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Rapha Cycling Gear

by Brian Fichtner
on 19 May 2008

Cycling the streets of New York poses its own unique set of problems, not the least of which is finding gear that doesn't make you look like a rolling advertisement. Fortunately, there are a few emerging brands that recognize the value in creating stylish, classic apparel with discrete branding. The British company Rapha develops high-performance clothing and accessories for the most demanding road racers and urban messengers around. From featherweight stowaway jackets to touring shorts that won't make you look like a sausage, smart tailoring, advanced materials and a decidedly non-geeky approach to cycle wear characterizes the label.


While capris went in and out of style years ago, the 3/4 pant remains a standby for the urban cyclist. Most bikers get around the chain issue by simply rolling up their jeans. For those willing to risk a raised eyebrow now and then, Rapha makes a 3/4 bottom as part of their Fixed range of apparel, pieces designed specifically to blend in with city styles. The Fixed Shorts ($205)—made from a water and stain resistant Schoeller Nanosphere fabric that manages to not look too techy—come with adjustable cuffs, zippered back pockets, and a slim foam seat pad.

The strongest weapon in Rapha's arsenal of urban gear is the Fixed Backpack ($145). I've always hated biking with an awkward bag clinging to my shirt and throwing off my balance, but I've been riding around the city with Rapha's pack for a week, toting my Powerbook and other freelance necessities from café to café, and I barely noticed it was there.


The Fixed Backpack is marked by a ridiculously slim profile that hugs your back, and a narrow width that enables you to knife through gridlock without worrying about catching any sideview mirrors. The outside is detailed with pin-dot reflective panels, waterproof zippers, and a series of back pads that will save your hunched spine. Inside, the suspended laptop pocket ensures a tight center of gravity, while a few carefully placed zippered pouches leave room for bare necessities. For those seeking a pared down commuter bag (on or off a bike), this is easily the best on the market.

Purchase Rapha gear on their site or through a select number of dealers such as Signature Cycles on the East Coast. They also publish an inspirational newsletter covering team rides and races, so sign up.

Also on Cool Hunting: Rapha x Paul Smith Cycle Jersey

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