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by Dave Rome
March 21, 2019
Photography by Rapha
They’ve been seen spinning circles in adverts and even in WorldTour races for months but now Rapha’s new shoes are finally official. While Rapha has put its name on shoes before, the new Classic road and Explore off-road shoes are the British company’s first offerings to be designed in-house.
Here is a quick look at what you can expect from what Rapha calls the “most comfortable cycling shoes”.
A simple-looking shoe with some clever thought, the Rapha Classic is available in five colourways.
Built on a full-length carbon plate, the Classic shoe appears to be like any other laced performance road shoe. However, by creating a double-wall of material at the midfoot, Rapha claims to have addressed a common complaint in regards to foot stability.
Combined with adjustable arch supports in the footbeds and a molded heel cup, the reinforced one-piece microfibre upper should stop the midfoot collapsing inward under power. It’s a comfort and efficiency feature many premium shoes claim to offer, but in our experience, few actually achieve. That double up of material is also used to reinforce the lace eyelets, and Rapha isn’t shy to call them durable.
The carbon sole is given a thermoplastic exterior for grip and to protect the carbon when things don’t go to plan. The shoes are for use with three-bolt road cleats, such as Shimano SPD-SL, Look Keo and Time Xpresso.
As seen in Rapha and Giro’s now-discontinued shoe collaborations, the toe box volume is adjustable via a velcro strap. Rapha claims the shoes offer generous toe box volume, while the general sizing is said to be similar to that of Giro and Specialized.
The Classic road shoes are claimed to weigh 500g per pair (EU42) and there are size options ranging from EU36-48 (including half sizes). Retail price is a not-so-alarming US$250 / AU$315.
Designed for use with two-bolt SPD-style cleats and pedals (e.g: Shimano SPD, crankbrothers, Time ATAC, etc), the Explore is Rapha’s new off-road shoe. While the laced retention, fit and one-piece upper are the same as the road shoe, the sole is quite different.
The Explore borrows a few tricks from popular mountain bike footwear by shortening the stiffest part of the sole for more comfortable walking. For this, the carbon plate runs approximately 3/4 of the total sole length, with a more flexible thermoplastic used at the extremes of the heel and toes. The outer sole is then covered in a rubber block-shaped tread.
The Explore is available in four colours and retails for US$295 / AU$385. It’s available in the same size range as the Classic road shoe and is claimed to weigh 600g per pair (EU42).
We’re expecting to receive samples for review soon. We look forward to putting the Classic and Explore through their paces and testing a number of Rapha’s claims.