Brilliant sunshine and enjoyable temperatures greeted most of the Eurobike show (with the notable exception of the demo day), but Rapha’s autumn-winter range for 2014/15 looked no less stylish for being displayed in unseasonal conditions.
We cast an eye across a few key pieces for the season ahead from Team Sky’s clothing supplier, including garments in a surprisingly un-Rapha high-viz colourway, for which the London brand is claiming a first in using a fluorescent dye with a Sportwool fabric.
An impressive range of gloves, from merino liners to a lobster mitt for extreme weather, and a new range of bib-tights with high-viz panels on the back of the legs, also feature in a collection that will go on sale in mid-September. Oh, there’s a cyclo-cross shoe, too.
Let’s take a closer look.
Rapha Cross Shoe
Rapha has long maintained a commitment to cyclo-cross, supporting riders like US champion, Jeremy Powers, and Gabriella Durin, producing a separate range of ‘cross-specific clothing and hosting a racing series (‘Super Cross’), where the accent is as much upon fun as competition – a legacy, perhaps, of its involvement with the US ‘cross scene where enjoyment is the watchword, alongside the suffering.
The Rapha Cross Shoe, then, feels overdue. The sole is fashioned from Easton’s EC90 carbon, and in this regard mirrors Rapha’s Grand Tour shoe and even the Rapha Condor edition of Giro’s Factor road shoe (the American brand’s Super Natural customisable footbeds are supplied here, too) but while the material is shared, the profile differs significantly to meet the demands of the discipline.
Large and detachable dual-compound treads (the blue bits) are supplied to offer grip on uneven and unstable ground, and cleat compatibility is billed as “any two-bolt” – so Shimano’s SPD (not to be confused with SPD SL) and Crank Brothers, off the top of our head. There are removable metal toe studs, too. While an aluminium buckle is a hold over from the GT shoe, the upper is a synthetic leather rather than the more exotic yak hide, selected for ease of cleaning, say Rapha. Heel and toe are reinforced with rubber.
The Rapha Cross Shoe will be available in black, and in a range of sizes from 39 to 48, including half sizes. They’ll cost £250.
Rapha long-sleeve Brevet jersey
Rapha’s Brevet jersey evolved to meet the needs of staff members following the Paris-Brest-Paris route, a titanic, 1,200km solo effort, in which the jersey’s wide, rear pocket is something of an essential. We tested this jersey’s predecessor almost a year ago, and found much to like, while noting the not insignificant price tag. The fabric gained our approval as did Rapha’s sensible decision, in our view, to supply the jersey with a gilet, thus covering the chink in Sportwool’s armour – a lack of windproofing.
The gilet will again be supplied with the AW 2014/15 Brevet long-sleeve jersey, but the big story this year is the inclusion of a high-viz colourway: a bright pink for the men’s jersey, paired with a deep blue gilet decorated with two stripes – one white, and one pink to match the jersey – on the chest. Those seeking a more sober colour scheme may opt for the grey and chartreuse option, similar indeed to that which we tested last year. A women’s version has been added to the range this year, and here Rapha has reversed proceedings from the men’s garment, offering a deep blue jersey and pink gilet.
The Rapha long-sleeve Brevet jersey will be available in a range of sizes from XS to XXL. It will cost £205.
Rapha Pro Team Winter Padded Tights
Another first for Rapha in this latest collection is a padded Pro Team winter tight. Previously, the brand has opted for an unpadded alternative, to be worn over a padded bib-short. This new garment, they say, has been developed in response to calls from Team Sky, who are keen to take fewer garments to winter training camps.
The tight is made from Thermoroubaix fabric, hence the brushed lining for insulation, and the Cytech pad is the same as can be found in the Pro Team short. Rapha has paid attention to the obvious need for visibility on a garment to be worn in winter, hence the logo on the seat and the stripes on the rear of each leg. The bib is cut on the high side too, to provide maximum insulation at the midriff.
The Rapha Pro Team Padded Winter Tight will be available in black, and in a range of sizes from XS to XXL. They’ll cost £200.
Rapha winter gloves
Merino wool is a feature of the lightest of Rapha’s winter gloves: a liner glove, suitable to be worn on its own in mild conditions, or as an extra layer beneath heavier coverings as temperatures dictate (Rapha recommend their Winter Gloves or Deep Winter Gloves, naturally enough). It opens the range, and is finished with the brand’s signature pink band, this time at the cuff. The Merino Liner glove will available in black, and in a range of sizes from XS to XL. They’ll cost £40.
The Merino Glove, significantly more robust than the liner glove on its underside, where goatskin leather has been deployed at the palm and digits, was our personal favourite from the selection presented at Eurobike. The soft back, deep cuff, and reflective piping give it a host of practical features, and the burnt orange colourway pictured above is as stylish as we’ve come to expect from Rapha. The Merino Glove will be available in black or orange, and in a range of sizes from XS to XL. They’ll cost £40.
Orange is an option too for a reworked version of the Winter Glove, equipped this year with a slimmer cuff, the easier to stow beneath jacket sleeve. Elsewhere, the windproof and water resistant back remains unchanged, as does the Pittards leather palm. New colourways include chartreuse as well as orange and standard black. The Winter Glove will be available in sizes from XS to XL. They’ll cost £85.
Rapha’s Overmitt, or ‘claw’, is the most robust of its glove range and intended for conditions in which many of us might find better things to do than ride a bike. It’s also intended to be worn over a winter glove: such is its size, a liner glove alone might still leave it feeling a little, well, spacious. Of greater significance are the gripper panels on the ‘fingers’ and a slot for the index and middle finger for control of brake and shift levers, both offering a distinct advantage over the heavy duty ski-style gloves for which some cyclists reach in sub-zero temperatures. The Rapha Overmitt will be available in black and in a range of sizes from XS to XL. They’ll cost £90.
Rapha women’s Souplesse jacket
Rapha’s female customers may have the brand’s UK press officer, Kati Jagger, to thank for the latest addition to its women’s range – the Souplesse jacket, a garment whose genesis can be traced to a ride out with CEO Simon Mottram some two years ago on a cold, dry day in which a long-sleeve jersey and wind jacket was not enough to keep her warm. The jacket will cost £190.
Billed as a Pro Team jacket for women, the front panel of the Souplesse jacket and its sleeves are made from a windproof, softshell fabric, treated to provide some water resistance. Turn the garment over, however, and you’ll discover a breathable fabric on the back, as well as copious pockets for essential supplies (another of Kati’s suggestions, including a central pocket for a pump. There’s a zipped valuables pocket, too, and a sleeve pocket, perhaps for a folded bank note.
The form fit is a key feature of the garment, as is the two-step cuff, one that seals out the wind without cutting off circulation – another feature shared with the men’s Pro Team jacket. The Souplesse jacket is a close-fitting garment, intended to be worn over a long-sleeve base layer on the coldest days, rather than a jersey. It’s not intended to keep out the rain, either; for wet weather riding, a rain jacket is recommended.
There’s a host of considered details, including a larger than normal zip, useful for a garment likely to be worn with gloves, but the stretchable side panel – a feature necessary to retain the fit when the copious pockets are filled – is among the most interesting.
The Rapha Souplesse jacket will be available in three colours – orange with burgundy back, dark grey and chartreuse, and blue and high-viz pink. It will be available in a range of sizes from XXS to XL, and will cost £190.