Is Rapha cycling clothing worth the money?

After the £4000 Rapha Suit was released, John G from the Velocast said ‘they’re dead to me’. The Two Johns seem a reticent- they are suspicious of the marketing ethos on the Rapha site. As proponents of style, I’d have thought they’d be more pro-Rapha.

The Rapha products are very nice. For most people it’s hard to justify £240 for a jacket, or £150 for a gilet though, and they can’t even see beyond the price tag. I tried on that Classic Softshell jacket in the summer and pretty much desired it immediately. The cut was excellent- it just felt right, and I could see myself enjoying a wet, windy winter ride all the more for having it on my back. The design and quality made it worth the money, in my opinion, but the problem was I couldn’t afford it.

Hats off to them though for having an open blog and engaging in debate with customers/posters about pricing, design and quality. There’s a very lively one (a debate) here about Rapha’s Classic Softshell Jacket.

Couldn’t afford the Rapha, or didn’t want to? I have been known to spend £180 on a meal for two- so I am not averse to splashing out once in a while, but neither am I a millionaire. I’m sure that you’d start to see the value on Rapha a few years down the line when the product is still wearing well, but for me there is so many things to spend money on in cycling, I am continually looking for deals.

And as any follower of the Official Rules of the Scottish Cyclist will know, style should never be prioritised over functionality! I ride my bike for excercise, training, racing, and functionality comes first, cost second, and aesthetics comes after. Incidentally I have bought a Gore Bike Wear Oxygen SO jacket priced at £120. Which isn’t as nice but does the job just fine – the £120 difference will be going towards a new set of wheels for next season.

Rapha even states: The 2007 version had two protective shoulder pads (reminiscent of a donkey jacket), taking into consideration that riders use both shoulders to carry their bag of choice. We soon realised this was over-egging functionality and jeopardising form and that the one shoulder pad was how it should remain, an iconic and practical detail.

The designs are nice, but there is also something about them that is trying a little bit too hard perhaps. Any Rapha fans wearing more than a couple of items tend to look like (or want to) a walking catalogue model. Out riding last weekend, Auchendinny Chris said, albeit while wearing a Rapha rain jacket, (and I partly paraphrase):

I like the products… they’re well made… I respect the company for doing something different, investing in design… but ultimately it’s about cycling, not about looking good in black and white photographs. Couldn’t have put it better myself!