Rapha announced that, after years of making apparel for road and cyclocross, it will make its first line of mountain bike clothing.
The announcement came as part of an open letter from Rapha founder and CEO Simon Mottram, outlining the brands plans for 2020.
“Much further up the road, there’s a launch that’s been coming for a long time. Back in 2004, Rapha started out with a small exhibition in East London where every photograph was taken on the tarmac. Since then, we have grown into something much greater with a mission to support cycling in all its forms,” Mottram said in the letter. “Though the cycling world seems at times to be divided into tribes, we believe we can have a legitimate place in each of them. In 2021, Rapha will launch its first collection of mountain bike clothing, making the most of our design expertise and a new office in a mountain biking mecca, to take the brand somewhere entirely new.”
Rapha’s decision to expand into mountain biking after 16 years likely has something to do with the brand’s new owners. The Walton brothers recently purchased a controlling stake in Rapha. The brothers have a well-known interest in mountain biking. This includes supporting a growing network of trails around Fayetteville, Arkansas through the Walton Family Foundation.
Education First slides from road to gravel and now mountain biking
Some preliminary version of the new line could make a first appearance as early as March at the Cape Epic in South Africa. Education First Pro Cycling, the WorldTour road team for whom Rapha designs and sponsors uniforms, will also be dipping its toes in the dirt at the notoriously difficult mountain bike stage race.
In 2019, the road racing squad expanded its focus, taking on gravel events around the world along with its road racing commitments. Entering the Cape Epic is one step further. Which two riders will team up to take on the Cape Epic has not yet been revealed.