EF’s non-traditional race program, ‘Gone Racing‘ series and bold jersey designs have already solidly positioned the team as one of the coolest in the WorldTour. The aggressive, in-your-face and super-fun Palace Skateboards x Rapha x EF collaboration took things to the next level. EF is pioneering a new strategy of marketing itself that will have positive repercussions for the entire sport of cycling.
With the boldest kits since Mario Cipollini’s zebra outfit, the EF gang took on the team presentations at the Giro d’Italia (which starts up this weekend). For the race, the team will be decked out in the new designs — Rapha’s Instagram story showcases the jerseys, bibs, arm warmers, socks and even POC aero helmets with a duck head design. Full details on the rest of the collection aren’t available until 6 a.m. EDT on Monday, but we do know that it will include a range of casual wear from Palace, including T-shirts, caps, hoodies, an Oxford shirt and a Gore-Tex jacket.
— Jonathan Vaughters (@Vaughters) October 1, 2020
The Palace x Rapha x Cannondale EF bikes have a skateboard-style design, checker patterned black and yellow front fork and a cluster of “decals” around the seat post.
The kits and bike designs are bold. They’re inherently controversial, and they subvert traditional style. Many won’t like the new kit. That’s the intention. When a design causes traditionalists to react negatively, younger viewers or those who understand the design, are even more attracted to it. Grasping something that others don’t “get” makes you feel part of something exclusive and EF is capitalizing on this intersection of fashion and cycling to draw in a fanbase that no other cycling teams are currently tapping into.
This sport is growing rapidly—there are many young and excited newcomers to cycling but not much space for them to slot into. The restrictive customs, exclusive groups, homogeneous participants and general high-brow nature of cycling culture doesn’t vibe well with Gen Z and younger millennials. When they watch their first bike race (or start looking at pro cyclists to follow), they will naturally gravitate towards the team with the weird and fun kits who look like they don’t care what anyone else thinks of them.
Palace Skateboards is the perfect brand to help expand Rapha and EF beyond the world of serious cyclists. The company started as a skateboard brand but exploded into a popular streetwear line, worn by skateboarders and non-skateboarders alike. Particularly in North America, cycling culture isn’t in the foreground and it takes a bit of searching to figure out where things are at. Collaborations such as this one will push the sport into the Instagram feeds of thousands of non-cyclists and grow the appeal of cycling itself to a wider audience. So, while some may raise their eyebrows at this design, in the long run, EF is shaking up the cycling world for the best.