For 2017 Rapha has put together a couple of limited Collector’s Edition pieces of kit, while at the same time updating their classic vest (gilet) and doing a bit of an overhaul on their range of shorts. Of course with a new season also comes some new colors, this year with more a sky blue tinge. It seems odd to produce a special edition rain jacket and vest with a name suggesting that someone might collect it instead of wear it to brave harsher weather. But the updates to the Classic pieces combine a bit of exclusivity with some updated features that actually promise improved performance, in traditional Rapha black & pink without much price premium…
The Collector’s Editions of the men’s and women’s £200/250€ Classic Rain Jacket & £150/195€ Classic Gilet are both limited to just 800 pieces. Those prices aren’t cheap so they’re probably not going to run through the stock in a week, but they still aren’t far out of normal Rapha price ranges.
To make themselves limited editions they each add a unique feature. The Classic Rain Jacket adds a new rear panel with a bunch of small horizontal slit vents under flaps to keep water out (where the standard rain jacket has no rear venting). They promise improved ventilation and temperature regulation while keeping waterproofness.
The special Classic Gilet replaces the standard rear mesh panel with a new open grid of hand-woven fabric that maximizes breathability, while trying to make a subtle statement on style. Both come only in black and include mostly low-key pink details and reflective elements throughout.
While the Collector’s Edition Classic Gilet tries to show off, Rapha has also designed their more basic £100 mild weather vest. The new Gilet II gets a new lighter fabric to packing down even smaller than before, so it will always fit in your pockets. It is now totally windproof, using a lighter-weight stretch nylon fabric and a closer fit for less flapping around.
Maybe more interesting than small updates to vests and rain shells, Rapha has done a bit of overhauls to their bib shorts for the new season. Their Classic bibs were one of the key products that they really built the brand around, and now an evolved Classic Bib Shorts II gets a subtle reworking for improved fit and performance for both men & women. They key update to the £165 bibs is the addition of size specific chamois pads. Three pad sizes will spread across the XS-XXL range of short in order to better fit the size range of the riders’ own bodies, but also to make sure that the they don’t conflict or bunch with the already size-specific panels and cuts of the different size shorts.
The bibs in the Brevet line also get a good update, this time with new fabrics for the new generation. The £180 Brevet Bib Shorts II are designed to be worn for long days touring and then be ready to go the next day again. So Rapha gives them a new fabric that is more durable and faster-drying , while also offering improved muscle support. Combined with a revamped chamois pad, they are said to be able to be hand washed at the end of the day, hung up while you sleep, and be dry and ready to ride again overnight.
Other than these updated pieces, Rapha has added a few new items to their City collections for both men and women. The highlights out of that would probably be a new £120 super-packable nylon wind and rain shell called the Pack Jacket for men or the £100/125€ striped 90% merino Breton sweater for women.
Color-wise there are also a bunch of updates across several of the ranges. Mostly the updates are pale blues. Whether you are looking for Pro Team, Breve, or Tricolor jerseys; socks, caps & vests; or women’s Classic jerseys & bib shorts, 2017 is looking rather blue.