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Rapha Classic – preserving performance and nature

Rapha 2021 Classic range
Rapha is riding toward sustainability – with style (Image: Rapha) (Image credit: Rapha)

Cycling is strangely obsessed with technological innovation and reinvention, yet we still ride on steel axles and spokes, and regard Merino wool with all the reverence that made it the first performance riding fabric. 

When tradition meets innovation, great things happen. Rapha proved this when it blended merino yarn with polyester, in 2004, with its Classic Jersey. This hybrid delivered the Rapha Performance Merino 150 (RPM150) fabric. And yes, the cadence inference was not accidental. 

Merino has terrific temperature adaptability. It can cool in warm conditions and keep you insulated when riding in those early morning or late afternoon shadows. Polyester revolutionized activewear, with its moisture-wicking abilities and resistance to deforming when stretched. 

Blending the two has the potential to deliver a superior fabric and with patience and dedication, Rapha’s product designers and textile specialists have been doing that for nearly two decades. 

Its design awareness and processes are filtered into high-quality gear. Reacting to the realities of operating as an apparel brand, in a world where sustainable material sourcing can be difficult, Rapha has relaunched the jersey range that debuted its RPM150 design. 

Rapha 2021 Classic range

(Image credit: Rapha)

A futureproof range of Classic kit

The relaunched Classic range doesn’t feature a startling new shape or proportions. The colours are subtle and understated, but it’s the fabric between your fingers, where environmental awareness has been applied. 

Rapha’s Classic Jersey currently leads the way in an ever-increasing selection of styles made with lower impact materials

This latest blend of RPM150 is made with 64 per cent recycled polyester and 36 per cent merino wool. Processing technology has matured to a level where adequate polyester source material can be harvested from discarded plastic bottles, without compromising garment quality. 

Cycling’s obsession with weight has powered demand for very exotic materials, which don’t always have the cleanest production sourcing. Rapha’s goal is to become carbon neutral by 2025, with 90 per cent of its production using environmentally preferred materials. Garment quality and performance will remain premium, but there will be a greater virtue in ownership – and all riders appreciate the value of a pristine outdoor environment. 

Organic cotton is one of the enablers for this sustainably sourced material supply chain, with all of Rapha’s lifestyle products transitioning to this more conscientious design solution, later in 2021. 

Rapha 2021 Classic range

(Image credit: Rapha)

Being smarter - with materials

Riding gear should be durable, instead of seasonal. Changing colourways might inspire a new purchase at the start of a new cycling season or justify a treat for the rider, but once purchased, a great jersey should be worn for decades. Iconic merino riding and racing jerseys from the 1960s are a good example of this. 

A favourite jersey is going to scuff with frequent use and crashing is an unfortunate, but real, part of cycling. Riders should have the right to repair treasured gear, especially when they have paid a premium price for a quality garment. 

Rapha’s strong on increasing the lifespan of its products as far as possible. Its mending service has restored 34,000 garments to date and the new Rapha MTB range comes with iron-on patches of excess material to patch up small holes. 

Applying better preservation principles to the entire cycling garment supply chain goes beyond ethical fabric and yarn sourcing, or even repairability. Futureproofing the impact of ownership is Rapha’s garment donation scheme, which means someone else can benefit from your gear, once you have no further use for it. 

The ultimate expression of harmonizing a rider’s entire garment ownership experience, is making gear compostable or recyclable. Rapha aims to make half of what it produces either compostable or easy to recycle, by 2027. 

Finding a smarter way of making riding gear today, to ensure a better riding future – tomorrow.

Rapha 2021 Classic range

(Image credit: Rapha)

Ride more - and feel good about doing it

It feels good to ride in great gear. The comfort. Inspiring colours. Durability. You collect a treasure of valuable riding experiences in your favourite jersey. Those sunset solo rides. An amazing group effort, with everyone making turns to take the aero burden, out front.

Riding is also about being responsible. Much of the rejuvenation you feel whilst out riding, despite the exhaustive effort, is due to an inspiring environment. The greenery, forests, healthy fields, pristine waterways and lakes.

To preserve the inspirational riding world you have today, it is worth investing in a brand that values sustainable sourcing and production. Rapha has always been serious about cycling – and is similarly committed to making products in a way that preserves nature, instead of burdening it.

Rapha has found a better way of making great riding gear today, so you can enjoy a rewarding riding experience, in future. 

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Lance Branquinho is a Namibian born media professional, with 15-years of experience in technology and engineering journalism covering anything with wheels. Being from Namibia, he knows a good gravel road when he sees one, and he has raced some of Africa’s best-known mountain bike stage races, such as Wines2Wales and Berg&Bush.