Rapha are expanding the size of their range massively for autumn/winter 2010, and although the bulk of the lineup remains sporty road riding clothing, they’re also focusing more on urban clobber and cyclocross kit, and even offer skincare products for the first time.
We’ve already reported that Rapha will soon be adding jeans and softshell trousers to the roster and they’re also including a new Breton Sweater. It’s made from a fine merino wool yarn that feels incredibly soft – we manhandled one a couple of weeks ago but we’ve yet to wear one on the bike. That’s coming soon though – so watch this space.
If Rapha’s existing merino base layers are anything to go by, the Breton Jersey will be warm, breathable and resistant to odours – crucial if you’re scooting around town and don’t want to change every time you get on and off your bike.
It’s a fine rib weave, lightweight and comes in a slim fit so it shouldn’t flap about when you crank up the speed. The various pieces are knitted rather than stitched together and there’s a three button closure on the shoulder – the left shoulder, so if you wear a messenger bag over your right shoulder, as most people do, the buttons won’t dig in. You also get a high viz pink tab that you can button onto the back pocket to help you get seen, and remove when you want to be less conspicuous off the bike. The Breton Jersey is available in blue and grey at £130 a throw.
Rapha have done cyclocross kit previously but they’re launching a new Cross Jersey (£130), Cross ¾ bibshorts (£150) and Cross Cap (£15) in the red, pink and blue colours of the US Rapha-Focus team.
The ¾ shorts use the same cut as Rapha’s regular 3/4s with mesh panels on the upper back and shoulder straps, but they come in a thinner fabric and include a zipped pocket with neoprene padding for extra protection. The Cross Jersey is lightweight too with a merino wool inner face and a high collar. You also get a reinforced foam pad stitched into the right shoulder to cushion the pressure when you’re carrying your bike.
More unusually, Rapha are offering an umbrella in team colours too. Why? It’s a pit umbrella, apparently, created for the team’s back-up guys. It’ll cost you £50 though.
The skincare range is a real departure for Rapha – it’s not every bike clothing company that branches out in this direction. The initial range all makes sense for cyclists though – chamois cream (125ml, £15), embrocation (125ml, £20) and soap (100g, £7) – it’s not like they’ve all of a sudden decided to include seaweed facial scrub alongside their windproof gilets (although, to be honest, we wouldn’t put it past them).
The story is that the scents of these products are “inspired by the flora around Mount Ventoux”, the Giant of Provence. The smell emanating from our recent delivery to the road.cc office says there’s a lot of lavender in there – which makes a pleasant change from the sweaty Lycra aroma that usually shrouds the entire area. There’s also atlas cedar, pine, rosemary… all sorts of good things.
The skincare products are handmade in the UK using natural ingredients and come packaged in paper that includes maps and riding stories relating to Ventoux. Rapha are already planning to extend the range next year with shaving cream, lip balm and sunscreen.
We’re about to start using our batch and will report back on the results shortly. In fact, we have all the products mentioned here in for review, so keep your eyes on road.cc over the next few weeks for the lowdown on how they perform. In the meantime, you can get all the product details from www.rapha.cc.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.