Rapha opened its doors to the world in 2004, but with their focus on tradition and ‘classic’ styling, you could be forgiven for thinking they have been around since the days of downtube shifters and leather stack hats. The brand is as much about the ‘image’ of cycling as the garments it produced — which at the beginning were honestly nothing special in terms of quality and fit.
This same ethos has continued to this day, but the calibre of the gear has improved ten-fold over the years, culminating in the sponsorship of Team Sky for a few seasons and now EF Pro Cycling. With the brand producing road, gravel and casual wear, and the involvement of Tom and Steuart Walton (the grandsons of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart), who are both mountain bikers, it’s no surprise to see the brand make the jump from stretchy riding pyjamas to MTB clothing.
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Rapha hasn’t done an outstanding job of keeping the impending launch of its ‘Performance Trail Wear’ under wraps, with the @Raphamtb Instagram account appearing about a month ago. The brand has also enlisted the likes of Jill Kitner, Ella Conoly, Adam Craig, Elliot Jackson, Bryn Atkinson and Joey Schusler to serve as ride wear-testers.
We have our hands on the first few releases, read on for our first impressions and details everything the range entails.
Rapha MTB Jersey
Rapha has launched a short sleeve and ¾ sleeve jersey; both are made from the same 100-per cent recycled fabrics. The main panel of the jersey is made with a waffled material to improve cooling, while the more robust woven fabric on the arms shouldn’t vaporise when you inevitably go for a slide into the bushes.
Should you manage to put a hole in one of these pricey jerseys, Rapha includes a colour matched patch kit, so you don’t have to break out the sewing kit and remember how to thread a double back stitch. Rapha also offers a crash repair service covering the entire MTB range to keep your kits on the trails and out of the landfill.
Both have a slim fit, and the material sees oodles of stretch — there is plenty of space for elbow pads beneath the ¾ sleeve top.
Rapha is also offering a Women’s Trail Tank made from the same materials.
Trail ¾ Jersey – $130
Trail Technical T-Shirt – $95
Women’s Trail Tank – $95
Rapha MTB Shorts
According to Rapha, its trail shorts are tough enough to handle all-mountain riding without sacrificing breathability or flexibility. They are tailored around having ample room for a liner and pads underneath while also not feeling like you’re wearing hammer pants.
The men’s baggies have two hand pockets and two zippered side pockets, belt loops, and an integrated webbing belt, but the women’s version sees an elasticated waist and two zippered side pockets; both cost the same price.
We asked Rapha why there was a discrepancy between the male and female offerings.
“The women’s shorts are different from the men’s. That is correct. They do still have a thigh pocket with phone storage but not hand pockets. The difference in the construction is largely on the waistband, where we tried to optimise on-bike comfort for female riders. Instead of the variable width belt in the men’s version, we opted for a low profile, stretch waist that offers a locked-in fit that sits a little higher, not too dissimilar from what’s seen in yoga apparel or activewear,” says Rapha MTB Marketing Manager Nate Riffle.
At launch, Rapha is offering a Men’s cargo bib with mesh side panels and pockets on the shoulder braces, and the women’s range sees a waist short with mesh side panels and no pockets. Riffle tells Flow there is a women’s bib in the works.
“Based on the focus groups and riders surveyed by the product team upon the line’s creation, there was a distinct split in the want for bib shorts from the female riders, so we prioritised the women’s liner short first. Don’t be fooled however, this is not the stock, familiar throw away liner that you’d find in most shorts under $120 (AU$140). This is a high-performance Rapha chamois and a technical liner short material that is comfortable on body, ventilated and breathable for those hot days on the bike,” he says.
Trail Shorts – $195
Women’s Trail Shorts – $195
Trail Cargo Bib Liner – $175
Women’s Trail Liner – $140
Rapha MTB Jacket
Also, in Rapha’s initial launch is a lightweight, packable emergency shell. Made from DWR treated ripstop nylon, it will serve as a last defence when you don’t beat the clouds back to the trailhead. The hood is oversized and designed to fit around a helmet, and the shell packs down into the chest pocket.
Quite clever is the built-in strap, which allows you to whack the little bundle onto your frame when you aren’t wearing it, so you don’t have to bring a bag when the weather looks threatening.
Trail Lightweight Jacket – $230
Women’s Trail Lightweight Jacket – $230
Rapha Trail Hip pack
Rapha has a full range of luggage, covering everything from suitcases to commuter backpacks, but the Trail Hip Pack is probably one of its more versatile options to date. Made from ripstop nylon, it has two bottle pouches and a three-litre internal capacity to store plenty of spares and tools. A smaller front pocket is ideal for keeping essential things like your keys separate from the main compartment. On the outside is a bungee attachment big enough to store an extra layer, but we’re unsure if it will handle knee pads.
Trail Hip Pack – $105
Rapha Pro Team Full Frame Glasses
The Pro Team Full Frame glasses aren’t new to Rapha’s range, but the brand highlights them as its most trail suitable eyewear. The frames are made from Girimid polymer, and the nose piece and ear stocks feature Megol rubber grippers.
The sunnies come stock with a tinted contrast enhancing lens, as well as a spare clear lens. Rapha also includes a small and large nose piece to ensure they will fit your schnoz, whether button-sized or of the XL variety.
Pro Team Full Frame Glasses – $210
For more info, head over to Rapha’s website.