Rapha has taken the leap into the off-road market, launching its Performance Trailwear line-up of mountain bike clothing and accessories.
The company has long been involved in making some of the most snazzy road cycling garments, albeit with the perception of being a bit posh. Will its reputation follow it into the mountain bike arena?
The brand has certainly taken a different approach than most when it comes to its press material, which features the same lustful prose that is found printed on much of its packaging and clothing.
"The beauty of mountain biking for us lies in the commitment, the repetition, and the countless hours it takes to cast your own progression on the trail," it states. "Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy but for those willing, the rewards are infinite."
Rapha also mentions that this kit has been tested by some of the best athletes in the business, including Jill Kintner, Bryn Atkinson, Eliot Jackson, and Ella Conolly.
Let's take a look at what Rapha is bringing to the dirt-laden table.
Jerseys and tops
Rapha's new MTB range includes multiple jersey options. To start, the Trail Technical T-Shirt is a casual tee made from technical fabric that Rapha claims is perfect for days on the trail. The t-shirt is made from a honeycomb fabric structure that, according to Rapha, wicks sweat away from the skin and disperses moisture throughout a greater surface area, which keeps the fabric dry. The Trail Technical T-Shirt is offered in both men's and women's sizes.
If you prefer long sleeves, there is also the Trail 3/4 Sleeve Jersey in both men's and women's sizes, which appears to be very similar to the T-Shirt in terms of fabric and technology, just with longer sleeves for cold days or more aggressive riding.
The Women's Trail Tank is a sleeveless tank top that again has the same features as the T-Shirt and 3/4 Jersey.
All of the above-listed garments are made from recycled materials, according to Rapha. The brand says that 43 per cent of the range, by volume, will be made from 'environmentally preferred' materials this year, though it doesn't provide a definition of what that term means. By 2025, it hopes to increase that number to 90 per cent.
A neat feature on all of them as well is an included patch kit. Rapha says it wants these clothes to last, so it's included an at-home repair kit with all purchases, or you can send an item to Rapha for further repairs in the event of a crash or branch snag.
For changing weather conditions, Rapha is offering the Lightweight Trail Jacket for both men and women, which consists of a windproof shell that can be packed down and attached to your bike frame via an included strap. The hood has been optimized to fit under a helmet, plus the jacket features an ergonomic design for wear on and off the bike.
Rapha is offering both men's and women's baggy shorts, each with a corresponding bib short/liner (sold separately).
The Men's Trail shorts feature an ergonomic design for improved freedom of movement on the bike and a precise fit that can be adjusted by a belt and cinch system. Rapha says they are designed and cut to be used with or without knee pads, and they have two hand pockets as well as two zippered side pockets with an integrated phone sleeve.
The Women's Trail shorts feature a similar ergonomic design as the Men's and are designed to be worn with or without kneepads as well. They don't have hand pockets though, only getting two zippered side pockets including a phone sleeve. The waist design is different too, with a 'stretch waist' rather than the adjustable waistband on the men's version.
Both of the baggy shorts also come with repair kits.
Rapha says it used 15 years of innovation to create the chamois pad in the Men's Trail Cargo Bib Liner Shorts. That's combined with a lightweight mesh material in the legs for cooling. There are also two rear cargo pockets to carry tools or snacks.
For some reason that's gone unexplained in the press material, women don't get a bib short but rather a Trail Liner short. It uses a similar chamois and material but has no bib straps or storage pockets.
Rapha has partnered with Smith to create some new colorways of the Forefront 2 helmet. The Forefront 2 is arguably one of the best mountain bike helmets on the market, and you can now get it with a Rapha logo and new colors. The helmet features both MIPS and Koroyd technology for rotational as well as impact protection. What's nice is the Rapha version of the helmet is the same price as the standard Smith version already on the market.
You can also get sunglasses. Rapha already offers the Pro Team Full Frame Glasses, so we think these are just new colorways. Either way, they use oversized lenses for full protection from trail debris.
To round out your new Rapha kit, the brand is also offering a hip pack to stash all your gear and supplies. The pack features a 3L storage capacity and has two pouches for water bottles.
Also on offer are socks and a six-panel cap to hide your helmet hair after a long day on the trail.