Words: David Evans | Date:
Cycling’s classic jerseys are forever linked in the minds of fans with the character of their most famous wearers. T-Mobile’s fuchsia stands for a certain type of deliberate, Teutonic brawn; Euskatel’s orange for high altitude exploits and terrible crashes in the Spring Classics; 7/11’s green and red for the mid-‘80s American insouciance of the squad’s hyper-talented youngsters.Cevennes – 2004
In this way, road racing is a case study in the power of images and association, the ways in which visual cues become common shorthand for much greater ideas. This shorthand, in so many words, was the aim of Rapha’s launch products – how do you go about making a garment that stands for what we believe cycling to be?
When Rapha launched in 2004, we did so with three products: the Rapha Cap, the Softshell Jacket, and the Classic Jersey. Well, almost three – the Classic Jerseys were delayed by the manufacturer, and Rapha’s Kings of Pain exhibition could show off only late-stage prototypes.Valencia – 2006
The cliché is that there are no second chances for a first impression, but it’s a cliché for a reason. Rapha’s reputation lived and died on the quality of these three garments. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for customers and the cycling press to take notice of the thought and consideration that went in to their design and manufacturing. With understated style, quality and attention to detail, the Classic Jersey set the tone for the next ten years of Rapha.
Corsica – 2013
So, what goes in to the making of a Classic Jersey? Sportwool™ was a relative unknown in the cycling industry, but its properties are perfectly suited to riding – feels cool in the heat, retains warmth in the cool, and wicks moisture away from the skin. A water-resistant valuables pocket protects essentials, serviced by a quality ring-pull zip that can still be used when wearing gloves. Thoughtful touches finish the jersey off, like a reflective stripe across a pocket, a chinguard to prevent abrasion from the front grip, contrast piping and complimentary arm warmers. Not all the details and features are the same on this year’s Classic Jersey as the first – over the years the design has been revisited and refined.
The result is a jersey that is as recognisable at 100 metres as 10 millimetres, with an aesthetic that has lasted a decade. It’s now complimented by an ever-growing range of products but, for us, still demands a place in any riding wardrobe.