Campionissimo & Swift – Rapha Tributes to Legendary Fliers

Wacky Move of the Day

Fausto Coppi's storied life ended before I celebrated my first birthday. He appears in period photographs with the dark, chiseled looks of a film star. In many of those images he's wearing a collared wool jersey with buttoned-down chest pockets emblematic of a more fashionable age. Rapha's 2009 Campionissimo Jersey, beautifully crafted in the softest merino wool pays homage to his unprecedented Giro/Tour double in 1949. It arrived two weeks ago with a nice note from Slate Olson to put it on and get out for a ride. Wearing it produced no magic alchemy. It's ordinary blood, not petrol that runs through these veins. Nevertheless, the Campionissimo is a classic change of pace from the technical kit we regularly wear, and a perfect fit for a warm spring day with no agenda save an easy pedal with the wind. Ignore the momentary cloudburst in the first picture.

Paired with ¾ Bib Shorts

How to wear the Campionissimo is a matter of personal taste. I first wore the jersey with Rapha's ¾ Bib Shorts, but I prefer pairing it with the Touring Shorts, and since it has no rear pockets... tucked in. For those of us riding above the welterweight division, its a tailored alternative that fits perfectly with Rapha's urban motif.

Paired with Rapha's Touring Shorts

To the Swift

Later this month Rapha will release the new Swift Jersey to celebrate Portland's soaring bicycle culture. The swift is accurately described as the most aerial of birds, feeding, drinking, mating and staying aloft even at night. A fitting metaphor for a city whose inhabitants live and breathe cycling year round, in every kind of weather. I'm sure there's even documentary evidence of mating on two wheels, but that's beyond the scope of my experience (and balance).

The Swift Jersey takes flight Another luxurious black piece from Perren Street

As you can see from the images, the black jersey, flocked with an acrobatic flight of swifts is as easy to capture photographically as it's namesake would be with a net. The effect is subtle, sophisticated black on black, coordinating equally well with Rapha's road and urban lines. Details like the ribbed collar and cuffs and sewn-on center panel make this a unique piece. The sewn-in Swift label talks about instinct and mine tells me this one won't last long on the shelves. Better sign up for an email reminder when this goes live (current ETA April 27th). Nice to see Ira Ryan and his swallows mentioned too.

The Orange Stowaway is one tasty jacket

Creamsicle Orange and Just as Tasty

No sooner had I sung the praises of the Misty-Blue Stowaway than Mr. Palmer of the twmp was playfully needling me his Orange one was better. Not one to shy away from a challenge, particularly from a fellow Scot, I took immediate action and ordered an orange one. The color is a dead ringer for Creamsicle orange. Layered over an ice-cream white jersey, the semi-transparent effect had me shifting to the big ring for a sprint to the corner store freezer. As usual Brian was right, chalk up another entry for the Tab. I'm bonkers... which reminds me.

The Bonk bag in brown/navy

51 Responses to Campionissimo & Swift – Rapha Tributes to Legendary Fliers

  1. jorgen says:

    what brand and model is those white gloves? looks quite stylish.

    I am pondering about what colour to choose for my stowaway as well, but I think the blue is a bit more stylish and less “commuter-neon” than the orange.
    It might be easier to match with different jersey colours as well?

    great posts btw, although your rapha fondness might question your “neutrality as a reviewer”…? ;)

    cheers from norway

    • Jorgen,

      The blue is definitely “quieter” than the orange, but Rapha have done a great job picking an orange that avoids the “commuter” look. First day I wore it into the office, Sherry, our vp marketing, remarked “I love that one” and my wife is seriously considering getting one. Worth considering if you value the female vote.

      I agree I’m definitely not neutral on Rapha, though I don’t pull any punches if they get it wrong (which happens with the frequency of Halley’s comet). I don’t even present these as reviews. Last year’s black Stowaway proved its worth over many miles, the new colors are just an excuse to add some more color to the wardrobe. I used to spend quite a bit on street clothes. These days that expense is almost zero, or put another way, there’s nothing left over after I settle my cycling kit bill.

      The gloves are Left and Right Hand Golf gloves from Oakley. Beautiful leather, super soft, and great fit. No padding, but they give you a second skin feeling that’s hard to beat.

  2. PVB says:

    Hi Michael,
    How’s the cut of the swift jersey – slim like the country jerseys or looser? Great idea with hangers in the wind by the way.

  3. kurt says:

    Wow, the campionissimo looks much better on the body than the flat display on the Rapha site.
    The orange stowaway really is stunning and it appears to make you smile. The very reason (at least for me) for clothing investment.

    But the swift….

    I must have this piece!

    PS. Noticed th “V” on the shorts.

    • For the most part, the thinner you are the better cycling kit looks. I may never fit into medium again so I’m pretty critical about color and style choices. I thought the Campionissimo looked a little sloppy on my frame paired with the ¾ bibs.

      I like it much better tucked into the Touring Shorts (a real favorite). I’ll have to ask the designers what they think of the combo.

      You said it. The orange does have me grinning ear-to-ear and with all the shit going on these days we need something to smile about.

      The Swift is killer.

  4. Richard says:

    How’s that second mortgage coming along..? :)

    • Exactly! All kidding aside, we’ve been trying to refinance but real estate prices have dropped so much in the valley it’s actually difficult to get new mortgages because of appraisal values. Thank god we have a 30 year fixed and are only trying to better the rate.

      • Richard says:

        As a relative newcomer to Canada and being self-employed, I stand a better chance of flying to the moon than getting a mortgage any time soon. But I often wonder if that’s a blessing in disguise.

  5. slate says:

    It’s tough to think that you could be any more dapper than you are- but you certainly do make these jerseys come to life. Well done my friend!! Thank you.

  6. kaiko says:

    sighhhhh (of envy)

    i just saw that NYT article…that plus this post – rapha needs to start making women’s specific stuff.

    or, they can hire me and i can start designing for them!

    “dapper” is the perfect adjective, too. those stowaways look really amazing michael!

    • Kaiko,

      The “Rapha boys” know they can’t keep ignoring the girls, especially when so many of them can kick our butts on the road. I’ll send you a couple of email addresses tonight, the Rapha designers would appreciate your caps. How’s school going… are you seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. Want you to get back to designing and sewing.

      By the way, I’d consider the Stowaway to be unisex. My wife is petite so sleeve length might be a little long but we’re trying to figure out whether she’s a SM or XS. She had one of mine on last night and it looked really good on her.

  7. William says:

    Love the site.
    Looking at purchasing the Rapha touring shorts.
    How is the fit? Is it better to go a little bigger?

    Cheers from Canada.

    • Hi William and thanks.

      I got the low down (rain) on the Toronto weather from my mum yesterday.

      There’s a nice amount of stretch to the rear of the waistband and with buttoned elasticized adjusters on either side, I don’t think there’s any need to go larger. Your regular waist size in trousers should be perfect. If you want me to check mine tonight I can, I can’t remember if I have the adjusters cinched or not. I’ve got them on all the time commuting, and even wore them on one of the Gentlemens’ rides.

  8. jorgen says:

    Appreciate your answer.

    I can very much understand your fondness of Rapha, during my first year on the road I’ve started to fill the closet with gear from Perren Street… although I’m always trying to search out cheaper/better alternatives (for instance the need for a lightweight rainjacket) I have typically ended up with Rapha – with an exception of the Assos bib and just recently the Giro Lusso glove (wich is lovely).

    Actually your site, along with twmp, have been an valuable source of information for making those decisions, and I have yet to be disappointed.

    • Jorgen that’s exactly how it started for me. You get one piece of Rapha and it works well and looks good… before you know it you’ve got a closet full and can’t wait to get the emails listing what’s coming next.

      Glad we’ve not steered you wrong yet. You can always be sure that if I write about something on Velodramatic it’s because I wear it. I don’t have the time or inclination to write about things I’m ambivalent about.

  9. RMW says:

    Very nice – I have had my eye on the swift jersey since the email was sent out…looks good!

  10. willy in pacifica says:

    Hey Velo,

    OK, after seeing that orange stowaway on your site I went ahead and got one. I added a Fixed jersey since at $110 it seems like quite a deal and I grabed a fixed shirt as I need a shirt I can wear to work anyways.

    I was a bit reluctant to pull the trigger then I thought I have never regreted any of my Rapha buys. I am not anywhere close to your inventory but in about a week I will have

    lightweight Softshell (lt blue and red)
    Stowaway (orange and the Condor black)
    Fixed jerseys (olive and drk blue)
    Fixed shorts (black & blue)
    Winter jersey (drk blue)
    Bib shorts
    touring shorts
    Belgium country jersey

    I grabed the orange stowaway since I ride in the dark so much. I have only had the black one for a little while but it is my go to jacket for the Bay Area. I commute to work from Pacifica to SF around 5:30 am so use the Lightweight Softshell on the way to work and take the Stowaway for the ride home.

    I really like the winter jersey. I think on my over night rides I will take it along with the stowaway vs taking the stowaway and the light weight softshell. I think the winter and stowaway will be warmer at 2am.

    So now that I should have the orange jacket by next week keep an eye out for me and my team along Canada rd next weekend for our Fleche. Look for us to arrive at Roberts around 10:30 if you would like to meet up. I would guess the best thing for you is to ride north on Canada and meet up with us.

    willy in pacifica

    • At this rate we’re going to have to schedule an Orange Stowaway ride to celebrate. That’s a perfect selection of kit and I think the pairing of the winter jersey and Stowaway is definitely the way to go for your night riding. How about Tim and I ride out and meet you at 92 and Canada then ride into Woodside for your break at Roberts. We’re talking Saturday the 11 of April, right?

      • willy in pacifica says:


        Easter Saturday the 11th. We leave SF at 8am and head straight for Roberts @ Hwy 84. I had to create a route sheet with turn by turn instructions and a time when we expect to be at our stops. So I used a 12.5 MPH moving speed since we cannot ride faster than the slowest rider and you build in some cushion for mechanicals and side stops if you like. We will be ahead of schedule most times but then we will just have to linger and enjoy the day. The beauty of a 24 hour ride is that you cannot get done early by riding faster. So I am really looking forward to this ride.

        This Saturday I have a 400k up to Hopland via Bodega Bay and back thru Santa Rosa and Petaluma. I will try out the winter jersey – stowaway combo to see how it works out. I also plan to ride the fixed shorts to see how they do on a 250 mile ride. I rode 250 in the touring shorts and they seemed fine. Of course with a reg pair of bike shorts under. The only problem with the winter jersey and fixed shorts is if it warms up I have to put them somewhere and my Berthoud bad is not that big.

        I’ll let you know how it works out.

        willy in pacifica

        • Still trying to get my head around those distances you travel.

          • willy in pacifica says:

            Honestly, it is not as impressive as it seems. These rides are not races, more like long efficent riding. The biggest issues are comfort on the bike and nutrition. If you are comfy and fed properly you can go forever or until you cannot keep your eyes open. I have gotten to the point where I have just had to get off my bike and lay down on the side of the road to rest my eyes. Believe it or not these are the best rides as you are usually out in the middle of nowhere with a million stars up above.


          • willy in pacifica says:

            Here is the ride report for last weekends 400k out of San Francisco. Sorry it is so long but hey it was a long ride. I didn’t know how to e-mail it to you directly so please delete it if having it here is inappropriate.

            There were about 70 or more riders for the San Francisco 400k on Saturday. We all took off at 6am and rolled thru Marin in the usual way. Up and over Whites Grade and everything changed. What was a cool morning became brutally cold with frost on the fields. I have ridden out here in the early AM a few times on my permanent and I know it can get this cold. But at least it will warm up soon. When it gets this cold and I have on my medium thick long fingered gloves my fingernails become very painful. But if I were to stop and put on thicker gloves it would surely warm right up and I would be changing back. So I motor on figuring it will be all the nicer when it warms my fingers up.

            We head up toward the Cheese Factory and sure enough once over the hill things thaw out. Next weekend is our fleche and one of the members of my team is behind me so I ride slowly to let him catch up. It is also his first 400k and will be his longest ride if he completes the ride. I am riding at a snails pace waiting then decide to pull into the Cheese Factory to add and subtract some fluids. As I leave I ask a fellow rider if Alex is behind him. He mentions that Alex is ahead of us. Somehow I must have missed him passing me so now I hump it toward Valley Ford hoping to catch him tanking up at the store.

            I have been solo’ing it since Whites Grade which is fine with me. I am getting ready for some long time trials so not drafting is my preference. I hit Valley Ford and Kitty and Anthony are getting ready to leave. So we ride off together toward the Bodega Hwy and Joy Rd. Kitty almost takes the bait and makes a wrong, but much easier, turn and I reluctantly put her on the right track.

            We make the turn on Bodega Hwy after a couple of big rollers then the left on Joy Rd. Joy road is a nice road if you happen to be in a motorized vehicle. I can only guess that who ever named it was traveling in the opposite direction then we are. Two years ago was my first time on this road on the 2007 400k. All I remember is that Mark B almost caught me on his fixed gear and he was walking. In my 32-25 this is about as steep a road as my bike will go up. Any steeper and I think I will lose traction on the rear wheel. Well, I was expecting it to be SO bad then the next thing I knew I was up the first part. About .4 miles but I know there is a second act to this hill. I hit the second part of about another half mile and again it is shorter than I remember. So I am pleasantly surprised and head down the hill to Occidental and wait for Kitty and Anthony. From Occidental we ride one of the best roads on the ride. The Bohemian Hwy toward the Russian River. Nice and smooth and slightly down hill makes this section go fast and then it is just 4 miles to the first control at mile 81. We hit the Safeway and I grab a bowl of soup. Just as I sit down for my soup Alex pulls up. He was behind me the whole time. So after about 20 minutes Kitty, Anthony, Alex and I take off for Hopland.

            There is a lot of flat’ish up until you get to Hwy 128. Then you climb for about 3-4 miles to Mountain House Rd. In 2007 we started the ride at noon so this hill was ridden in the dark. Much nicer in the daylight and again it seemed shorter than last time. Mountain House is a bunch of rollers with a few fast down hills ending at Control #2 at Hopland. I grab a burrito and a coke and wait for Alex. Kitty and Anthony leave early and we will not see them again. Bruce B, Rob H and the guys on the Rice Burners (Japanese frames) are still there but Bruce and Rob leave. As I am walking to my bike I see Bruce’s fanny pack on the ground where he was sitting. I give it to the guys who about to leave since surely Bruce is on his way back at that moment considering it has his wallet and brevet card in it. I figure they will see Bruce sooner than if I took it so will save Bruce a few miles of backtracking.

            As Alex and I leave Hopland we grab Don from Napa from making a wrong turn. He joins us for the ride down Hwy 101 then we all ride toward Cloverdale and along Ansi road. We are about 35 miles into this 70 mile leg when we see the gang on the Japanese bikes. They ended up riding all the way to this point before running into Bruce and that fanny pack was not light. Good thing I handed it to them : )

            We are now a gang of six as we head toward Petaluma and our third stop. We are making good time trading pulls but Alex is falling off. So I let the guys go and Alex, Don and I continue at a slower pace. The sun has gone down about 20 miles before our stop and it is getting dang cold. I figure if I just keep moving I will be fine and then I can put on my warmer layers. We stop a couple more times for folks to add layers and I have no idea why I didn’t. It is really cold now and my finger nails are starting to hurt again. Alex is starting to bonk so I tell him that I believe there is a Denny’s at the next turn 5 miles away. I then head off with Don since the slower I go the colder I get. I see the Denny’s and stop as Don continues. I need to get Alex some food and some rest and every minute in Denny’s will be paid back due to his recovery with the stop.

            After an hour of soup and coffee we head to Safeway for a receipt and then we are off toward Nicassio again. I put everything I have on and feel confident it is enough. I have on a LS base layer, a SS jersey, my new Rapha winter jersey and a windbreaker. Below I have a thick pair of tights, a pair of shorts over that and then for good measure I threw on my thick leg warmers over the tights. It felt thick but it was defiantly warm. We rode out of town and had the last big climb up to the Cheese Factory. Now I was burning up with all the clothes on. Once over the top I continued at a slow pace to see if Alex would catch me now that he is de-bonked. At the turn to Nicassio I wait and see his light coming down the hill so I move off very slowly. But I have to get moving as standing still is freezing and my knees are acting up. So I keep moving but Alex is not catching me and I cannot ride any slower so I take off and figure I will wait at the 7-11 in Fairfax. It should be warmer in Fairfax once over Whites Grade where it was warmer this morning. Once at 7-11 I grabbed a hot coco and waited. But again it was too cold to stay outside and it was getting awkward standing around inside the 7-11 in my helmet and bike clothes at 1-2 am in the morning. So I decided to keep moving but felt bad I would not be finishing with Alex and left him behind. If it was warmer I would have waited until 9am if that is what it would take to get him in but I was freezing and shivering.

            The ride thru the Marin towns is nice this time of morning as there is zero traffic except for the police. I got to Camino Alto and was worried about getting over it as I could not feel my feet. It had warmed up but my feet were numb. I decided that I would take a longer flat cut around the hill and took the bike path that parallels Hwy 101. There are still a couple of short steep sections and I ended up walking the second one as I could not tell how hard I was pushing on my pedals and was worried about falling over. Walking was safer but boy did it do a number on my calves. Once to the bike path I was feeling much better as I was getting closer to the Bay and the warmth that comes with the water. Once on the GG Bridge you are home free as long as you do not get distracted with the view. I am always amazed at the view of The City while crossing the bridge in the dark.

            Checked in with Mark B and could not stop thinking about getting out of my clothes and into my slippers and a nice warm van.

            Willy in Pacifica

          • Great Ride report Willy. I’m always amazed by the separations that occur on long rides in spite of all the best laid plans. Riders go the wrong way right out the gate and don’t see each other for five hours. Kit gets left or lost.

            Joy Road sounds very much like Coleman Valley Road, they must be close to each other.

          • willy in pacifica says:

            I have yet to ride up Coleman Valley Rd. I think they both lead toward Occidental but I think Coleman is longer. Joy Road is a residential road but you can’t focus on the beautiful home with your eyes all crossed. I want to take my buddy out there and head up Joy Rd. I have a 50-34 but he thinks it is sissy and rides 39-53 with a 23 in the back. I can already hear the cussing.

            On the 400k I had on the Winter Jersey and the Stowaway over a Country jersey and a LS base layer on my ride back thru Nicassio. My upper body was fine with this combo. I thought about only taking the LW Softshell to wear in place of the Stowaway when it got cold. It would not have worked. I would have had to wear both jackets to keep from freezing. The Winter Jersey is much warmer than the softshell but you need the stowaway over top to stop the wind.

            Got my orange Stowaway, the blue Fixed jersey and the Fixed shirt yesterday. Looking forward to wearing the Orange stowaway this weekend. I always feel kind of dumb when I head out for an overnight ride with the black Stowaway. I jsut know if I get creamed they will blame me since I was wearing all black even thou it is refective.

  11. Sean McLaughlin says:

    Love your photography. Would like to talk live about possible shoot assignment, but couldn’t find contact info. Please drop me a line

  12. Stan says:

    I love the site and I like Rapha stuff. I’m 90% really happy with what I’ve bought so far. I picked up a cream coloured Stowaway and it looks great with grey fixed shorts. I’m amazed at how well it sheds rain and actually enjoyed it when I got rained on last week.

    I have a pair of the touring shorts and like them too, but I have an issue with the stitching of the rear seam. It’s very loose and just not up to the daily use. I returned one pair and got a replacement immediately, but that seam failed too. So I just went over it myself with a needle and thread and notnow it’s just fine.

    • Hey Stan,

      I had the same problem with the Touring Shorts rear seam. Butting the seam (no pun intended, that might not be the right garment terminology) just wasn’t strong enough. My wife ran them through the sewing machine… no problems since. I let the design team know and they’ve told me the area has been reinforced. I haven’t seen a new pair for comparison. When the seam finally failed I had a mildly embarrassing moment. I went to get out the saddle and couldn’t because the nose of the saddle had gone inside the split and was trapped.

  13. BR says:

    Wow that Campionissimo jersey would look great on a middle aged, prematurely gray, steel bike riding, Italian by marriage, bottle throwing, over talkative, coffee chugging, neon green commute jacket wearing, person.

  14. …and Santa is apparently a big fan of merino wool. We need to see you in the Orange Stowaway. Stylish hi-vis.

  15. BR says:

    I wish. I had to cancel the order for my new Soulcraft commuter yesterday. Everything has to be justified three times. All of the premium fun stuff is off the table.

  16. Dougie says:

    If the Orange makes you smile, then wear it often Michael, especially with the hand stitched “V”. Let’s face it Juli looks good in most things, stylish Rapha gear is a cinch for her.

    More power to your legs,

  17. PAWA says:

    I concur. My Rapha experience was born out of my frustration of poor fit, hyper-styling, and discomfort associated with the other brands of cycling clothing that I had tried. I now have:

    2 bib shorts
    2 classic jerseys
    1 Italian country jersey
    1 black arm warmers
    1 white arm warmers
    1 black knee warmers
    2 club jerseys
    1 fixed shorts
    1 winter hat
    1 black/white cap
    1 green/yellow stowaway jacket
    4 pair of black socks
    1 black sleeveless baselayer
    1 white short sleeve baselayer
    1 white longsleeve baselayer

    It’s difficult to pick a favorite. Every thread has seen me through hot, sweltering days, frigid, wet, and windy days, and leisurely neighborhood spins. For me, each garment offers the right blend of fit, style, comfort, and function.

  18. Scott says:

    Hey Michael,

    When you going to upgrade to the large fixed backpack?

    I think I’m about to dive in and get it, the regular one was just a bit too small for what I wanted.

    Be great to hear your opinion.



    • Hi Scott,

      I ordered the large Backpack last week, should arrive tomorrow or Tuesday. I’ll have some feedback by mid week, after a couple of days of packing and riding.


  19. Scott says:

    Hey Michael,

    Took the plunge and got the backpack ….. Of course it’s going to be a great pack, it does come from the lads at rapha afterall….. Can’t wait!


  20. Can’t go wrong Scott. Good Call.

    My original has seen nearly two years of daily duty and will continue to be my default choice 4/5 days. Other than missing pull tabs on the zippers, it looks good as new. I’m sure the larger backpack will serve just as well. Hope it arrives today.

  21. NewToCycling says:

    I’m new to cycling, so forgive me for asking silly questions. I know no one around me who rides…so I’m often filled with questions that no one can answer. As others who are only getting into cycling, the attire often worn by cyclists gives me the creeps. Once I found the Rapha site, I finally began to see that someone else out there saw things the way I did. You can look great no matter what. Huge difference from what I found in other sites. Furthemore, I’d rather emulate an icon like Fausto Coppi, and the guys in the Rapha site (I know that sounds silly) than the guys I see around here wearing Maillot Jaune’s and tennis shoes on their hybrid. If I had all the money in the world, I would ride in Rapha touring shorts, and any of their jerseys. For now, I have to settle for buying cheap vintage wool and acrylic jerseys on ebay…simple colors, nice fit, minimal to no lettering.

    Anyway, my question is this: Why do you choose to wear mountain bike shoes? I ask because I’m about to buy my first pair of clipless shoes and pedals..and I”m clueless as to what to get. I see that you also use double sided SPD pedals. At the risk of sounding even more like an idiot…can you explain your choice or give me some insight? Ugh, I know I sound odd asking you this, as though you are a style oracle, but I’m lost. I thought perhaps wearing mtb shoes on a road bike, was like wearing a mtb helmet, visor and all…or one of those hydration backpacks. I know there are no “rules” in cycling…but some things (at the risk of sounding dogmatic) look…well, wrong. I don’t commute by bike, it would be impossible, but often ride in traffic. I have to put my feet down on pavement and wonder if shoes like Bontrager’s Street shoes ( ) would work. When I ride, I do so for fun and fitness. Usually one hour rides, alone..about two to three times a week.

    Any insight you can give will be greatly appreciated. Again, I know this is a weird thing to post. Thank god for the internet’s anonymity.

    • Hi NewToCycling,

      There are no dumb questions. I’m still learning what I like and what works for me, and though there are cycling style conventions, particularly on the road, I’m prepared to accept or reject them on my own terms. I love the fact that Rapha celebrates cycling’s heritage, but as a designer who’s paid to make good visual decisions, I have to say much of cycling’s heritage is horribly designed. I love Rapha in large part because they have great taste and are very selective about what they “celebrate” As you say much of what the competition serves up is awful. Team kit being a prime example.

      Now to your shoe and pedal inquiry… I wear mountain bike shoes (Lakes and Specializeds) coupled with single-sided Shimano A-520 pedals on each of my three bikes (I’ve actually not ridden double-sided SPDs). Two of those bikes, the Cervelo and Enigma, would be considered full-on race bikes and yes, many riders would tell you that using mtb shoes on a thoroughbred road bike was a style violation. I don’t buy it. My mountain bike shoes are very light weight with full carbon soles. They sacrifice a few extra grams relative to pure road shoes but in exchange I get substantially better contact points with the ground for the dozens of times each day I have to put my feet down. If I’m out on a long ride and suffer a mechanical that I can’t fix, I appreciate knowing I can hoof it in my shoes for miles if I have to, including going off road.In fact my Lakes are identical to their top line road shoe, save for the added treads.

      The shoe/pedal combination is very important. The A-520 is the best SPD-compatible pedal out there with a platform designed to offer the larger contact area typical of road specific pedals. In fact, the A-520 has very little competition in this niche, and I believe someone could make a good case for a premium pedal in this space with a little marketing vision. The good news is the A-520s can be purchased for around $55. Racers and serious road riders who choose routes that let them ride for hours with minimal stopping may indeed get a small advantage over my combination with the pure road shoe and a high-end carbon pedal like a Keo or Speedplay. For my riding, I think I’m making the right choice.

      For the riding you plan to do those Bontragers might be just the ticket. I’ve had them in my hands; they were a decent weight and I like the clean, simple look of the uppers. My only reservation… you might want a slightly stiffer sole.

      I hope this is helpful. You’re on the right track (the fact you’d be happy with Rapha Touring shorts and jersey says a lot… for all my Rapha kit, I could be happy with the same choice for most of my riding). If a seven-time Tour winner can wear a mtb style helmet visor in the ToC and others could ride around in yellow rubber kitchen gloves, it just proves “what works” is the bottom line.

      Final thought (I’ve almost written a blog post here). Last year I visited Portland twice and was struck by the variety of styles worn by riders there. It seemed they’d gotten past conventions and narrow definitions of what was proper to find their own style. Much of it was grounded in the practical concerns of Pacific Coast weather. I love learning about road racing traditions, but ultimately how I ride and what I wear is my choice. Find your own style on the bike and don’t take this too seriously and you’ll be in good shape.

      • willy in pacifica says:


        Let me add a few jems here. I do a lot of really long riding. Like Velo said, having Mt bike shoes allows a better walking platform and better stability on the ground when stopped. I ride a tandem with a blind friend and I have a Santana Triplet (bike built for three) and need the stability when I come to a stop to hold the weight up.

        I use Double sided pedals on all but my pure race bikes. Again, on the long bikes it gives me twice the chance of clipping in faster. Also, on my really long rides I have a back up pair of pedals if something mechanical goes wrong. The back up is on the other side of the pedal.

        I do a lot of riding in the dark both commuting and on my long rides. Having a visor allows me to dip my head and use the visor to block the lights of oncoming cars who for some reason do not think they have to turn off their brights for a cyclist.

        willy in pacifica

  22. NewToCycling says:

    Thank you so much for your time and help. This is really helpful advice and insight. Willy, may I ask what type of double sided pedals you use? Do they have a bit of a platform around the clip in order to avoid hot spots, this is something i keep reading about. I think once I find the right pedals, I will look for either a casual shoe (like the Bontrager) or a mtb shoe. Again, thank you so much.

    • willy in pacifica says:


      I have a few different type of Mt bike pedals but they are all SPD. I have so many bikes and once you go with a type of pedal you are kind of married to it or I would have to change them all. I believe on my long distance bike I use the Shimano M520′s. Reasonably priced and they are black which went with my bike.

      I have wide feet so I use the Sidi “Mega” shoes. The only time I get hot spots are in hot weather. I am not sure about he science of hot spots but I believe it is caused when my feet get hot they swell just a bit and now a slightly different part of the bottom of my foot is over the pedal. I think a hot spot is due to pressure on a nerve on the bottom of your foot.

      I do not think the type of shoe you buy will help with hot spots that much, but more the placement of the shoe on the pedal. Just be sure to get a shoe that fits and if you have to error, error on the slightly bigger size to allow for expansion. You can always wear thicker socks to tighten them up or take out the insoles to loosen them up.

      We have such mild temps on this side of the Bay that I rarely get hot spots unless I ride in the East Bay or on very hot days like we sometimes get on our side of the Bay.

      willy in pacifica

    • You inspired the latest post.

  23. Josh says:

    When should I expect the Rapha Large Fixed Backpack review? ^_^

  24. pilgrim says:

    Just to chime in on Swift sizing (for anyone late to reading this post, or searching for information on sizing for the Rapha Swift jersey): I just tried one on (an XL), and I find that it seems to have a slightly looser fit than the standard Rapha jerseys I’ve tried in the same size. Not a big difference, nor anything close to a full size, but a slight one.