Rapha has always been a brand that tells the story of cycling through experiences, and their products are an extension of that. It’s such a strong thread with Rapha, that it’s one of those things people laugh about. There are times when it might be taken too far, you’ll have to make that decision yourself. But if you’ve spent any time interacting with the brand, you’ll know it’s not just lip service. Not everyone has experienced the brand though, and this summer Rapha is making a big push to try and change that.
Three new clubhouses – the Rapha name for retail spaces – are being opened in the US cities of Seattle, Boulder and Los Angeles. These join clubhouses that already exist in Amsterdam, New York, Copenhagen, Seol, Chicago, Mallorca, Manchester, Spitalfields, London, Sydney, Tokyo, San Francisco, and Osaka. It’s with these spaces that Rapha provides an opportunity for cyclists, of all levels and styles to interact with the brand through more than just clicks and pictures on a computer. In fact they are designed to be a part of the community beyond just cyclists. Whether you ride or not, they are beautiful places to stop in for a coffee or a bite to eat.
If you like spending time on the bike, you can touch and feel all the different stuff Rapha offers. It’s really quite an array when you see it in person, and you can also join in on some great rides and events. I’ll be discussing one of the paid “Transfer Rides”. These include food and a ride designed to showcase the best of what a particular locale has to offer later this summer. All the clubhouse’s regularly offer free rides and events.
Checking out the Seattle store’s upcoming events, you’ll find a Liege Bastogne Liege viewing – with free coffee and waffles plus a ride afterwards! There’s also a women’s social ride on the calendar, in addition to a wide variety of other rides. It’s these kinds of community interactions where Rapha really sees the importance of their clubhouses.
Seattle isn’t close enough for me to be able to make regular events at the new store, but it’s close enough that I was able to attend the opening night festivities. Despite living in Portland – the home of Rapha America – I’ve never had the opportunity to interact with Rapha beyond what most people experience. I’ve talked about their gear a number of times, but like most I’ve never seen the full breadth of it in one place. What really struck me is how much variety there is. Many brands offer somewhat similar product lines with slightly different fits, but Rapha has products that span a huge range of riding styles and are very differentiated.
Aside from the Rapha product, it was also my first opportunity to see Canyon bikes, and Dura-Ace 9000 series products in person. It’s a beautiful space with beautiful gear and really good coffee. If you live in Seattle, or any of the host cities, I encourage you to stop by a Rapha clubhouse. You might find an upcoming event you’d be interested in, and the coffee is better than many places.