Rapha just released two new shoes for cyclists, both of which are built on a familiar concept: comfort. That lack of novelty is fine — comfort should be the goal of a cycling shoe, as long as function and durability are met too, and it appears that Rapha has hit all three in the new Classic and Explore. The shoes are a first for the English cycling brand: previously, it worked with Giro in its footwear production; these were produced entirely in-house.
Between the two, the shoes cover the spectrum of terrain one might ride in. The Classic is a road shoe with a svelte profile and a lightweight carbon fiber plate that’s wrapped in a thermoplastic outsole for durability when moving around off the bike. The Explore is for gravel and trail riding — it has the same clean, perforated upper as the Classic but uses a lugged rubber outsole that can handle any terrain. Rapha notes that both of these shoes are suited for but not strict to these environments; Lachlan Morton, one of Rapha’s pro cyclist testers, wore the Classics during WorldTour races but also on mountain biking and bike packing trips. “No issues,” he says.
The Classic and Explore are similar in a few key ways. They both have a sculpted heel cup, a roomy toe box and an adjustable Velcro strap for quick fit modifications. The two also use a double-wall lacing system, which Rapha says distributes tensional force more evenly and eliminates pressure points better than the single-wall constructions that other shoes use. If true (we haven’t had a chance to lace up a pair and ride yet), then Rapha will have succeeded in footwear as it has in apparel: by producing an article of clothing that performs at a level of comfort on a bike that makes it go unnoticed. Because when you’re riding 100 miles, the last thing you want to think about is your clothing.
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