For the first time, Rapha has developed two new cycling shoe models entirely in-house for both road and adventure cyclists.
Over two years from sketch to shoe box, the new Classic and Explore models mark a big change for the British brand.
Indeed, Rapha says its new kicks underwent tens of thousands of miles of testing in the field, ranging from everything such as trans-European bikepacking trips, to club rides and by professional WorldTour riders like EF Education First Pro Cycling team’s Lachlan Morton.
The Classic Shoe features a durable anti-slip thermoplastic outsole and full length carbon plate making it stiff and hard-wearing, whereas the Explore has a shortened carbon plate that’s secured in a rubber outsole for walkable comfort and efficient power transfer.
Both models incorporate a unique double-wall lacing system that delivers exceptional fit to the midfoot. They also incorporate adjustable arch supports and the last is shaped to provide ample toe box volume for tremendous comfort even after hours in the saddle. After experimenting with an elastic pull closure system, lead designer Joël Salamin opted for traditional lace ups instead.
“A traditional set up at first glance, our lacing works in tandem with a double-walled midfoot and delivers the vanguard of shoe design,” says Salamin.
“The upper is made with a single piece of lightweight microfiber material. In the midfoot, the fabric is double layered and folded back on itself to create a ‘double wall.’ Securely anchored to the carbon sole at the base, the double wall creates a loop along the bridge of the foot, which serve as eyelets for the durable polyester laces. When lacing up the shoe, tensional force is distributed more evenly across the top of the foot, eliminating pinch points and creating a firm yet flexible fit for comfort throughout the pedal stroke. We created something that looks seamless and improves the overall strength of the shoe. It works so well that we chose to the same construction and fit on both shoes,” he added.
“So durable and grippy is the TPU tread that it’ll ensure you remain surefooted not only on café stops but also forays off the beaten track and on to rougher terrain”, says Rapha.
Rapha also introduced a unique double-wall lacing system featuring durable eyelets integrated in the shoe’s upper and some robust laces, wherein the lacing system distributes tensional forces from the laces over a larger area, eliminating pinch points. Moreover, a low-cut upper eliminates risk of rubbing around the ankle, and a close-fitting heel cup keeps the shoe securely in place.
Additionally, the one-piece upper is made from a seamless, perforated microfibe and finished with the trademark Rapha stripe that allows you to micro adjust toe box volume to your preference.
The Classic Shoe is available in five colorways, White, Black, Black Pearl, High Vis Pink and an RCC version, with sizes range from 36-48 including half sizes.
Other features include:
Many off-road shoes are merely adaptations of an existing road model, but the new Explore Shoe has been purpose-built to stand up to the most demanding terrain and conditions.
According to Rapha, the Explore has been tested over 60,000 miles on bike-packing expeditions and ultra-endurance races, from Dolomite trails to the sands of the Sahara.
At the heart of the shoe’s lightweight and super stiff sole is a carbon plate worthy of any road shoe, with one key difference.
The plate is cut at three centimeters from the heel and two centimeters from the toe to allow flex at the front and back of the foot for comfort when gradient or lack of grip means walking is the only option.
It is then set into a rugged rubber tread that provides superb traction on any terrain with recessed cleats to reduce the chance of slipping.
Together the two components of the Explore shoe’s sole ensure pedaling power in the saddle as well as comfort and grip if you’re forced to walk or want to explore by foot.
Elsewhere, the Explore Shoe includes some of the same features as the Classic Shoe. The sculpted heel cup secures the foot while a spacious toe box provides plenty of space, with a signature toe strap for micro which can also be used as an alternative way of securing the lace- ends.
Adjustable arch support in the midsole accommodates a variety of foot shapes and the low- cut upper section avoids rubbing at the ankle, while the unique double-wall lacing system is mirrored from the Classic Shoe, distributing tensional force equally, eliminating pinch points and creating a fit that is firm yet flexible.
The Explore Shoe is available in four color-ways: Black, Black Pearl, Dark Green and High Vis Pink. Sizes range from 36-48 including half sizes.
“Cycling is changing and people don’t just stay on the road. They shouldn’t avoid riding gravel and walking with their bike here and there for fear of damaging their shoes. The rubber outsole, just like a phone case, acts as a functional outer layer designed to protect the beautiful carbon plate at the heart of the shoe,” explains Salamin.
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