Rapha just went online with most of the new products they were showing to us last week at Eurobike, so here we’ll give you a run down.
In Europe as cyclocross season looms, we were eyeing their new Cross Shoe particularly hard, which was developed together with Giro and Easton and is a follow-up to their Grand Tour shoes (and a precursor of next season’s light weight Climbing Shoe, which we’ll get to later.) We tried on a pair at the show and they seemed like a well fitting shoe that could serve well both on the cross course, as well as a high-end mountain shoe. Also of note were some Super Cross-branded pieces, a few special long sleeve jerseys with well-regarded sportwool fabrics, new men’s and women’s Rain Jackets, and few other bits and pieces to get you through the coming cold and darkness of winter.
Hop across the barrier for a bunch of details and pics of what we thought stood out from their new offerings…
The Cross Shoe was probably the most anticipated. Since Rapha doesn’t really do mountain gear these are very firmly labelled as cyclocross shoes, right down to the classic Belgian Beer and Frites packaging, which Rapha wants you to reuse at the races to carry your food. (Unfortunately the shoes don’t come with beer and fries, although some kind of voucher when you bought them would be nice.) Anyway to the tech of the matter, the shoes are made of a synthetic leather upper that should hold its shape and stay supple in the wet and mud of cross, on top of a full carbon fiber EC90 sole produced by Easton. To counter any worries, the sole is not ultra stiff. During our very brief try-them-on-and-run-from-the-Rapha-sales-team test, there is enough noticeable flex at the forefoot that they should be comfortable on the run-ups of cross racing.
The shoes have a pretty solid outer profile and a tongue with perforations for some ventilation, with the toes and heels reinforced with some high-wearing rubberized synthetic material. They have two velcro straps and a single ratcheting strap with and aluminum buckle, dual-compound tread lugs, and accept screw-in toe spikes. They also come with a set of Giro’s SuperNatural adjustable insoles to fine-tune your fit. We asked how they work with Eggbeater pedals when the lugs wear a bit, and were assured that several of the in-house developers ride with Crankbrothers pedals and hadn’t had any problems in the last year and a half. That being said, we have agreed to get a pair in for testing in just over a month, and will let you know if our results vary. The shoes will be available for sale direct from Rapha at the beginning of November, and will sell for €310/$350.
Following up on the cross theme, Rapha have a few nice new products pushing their Super Cross branding. Since the disband/rebranding of the Rapha-Focus team, Rapha has put their cyclocross sponsor dollars directly into some event support for their Super Cross series in 5 countries on 4 continents. With that comes the new €155/$215 Long Sleeve Cross Jersey made from the same merino/polyester mesh fabric of their Lightweight Jersey, and incorporating a mini padded/reinforced shoulder for those longer run-ups. We’ve been happy with the performance of the fabric for a wide range of temperatures and think it works well for cross intensities, but have voiced our concerns about a reasonably light color for a fabric that tends to hold mud spots with its mesh construction. We’ll try to get a sample in to test as soon as possible to see how it takes those muddy cross thrashings. The €110/$120 Super Cross Jersey is a basic performance polyester jersey with that Rapha sees as more of a visual piece than anything else. It’s a bit pricey for just aesthetics; but the design certainly stands out, and it does feature the nice Rapha details and finishing. The €25/$30 Cross Pro Team socks are a direct appropriation of the standard Pro Team socks with a longer cuff. That’s probably a good thing, as the reinforced toe and heel should help them stand up to cross wear and tear, and the wicking of the rest of the sock is better than average.
Moving out of cross-specific and into winter fighting is the new windproof-front €190/$240 Winter Jersey. I know this whole post could have the subtext of I know it is really expensive, but.., so I’ll maybe just say it this last time and be done. But this jersey seems like it will be able to replace an equally expensive riding jacket for many people. Having felt it in hand, it has most of the benefits of a softshell jacket in the wind-blocking front, while the arms and back are a more breathable merino/polyester blend. I know that I sometimes loathe overheating in a heavy jacket on over a base layer and a jersey if it is anywhere above freezing anytime I have to do any climbing, so maybe this will be a better option. The jersey has a pair of vents in the sides beneath the armpits, and a big fourth zippered pocket above the two normal, plus one valuables pockets.
Another new and well-featured piece of kit is the revamped €245/$310 Rain Jacket. Available in Women and Men’s cuts, the new rain jacket adds better breathability and stretchy 2.5 and 3-ply waterproof fabrics, while still packing down small enough that it can be pulled off and stowed in a jersey pocket when the weather improves. The forearm’s new 3-ply fabric is softer against the skin when worn over short sleeves, while a new offset waterproof zipper avoids zipper-on-zipper contact.
These special edition €195/$250 Davis Phinney & Connie Carpenter long sleeve sportwool jerseys are dedicated to the American power couple, who each were cycling powerhouse in their own rights with many national championships, olympic medals, and world championships between them. The designs of the jerseys were inspired by Phinney’s ’88 Coors Classic win and Carpenter’s 12 national championships and her respective time in the champions striped jersey.
The jerseys are made from the same merino blend fabric as the Long Sleeve Jersey on which they are based, with a full-zip for the Carpenter but a shorter 1/4-length zipper for the Phinney jersey. The detail stripes (and stars) on both jerseys are reflective, with a Gold medal zipper pull for Carpenter and a Bronze medal pull for Phinney. The standard €165/$220 sportwool Long Sleeve Jerseys also get an interesting update in new colors. While merino blends were notorious for dull earth tones, Rapha has dialed it up with new orange, purple, and blue offerings. (Also in new long sleeves are a set of Columbia black, Japan red, and Italy blue Country Jerseys. Jump to Rapha to have a look.)
In 1999, Phinney was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. He and wife Connie Carpenter-Phinney since established the Davis Phinney Foundation to provide information, investment, and encouragement for others affected by the disease. 10% of all proceeds from the sale of these jersey will go to support the Phinney Foundation.
Lastly of interest from a winter riding perspective are the new long sleeve versions of the high-vis Brevet Jerseys, which were requested by purchasers of the original short sleeved version. For the low, low price of €250/$310 you get all the features of Rapha’s long sleeve sportwool jersey in your choice of understated grey or WOW pink, plus a highly reflective windproof front/mesh backed vest. The base jersey includes reflective stripes across the chest and upper arm, plus the brevet card pocket on the chest, in addition to the standard 3+1 rear pockets and a 5th rear zipped stow pocket for the vest.
Rounding out the winter kit are a new set of €75/$85 neoprene Overshoes. What we though was nice was the well made integration of the midfoot and toe panels of Kevlar fabric. I’m really not sure why every pair of shoe covers doesn’t include these, as it is the only thing I’ve seen to make them last more than a season. Anyway, these aren’t cheap, but they do come in eye-searing pink if you need something to match that Brevet jersey combo for which you just shelled out three Benjamins.
Also of note, but not yet available (and that I didn’t get a picture of in Rapha’s damp outside-of-Eurobike E-Z Up) are an upcoming pair of Pro Team Winter Tights. Put together like the Classic Winter Tights, the new Pro Team version includes the same sewn-in Cytech pad found in the Pro Team Thermal Bibs for the added simplicity of a single layer. Rapha’s sponsored team riders requested the change to reduce the number of pieces of clothing in their winter bag and to cut down on sliding between layers, and this winter they will pass these benefits on to regular cyclists. Styling is mostly simple black like the standard Pro Team Kit, but with at least 5 prominent white Rapha block logos and one in reflective black. We’ll get you a pic when it’s close to getting cold and we have a pari in to test.
OK, that was a lot of stuff. Congrats if you read all the way to here. It was actually abbreviated of just what we thought stood out. Head over to Rapha’s site if you want even more of an onslaught of pretty and expensive riding kit to help you through the coming cross season and gradually shortening days.