London based brand Rapha have garnered an excellent reputation from their high end road and gravel apparel over the years, which backed by a unique repair program. To date, they’ve repaired over 34,000 garments. The brand also uses recycled and/or environmentally friendly fabrics often and wherever possible. Aesthetically, while the do tend to entertain some bold looks now and again, they’re generally known for being on the simple, clean side of things, as opposed to the often garish looks that manage to pass through the mountain bike world. Today they’ve officially announced their foray that world and I was fortunate enough to receive a head to toe package of apparel to review. While those reviews will be a few months out, for now here is a brief overview of their lineup…
Trail 3/4 Sleeve Jersey – $100
Rapha takes a very unique approach to their 3/4 sleeve jersey. The core material is made from an airy and highly breathable fabric that wicks moisture and avoids snagging. The sleeves however are made from a tougher, more abrasion resistant fabric as they’re more likely to get banged up on trail. Repair patches are included with the jersey, which is rather handy. While it would be premature for a full review, I found the materials and fit to be brilliant – especially for a freshman effort.
Not the jetting on the shoulders. The fabric on the sleeves is slightly less stretchy than that of the core, so this helps provide a nicely contoured fit, which in turn prevents discomfort and bunching.
Rapha’s signature arm band on the left sleeve.
Trail Shorts – $150
The Trail Short is aimed at general purpose trail riding and has a relatively casual look. The stretch nylon fabric has plenty of give and allows freedom of movement, while still feeling rather durable and abrasion resistant – although time will tell. Note the angled hem at the knee, which helps better cover the kneepads while seated and climbing as well as off the bike.
There are two standard front pockets and an integrated belt. The closure looks like a snap button, but it actually has works like a clasp. Although this has taken some time to get used to, I like the approach as it can’t pop open accidentally, when under pressure.
In the event that you wanted to wear your own belt, there are a total of four belt loops. Also note the higher cut back, which helps prevent trail debris from getting into your shorts.
There is a single zipper pocket on the left side with an additional pouch inside of it. It’s easy to access and an ideal place to put your phone as it’s less likely to get banged up in a crash due to its rearward position.
Trail Cargo Bib Liner Shorts – $135
The Cargo bibs are made from some of the most plush material I’ve worn to date. The back, side and outer thigh panels feature a super airy mesh material that breathes and wicks sweat like a champ.
The mesh straps have plenty of stretch and breathability.
There are two pockets located on the sides off of your spine, which is a better approach in my opinion. You can stash spares, snacks and more there with room to spare.
Lastly, the leg grippers are comfortable and effective. You don’t notice them throughout the day, which is all you can really ask for.
Trail Technical T-Shirt – $75
The Trail T-Shirt is made to look very much like a normal day to day Tee, but with the benefit of far better breathability. It’s no frills on the outside, but the materials make it a dream come true in the warmer summer months.
Just a simple macro short of the T-Shirt material.
Much like the 3/4 Jersey, the panelling is laid out with the intention of mobility and preventing bunching.
Lightweight Trail Jacket – $180
The Lightweight trail jacket is aimed at the shoulder seasons. It’s not a fully waterproof jacket – rather, it features a DWR coating for water resistance aimed at repelling light rain in cooler variable weather. The hood and cuffs feature elastic for a snug fit.
The nylon material is light, stretchy and made from a Ripstop material, as you can see above.
There is a single left side chest pocket that the jacket packs into, which an included strap to pack it down with.
The hood fits over a helmet, albeit on the slightly snug side – and it has a single tension cord at the rear.
Pro Team Full Frame Glasses – $165
The Pro Team Full Frame glasses ship with a mirrored blue lens (not shown) as well as the clear lenses shown above. Swapping the lenses is a breeze and no tools are required.
There are four very good sized vents – two up top by the brows and two on the sides.
The glasses ship with two different sized nose bridges for varying face profiles.
The arm grippers are made from Megol – a common rubber material in that world. So far, I’ve found them to be extremely comfortable while boasting razor sharp optics.
I’ll be following up in the coming months with reviews on specific items, but for the time being my first impressions are really quite good. The fit and material choice both really stand out from much of the mountain bike industry so far. Regarding pricing, I think most of the items seemed to be priced fairly. Rapha is a high end brand, so I anticipated their prices to be slightly higher than they are at the moment, but it’s refreshing to see them come in at a pretty reasonable, competitive range. It’s also nice to see Rapha entering the game with some unique aspects rather than just going through the motions and doing it just to do it. Competition and variety makes just about everything better, so we’re excited to see a new player in the game – particularly one with much experience on the road side of things. Stay tuned for more in depth coverage in the future…