As purveyors of some of today's top cycling gear and accessories, it's completely logical that Rapha would foray into the world of bike building. What makes the move interesting is how they chose to do it. Like all their products, diehard cyclists helped conceive the newly-launched bicycle collection, and they partnered "with four masters of framebuilding to offer four distinct, hand-made bicycles." While each of the models have been made by their respective brands before, this limited edition run of customizable, Rapha-approved bikes will only be available for the next two years.
The commuter of the bunch, dreamed up by Cycle Works Oregon and built by the legendary Chris King, is the highly-functional Beloved Every Day bike. Modeled after bicycles built during the 1930s by French constructeurs (artisans who handbuilt bikes for specific purposes from start to finish), the nod to history makes for beautifully clean lines that have a slight Deco feel. Specs on the Rapha edition include a Sturmey-Archer five-speed internal rear hub with downtube shifters, Nitto aluminum "Priest" handlebars, Berthoud fenders and more. Made in Portland, OR, the bike will take eight weeks for completion and sells for $5,195.
Even more exclusive than the others, the XCR Criterium Racer is a bike so strong it's limited to only 30 frames/fork per year due to scarcity of materials. It's also the joint work of two Milan-based powerhouses, Cinelli (founded in 1948 and known for progressively-designed professional road racers) and Columbus Steel, who acquired Cinelli in '78. For Rapha, they designed a bike for the "aggressive racer," which takes four months to complete and starts at €3,500.
Independent Fabrication blends carbon fiber and titanium to make their XS frame, designed to go the distance and provide greater comfort with upright positioning. Two-time winner of Bicycle Magazine's "Best Dream Road Bicycle" award, the version for Rapha, the IF XS comes with a choice of either Campagnolo Super Record, SRAM Red, Shimano DuraAce or internally routed Di2 packages, as well as wheel set options from Enve Composites and Mavic. The bikes will take eight to ten weeks for completion and start at $6,795.
To build the Continental frame, Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan hand-selected two types of tubing from Columbus Steel, which they combined using both the lugged technique, as well as the less common and more labor-intensive fillet-brazed method. The resulting all-terrain bike features parts carefully picked by the two Rapha team members, whose insider bike knowledge shows with components like a SRAM Force drivetrain, DT Swiss wheels with Chris King hubs (and headset), Tektro long-reach brakes and topped off with handlebars, a seatpost and stem from Full Speed Ahead. The Continental will be produced twice a year in two batches of 50, sells for $5,000 each and takes four months for completion.