Races may be won out on the road but they start in the wind tunnel: introducing Aero Block, Rapha’s latest capsule collection.

Recent years have witnessed an aerodynamic arms race in professional cycling. As well as soigneurs and domestiques, technicians and engineers now form a crucial part of any champion’s support staff. Such is the importance of aerodynamics in today’s peloton, wind tunnel testing has become synonymous with serious performance.

Yet, almost all of this testing takes place in secret, far from the fans who line the roadside come race day. Here, we explain how the Aero Block design mirrors the meticulous attention to detail required to attain an aero advantage.

“The collection’s visual language expresses motion through static print patterns built from geometric forms that allude to speed.”

– Alex Fergusson, Designer

What’s in a name?

The collection takes its name from the mannequins, or ‘fit blocks’, used in wind tunnel testing. Once on the block, aerodynamicists attach strings to a garment to plot the flow of air over it. From the control test, alterations are made to improve aerodynamic efficiency.

Air flow

The curved lines on the Aero Block Jersey follow those created by the flow of air over a rider’s upper body, during which turbulence at the shoulders gives way to smoother airflow over the back.

Pressure points

Another weapon in the aerodynamicist’s arsenal is pressure mapping. The Aero Block design incorporates heavier, denser shades at the shoulder where air resistance is greatest.

Silence = Speed

Each piece in the capsule collection features a hidden story label. The label in each garment is different but together they track a rider’s passage through the wind, from leading edges to unique patterns left in the trailing air behind.

See the collection

Trialled by Mike Woods and Lachlan Morton of EF Education First Pro Cycling while training for the Tour Down Under, the entire collection is available now.