In winter, light is a precious commodity. Not only do road riders have to cope with the cold and wet but, on murky mornings, the main challenge is not headwinds or hills but merely dragging yourself out of a warm bed. Feeling comfortable on the bike is half the battle. And while keeping well insulated is important, in the darker months it’s also vital to feel safe on the road. And that means riding apparel and accessories that maximise your visibility.
You’ve done your fair share of riding at night. What did it teach you about the importance of visibility? Night riding gives you plenty of time to observe the environment you’re in. I rode the UK national 24-hour time trial a few years ago; I’ve also ridden from London to Glastonbury through the night; and I often used to ride from London to Brighton and back again during the week. Riding on small roads by yourself in the dark is pretty dangerous, even with lights and hi-vis clothing. That said, it tells you a lot about how drivers’ eyes work and seeing the way car headlights work on road signs is also useful.
‘Visibility’ features very strongly across the new Autumn Winter range but it’s not a new concept for Rapha. Rapha products have always had reflective elements positioned at key points. The original Classic Softshell Jacket, for example, had reflective details and a large reflective logo, although that could only be seen when the jacket’s ‘storm tail’ was pulled down. We’ve always tried to incorporate subtle ways of making garments more visible, not least because Rapha was initially known for using monochrome and dark materials. Inevitably, as the product line has expanded and the need for brighter colours has developed, we’ve experimented more and more with a variety of pantones and technologies. My philosophy is, if we can give it a visibility boost, we should.