The great Rapha/TeamSky debate

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Yesterday I posted on Twitter about the volume of kit Rapha are providing as part of their sponsorship of Team Sky, no comment about the deal, just noting the numbers involved.

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After doing this I had lots of different conversations going on, from admiration at the scale of the deal to disgust about the prices that Rapha charge for their kit, and this got me thinking….

Love them or hate them Rapha make some jolly good bits of kit, I don’t think we can have any doubts about that, yes it’s expensive but nobody is forcing you to buy it, they have a very well honed marketing department which works very hard at making you desire it though.

It seems folks are complaining that the TeamSky linkup is because of Rapha’s exorbitant pricing structure, and this surprised me to some extent. Yes its expensive, but its cheap compared with a certain other premium brand out there, yet no-one complains about them?

Do we complain that Condor bikes are expensive when they sponsor a team? Of course not, we are glad that a British manufacturer can compete at that level, I don’t think anyone begrudges them their success!

I own a few pieces of Rapha kit, I was lucky enough to be given a couple of items when I first started cycling, and I wear them because they are very very good.  I know that when I buy the stuff I will buy pieces that have got consistent, great, reviews – for example my Grand Tour gloves, RRPing at £100 they are a serious investment and one I spent some considerable time over – and you know what? I was glad I did, I covered 3000 miles in May ’12 wearing them and had zero issues with them! Even better that I got them reduced on Ebay!

Rapha are a British company, and they unapologetically make products at a certain price point. I have other ‘made in England’ shorts and frankly they are tat, not suitable for more than an hour in the saddle, with a shoddy fit and a dire pad, at £70 they are way worse than Rapha’s £140 shorts.  You get what you pay for, and if I am going to be spending hours in the saddle I want my undercarriage looked after, and if that means spending an extra £50 to ensure thats the case then I will save up the extra.  Because that’s what it means, I have to save a little longer to ensure that I buy something that I know I will like, and if I like it I will wear it more frequently – thereby justifying the high price tag!

Yes, the Rapha/TeamSky linkup means that there will be a deluge of Rapha out on the streets, big deal. Sure not everyone, myself included, will be able to afford and/or justify the cost of the pro kit, but thats ok, I will cope without it (not sure how I feel advertising SKY, and paying for the privilege in the first place!)

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But that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad deal for the consumer, look at football shirt pricing, and its fair to say that Sports Direct are not selling the actual shirts worn by the pro’s.  Rapha are offering different bandings if you want to feel like part of TeamSky, and if you really want to feel part of it then they have got everything you need apart from the VO2 MAX!

So celebrate it, it’s another British success story, and with TeamSky we have 2 success stories working together on the grandest stage in world cycling!

Well bloody done to Simon Mottram and the whole team at Rapha, it’s truly great to see a British brand succeeding at the very highest level!

Ben Swifts Sky kit

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