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    Stepping Up

    Built from the ground up, over two years from sketch to shoe box, our new Explore and Classic cycling shoes mark a step change for Rapha. We spoke to the designers and wear testers to get the lowdown.

    21 March 2019
    Rapha Classic Cycling Shoes

    New Classic & Explore Shoes

     

    For Lachlan Morton, comfort always comes first. “I used the Rapha Climber’s Shoes for two years and really liked them because they’re very comfortable. For me that’s the biggest thing, because if you have uncomfortable feet…. Ufff.”

    The EF Education First Pro Cycling rider has been wear testing the new Rapha Classic Shoes since last Autumn, and he’s taken them far beyond their expected use: racing in the UCI WorldTour, mountainbiking, and even bikepacking.

    “I got a pair last September and still had some races to do, so I thought ‘why not just start wearing them now?’ They were already an improvement on the Climber’s Shoes. I’ve done three or four tours in them now and they’re definitely race pedigree – light and stiff.”

    “I then wore them on a trip across Eastern Europe in November with my brother [for the new Rapha Outskirts III film, released later this Spring]. Whether walking in shops, on the bike or cruising through hotel lobbies trying to find a room, they were great. I gave them a good run on the mountain bike over the winter too. No issues.”

    Rapha Classic Cycling Shoes
    Rapha Classic Cycling Shoes

    Although the Classic shoes aren’t exactly designed for such a thrashing, the Australian pro’s approach tallies with the way Rapha product designer Joël Salamin sees it. “Cycling is changing and people don’t just stay on the road. They shouldn’t avoid riding gravel, and even getting off and walking sometimes, for fear of destroying their expensive shoes.”

    This observation was at the heart of the construction of Rapha’s two new shoes, Explore and Classic – both of which were developed in tandem, each fitted with a supremely durable anti-slip outsole under the carbon footplate. “We saw it almost like a phone case: a functional outer layer designed to protect a beautiful product that you want to safeguard,” says Joël.

    While Morton attests to the ‘anti-slip’ properties of the Classic outsole – “No slide outs yet...” – another of the shoes wear testers Anna McLeod rode her Explore shoe prototypes to the limit too: 3,000km off-road, with plenty of hike-a-bike and MTB racing. A top class ultra-endurance cyclist who works full time at Rapha, Anna’s regular and firsthand feedback to Joël was key for a project that was developed almost entirely in-house.

    Rapha Explore Cycling Shoes
    Rapha Explore Cycling Shoes

    “I started wearing the first prototype of the Explore shoe in November 2017,” she says. “By the time I got the second proto several months later, I couldn’t believe it when I compared the two shoes: the tread on the bottom was almost exactly the same – the old one hadn’t worn down at all, even after all of the abuse I’d given it.” This durability stems from research Joël did on the tough rubber soles of hiking boots and trail running shoes: “We found an amazing compound that doesn’t cut up,” he says.

    Joël also took inspiration from trail runners when trying out a lace-pull system, but Anna found that they became loose during bumpy rides. Instead, Joël opted for standard lace ups, but only once he’d made a groundbreaking discovery for the shoes’ upper.

    “The upper folds in on itself, so rather than having one layer that you pull on when lacing up the shoes, the ‘double wall’ makes them stronger and distributes pressure more evenly across the bridge of your foot. The shoe holds your foot firmly in place throughout the pedal stroke but eliminates pinch points for comfort on the longest rides.”

    Rapha Classic Cycling Shoes
    Rapha Explore Cycling Shoes

    “Every brand tries to reinforce their ‘single walled’ shoes with stitches, extra material, and so on, but we realised that we could use the material itself to do this. In the end we created something that looks seamless, with less visible stitching, and that is stronger too. It works so well that we used the same construction and fit on both shoes.”

    Add to that the sculpted heel for a secure fit, the snug midfoot for better control, and a spacious toe box with a signature toe strap for endless adjustability and both sets of shoes promise absolute comfort on the pedals, no matter where you’re riding.

    Rapha Explore Cycling Shoes

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    Rapha Classic Cycling Shoes

    Rapha Classic Shoes

    A cycling shoe that’s light and comfortable, high performance and timeless.

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    Rapha Classic Cycling Shoes
    Rapha Explore Cycling Shoes

    Rapha Explore Shoes

    A rugged, lightweight cycling shoe made for the road less travelled.

    Buy now
    Rapha Explore Cycling Shoes

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