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What do you wear when you’re on a trainer sweating away while your little Zwift avatar spins circles on the animated road ahead? Do you wear your once-Sunday-best that’s now no longer suitable for public consumption? Or maybe, like me, you just wear some comfy bibs and then match it with a short pair of socks that you thought looked cool in 2004? After all, nobody’s watching.
Alternatively, you could buy Rapha’s new indoor cycling range. No, you don’t need to check your calendar — it’s not April 1 — Rapha has indeed launched some shorts, sleeveless shirts, a cycling cap, and a towel all designed to make you look sweet in your stationary sweat.
In some ways Rapha’s latest range is like Calvin Klein pyjamas – a nice label that few will ever see. But also, it’s not all that ridiculous a move by Rapha, and I’m willing to bet that the British company won’t be lonely in this category for long.
The indoor cycling market is enormous and growing by the day. There’s an increasing number of Zwift users who only ride bikes in the virtual world or at least do the majority of their riding indoors. And so why not indulge in a little pampered comfort for the occasion?
The cheapest product in the range, the Indoor Training Towel (US$15 / AU$20), offers loops to hold it in place on the hoods and to stop the dreaded dropped towel moment. I have many towels that do the task of preventing me from creating my own bike-shaped Dead Sea, but this honestly sounds like the sort of thing I’d buy if I were in the market.
The Indoor training sweat cap (US$40 / AU$55) seemingly offers some real thought, too. Rapha has integrated a sweatband in the open mesh material cap. Basically you can think of it as a cycling cap that absorbs sweat like a sponge and is open enough to let it wick away. Such a design would see sweat squish all over your face if worn under a helmet, but it offers a point of difference indoors.
And then we’re left with the men’s and women’s sleeveless Indoor training tops (US$75 / AU$95) and Core Cargo cycling shorts (US$130 / AU$165). The top is basically a loose-fitting sleeveless base layer, and really, many of us should own base layers or gym tops that offer much of the same benefit.
The shorts are said to feature a chamois that’s comfortable for high-intensity efforts. And Rapha states the lack of bib straps offers better cooling, while mesh pockets at the thighs allow you to keep your food (or phone) within easy reach. I don’t have nearly enough mental fortitude to spend that long on a trainer that I need food with me, but I know many others aren’t as weak-willed and so I’ll save my judgement.
Whether you see this as Rapha filling every single thinkable niche, or actually just useful products, well, that’s up to you. Personally I’m on the fence, and while these products aren’t something I need in my life, I can see them being a hit with those who really should consider cleaning the corrosion out of their headset bearings.