An Open Road

An Open Road

Rapha founder and CEO Simon Mottram pens an open letter to mark the new year.

15 January 2019

As the start of the new cycling season approaches, all of us at Rapha are bristling with excitement for what lies ahead, not least our own plans as a company in 2019. After 15 years we are innovating more than ever, making some big moves to change the sport we love. Here’s a summary of what’s in store.

Road racing has inspired and informed Rapha’s brand since the beginning. Our racewear has become part of that history, raising the bar for performance and style en route to Grand Tour and Monument victories, setting a trend for more refined team kits. We continue to support CANYON//SRAM with eye-catching kit, and this year we return to the men’s pro peloton with EF Education First Pro Cycling to shake things up once again.

Since we left Team Sky in 2016 we have been researching the sport of professional road racing and looking for ways that we can help it to grow. The fact is, the sport is struggling, with declining audiences and little value being created. The mission of our partnership with the EF team is to bring new excitement to professional racing by promoting a new, innovative racing calendar and telling the stories of engaging riders that fans can follow.

Wherever they compete, the riders of the EF team will be wearing kit that will be the envy of their rivals. Rapha left the peloton at the top in 2016, having seen our clothing ridden to victory on the Champs-Élysées. We return with kit that is lighter, faster and – in the case of EF Education First Pro Cycling – brighter than ever before. Look out for it in the bunch this season.

From their team to yours, Rapha will soon provide team kit for all. This Spring, Rapha Custom will allow anyone to take their favourite items from our collection and fully personalise them. Every team is different, but whether you’re challenging for race results or simply riding for fun, it’s always better riding together. Using our intuitive online tool, you don’t need any graphic design experience to make something beautiful that you and your teammates will feel proud to ride in.

If you’d rather join an existing club, consider the Rapha Cycling Club. For the last five years we have been leading the way in developing an active community of 13,500 riders. The year holds many exciting additions for members. Members now receive free personal accident insurance as standard, a first for any global club, and support at some of the world’s biggest sportives including l’Etape du Tour and Mallorca 312. This year we will also offer a new collaboration with one of the world’s leading fashion designers, and a bespoke bike tool manufacturer. There are hundreds of rides around the world each week, many of which set off from our Clubhouses and are organised by members, including regular favourites organised by the community. Membership is more than just our iconic club colours – it’s a gateway to riding with others round the world, and something I’m very proud of.

There’s also a plethora of new products; some you might expect, while others may surprise. I’m particularly excited about our new range of shoes. We’ve approached footwear afresh, designing three new models from the ground up over the last two years. From a super stiff race shoe to a resilient off-road shoe, each pair will be a show-stopper, perfectly tuned to the terrain and type of riding for which it was created.

On the racewear side, our proprietary Shadow fabric is back and lighter than before in a new jacket that provides the best weight-to-weather protection I’ve ever seen. The jacket will feature in both our Pro Team and Souplesse collections and, in a first for our Shadow products, will be available in a range of colours.

Elsewhere, the designers of our ever-growing women’s collection have been working to improve bib shorts. We undertook a three-year project to improve comfort, from the chamois up, and looked to solve an age-old problem for female cyclists: bib straps and the bathroom break.

As well as renewing and refreshing our products next year, we will continue to use them to retell the stories of riders and races, both famous and forgotten, from cycling’s past. We’ll be re-releasing one of our most iconic jersey designs in tribute to beloved Italian cyclist, Marco Pantani, and publishing a new book to mark the fifteenth anniversary of his tragic passing. We’ll also celebrate a pioneering American track cyclist who, despite having garnered far less recognition than the Italian, is no less deserving of it. Product remains at the very heart of what Rapha does best, and this is just a glimpse of the road ahead.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about what is to come and look forward to seeing you on the road or in a Clubhouse soon.

Happy New Year,

Simon Mottram