Rapha Manuals: A Few Key Pieces

As you ride more frequently and further afield, a few additional pieces of kit will prove to be very useful. We asked a trio of Rapha designers what they’d recommend.

20 July 2018

Becoming a cyclist is often referred to as ‘catching the bug’. People don’t get into the sport so much as they become obsessed with it. The more you ride, the fitter and stronger you’ll become, riding further and faster over terrain that’s ever more challenging. You’ll ride through the seasons, encountering all kinds of weather conditions, from haze and heat in the summer to rain and sleet in winter. To help you on the next step of your progression as a cyclist, a few bits of extra kit will come in handy.

Beyond the essential bib shorts and jersey, the wide range of cycling kit offered today can be bewildering. Do I need a softshell jacket or a rain jacket? Midweight jersey or flyweight jersey?


The humble gilet – or vest, if you’re from North America – is a perennial favourite, the king of the layers, and one of the most versatile garments you can add to your wardrobe. It’s always been a favourite of Rapha’s lead womenswear designer, Maria Olsson.

“A gilet extends the use of any jersey, short or long sleeved, by keeping your core warmer and drier,” says Olsson. “As long as your core is warm, the rest of your body will also remain at a comfortable temperature. Unlike a jacket with sleeves, it prevents you from overheating, allowing moisture and body heat to escape easily. For riding in warmer weather, some feature a mesh back panel for extra temperature regulation."

“When paired with a set of arm warmers, a gilet offers great protection from the elements. But the real beauty is that you don’t have to commit to wearing it all day. If the weather improves, a gilet packs down easily into a jersey pocket. Likewise, take one with you on cold winter rides as an emergency extra layer to wear on top of a jacket."

“I recommend a gilet with a two way zip that allows you to unzip from the top or the bottom. This way, you open the gilet up for better ventilation without it billowing in the wind and you have easy access to your jersey pockets too.”


Gloves are another helpful piece of cycling kit often overlooked until too late, particularly in the winter. Jon Freeman, Design Lead - Accessories & Hard Goods, has spent years perfecting the design of Rapha’s gloves.

“During the winter, it can be difficult to keep your hands warm,” says Freeman. “A good pair of gloves are essential for keeping the wind chill at bay and ensuring you maintain the dexterity needed for braking and changing gear. They also improve your grip on the handlebars especially when riding in wet weather."

“When it comes to summer, it’s more a case of preference with gloves. Some people don’t wear any but you might consider a pair of fingerless mitts. They provide a layer of padding, which is particularly useful when your hands aren’t used to the vibration from the handlebar, and also protect the skin on the back of your hands from the sun.”

Clip-in shoes

Using clipless pedals or ‘clipping in’ can be daunting to the uninitiated. No one wants to pull up cooly only to crumple to the ground, remembering in slow motion that your feet are one with your bike as you flail floorwards.

Joël Salamin, the designer of Rapha’s cycling shoes, explains the benefits of riding ‘clipped-in’. “Riding with cycling shoes and clipless pedals is safer and more efficient. With your feet clipped in, it’s also safer riding on slightly uneven surfaces where your feet might otherwise lose grip on the pedals,” he explains. “As well as pushing down on the pedals, you can pull up too. This way, you get more power for every pedal stroke – good news for anyone.”

Riding clipped in is a rite of passage for cyclists – once you’ve mastered it, you’ll never go back. In fact, many keep their first set of shoes as a reminder of the moment they truly became a road cyclist.

Whoever you are, wherever you ride, Rapha Core sets the standard in performance, comfort and value for cycle clothing. Explore the collection here.

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