Pink Lycra is definitely dead. Today, cycling fashion has moved from clothing that looks pretty good to clothing that looks really good — both on or off the bike. At first that distinction may be subtle. It becomes less so when normal folks — not just cyclists — begin to compliment you on your gear. One outfit leading this fashion charge is Rapha, and this aesthetic is most obvious in the company’s new Bomber Jacket.
Call them Swobo with an English accent, Rapha leans more toward luxury, less a scruffy “street” style. The company describes its Bomber jacket as having a “smart, tailored cut with a host of performance features.” It is made for city riding but versatile enough for longer commutes.
The Bomber was released this fall. It is a classic-looking jacket that will be appreciated by cyclists for its functionality. Non-cyclists will like its clean lines and timeless look. At least that was my experience over the last few months wearing a Rapha jacket in a mix of settings in Los Angeles and my home town of Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
Founded in the U.K. in 2004 by designer Luke Scheybeler and accountant Simon Mottram, Rapha’s first products launched that summer. The gear has been trickling into the U.S. over the past few years. It’s as close to a luxury brand as cycling has, and it’s rare to see other riders wearing it. Like a Brooks saddle, this English styling isn’t cheap: the Bomber has a $290 price tag.
Although it has tech facets, the jacket doesn’t scream as much. The shoulders are constructed from a tough fabric that is waterproof and durable enough to withstand extensive shoulder strap rubbing. The main body is made from a water-resistant material that is breathable, and the front panels have been lined with soft, brushed polyester for wind-proofing.
Articulated shoulders for reach on the bike and a wide, jersey-rib hem to keep the jacket from rising up when cycling are additional details. There is a large chest pocket that can be accessed while wearing a courier bag. A buttonhole for an iPod cable, zipped side pockets (both of which have a soft lining and lockdown pullers), and an extra zipped pocket on the right forearm with a key lanyard and clip round out the smart cycling package.
This jacket is the polar opposite of logo-heavy team wear. The Rapha logo is tough to find. There’s a small one on the left arm and another logo on the inside label. It’s a great choice for riders who don’t mind spending some extra scratch to look good.
—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.