Rapha in 2018
Simon Mottram’s highlights for the year ahead
As we cross the finish line for 2017 – with raised arms and a swig of champagne – I wanted to give you a glimpse of what Rapha has planned for 2018. 2017 saw another action-packed 12 months and with the support of our new investors, I’m more excited than ever to get people riding bikes and enjoying the greatest sport in the world. To this end, we’re building an ever-growing global community of riders with the Rapha Cycling Club, continuing to make the best kit for our customers and pro cyclists, and aiming to stamp a mark on the way the sport is organised and celebrated in the media. And that’s just for starters.
Happy new year and hope to see you on the road,
Rapha founder and CEO
Ride with us
I am lucky to ride with hundreds of cyclists all over the world each year, and cycling’s capacity to change lives never fails to inspire me. Our rides and challenges continue to offer extraordinary cycling experiences – just last week 80,000 people attempted the #Festive500, whilst the same number completed Rapha Rising in July. We also held 18 Rapha Prestige rides in beautiful, far-flung locations and Rapha Rides visited 19 cities over the course of a year-long cycling roadshow. Our Clubhouse network continues to grow apace, and more than 20,000 of you joined a regular ride from our cafe locations last year. We opened nine Clubhouses in 2017, taking us to 21 with plans for more. Palo Alto and Washington D.C are first up. The Clubhouses also act as hubs for the Rapha Cycling Club, which enters its fourth year. We now have members in 67 countries, and in 2018 we’ll launch even more city chapters along with a superb new smartphone app that will make finding routes and cycling companions even easier. And, if like me you love travelling on two wheels, Rapha Travel is extending to brilliant new destinations such as Colombia, Hawaii, Flanders and Switzerland.
In Spring, we will launch our first ever range of customisable Rapha clothing, offering a personalised and premium service that will set new standards in bespoke kit. Whether you’re a cycling club, racing team, sportive organiser, or just a group of friends who ride together, you’ll be able to design and dress yourselves in the finest Rapha. I can’t wait to see your Rapha Custom designs out on the roads.
In this online world of throwaway content, we’re always looking for better ways to engage with you, our customers and cycling fans. As a start, we’ll shortly be launching a completely overhauled website at rapha.cc, along with an accompanying app later in the year. It will offer an improved shopping experience, along with a series of guides to help you choose the right kit for the roads you are riding and the conditions you are facing. We feel like we have produced some good content over the years but we aim to do even better in 2018, starting with a new media channel. Rapha Media will deliver regular programming and special series to cater for every type and level of rider, breaking down the sport’s intricacies and telling the stories behind the races.
I want Rapha to help knock down any so-called barriers of entry for female cyclists. The Women’s 100 is our call for cyclists to ride 100km wherever they are in the world, and it’ll return larger than ever for its sixth edition in September. We’ll be hosting a series of training rides from Rapha Clubhouses to help cyclists of all levels prepare ahead of the event, as well as launching a new clothing collection and special collaboration with Canyon bicycles. The Canyon//SRAM Racing team spearheaded our Women’s 100 campaign last year and I’m proud that we sponsor them; you couldn’t find a more inspiring and professional group of bike racers. This year we’re collaborating with a few of the team for clothing collections, starting at the Santos Women’s Tour in Australia this January – no prizes for guessing which rider that is. Along with an increasing number of female-only Rapha Prestiges, Rapha Travel trips and Clubhouse rides, I hope to see even more women discovering, enjoying and excelling in cycling with us in 2018.
Rapha launched in 2004 with a small set of products that changed the industry, and we hope that in 2018 we are still continuing to push boundaries with our ambitions for the kit and how it can enhance your riding. This year I’m excited about the growing scope of our Brevet collection. You’ll be able to ride over multiple days, in complete comfort on and off the bike, carrying everything you need with you. We’re also launching our own range of saddles, an ambitious project that has been two years in the making. Our much-loved special editions will celebrate an epic ride in the Italian Alps and a forgotten one-day racing icon, while our aero racewear, luggage and commuting wear all promise to give you the best in performance and style.
Future of the sport
We continue to have high ambitions for cycling but recognise that there are some serious failings that need to be acknowledged and addressed for it to be the greatest sport in the world. We have been researching cycling – its challenges and shortcomings – for more than a year and have spoken to dozens of experts around the world, from those involved in governing the sport to academic specialists, former and current pros, media commentators and high profile fans. The resulting study, titled The Roadmap, will be published in the coming months. We hope it contributes to the debate about how we move cycling forward together and we’re excited to share the work with you, to hear your thoughts and to work towards an even better version of the sport we love.
My own 2018
As for what I’m excited about personally, the Manchester to London challenge remains a highlight of my year. In just four years we have raised more than £1 million for Ambitious About Autism, and I love nothing more than arriving in London after a long day riding down through England. I’ve also set my sights on completing the Etape once again – it’s somewhat of an old friend (and foe) for me – and I’ll be riding a tour of Sicily with a group of friends in the summer. In the shorter term, I must finally learn how to mount and dismount my cross bike properly before the season ends. I’m a big believer in setting riding goals for the year and ask my staff to do the same – why don’t you set one for yourself in 2018?