Rapha launches lookbook for sellout Coppi collection

By Graham Hutson

Back when Rapha was the only cycle brand out there selling stylish kit, it would sell the dream of effortlessly glorious riding in far flung locations, often with some hostile weather thrown in for good measure. 

While they might have been great bike riders, many Rapha customers were still probably a little shaky navigating the internet so Rapha would send out a catalogue of its products, which meant it was always on hand when you needed to do a little daydreaming over a coffee just before you headed out, or alternatively on the loo. 

Rapha has continued this tradition of drool-worthy photoshoots to this day but occasionally something comes along that puts all others in the shade. The shoot for the Coppi Collection is a case in point. 

The collection launched on Friday May 5, the same day that the 100th edition of the Giro d'Italia set off in Sardinia, and commemorates the great Fausto Coppi (1919-1960), who won Italy's grand tour five times. 

The Italian theme runs throughout the collection. As well as details such as embroidered slogans linked to Coppi, many of the garments were produced in a little factory about an hour out of Milan called Self Maglieria, which has been making knitwear in precious yarns since 1965.

The Coppi collection consists of three merino jerseys in black, pink and celeste, a merino tracksuit, all of which have sold out, a pink flyweight jersey, cap, scarf, pack jacket, sunglasses and socks. 

The location for the photoshoot was on the very roads ridden by Coppi, around his hometown of Castellania in Northern Italy and was shot by long time Rapha photographer, George Marshall.

Rapha have also launched a book to commemorate the 100th edition of the Giro, called Giro 100, by Herbie Sykes and released in a hardback with external box-sleeve. 

If there's anything left, grab it while you can. Failing that, look at the pics and dream. 

Read Rapha's Made in Italy feature here

Crowdfunding target in sight for à BLOC

What can really go down better after a hard day in the saddle than a nice chilly beer? The mere thought of it has inspired us to achieve things we could only dream of.

That's the power of a pint, and it's something à BLOC are looking to harness with their craft beer startup. They could be onto something, given the long association beer and cycling have together. That's the culture of cycling rather than drinking it whilst undertaking the pursuit.

That said, they might have overestimated the size of their market, given that every cyclist we know is basically hung out to dry after a couple of beers. They might enjoy a pint, but cyclists by and large don't tend to be very good at drinking.

One thing that hasn't deterred Daan Van Well and Martijn Snelder, an entrepreneur and business developer respectively, who both happen to like beer and cycling. They say à BLOC is a "refreshing, unfiltered blonde beer, rich in proteins and vitamins." 

There's not a lot of protein or vitamins in your average beer, even Guinness. You'd need three pints of that to get the same amount of iron as a single egg yolk. So to make à BLOC good for you, they've "added Alpine Minerals to improve rehydration and recovery."

But the real selling point for potential investors is à BLOC's business model. Instead of establishing a single brewery with all the additional overheads that would generate, they are filling the overcapacity in existing breweries in their preferred territories of the Netherlands, UK, Australia and Spain. 

"Once brewed, we sell to distributors and straight to bike channels whenever possible. But this is even bigger than selling beer. It’s about the friendships and stories that reflect why we enjoy cycling," said à BLOC.

To ram the community angle home, à BLOC have created a cycling club, along with kit. Depending on how much you invest you could receive a whole new kit every year, for free.

According to the founders, riding 'à bloc' means going flat out. In the riding sense rather than drinking, presumably. 

To find out more and invest, visit the Symbid page  


David Millar unfolds new Chpt:3 collection

His racing career might be over but it's clear David Millar has been keeping busy. Maybe a bit too busy, if you've been waiting for the latest instalment from his Chpt:3 brand, which has seemed a bit neglected of late.

Millar has had a lot on his plate; he's a regular fixture in the ITV4 commentary box on key races and is a mentor at the British Cycling Academy.  

Chpt:3 launched more than a year ago with a capsule collection of clothing that set a new bar for luxury cyclewear. A year later he's back, beefing up the initial wardrobe with a new waterproof jacket, named a K61, which was the number of Millar's apartment in Hong Kong, "which as you know has a monsoon season." There is also a technical three-ply jacket that feels as if it is made of neoprene and a couple of jerseys, including one inspired by his only Paris-Roubaix, when he stopped one lap short of the finish in the Roubaix velodrome to greet his family. He has named the jersey One More Lap.  

All of the garments continue Chpt:3's policy of using the most advanced fabrics available - whether they be in terms of lightness or breathability or protection - in as stylish a manner possible. Cost is not a consideration. 

But it is Millar's diversion into bicycles that has generated the most interest - not the ridiculously cool Factor Bikes collaboration that he has spread his fairy dust over but something far more utilitarian. The humble Brompton. 

"Brompton is a company based in London where they manufacture all their bikes. They train their own staff and it is almost artisan work on a massive scale and each bike is stamped by the frame builder. These are still handmade bikes and these are things I didn't even know about the Brompton," said Millar.

The Chpt:3 Brompton is enough to grab the attention of the most fervently non-folding bike rider, because this is no ordinary Brompton. The Chpt:3 version has disposed of mudguards, added a red Brooks C17 saddle, titanium forks and a sleek grey and red paint job. When the bike goes into full production next year it is even planned to be equipped with deep section carbon ribs. They've just got to find someone to make them. 

 "We're trying to turn the Brompton into more of a street bike. Many people will remember BMXing and how much fun they had doing that - I thought 'why should Brompton make you think about mudguards and tweeds when it could be more of a street thing?' As a tool it is incredible, it has changed my life. Ned Boulting and I rode parts of the Tour de France on them, we even did a ride over the Col de Valares and it was so much fun. You can wear normal clothes, you can go into a restaurant whenever you feel like it, go on a plane, go in a taxi, go in a car. They are different to normal bikes, which are about going places. This is about finding places, it is a whole different style of riding which many of us roadies have never done. We haven't used a bike as a tool, as something fun."

Chpt:3 is a joint project between Millar and his friend, the designer Richard Pearce, who has also created the new Team Sky Castelli kit, which was unveiled at the Rouleur Classic bike show in Victoria House, London on Thursday. Millar chose a bowling alley underneath Victoria House to launch the new Chpt:3. Other friends of Millar have also had a hand in the development of the brand, including the designer Timothy Everest, who added some of the more intricate sartorial details. 

The Brompton is more than just a frivolous excursion into the eccentricities of urban bike commuting. This is a definitive step into urban riding, and how convenient it can be. There's a city riding jacket that has its roots in the traditional Harrington coming soon, and further Chpt:3 releases in the future. 

Details of them, however, have yet to unfold.

Beam me up Scotty: Rapha releases the Peace Race jersey

It was a race across borders that was aimed at reuniting Eastern Bloc countries in the fragile years following the Second World War.

The Peace Race began in 1948 and ran through Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Poland, watched by millions, mainly because they got the day off work for it. 

What this has to do with Captain Kirk and the crew of the starship Enterprise is nothing ... and everything. Both the cyclists and the Enterprise were boldly going where no-one had gone before, both in terms of travel and politics. And now they're united by a common jersey. 

The Peace Race Jersey is a special edition piece from Rapha that commemorates one of the greatest sporting events of the 20th century you've never heard of. It is also remarkably similar to standard issue Starfleet kit. 

But Kirk and co weren't issued with a limited edition board game, so Rapha have the edge there. Or a silk scarf. And the Peace Jersey colours are better.

Get it here before you miss the teleportation window. 

TICCC tackle the Galibier in new film

Daphne Kaufhold is no stranger to mountains, either geographical metaphorical. On her most recent trip up the Galibier she took a film crew and the above video is the result.

A ride up the Galibier is an apt metaphor for the TICCC brand. At 35km and an average of 6 per cent, it is one of the longest and toughest  climbs to feature on the Tour de France. 

If a mountain could reflect Daphne's personal struggle with the chronic pain she has had to deal with after suffering severe whiplash in a car accident, this is it. 

The film is as much about TICCC, though - a showcase for the brand's growing collection of garments, which has grown from custom-made caps and a selection of the wackiest socks you'll find to jerseys and most recently base layers, with both a men's and women's version.

"The ‘Base’ uses a combination of two technical fabrics to achieve maximum moisture control and comfort on the bike." say TICCC. "Designed for those who love high tempo riding."

To celebrate the launch of the film TICCC is running a competition for a chance to win £150.00 worth of #tickit. To enter, visit www.this-is-cambridge.com, watch the film and answer the two questions on the competitions page.

Rapha puts a lid on the helmet rumours

It would be interesting to know what the designers at Giro think of Rapha. There they are, all smug at the success of their Synthe helmet, stroking the curves and gazing in wonderment at the little mesh grill at the back that looks so much like an exhaust pipe.

Then along comes Rapha, ripping out the mesh and smoothing the airflow and smoothing out the ridges on the rubber bit at the side and they end up making the damn thing look better. How very dare they! If someone's going to customise their pride and joy, the least they could do is completely screw it up.

The new Rapha helmet takes the Synthe DNA and tinkers around with it, adding gloss where there would be matt and debadging any Giro references apart from on the adjuster dial. In their place, a cool and subtle little Rapha logo on the crown. 

Rapha have also used the Mips version, which adds another level of protection by means of an additional piece of plastic which 'floats' just below the outer liner and helps to negate rotational forces.

The RRP isn't any different either, although there are admittedly discounts available on Giro's Synthe these days.

Get it here


Velo Birmingham sportive date announced

Oh to cycle through the green heart of England without a car on the road and only the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves and the chirp of 15,000 Garmins. 

Well now you can, with the launch of Velo Birmingham. They teased out a video a few weeks back but now it's all systems go, and the date has been announced.

So it is that on Sunday September 24, 2017, the first Velo Birmingham will take place, taking in a 100-mile loop through Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Sandwell and Dudley.

Pre-registration has been open for a while. Long enough for 30,000 people to sign up before the September 28 closing date, which means that a year ahead of the ride you only have a 50-50 chance of actually doing it. At 8am on Thursday September 29 people will be able to enter on a first-come-first-served basis.

If you're unsuccessful or simply can't be bothered with what sounds guaranteed to be a complete pain to enter, there's always the Birmingham Bikefest, the free cycling festival now in its third year that Velo Brirmingham has been hung around. 

There's a serious aspect to all this organised cycling, and that is to promote the Birmingham Cycle Revolution, a Birmingham City Council initiative aiming to make cycling an everyday way to travel in Birmingham over the next 20 years. Through the creation of cycle paths, secure hubs and generally trying to make cycling safer, the council wants cycling to make up 10 per cent of all trips in Birmingham by 2033.

For more information, visit www.velobirmingham.com



Kask eyes a bright road ahead with launch of sunglasses brand

You might consider it a funny time of year to launch a range of eyewear but that hasn't stopped Kask.

The Italian brand which is famous for its helmets, in particular the Protone, hasn't done things by half - not only has it launched an innovative approach to shades but it has created a brand especially to go with them

Enter Koo, which presumably stands for Kask Optics, but with an additional O, or ooh, if you will. If it reminds you of Vic and Bob calling the Dove from Above in Shooting Stars, you won't be alone. In truth the extra O probably stands for open, which they have named the model they've launched with.

We have been using a prototype pair of these all summer and can confirm they are a bit special. The frames are made from a tough polycarbonate which stands up to a whole load of abuse. The lenses are manufactured by Zeiss, and offer ridiculously clear vision. 

The real wow factor of these is the arms. They don't swing as you would expect them to, but instead pivot. This means you initially have the potential to snap the arms clean off until you work it out, but when you do, you'll see what a clever thing they have done. 

Because that pivot, which clicks down in tiny increments, means you can adjust the glasses oh-so-slightly to get some air in the top or click them right down when you need a bit more vision, such as going through a tunnel.

There are other elements such as a customizable nosepad and - sensible given the time of year - the inclusion of a clear pair of lens. Which brings us to the other innovation - the clever little switch at the temples that allows you to swap out the lenses in seconds.

These sunglasses were first seen on the noses of the Drapac Pro Continental Team right back at the start of the season. They have been helping Kask develop the eyewear along with Italian elite under 23 Team, Colpack.

You've still got a bit of a wait before you can get your hands on them -  the Open sunglasses range will be available from Christmas on in Europe, the USA and Asia, by which time sponsored rider and cyclocross legend Jeremy Powers will have been getting them filthy for half a season. And there will be even less sunshine to warrant their use.

If it's all too much of a wait you can track the progress of the release on the Koo Facebook page

Zwift gets behind Brammeier's Africa Kit Appeal

Don't lob that cycling jersey you never wear in the bin - there's a cyclist in Africa who could really do with it.

That's the message from Zwift and Matt Brammeier of Team Dimension Data, who have teamed up to send unwanted kit to the continent.

“There’s too much good cycling kit lying unused in people’s homes. Let’s give it a new home, a new purpose in life and help inspire young cyclists to fulfil their potential,” said Eric Minn, Zwift CEO and co-founder. 

The Africa Kit Appeal was founded by Irish rider Brammeier, who said he couldn't believe how much kit he was given after signing his first professional contract. He started sending kit back to his local cycling club and that gave him the idea for the appeal. "What would be cooler would be to get this stuff to people who didn't just want it, but needed it."

The Africa Kit Appeal sends kit to the Adrien Niyonshuti cycling academy in Rwanda. Zwift have agreed to cover the import duties raised. 

The 2017 Africa Kit Appeal begins on October 1 and donations of size medium and below are requested. To find out where your nearest drop off location is and how you can donate, visit www.africakitappeal.com.



Giro d'Italia 2017 returns to Sardinia

Ten years. Has it been that long since the Giro d'Italia last visited Sardinia? Really? 

Apparently so but the wait is almost over. Because in May Italy's grand tour arrives back on that sun-drenched isle for three stages running more or less along the north, east and part of the south coast. 

This is no ordinary Giro. Next year marks the 100th edition of the race which is part of the reason it's back on Sardinia. The first time the race touched down there was in 1961 on the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Italian kingdom. That tour had started in Turin and didn't get to Sardinia until stage four.

Sardinia was honoured by a Big Start in 1991 and then the tour arrived again in 1997 for its 90th anniversary. The whole thing coincides with a drive to invest in cycle tourism on the island and has been especially welcomed by Fabio Aru of Astana, who comes from Sardinia. He said it made him "really proud," although he hinted that he wouldn't know if he would be riding it until his programme is announced in November.