Friday, July 2, 2010

Rapha Backlash?

Rapha is certainly a bike brand that splits opinion. It's quite easy to write off the brand as Rapha = poser, something that I can relate to, especially when they send through marketing brochures of male models pretending to ride fast up an Alpine climb without a helmet. It just makes you want to kick them in the balls really. I'm also of the opinion that the kit does not really justify the price given the quality and fit on offer (yes, I have tried some on) though there are people who get on with it and I'm not going to hold it against them if they have the $$$ to burn.

But then on the other hand the base philosophy of providing bike clothing that doesn't make us look like complete flouro freaks to the general public is a good thing. Also, I love their printed publications- rouleur is head and shoulders above any other cycling magazine, and despite the above I think they've contributed a lot to cycling in the past few years. 

The latest of those contributions is the new Rapha shop and cycle club, which I have to say sounds like a good thing- somewhere in Central London where you can watch the Tour must be positive, and the idea of exhibitions and of course a coffee shop is all good stuff. Getting featured on monocle (they've been in the print magazine also) must also help bring exposure to our sport. But then again, somehow the idea grates a little. Bike clubs should be about bringing people together to ride and race, about bringing through juniors and youth (how many juniors can afford rapha kit?!?). Associations with sponsers is a reality and generally a good thing, but buying into a clothing brand to this extent just smacks somewhat of chavs in Burberry, no? I think they may just have become too popular for their own good with this one.