Rapha, which takes its name from a 1960s cycling team, has been around as a brand since 2004 but in that time they’ve made quite a splash. Established in London by Simon Mottram and Luke Scheybeler, they started life with a collection of cycle clothing shown as part of their event series and cycling memorabilia exhibition called ‘Kings of Pain’. Since then, Rapha has barely looked back. Unashamedly exclusive, the clothing and accessories they produce are big on both the sort of high performance, high tech fabrics and fibres beloved of professionals and the sort of cycle chic demanded by the sport’s urban aficionados.
Rapha involves itself in a wide spectrum of cycle-related activities, films, events, exhibitions and, of course, races. However, the bottom line is they do make great gear. The products are all developed with the involvement of active cyclists, the materials sourced are of the highest quality, they use skilled craftsmen and the product testing is extremely rigorous. The stretch fabrics are produced in Italy, the leather in the gloves comes from Somerset, UK and the merino wool, which features in their jerseys and base layers, comes from New Zealand.
Really, if you need an endorsement of Rapha products, you need look no further than the fact they were commissioned to supply all kit and accessories to Team Sky in 2013. Dave Brailsford is not a man known to enjoy compromise, so that’s got to come as a pretty strong recommendation.