Notes: If you listen to the Rapha style guru, CEO Simon Mottram, nine out of ten cyclists he seems on London streets dress appallingly. It is a ridiculous comment that shows the gap between Rapha and the everyday cyclist and their needs.Rapha is the probable leader in slick cycling clothes, at incredible prices, that have become the “must have” wardrobe for your local Middle Aged Man In Lycra (mamil). Now they are looking to expand into the market and become the style gurus for how we should all dress while riding. .. Spare me.
You can read the opinion in the Guardian interview here..
The idea that cycling has to become lycra-vested, spandex adorned events is an attitude that has taken hold in North America, where cycling is struggling to reach a second generation. Here on the European continent, where new riders raid their grandparents’ basement for a true vintage ride, having the latest aerodynamic, honeycomb (overpriced) shell is not a priority.
Cycling here is far ahead of the UK. And, while there are enough mamil riders out and about here, the overwhelming majority of riders wear their work dress, party frocks, jeans, t-shirts, cargo shorts and more. I mean, look at Copenhagen cyclists and their cycling clothes are just called clothes. Same wardrobe. They are more interested in appearing normal when they dismount to go buy their groceries, have a drink with friends, walk the neighbourhood, or just go out the door, ride somewhere, and go home. And there is nothing more irritating than spandex-wrapped packages, legs slayed in that male way, sitting about having drinks at the local watering hole – immediate post-ride consumption excluded.
My dad never wore a piece of lycra in his entire life. Twice he did a cross-Canada bike tour. Rode the club rides every Wednesday and Sunday. Rode a bike to work every day. He would pull on a pair of trousers, a pair of standard shoes and ride distances up to 160km. He would laugh at Mottram’s style mandate.
The photo above is basically how I dressed for a 700km tour through the North West Territories in Canada’s north – and is my summer mainstay outfit for every distance from one to 50 kilometres. I own enough t-shirts that cost 5-20 a piece, shorts that are part of a collection that date back over ten years from my last visit to the USA. where men in cargo shorts is an epidemic. I think I got everything for less than the cost of two Rapha jerseys.
I have nothing against Rapha. If I saw something that fits me in a second-hand shop, or on sale on eBay, I would consider buying the item. But the in-store price is frightening.
There is a place for slick and sleek cycling garb. When I ride over 50kms, in a peloton, at speed, I might want to have some aerodynamic advantage. But, with overwhelming majority of bike rides in this world last less than 5kms, and with my penchant for cargo shorts and a t-shirt, I suspect Mottram’s sense of cycling chic will continue to be offended. … Good.
As for this blog site, the number of lycra-clad riders being posted is minuscule. Not even one in ten. There are many to photograph who ride for whatever reason they want – and wear whatever they want. I guess this entire site is something that would offend Rapha’s CEO nine times out of ten. And I know what lifestyle I want to support.