Limited Edition Rapha + Paul Smith Collection

Rapha + Paul Smith: Old Friends, New Designs

The new, limited edition collection celebrating friends brought together by the bike and relationships formed through riding.

26 April 2023

Inspired by the decades-long friendship between Paul Smith and Rapha's Simon Mottram, this special collection stems from a mutual, lifelong love for the sport, as well as a joint passion for creativity and innovative design. Simon and Paul’s friendship began twenty years ago, and now spans both their personal and professional lives. From inspiration, to mentor, and now friends and collaborators, it all began because of the bike.

In keeping with this concept, we asked three pairs of riders to model the collection and share their stories of finding closeness through cycling. Friends Amy and Arame first met riding their bikes, and it remains a source of constant joy for them both. After a further afield friendship began via Instagram, thanks to cycling best friends and now neighbours Duke and Lew couldn’t be much closer. Meanwhile, brothers Elliot and Noah put the rekindling of their close bond down to the bike.

Through the understanding of shared experience, an underlying connection comes from knowing how the highs and lows feel, the ability to appreciate the whole spectrum of emotions that go in the saddle. And off the bike, we’re brought together by a shared passion for the weird and wonderful world of bike racing. To have this sport in common seems a sure-fire way to secure a life-time of friendship.


What lessons has your friendship with Paul taught you?
Simon: “Generosity and steadfastness. Paul has never had a financial interest in Rapha, but he promised to help me when I met him back in 2003 and has always been good to his word. We were a small startup for a long time, but Paul introduced me to suppliers and gave us so much of his time. He has been a steadfast supporter of Rapha for the last twenty years and, even after all that time he still fizzes with ideas of things we might do together.”

Do you have a favourite moment from your friendship?
Simon: “Early on in Rapha’s journey we came up with an idea for an evening criterium race in London with Condor Cycles. 5,000 fans turned up to watch the bike race around Smithfield Nocturne. I invited Paul on the off-chance he would consider coming. As the main event began, I received a call. “Simon? It’s Paul. I’m coming down if you’ll still have me. How about I present the prizes for you?”. Of course, Paul was mobbed when he arrived and then presented the prizes. But he was happiest leaning over the hoardings, banging them with the rest of the crowd.”

Can you characterise your friendship?
Simon: “We are really just two old fans of cycling. We share some of the same heroes, we have similar tastes in cycling design and the visual aspects of the sport. But most of all we both get excited about the racing. Paul has more pro riders on speed dial than I have, but I know he still gets just as much of a thrill as I do when they call.”

What is the foundation of your friendship?
Paul: “Our friendship started with a conversation when Simon was starting out, and it’s really just evolved from there. Cycling has been incredibly important to me since I was a boy and I recognised that same passion in Simon. It’s so nice to have someone who you can, for want of a better word, be a geek with.”

What lessons have you learnt from Simon?
Paul: “Simon has this almost encyclopaedic knowledge of cycling and its history, so his expertise and enthusiasm for the sport has been a real inspiration to me. And he’s generous with it, which is something I’ve always been an admirer of: people who are so excited by ideas that they can’t wait to share them.”

Do you have a favourite memory together?
Paul: “At the risk of sounding ‘all work’, my favourite memories of Simon are when we’ve worked together. One of the first times was on a jersey design which was very much based on designs from back in the day, when jerseys were made from wool and embroidered – and again, it was Simon’s expertise that really made the difference.”


Arame: “I would describe Amy as fun, encouraging and brave. I love riding bikes with her because we’re both pretty competitive, and as she’s been riding bikes for a long time it really pushes me, and I love that. Like when we were riding in Austria and heading up a big climb, and she supported me the whole way, waiting for me and talking to me as we went. It’s simple, but someone sticking by you and believing in you is quite special. Having bikes in common means there’s an understanding to our friendship. We know what it's like to ride in the rain, suffering in the cold and wet. I’m very grateful for that.”

Amy: “Arame is always smiling. She’s so happy and giggly, but can be serious when she wants to be. The best part about a bike-based friendship is being able to do the things you love, together. When we ride our bikes we tend to go a bit crazy, we’re always just happy to be out there in nature. I love riding with her because it brings back the raw element of it. The excitement of when you first start riding. Training means you can sometimes lose sight of that, but seeing her experience things for the first time reminds me why I started.”


Duke: “Lew and I first met on Instagram, then he moved to London and we started riding bikes together, now we’re basically neighbours and best friends. He’s taught me to always keep going, no matter what. He always shows up, always keeps going and just has a good time doing it. My favourite memory is going to watch him race and supporting him. It was just a really, really good day. We have such a great friendship, and it’s just amazing that cycling brought us two together.”

Lew: “I’ve been riding bikes for over six years, but the reason I ride is because of Duke. We used to follow each other on Instagram, and then I decided I was going to move to London, buy a fixie and be just like Duke! The best day I’ve had on the bike was when they came to watch me race. They helped me warm up, prepped my bike and bought extra chainrings. During the race, every time I approached this corner I could just hear them shouting for me. It was a good day. They’ve taught me to eat more on the bike, and that it’s okay to say no off it.


Noah: “We got into cycling through our father. He would take us down to Herne Hill Velodrome and we’d send it down Big Bob on bikes that were far less capable than they should have been. Then Elliot moved to Australia and we started to drift apart - I thought it would be nice to go and see him. Out there, we rented mountain bikes and that’s kind of what brought us back together and grew into what we’ve got now. He’s taught me a lot, I’ve got quite a measured approach to things and I’ve learned to let go a little and be okay with that.”

Elliot: “Riding bikes together really solidified our relationship, outside of just simply living in a house together. We train together and have amazing conversations on the bike, things we wouldn’t talk about normally - we share a lot of advice. We wouldn’t be the people we are without cycling, it brought us closer. Our approach to things is different, we’re both engineers but Noah is more calculated where I’m a bit all over the place. He’s taught me how to be a bit more logical.”


The collection as whole points to the all-important era in cycling when jersey design became bolder, brighter and much more detailed. Featuring both an RCC-exclusive jersey in club colours, and a black version sporting the signature Paul Smith stripes the collection also includes a range of riding accessories. Using this emphasis on engaging detailing, a bunny rabbit print brings a little playfulness to the design, whilst still honouring the long standing tradition of the jersey.