Rapha boss outlines company's plans for 2014

New Rapha Cycle Clubs including one in Manchester, Pantani jersey and memorial ride, new premises and much, much more

by Simon_MacMichael   January 9, 2014  

Rapha Pantani jersey detail

A Rapha Cycle Club in Manchester, a move from its Kentish Town base, and a special jersey commemorating the great Marco Pantani ten years after his death – those are just some of the things North London-based clothing brand Rapha has planned in 2014.

Brief details of all of those have been given in a New Year email penned by co-founder and CEO, Simon Mottram, in which he gives a taste of what to expect from the company in a 2014 that will also mark its final year sponsoring UCI Continental team, Rapha-Condor-JLT.

Rapha, of course, is a brand that divides cyclists, but with turnover estimated at £26.5 million in 2013 according to an interview former branding consultant Mottram gave with website The Business of Fashion last year, the company is a British success story that is clearly doing something right and that has big plans to grow further still.

For its many fans around the world, then – including, it transpired late last year, 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ulrich, who posted Rapha-style pictures of himself on his website wearing its kit, fooling some into believing there was an official ie-up  – there’s plenty to look forward to this year. Here’s some of them.

More Rapha Cycle Clubs - including Manchester

Since opening its first pop-up Cycle Club in London’s Clerkenwell in 2010, Rapha has expanded the concept to five permanent locations – New York City, San Francisco, Sydney, Osaka, and a return to London, this time in Soho.

Manchester is one of four new locations that will open during 2014 as the brand expands round the world – the existing Rapha Cycle Clubs in Australia and Japan will be joined by new locations in, respectively, Melbourne and Tokyo, and there will also be the first one on the Continent, in Amsterdam.

Marco Pantani jersey and memorial ride

As for Pantani, Mottram describes the Italian who in 1998 was the last man to do the Tour and Giro double as “a personal hero of mine in the 1990s,” but acknowledges that “his story is a parable of recent times and sums up the extreme highs and lows of road racing.”  Besides the special edition jersey (pictured), Rapha says there will also be a memorial ride, with details of both to follow.

New home in Kings Cross

Founded by Mottram and Luke Scheybeler in March 2004 – coincidentally, the month after Pantani’s death – Rapha is set to leave its Kentish Town premises this year, heading for a new location in Kings Cross to accommodate its growing staff numbers and cater for its ongoing expansion. Like its predecessor, the new site will be called Imperial Works.

Expansion of clothing lines

Other highlights of the year promised by Mottram include a new Kings of Pain range, more Team Sky cycling and fan products, and expansion of the Rapha City urban line for men and women.

There will also be limited edition jerseys paying tribute to Olympic medal-winning husband and wife (and father of Taylor) Davies Phinney and Connie Carpenter-Phinney – sales of those will also benefit the Davies Phinney Foundation, set up to help sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease, of whom he is one.

In a second collaboration with Giro, come Rapha Climber’s Shoes, described as “perfect for long days in the mountains and gliding along hot roads in the summer.”

More travel and events

Away from clothing, there are also new developments on the Rapha Travel side of the business, including for the first time, Team Sky Race Access Tours, as well as a Corsica edition of the Cent Cols Challenge.

That island staged the Grand Départ of last year’s Tour de France, which this year begins in Yorkshire – Mottram’s home county – with the occasion marked by the Rapha Tempest four-day festival of cycling at Broughton Hall, the first edition of what is planned to be an annual event. There is also the return of the Women’s 100 after its debut last year.

You can find more details on all of the above in Mottram’s newsletter on the Rapha website, which also has links to further information where applicable.

25 user comments

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Was hoping they'd mess with everybody's head by swapping the stripe to the other sleeve/leg.

posted by bigant [39 posts]
9th January 2014 - 4:50

25 Likes

Start manufacturing at least some of the range in the UK? They've clearly got enough profit margin...

posted by bikerdavecycling [71 posts]
9th January 2014 - 7:33

15 Likes

bikerdavecycling wrote:
Start manufacturing at least some of the range in the UK? They've clearly got enough profit margin...

Quite a few of their products are made in Italy, so their decisions about where to manufacture can't just be about cost/profit.

posted by lc1981 [53 posts]
9th January 2014 - 8:32

21 Likes

Rather more specifically, quite a lot of their range is manufactured by MOA, who also manufacture for other high-end cycling brands (and Adidas).

posted by Al__S [645 posts]
9th January 2014 - 8:44

21 Likes

Climber's shoes? Really?

posted by atlaz [158 posts]
9th January 2014 - 8:45

10 Likes

atlaz wrote:
Climber's shoes? Really?

I imagine they'll just be lighter and more ventilated?

bikerdavecycling wrote:
Start manufacturing at least some of the range in the UK? They've clearly got enough profit margin...

That would surely result in a massive decline in quality. The British workforce is hardly on par with most of the rest of the world (especially that outside europe).

posted by alexholt3 [52 posts]
9th January 2014 - 9:23

8 Likes

alexholt3 wrote:

That would surely result in a massive decline in quality. The British workforce is hardly on par with most of the rest of the world (especially that outside europe).

That's rather a sweeping statement. Force GB of West Yorkshire make my club kit, and very nice stuff it is too. I would imagine the workers at the likes of Brooks, Carradice, Hope Technology, as well as the umpteen artisan frame builders are at least the equal to anyone throughout the world.

posted by Chris James [215 posts]
9th January 2014 - 9:32

18 Likes

alexholt3 wrote:

That would surely result in a massive decline in quality. The British workforce is hardly on par with most of the rest of the world (especially that outside europe).

As a member of 'The British Workforce' I take exception to this.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [914 posts]
9th January 2014 - 9:40

12 Likes

There are exceptions to the rule, as always. But from my experience within the engineering industry; they are few and far between.

posted by alexholt3 [52 posts]
9th January 2014 - 9:48

16 Likes

Oh, I had no idea was an actual rule that British workers were crap. Are you crap as well or one of the exceptions?

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [914 posts]
9th January 2014 - 10:04

11 Likes

Yeah I'm pretty terrible. I was however referring to manual labour.

posted by alexholt3 [52 posts]
9th January 2014 - 10:27

13 Likes

Once again a sweeping statement but British manufacturing, especially in the clothing and footwear industry, is a by word for quality.
I could list you an extensive list of British companies (mainly in the Midlands and north of England) that make very high quality clothing and footwear. But i cant be bothered.

posted by Some Fella [824 posts]
9th January 2014 - 10:29

14 Likes

In terms of fabric/clothes manufacture, Britain happens to be home to some pockets of world expertise. For example Burfields were the original supplier for Rapha's gloves (and as I understood it still do some of the special edition stuff) and Johnstone's of Elgin did some of the early pure merino stuff IIRC - they and the rst of the Scottish factories currently do a huge amount of the luxury cashmere business.

The reason you go to Moa Sports for stuff is because they are industry experts with those sorts of fabrics, and they are happy to do contract work in high volume.

Actually the Raeburn collab was done in the UK, at the Private White VC factory http://www.selectism.com/2013/04/29/selectism-qa-grame-christopher-raebu...

The problem seems to be that some UK manufacturers have problems scaling up to do big volumes or the cost of smaller runs isn't viable. Both are problems Rapha and others have had to deal with.

http://www.chasingwheels.com - Chasing Wheels, the journal of Britain's least competitive cyclist

posted by leguape [40 posts]
9th January 2014 - 10:55

11 Likes

alexholt3 wrote:
There are exceptions to the rule, as always. But from my experience within the engineering industry; they are few and far between.

Fair enough, but my 20 years, also in the engineering industry (specifically aerospace), doesn't agree with your experience!

posted by Chris James [215 posts]
9th January 2014 - 11:41

24 Likes

It is an absolute tragedy that we've been subjected to a succession of governments in thrall to an economy based on lowest cost above all else and shuffling virtual money around rather than actually making and maintaining stuff. That is one part of the 'workforce', if you can call them that is not fit for purpose.

leguape wrote :"The problem seems to be that some UK manufacturers have problems scaling up to do big volumes or the cost of smaller runs isn't viable. Both are problems Rapha and others have had to deal with."

This is an issue in the area I work in, software development. At peak production we have to bring in outsourcing from the far east and eastern europe typically. Not because they are cheap labour or better at the job - in fact they cost more per hour than we do here - but because we can't ramp up quickly enough or support that many people permanently. It's also often a brute force approach because the quality of work is not always good enough and you have to factor in wastage and management of the outsourced work.

I know this isn't directly comparable to 'real goods' manufacturing but many of the issues are the same. The skills shortage we do face is mainly due to 'brain drain' of people going overseas for better pay & conditions in countries with more enlightened policies towards creative / manufacturing industry.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [914 posts]
9th January 2014 - 13:21

12 Likes

I just don't get the Pantani jersey; he was one of the biggest cheats the sport ever saw, killed himself by overdose and, worst of all, was/is a massive hero to Ricardo Ricco.
What exactly is there to celebrate??

posted by pwake [313 posts]
9th January 2014 - 15:54

14 Likes

pwake wrote:
I just don't get the Pantani jersey; he was one of the biggest cheats the sport ever saw, killed himself by overdose and, worst of all, was/is a massive hero to Ricardo Ricco.
What exactly is there to celebrate??

Worst of all he was a hero to Ricardo Ricco?

There have been some curious posts on Road.cc of late, some that have really made me shake my head in utter disbelief but this one of yours is one of, if not the number one, whopperiest post.

It's so awful I was forced into inventing the word 'whopperiest' just to express myself.

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
9th January 2014 - 16:39

15 Likes

Turnover isn't equal to profit

Likely if Rapha did more UK based manufacturing more people would complain about the prices.

posted by euanlindsay [80 posts]
9th January 2014 - 19:13

8 Likes

alexholt3 wrote:

That would surely result in a massive decline in quality. The British workforce is hardly on par with most of the rest of the world (especially that outside europe).

Seen what Vélobici are doing in UK?

Low Speed Wobble's picture

posted by Low Speed Wobble [140 posts]
9th January 2014 - 19:35

0 Likes

rapha, such a strange brand that causes so much opinion.
as a casual rider i liked my rapha stuff but as soon as i started racing i ditched it for less expensive kit.
i still look through the site and occasioanlly buy some bits

some stuff is over priced, like way over priced yet some is really reasonable (thinking rain/wind jackets and the prorace jacket, merino collar)

got to give them credit for pushing different ideas and all that.

and the pantani jersey, great idea he was amazing and again i imagine in that era everyone was doped to the gills he just stood out above them and died a tortured soul.

posted by russyparkin [578 posts]
9th January 2014 - 20:08

9 Likes

A ride in the memory of Pantani doesn't necessarily mean you're celebrating his drug use. From experience, a few minutes break at the Pantani monument on the slopes of the Mortirolo, contemplating the perfect storm of events that ultimately led a man to take his own life is time well spent.

posted by Hoester [65 posts]
9th January 2014 - 20:36

8 Likes

Think about what pro sport is for a minute. IMO it is entertainment above all else.

Was Pantani entertaining to watch?

It was an era when too many turned to drugs to perform, to be able to do their job.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1365 posts]
9th January 2014 - 21:23

14 Likes

Say what you like about Rapha but all I can say is kudos to Simon Mottram and his team for creating a business around something they are so passionate about.
As well as being a big cycling man he is a big supporter of autism and now Parkinson's charities so all the best to him and keep buying their clothing is all I can say.

* in the interests of disclosure, I do not own anything produced by Rapha but would love to if disposable was not an issue...

posted by arfa [542 posts]
9th January 2014 - 21:56

6 Likes

atlaz wrote:
Climber's shoes? Really?

Why not? It's not a Rapha invention. Mavic have the Huez as a climbing / hot weather alternative to the Zxellium and they're glorious in the high temperatures. I for one would be very interested in a lightweight version of the Rapha Grand Tour shoe.

posted by ajmarshal1 [376 posts]
10th January 2014 - 0:17

0 Likes

So a pop up cycle club is a Shop? Well glad they are coming to Manchester, guess I will just go in for a perv like the Assos/Pinarello shop on Deansgate.



I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1434 posts]
10th January 2014 - 0:39

0 Likes