High end road clothing brand Rapha dropped by the BikeRadar offices recently to show of their latest range of technical clothing with a classic twist (or possibly the other way around).
Here are some of the highlights that caught our eye including some radical new shorts…
Andy Hampsten limited edition jersey £120/$205
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hampsten's Giro victory, including his legendary ride to second place on the snowy Gavia stage, Rapha got together with the great man to develop this jersey in a limited edition of 700. Made from Sportwool it's unashamedly retro and features "distinctive Andy Hampsten branding"… er, its got his name on in a cleverly done 7/11 style plus Hampsten's own boar logo. Every jersey also comes with Hampsten's race number and some pins to give you the full on Hampsten '88 effect when tackling your local climbs. Available March 7th.
Rapha Touring shorts £70/$110
For roadies putting in the miles until now it's been Lycra or nothing in the shorts department. Rapha aim to change that with these Touring shorts – designed to be worn over bibs for big mile days (they can also be worn on their own for shorter rides), or when you are likely to be on and off your bike in situations where you might suddenly feel a bit conspicuous in figure hugging Lycra.
These shorts are a tailored slim fit with an adjustable waistband, and they're certainly not baggy. The material is stretchy and also water resistant and breathable. There are two small pockets: one for phone and one for money. Our pre-production samples feature pink detailing on the hems – this will be black on the production version and black will be the only colour the Touring shorts will be available in. Shame, we'd certainly like to see what they'd be like in other colours too. We will let you know how we get on with them. Available April 14th.
Lightweight jersey – now in black £120
The most performance oriented of Rapha's jerseys, it's mainly polyester (78%) rather than wool (22%), features all the detailing you would expect of a race jersey plus some distinctive Rapha details: four rear pockets rather than three (two of them zipped) plus the story of "the Rider who rode the wrong way" down by the rear hem. Available March 26th.
Club and Country jerseys £90/$155 for both
Elsewhere in the jersey range there are new colour combos in the Club jersey range for '08 including a very bright orange and a more muted green and a new set of Country jerseys in merino wool and polyester. There's a choice of Belgium, France or Italy with each jersey featuring the national colours in a band across the chest and a pithy description of that country's archetypal rider on a label in the inside the rear pocket (the Frenchman is "the ‘Patron of the peloton'". More practical touches include reflective detailing on that pocket. Country jersey available March 7th, Club jersey available May 7th.
Other products to look out for include the Stowaway jacket, which is getting a re-working for '08 to be in a more stowable, breathable material. It's available in new colour: Sulphur – basically where yellow meets green and will sell for £170/$290. Available March 10th.
There's also a commuting shirt (with collar) for wearing on and off the bike and an expanded range of gloves including a new lower priced Racing glove with synthetic back and leather palm.
Rapha have earned themselves a big reputation for the style and quality of their clothing and it's practical detailing. But it also carries a hefty price tag too so we will be testing all of these products and more in the coming months to see if this year's style is backed up with real-world riding substance.