IT’S a shame that cycling gear is so often unstylish, the need for visibility and safety overriding the imperative to look good. But it needn’t be that way. Rapha is a London-based company that started up six years ago “driven by a passion for road cycling” and “the stamina, strength and focus that it requires”. As well as a range of clothes and accessories for serious road racers that includes things like woollen leg-warmers and waterproof overshoes, it does the most stylish cycling gear I’ve seen. If you wince at the sight of cyclists wandering into the office in dayglo, like refugees from Chernobyl, than then this is the way to go.
The most office-friendly item that Rapha does is a jacket made in collaboration with Savile Row tailor Timothy Everest in a stylish check with a splash of the trademark Rapha pink. There are working cuff buttons on the sleeves, shooting jacket-style action pleats in the back that give you more flexibility, a storm-collar that buttons at the neck to keep out that London sleet and folds up to reveal a flash of pink Merino on the underside. It’s also water-resistant, although at £400 you might not want to risk it in seriously nasty weather. For that, though, Rapha also has a range of waterproof wind-jackets and softshells, all of which are just as stylish as the Everest jacket, just more sporty.
The other must-have for winter cycling if a nice warm hat. Rapha’s classic road-racer biretta-style caps are admirably waterproof, but if you need more insulation than there is a waxed Gentlemen’s Cap, a blue retro effort that makes you look like a Belgian hill-climbing champion, is sure to keep the rain out. For those cold, crisp winter mornings the 100 per cent Merino knitted hat will keep you toasty, with its fold-down earbands. Both hats cost £45.
Rapha also has a range made in collaboration with Paul Smith, including some very snazzy leather gloves that are made in Somerset. Say goodbye to lycra.