U.K.-based Rapha has always hung its finely tailored hat on road cycling. A few years ago, when I told a friend who worked there that I used my Rapha duds almost exclusively for mountain biking, he jokingly covered his ears and said, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Well, the cycling market has changed, and so has Rapha: For the first time, it’s making clothes designed to be worn when adventure riding (and cross-country skiing, but more on that below).
Now, “adventure riding” is ambiguous. For normal people, that is, those not in the cycling industry, the concept often means just getting on your bike and riding. Within the parameters of the industry, though, it typically means multi-surface explorations on adapted road bikes—gravel grinders, cyclocross rigs, bikepacking steeds, and broadly appealing hybrids like the Specialized Diverge. That part of the market is blowing up, and Rapha has turned its designers’ attention that way.
The shift might seem more philosophical than practical. New Rapha bibs have pockets on the legs and back that enable cargo carrying for extended rides away from resupply (if you haven’t used cargo bibs, you owe it to yourself to try them). The Brevet base layer has permanent anti-microbial treatment to keep the stink away on bikepacking overnights. Because even the subtly designed Rapha jerseys scream “cyclist,” there are a technical t-shirt and a polo, both made from micro-mesh and looser fitting than typical bike wear, the better to blend in in the city…or at least not stand out quite so badly.
Prices? Yeah, it’s Rapha. $270 for the bibs, $75 for the tee, $100 for the polo, and $80 for the Brevet.
See more at Dress for the Adventure.
As for the cross-country skiing apparel, it’s being designed in consultation with Norman Foster, whose name you probably don’t know unless you’re an architecture, design, or Apple geek—he’s the guy Steve Jobs tapped to design the new Apple headquarters. Foster posted a shot to Instagram yesterday—there are no details beyond the collaration and these shots of prototypes.