsides well. Like all competitors for the title of the best cargo bibs, the chamois is covered with a soft, low-friction fabric, and the padding itself is pleasantly firm and seems to be very durable. Nevertheless, it sits through on very long rides.

The Chamois of Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts.

The bibs feel particularly comfortable in mild to warm weather, and we never experienced a heat build-up during our test rides, even at over 30° C. And this is despite the fact that the bibs are cut rather high around the hips and abdomen and are almost entirely closed around the shoulders. This resulted in a supportive feeling while riding, which we enjoyed.
The Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts are also available without straps, like the women’s model on test, which is strapless only. Of course, you don’t get back pockets on the strapless variant.

For about half the cost of their more expensive sibling, the Rapha Cargo Bib Shorts, the Core Cargo Bib Shorts are a pair of high-quality shorts offering plenty of storage capacity and comfort. The fact that they don’t come with reflectors is a real downside. Nevertheless, the Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts are a good choice at € 120, perfect for all riders who appreciate Rapha’s workmanship and comfort but don’t want to pay the price of the higher-end model.


  • good workmanship
  • large pockets


  • lack of reflectors/limited visibility
  • chamois sits through on long rides
  • back pockets are difficult to reach while riding

For more info visit rapha.com.

The test field

For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: Which are the best cargo bibs of 2023 – 13 cargo bib shorts in review.

All cargo bib shorts in review: Café du Cycliste Chloe | Isadore Women’s Gravel Bib Shorts | Rapha Women’s Core Cargo Shorts | Rapha Women’s Cargo Bib Shorts | ROSE ROSE UNPAVED bib W II women’s gravel bib shorts | Café du Cycliste Helene | Café du Cycliste Virginie | Canyon Signature Pro Cargo Bibshort | Isadore Gravel Bib Shorts | MAAP Alt_Road Cargo Bib | POC Rove Cargo Bib Shorts | Rapha Core Cargo Bib Shorts | Rapha Cargo Bib Shorts | Specialized Adventure Bib Shorts SWAT

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Words: Christoph Staudinger Photos: Peter Walker