Rapha launch high-end Grand Tour shoes

Grand Tour footwear developed in association with Giro

by Mat Brett   March 16, 2012  

Bike clothing brand Rapha are stepping into the shoes market with their Grand Tour design developed with Giro. The yak leather and carbon-fibre shoes are available now at £300 – either reassuringly expensive or eye-wateringly steep, depending on your point of view.

So, what do you get for your money? Well, as usual with Rapha, there’s a hell of a back story. Let’s start at the top…

As we said, the uppers are made from yak leather. Yak? If, like us, your knowledge of the yak extends as far as ‘hairy cow’, here’s a bit of info for you. “The yak is a long-haired bovine found throughout the Himalayan region of south central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia.” Where would we be without Wikipedia?

This is the first time that yak leather has been used for cycling shoes, footwear specialists Ecco having developed this particular version especially for Rapha. We can tell you, because we have a pair of these Grand Tour shoes in for review at Road.cc, that the leather is incredibly soft and supple so those uppers are very comfortable straightaway. They conform to the shape of your feet beautifully.

The leather reminds us a lot of the kangaroo leather that you get on shoes from the likes of Lake, but Rapha reckon that it’s far more robust. Kangaroo leather has never let us down so if these are stronger, durability shouldn’t be an issue. Rapha also say that the leather is up to three times stronger than other bovine leathers.

As you can see, most sections of the uppers are perforated; it’s only the heel and toe panels (and the lower two straps) that aren’t. As well as being a style feature, this is designed to improve breathability.

We’re wondering whether those holes might get bunged up with grit and dirt on wet rides and prove difficult to clean, but time will tell on that front. Speaking of cleaning, you get a little tub of Rapha Shoe Cream as part of the package to keep the leather in top condition.

The tongue is padded and closure is handled by two Velcro straps that thread through titanium rings, and a ratchet buckle at the top. That ratchet is made from machined and anodized aluminium and there’s a little Rapha logo laser-etched on to the lever. You have to say that Rapha’s attention to detail is pretty special. If you ever wreck it in a crash, the ratchet is replaceable. There’s an embossed logo on the lower strap and a small, reflective one on the back of the heel too.

The sole is full carbon fibre – Easton EC90 SLX unidirectional carbon, to be precise. It’s the same sole you’ll find on Giro’s ProLight SLX shoe, Easton and Giro being brands belonging to the same parent company.

We’ve reviewed the ProLight SLX on Road.cc recently. Our man Stu Kerton loved the sole’s combination of lightweight and stiffness. Giro reckon each sole weighs just 60g although we can’t say that we’ve destroyed any shoes to check that figure. It’s just 6.5mm thick, resulting in one of the lowest stack heights out there, and it’s drilled for three-bolt cleats.

You get a cork/PVA footbed inside that’s designed to mould to the shape of your foot, and Giro’s SuperNatural fit system. That means can choose between three differently sized arch supports for each shoe.

This being Rapha, there has to be an evocative story on the passion of cycling hidden away somewhere. In this case, it’s on the insole. In fact, you get two: a few sentences on five-time Giro d’Italia winner Fausto Coppi on the left insole, five-time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil on the right.

As we mentioned, we’ve had a pair of Grand Tour shoes for a couple of weeks on the strict understanding that we wouldn’t show or mention them until today. Rapha even sent us a pair of shoe covers that we had to wear over the top of them on our rides, just to keep them secret.

We’ll have a full review up soon but early indications are good. Those uppers are extremely soft and supple and, as Stu reported in his Giro shoe reviews, the EC90 soles combine lightweight with a high degree of stiffness. The build quality is second to none and you even get a fleecy bag for storage. That’s not one bag for the pair, it’s one bag for each shoe.

In terms of looks, that’s a matter of taste, of course, but the general consensus here at Road.cc is that they look stylish. As for the price, these are the most expensive shoes we've ever had in at Road.cc. There are dearer shoes out there... but not many.

 

As well as this white version, the Grand Tour shoes will available in black with a white lower strap, and in sizes 40-48. They go on sale from 10 April. We’ll have a review up on Road.cc before then.

In the meantime, go to www.rapha.cc for more details.

32 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

If you think these are pricey, wait for the Oceleot placenta aero overshoes.

posted by kowalski [10 posts]
16th March 2012 - 9:59

like this
Like (6)

Yes, Rapha originally said £350 - but that was several weeks ago. We've contacted Rapha this morning to clarify and they've told us that £300 is the correct price.

posted by Mat Brett [1817 posts]
16th March 2012 - 10:00

like this
Like (5)

C'mon, it would be news if Rapha introduced a line of "entry level shoes." Of course, those would start at £200.

These shoes would also look great if you like playing golf. That isn't meant as a compliment.

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

ragtag's picture

posted by ragtag [154 posts]
16th March 2012 - 10:02

like this
Like (5)

I thought the yak leather was one of the road.cc tongue-in-cheek jokes..

Funny, I think that whilst there's always been a gap in the market for high-performance yet stylish cycle clothing, I don't see it with shoes - there's plenty of nice shoes out there.

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [302 posts]
16th March 2012 - 10:08

like this
Like (6)

@Kowalski - eww! Big Grin

£300 is a bit OTT. I like Rapha gear and own a few items, but for that price I would expect them to be custom-mouldable, at least.

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2929 posts]
16th March 2012 - 10:11

like this
Like (7)

luckily for me I'm a size 38 - so I don't even have to think about if I want a pair...

posted by bellevedere [19 posts]
16th March 2012 - 10:40

like this
Like (5)

G-bitch wrote:
Funny, I think that whilst there's always been a gap in the market for high-performance yet stylish cycle clothing, I don't see it with shoes - there's plenty of nice shoes out there.

I'd agree with that on the roadie side (i.e. where these shoes sit) - but not on the commute/casual side. The only nice looking 'stealth' cycling shoes I've found are Dromarti (Quoc pham does some too but the soles are too chunky for me). I wonder if Rapha will aim at that market next...

posted by step-hent [646 posts]
16th March 2012 - 11:09

like this
Like (8)

notfastenough wrote:
@Kowalski - eww! Big Grin

£300 is a bit OTT. I like Rapha gear and own a few items, but for that price I would expect them to be custom-mouldable, at least.

I guess they'd argue that leather is custom mouldable, in the sense that it will shape to your foot. Mat, are the insoles mouldable? The review seems to mention it but not assume that it just happens over time rather by any heating and moulding process.

posted by step-hent [646 posts]
16th March 2012 - 11:11

like this
Like (7)

step-hent wrote:
I guess they'd argue that leather is custom mouldable, in the sense that it will shape to your foot. Mat, are the insoles mouldable? The review seems to mention it but not assume that it just happens over time rather by any heating and moulding process.

Exactly, step-hent. The footbeds aren't heat mouldable. They're cork/EVA and the idea is that they gradually shape to your foot - like normal footbeds sometimes do, but more so.

posted by Mat Brett [1817 posts]
16th March 2012 - 11:37

like this
Like (4)

Sorry, yes, I was referring to the heat-mouldable type. I suppose in terms of the cork moulding, you'd only know over time.

Mat, I think you can justify a long-term test here! Cool

If I could have, say, 6 bikes, would it stop me drooling over others that I don't have?

posted by notfastenough [2929 posts]
16th March 2012 - 11:48

like this
Like (7)

£300, pttff.. im gonna buy two pairs so i can run black/white strap on the right foot and white/black on the left..when are they gonna do matching sunglasses thats the question.

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1081 posts]
16th March 2012 - 12:03

like this
Like (5)

So they are basically more stylish prolights... The RRP on them is £260... Which is very expensive but cheaper than top end sidi's.

So...£40 for the restyling... They do look nice.... argh, my tightarsedness is becoming confused...

Giro shoes are very very good!

Benjamin Hall's picture

posted by Benjamin Hall [64 posts]
16th March 2012 - 12:37

like this
Like (2)

Great looking shoes! Once the road.cc crew start riding with helmet rain covers we know Rapha/Giro helmets will be announced next...

posted by Celeste08 [38 posts]
16th March 2012 - 13:16

like this
Like (5)

Celeste08 wrote:
Great looking shoes! Once the road.cc crew start riding with helmet rain covers we know Rapha/Giro helmets will be announced next...

Wouldn't the universe implode or something equally catastrophic if a rapha photoshoot included a helmet?? I thought that was against all the laws of man or something, recorded in the Rapha Commandments written in the sacred sweat of Fausto Coppi and therein pledged in blood by every Rapha employee on pain of death...

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [302 posts]
16th March 2012 - 13:44

like this
Like (4)

G-bitch wrote:
Celeste08 wrote:
Great looking shoes! Once the road.cc crew start riding with helmet rain covers we know Rapha/Giro helmets will be announced next...

Wouldn't the universe implode or something equally catastrophic if a rapha photoshoot included a helmet?? I thought that was against all the laws of man or something, recorded in the Rapha Commandments written in the sacred sweat of Fausto Coppi and therein pledged in blood by every Rapha employee on pain of death...

Haha. Used to be - they seem to be letting helmets in now... How religions change, eh? Must be the start of a new 'progressive' Rapha.

posted by step-hent [646 posts]
16th March 2012 - 14:03

like this
Like (4)

oh my, right i want a pair of these for mondays and wednesdays, the wiggins bonts for tues and thurs and the david millar fiziks for the rest of the week. these are beauties but im swayed to a pair of fizik for my next shoes.

thing with shoes they are one of the key contact points and and area worth buying the best you can afford i think.

decent shoes should last 5-6 years at least

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
16th March 2012 - 16:13

like this
Like (5)

They look nice enough but a bit too high maintaance. Barring a serious crash a good pair of shoes should last at least 5 years so that's only £75 a year: the price of a single tank of petrol for all that comfort seems OK to me.

I not sure supple leather is really a benefit. Leather's like steak: the only reason people prefer 'melt in the mouth' is because until recently no one had teeth that could chew! My old Sidi's are very sloppy laterally in the uppers and a stiff sole is no good if your foot is floating around after 6 months hard punishment. Mind you - I have had my road shoes since 2000.... I 've just bought Sidi Ergo 2's in the sale at £160 so they're only £16 a year using my reckoning... Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1026 posts]
16th March 2012 - 16:33

like this
Like (5)

Too good to wear. I would put them on my mantelpiece and stare lovingly at them all day... Love Struck

gazpacho's picture

posted by gazpacho [80 posts]
16th March 2012 - 17:02

like this
Like (7)

£300 per shoe? Bargain.

_SiD_'s picture

posted by _SiD_ [179 posts]
16th March 2012 - 17:29

like this
Like (5)

notfastenough wrote:
£300 is a bit OTT. I like Rapha gear and own a few items, but for that price I would expect them to be custom-mouldable, at least.

Have you ever tried to catch a yak? Have you seen the size of the horns on 'em? That's got to be a skilled job.

posted by Mat Brett [1817 posts]
16th March 2012 - 17:47

like this
Like (5)

And then you have to shave it.

posted by Mat Brett [1817 posts]
16th March 2012 - 18:12

like this
Like (4)

i want to draw toe-clips on the front to join up with what looks like a black toe-strap
Big Grin

posted by VecchioJo [739 posts]
16th March 2012 - 18:38

like this
Like (4)

VecchioJo wrote:
i want to draw toe-clips on the front to join up with what looks like a black toe-strap
Big Grin

It's supposed to. "The shoes are available in white or black with a contrast lower strap, echoing the toe straps of cycling’s golden era.".

posted by Mat Brett [1817 posts]
16th March 2012 - 19:24

like this
Like (2)

Mmmm, yak leather. Got myself in a leather lather there.....

Mmmm....need a quiet moment to pull myself together.

Yaks......I mean from this http://kekexili.typepad.com/.a/6a00d834523d7769e20105355e88c6970b-500wi to that ????

Bloody hell, £300 a bargain !!!

posted by roadiesean [68 posts]
16th March 2012 - 19:47

like this
Like (3)

Lovingly hand crafted from the prepuces of yaks that are no more than 23 months old, who have been massaged(the YAKs... Surprise ) for 16 hours/day by an underpaid yak herding octogenarian (16 new pence per hour)on the side of a snow capped hill in the Himalayas..
pronounced 'Him aliaz'..not Him a lay a s...

and left to snooze it off for the remaining 8 hours....

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [375 posts]
16th March 2012 - 20:41

like this
Like (5)

We’re wondering whether those holes might get bunged up with grit and dirt on wet rides and prove difficult to clean, but time will tell on that front.

Aaaaaah-hahahahahahahahaha!

Nice one old boy. Rapha owners out in inclement weather. Brilliant.

Rolling On The Floor Rolling On The Floor

posted by Matt_S [182 posts]
16th March 2012 - 22:03

like this
Like (2)

Confused kangaroo leather is the strongest leather period..sidi used it back in the day, i still have 2 pair, and the cow/yak leather in my pinarello shoes had to be repaired and reinforced a couple of times.. sidi's still wearable and no issues 30 years on Wink

posted by PATMAC [21 posts]
16th March 2012 - 23:27

like this
Like (3)

You can care for yak leather and keep it supple by rubbing in snake oil every couple of weeks. If you buy these shoes, get in touch and I'll sell you a bottle. Liar

posted by wild man [278 posts]
16th March 2012 - 23:43

like this
Like (5)

Like most Rapha kit, these look nice and have a suitably pompous back story.

Unlike most Rapha kit, one fairly minor crash is going to scuff the living cr@p out of one's £350 investment.

Guess the acid test will be how many pairs turn up at the next Rapha sample sale.

One has to wonder - if cycle shoes are a profitable niche, how come Assos haven't bothered?

Then again, having heard recently from an insider how little profit Rapha actually made last year, sounds like they're doing it more out of passion than business sense anyway.

posted by Yennings [205 posts]
17th March 2012 - 8:52

like this
Like (4)

I quite like them but would never spend that kind of hard earned on a pair ... I but my Rapha at sample sales and offa Ebay ..

I think though that their marketing is SUPERB and they are clearly taking a leaf out of Apples book ... No bad thing, Apple are the best marketeers on the planet right now ...

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [299 posts]
17th March 2012 - 13:37

like this
Like (5)