Four labels dominate the Velodramatic closet but only one inspires me to ride farther, climb higher and get on the bike whatever the weather.
That brand is Rapha.
The new Kit page above lists my top ten pieces of cycling clothing / kit, and it's no surprise given the previous statement that Rapha dominates.
I realize that Rapha may not be everyone's cup of tea, or the brand's premium pricing may be out of reach for many. I consider myself lucky to afford these luxuries. Cycling gear is really my only vice... if you don't count Photography, Large Format Digital Printing, Power Tools... OK, you're not buying it and neither is my wife.
When I'm not riding, I design for a living, and from that perspective Rapha does so many peripheral things beautifully. Every detail of the product, packaging, documentation and marketing is designed. The little van stickers on the clear plastic pouches; the reusable heavy green bags that make rather nice foul weather containers for commuting; the garment labels and sewn-in cycling lore, garment tags... every piece has been thoughtfully designed and produced.
Craft makes the list with its highly regarded baselayer products. Assos gets the nod for a fabulous pair of tights; and no doubt might have seen more representation had I taken that second job working nights. Finally, I had to select a Campagnolo jacket even though I'm loathe to rest the Classic Softshell even for a single ride. I love the Campy componentry on my Cervelo and so it's nice to wear something that celebrates "the" classic Italian cycling foundry. I should add that Campagnolo and Assos products also sweat all the design details that add to their enjoyment.
I've given several more product lines honorable mention. Twin Six deserves special recognition for designing cycling jerseys to a fresh beat and Shower's Pass produces a high-visibility commuting rain jacket that's second to none in performance and comfort.
Later this month I'll be off in Hebridean wilds of Scotland, ostensibly for a landscape photography shoot but I'll be doing some riding with select pieces of kit. We'll see how they perform in the predictably cool, rainy conditions and with luck we'll return with some good cycling images for Velodramatic.
The doctored "kit raving mad" image is NOT me... I wish I had that build.