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The Rapha Women's Core Winter Tights are excellent for cold days on the bike. Designed simply to 'keep you warm while you train or commute on cold winter roads', they don't do anything especially fancy, but they do their job extremely well. Dave Arthur thought the men's ones were very good too; you can read his review here.
The plain black design features a couple of subtle logos on either thigh and at the base of the back along with a small reflective stripe at each ankle. The ankle cuffs feature an unusual ribbed design, matching the Core Winter Jacket I've also been testing. I particularly like this design and find it preferable to rubber grippers around the ankle. It also helps to make the tights very easy to get on and off. The stripes are also reflective.
Coming up pretty much true to size, the tights are an excellent fit. I don't have especially long legs for my 5ft 3in height and found the leg length on the small pair I tested perfect. The stretchy bib straps, with their slightly unusual design, are also a great fit and sit so comfortably on my shoulders I barely notice them while riding.
The chamois isn't quite the best I have ever tried – the Assos T.laalalai shorts win that one – and is bulkier than some, but that's not to say it's uncomfortable. In fact quite the opposite, it stayed in place well and caused no chafing or discomfort on long rides.
The inside of the tights is lovely and fleecy, and they're incredibly cosy on chilly days. They kept me lovely and warm without being too thick, never becoming uncomfortably warm while climbing or doing efforts. I'd want something thicker for sub-zero riding, but up to that point these are ideal.
At £120, the Core tights come with a lower price tag than we'd usually expect from Rapha, being part of its 'more affordable' line. (Rapha's Souplesse Winter Tights are another £75.) Okay, they're still not cheap, but knowing the quality and durability you get from Rapha garments, I'd say they are worth the money and would make a great investment for winter. They're £10 cheaper than the Rivelo Monsal tights Tass tested last winter, and she wasn't overly keen on the pad.
If £120 is still too much, keep an eye out for our reviews of women's tights from Sportful, dhb and Santini, ranging from £80-£99.99. Or you could always go for the Core bibs without pad at £95.
Simple, stylish and effective, they do everything you want from a pair of cold weather tights
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Rapha Women's 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?
Rapha says: The Women's 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 put through your full range of motion.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Same pad as Women's 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
Really nice, comfortable fit, nothing shifts around while riding and good leg length and bib length. All in all, nigh-on perfect.
Came up true to size as expected.
Pad was comfortable for longer winter rides and the all-round comfort from the tights as a whole was exceptional.
At £120 these aren't cheap, but it's not a bad price for a great, quality pair of winter tights.
How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
They wash on a 30 degree cycle as with the majority of kit, and I had no issues at all.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really brilliant; they do the basics very well and kept me warm and comfortable on winter training rides. I wanted to wear them every day!
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Not sure I can pick just one thing, but if I had to then probably the fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing I especially disliked.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
Use this box to explain your score
These tights do everything that Rapha claims and I have really struggled to find fault with them. I'd say they're exceptional; buy them and you'll have a new favourite piece of winter gear.
About the tester
I usually ride: Planet X London Road My best bike is: Bowman Palace:R
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, track
Ashia is a Maths student at the University of Bath and has been riding and racing bikes for the past 6 years after a track taster session at her local velodrome had her hooked. Most weekends, she can be found out racing, be it track, road, criteriums, time trials, triathlons, or cyclocross. Whilst she is fiercely competitive and loves to race, she is still on the look out for anyone hiring a "full time cafe rider" when she graduates.