Rapha has long been known for high quality cycle clothing, but these Grand Tour shoes are the brand’s first foray into footwear.
Developed in collaboration with Giro and Ecco under a cloak of secrecy, RoadCyclingUK recently received word of their imminent unveiling, and in a spirit of neighbourliness, Rapha sent a pair around the corner from their office to ours, by bike, appropriately enough.
Yak skin uppers are the Grand Tour Shoe’s unique selling point; soft and durable, according to Rapha, who are claiming a cycle industry first by using yak hide, which, they say, has three times the tensile strength of bovine leathers. Footwear specialist Ecco has developed the leather for the Grand Tour shoe. Durability is obviously a quality to be tested in the months ahead, but we can already confirm Rapha’s straight-from-the-box comfort boast. Light weight is also verifiable (each shoe tickled our scales at a fraction over 300g, sans cleats). Water resistance is another claim to test on the bike.
Easton are the sole providers; a 6mm strip of EC90 undirectional carbon fibre first seen on Giro’s ProLight SLX and Factor models. The SuperNatural fit system is another Giro feature, but paired here with insoles specifically developed for the Grand Tour shoe that combine cork, moisture wicking fabric, and PVA to provide a platform that Rapha say will mould over time to the shape of the foot. The heel cup is lined with untreated Yak leather, said to move moisture.
Rapha’s branding is, as ever, discreet, limited here to a stamped logo on the strap and a printed, reflective logo on the heel. The straps are leather, the D-rings titanium, and the aluminium buckle is arguably the most elegant fastening ever witnessed in the occasionally gaudy world of cycle apparel; a beautifully machined clasp with a low key, lustreless finish that draws attention in spite of itself. Think Apple’s MacBook Air.
Like Apple, Rapha’s presentation is exquisite. We’re fairly certain there’s a willing market for the packaging of these shoes. The inner edge of the box lid bears a moody image of a solitary cyclist. Each shoe slips into in its own draw string bag and rest in an elegant black box lined with a sheet of pink wrapping printed as the cycling page of a newspaper. The three supplied insoles come in a separate black paper bag fastened with pink cord, naturally. Ecco shoe cream is included. American cedar shoe trees are sold separately.
The Grand Tour shoe will be available on April 10, in black or white with contrasting strap, in European sizes from 39 to 48, and will be sold online by Rapha and Giro. ‘Selected Rapha retail partners’ will also sell the shoe, which will retail at £300.
Check back soon for our ‘first ride’ report.