Rapha Custom has been shut down. Launched just over two years ago, the UK clothing maker had created an ambitious project to make it easy for riders looking to customize the look of their cycling kit, while maintaining the quality and attention to detail that Rapha built its brand on.

But it turns out that it was harder than it seems, and Rapha had difficulty delivering the level of quality and service they hoped for, so has decided to call it quits on consumer custom, focusing on the continued development and innovation of their production cycling clothing.

Rapha Custom stops offering custom cycling kits

2021 Scott Addict RC eRide road e-bike, light carbon stealth e-road bike, photo by Rupert Fowler, sunset climb

c. Road Bike Connection, photo by Rupert Fowler

We were early adopters of the Rapha Custom project, with high hopes of the same premium fit, fabrics & chamois as Rapha’s production road cycling clothing. By and large, we’ve been quite happy with the Rapha Custom Bikerumor kit we designed and had produced.

2022 Scott Spark RC & 900 XC trail mountain bikes, light fully-integrated cross-country MTB, descending

c. Scott, photo by Daniel Geiger

And we’ll likely to continue to ride in much of it for some time. But going through the powerful, but limited online configuration tool, it was clear that the user experience was a difficult problem to solve.

Rapha Custom semi-custom clothing customizable premium affordable team road cycling kit

playing with Rapha’s semi-custom online tool

Then receiving the kit, it was apparent some tiny details had to be simplified to make the customization process sustainable. The gear was really good, but little differences like missing zipper garages, no zippered jersey pocket & pared-down leg grippers meant it wasn’t quite the ‘great’ level you’d get from Rapha’s Pro Team kit.

Merida One-Forty 900 alloy MTB long-term review, affordable 140mm travel aluminum trail all-mountain bike

All of that seems to have boiled down to why Rapha Custom has come to an end. Rapha Custom just couldn’t sustainably match the high quality level customers have come to expect from Rapha’s production clothing or the brand’s overall experience. Cutting out consumer custom seems to be a move to not let it water down the brand overall.

2021 Merida Reacto Disc aero road bike, everyday race lightweight carbon aero road race bike

Read Rapha’s full end of Custom statement below:

In 2019 we launched Rapha Custom with the ambition of creating a unique and innovative custom cycling apparel service. Our goal was to develop a digital experience that puts the design power in the riders’ hands, whilst offering the same Rapha product quality, performance and innovation that customers have come to expect. We are incredibly proud of what we achieved but unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we have struggled to deliver an experience, both digitally and physically, that our customers, local teams and communities expect from the Rapha brand. So we have taken the difficult decision to close Rapha Custom.

As a brand we have always chosen the harder route, the more rewarding route and the route that we believe will benefit our customers most. Our Rapha Custom ambition was the harder route and we have learnt a lot over the last two years that will help drive our brand forward.

Our decision to step away from Rapha Custom will ensure sharper focus on our main ranges, which will allow us to continue to develop the most innovative performance cycling apparel, drive the sport forward and continue to inspire millions of people around the world to ride.

It’s worth noting that we applaud the effort. Nothing ventured, nothing lost…but also nothing potentially gained. It’ll be interesting to see how other small batch efforts (like DeFeet’s new custom-printed socks) fare, and how others will continue to iterate on the concept.

Rapha.cc/custom

10 comments

  1. Tom on

    not really a surprise. Our team considered using them for our kit, but they couldn’t deliver samples in anything like a timely fashion. Great promise let down by the realities of custom production.

    Reply
  2. Dave on

    The truth is Rapha was a lot more hype than substance. The company was masters at marketing. Even shops that carried the clothing said the old reason they did so was the consumer was willing to buy it. Not because the quality was all that. I even got suckered. Way back when they started I bought one of the cool retro jerseys at a boutique shop in Philadelphia. After all I read about them I assumed (should never do that) the jersey was make in Europe especially for the price. Only later on did I realize it was made in China. And do not get me wrong made in China is not a deal breaker at all but especially with clothing and high end clothing I figured it would be made in Europe at a Rapha factory with workers making a living wage.

    Reply
    • K-Pop is dangerous to your health on

      It’s true that Rapha was founded by master marketers, but I never experienced any lack of quality from them. Even dating back to their first winter jacket which I still own and still works great. In my experience using kits by all the major brands the Rapha stuff I’ve owned has always been on par.

      Reply
    • WhateverBikes on

      From the looks of your comment it seems like you understood this post like Rapha is quitting as a brand. That’s not the case of course, it’s just their custom clothing line that’s discontinued.

      Reply
    • WorkOnSunday on

      the pro team line is still mostly made in Europe. admittedly some of their recent offering especially at lower price point is…perhaps not so the same standard as their more expensive products. but judging from your comment…i put it done as hater always hates…

      Reply
    • ezweave on

      This is a pretty silly comment. Not only was this just about their custom line, but other than team kits, I have ten years of Rapha kit that is still going strong. The only thing I’ve ever really worn out were bibs, save for a few items trashed in wrecks. I had some jerseys photobleach after years, but that happens with every kit I’ve ever owned.

      It’s made all over. Some items are made in Europe, some in China, some in Vietnam.

      When they first showed up ten years or so ago (technically longer than that, but that’s when it was more available), they did a lot to change the game. More minimal styling, clever features (I have one of the early long sleeve sportwool jerseys that had multiple zippered compartments, a sleeve for your pump in a pocket, et cetera), and on and on. I think they’ve stoked the fires of competition and brands like Eliel, Velocio, Ornot, and on and on might not be around if they hadn’t upped the game.

      I don’t even consider it all that pricey, considering the life I’ve gotten out of it. Hell, I keep buying new stuff more to get new colors or styles.

      I also love how these comments shit on Rapha, when Assos has been there all along with far more expensive kit.

      But hey, it’s “teh Internet” [sic] and everyone has an uninformed opinion.

      Reply
  3. A Fan not an advert on

    Just saying, there are others out there who have cracked the code that Rapha apparently could not…

    Case in point: Vie13 custom apparel – great kit, fully custom, less $$ than Rapha.

    Reply

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