Project Blaero

Project Blaero

Designing the future of offroad racing apparel.

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31 May 2024


“I raced with what I had, found a like minded rider in [Chad Haga] and we took the race on. It required me to pull on all the experience I've gained from road, ultra and MTB.” - Lachlan Morton, EF Education-EasyPost

We couldn’t have written a better ending to Unbound 2024. Lachlan Morton took the men’s 200 mile race at the fourth time of asking, setting the course record in the process. An inspiration to all of us, Lachy has always ridden his own path and represents the pioneering spirit that is central to everything we love about the sport. The Australian focused on enjoying his riding in preparation for the event and called upon his vast multi-disciplinary experience: jumping from the bunch at mile 104, he worked with fellow ex-roadie Chad Haga to ride the perfect race.

Here is a selection of our favourite images from photographer Joe Harper at Unbound Gravel.

The future of bike racing is one of infinite discovery. The progression of riding styles, technology, terrain and environments means a quickening cadence of change and development in the needs of riders. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in gravel racing, where the rules and possibilities are still being defined. Working with athletes racing at the leading edge of this new frontier sees different demands on their bodies, skills and the tools they need to perform. It’s also an emerging realm in which we will propel our innovation for Pro Team – evolving technologies developed for years, to save you seconds and even minutes.

The latest of these developments is Project Blaero: a pioneering design collaboration between Rapha’s offroad athletes and product team – this modified version of our WorldTour Summer Suit is adapted to fit a hydration pack to optimise performance racing big distances on the world’s roughest terrain. 

Giant of the offroad racing circuit, Keegan Swenson made the initial request – working closely with our product team on wear-testing and helping us drive this innovation. We also consulted with Lachlan Morton, Sarah Sturm and Ellen Campbell, riders who are pushing the sport forwards.

"I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional hydration packs as they are a bit hot, and they are slower from an aerodynamics standpoint. Not to mention the extra weight. So I had the idea to integrate a bladder pouch into a skin suit which solves all those problems. It’s cooler, faster and lighter."

– Keegan Swenson, Santa Cruz htSQD & Rapha Athlete

Seeking advantages in aerodynamics and fuelling, the Blaerosuit eliminates the discomfort and bulk of standard hydration vests and packs with an integrated pocket on the back to house a hydro pack. The Blaerosuit was created in response to our athletes wearing hydration packs designed for trail running in gravel bike races. These vests restrict breathability and airflow, add excess weight due to unnecessary parts and generally create discomfort, reduce aerodynamics and restrict access to jersey pockets.

Adapting and reworking our WorldTour Summer Suit with a breathable upper section and aero outer sleeves – the integrated pouch for a 2L hydro pack ensures stability and seamless replenishment for the rider or their support crew. The suit also uses a built-in internal strap system to secure the hydro pack whilst riding at speed.

"Cycling traditionally looks to the WorldTour for its new technologies. This shows the legitimacy of the gravel space and the need for innovation in this pioneering realm of the sport. It’s a project that will be the catalyst for further developments, throwing the rulebook out of the window, while we still can."

– Thomas Long, Rapha Athletes & Teams Manager

Additionally, the hose of the hydration pack can be securely housed and fixed to either shoulder panel depending on the rider's preference. As requested by Lachlan Morton there are also elasticated cargo pockets on the backs of the sleeves plus pockets on the rear leg panels for gels, plugs or CO2 cartridges. All of these elements are tailored to be as aerodynamic as possible, reducing drag and optimising efficiency.

The latest prototype of the Blaerosuit will be ridden by Rapha athletes at Unbound 2024 – the blue riband event in the gravel racing calendar. 

These races feature long stretches in between feedzones and are primarily self-supported so riders need as much storage capacity as can be afforded without compromising performance. Enabling almost seamless replenishment, switching out the reservoir is simple and can be done solo without any crew help at pit-stops. The Blaerosuit allows the athlete a level of self-sufficiency and speed required in such events.

The lower section of the Blaerosuit uses our pinnacle material and pad – compressive, supportive and breathable for the most demanding race conditions. 

Not currently commercially available, this design is 100% focused on the needs of elite professionals racing off-road. 

Sign-up via the link to register your interest in future Blaerosuit developments.

Meanwhile, there are a host of rider-led innovations within our current Pro Team collection.

Men's Pro Team Aero Jersey

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Men's Pro Team Lightweight Jersey

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Men's Pro Team Bib Shorts II - Regular

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Men's Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts

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Women's Pro Team Aero Jersey

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Women's Pro Team Lightweight jersey

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Women's Pro Team Bib Shorts - Regular

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Women's Pro Team Powerweave Bib Shorts

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