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INTRODUCING THE RAPHA AW16 RANGE
WE PUT THEIR NEW COLLECTION TO THE TEST CYCLING ACROSS THE YORKSHIRE DALES
Cycling’s status within the UK both as a hobby, and as a competitive sport, has been on the rise for a few years now. Our nation’s new found obsession seems to have coincided with a golden era for professional formats of the sport, with riders at the top of their game being instantly recognisable. An increased popularity has led to enhancements both in the bikes we ride, and in the apparel available to help cyclists make the most of their time in the saddle.
One of the leading lights for cycling style is British brand Rapha. They’re the name behind Team Sky’s and Team Wiggins’ awesome kit designs. With the summer season fading into the distance, and winter fast approaching, Rapha asked us to preview some of their Autumn/Winter 2016 collection to see what we thought.
We road tested a number of items from their Brevet range. Brevet being a reference to Audax – a cycling discipline where riders complete long distance courses with a pre-defined time limit. This is known as a Brevet – with riders having ‘Brevet Cards’ that require validating at checkpoints along the way. As the name therefore alludes, the Brevet range has been designed with distance and durability in mind. We took the long sleeve jersey, gilet, bibshorts and socks from the range, along with a Rapha under-helmet cap and merino baselayer for an autumn ride in the Yorkshire dales to put them through their paces.
You can tell from the moment your package arrives that Rapha are obsessed with quality. Each item comes individually packed in a soft touch protective casing, with your order confirmation printed on quality paper and folded into a stiff envelope emblazoned with the Rapha logo. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the little things that can make you feel connected to a brand. The fit of the range feels tailored, although bearing in mind that long distance multi-day riding is what it is designed for, it isn’t too racy or restrictive.
We were really impressed with the chamois on the bibs. It contains perforations which assist with airflow during a long ride, but also promotes quick drying times, allowing the bib to be washed after a ride, and be ready for action again the next day. There are lots of subtleties to the range which set it apart from some of the more budget apparel available. The gilet for example, contains features such as mesh panelling under the arms and at the top of the back to increase air circulation and moderate body temperature. It also features an offset zip – perfect when layering so as not to build bulk when paired with a full zip jersey.
The jersey itself comes packed with features too – constructed of Rapha’s famous Sportwool fabric allowing both breathability and insulation. It also features a waterproof front pocket which is designed to hold your Brevet Card – although to be honest it’s much more useful for storing your mobile. Whilst style is clearly high on the list of Rapha’s priorities for this range, visibility and safety have also been considered with reflective strips being engineered into all of the Brevet range garments. These become a design feature – allowing Rapha to experiment with contrast colours. Our jersey was grey in body with pink and white reflective stripes which looked superb.
Rapha’s product range is one of the most far reaching and versatile on the cycling apparel market. Whilst you are certainly not at the budget end of that market, the luxury performance and style that Rapha offer, in our opinion make their products a wise investment.