Category Archives: Cycling

Simply brilliant brand

rapha-dm.jpgI received a lovely piece of direct mail yesterday.  And it’s not often that those words pass my lips (or my fingers).

Here’s a picture of it.  It’s from one of my favourite brands – Rapha – which makes fantastic, top quality cycling clothing.  So it’s a bit of a niche thing.  But I’m into my niches. 

Rapha’s very much an aspirational brand for me (I’m into my cycling at the moment, too).  In fact, it’s completely aspirational as I don’t own a single piece of Rapha kit!  It’s quite pricey…but you just know it’s going to be worth the money.  I spoke to a bloke once who’d tried on one of Rapha’s jackets.  He said that on the peg it all looked a little odd – long arms and back, zip off centre – but when you put it on and sat on a bike it was just perfect.  Then his eyes glazed over.  It’s that sort of stuff.

Is this sounding a bit sad?

It’s just that Rapha hits so many spots with me that I can’t think of another brand with which I have the same sort of relationship.  I can remember quite vividly the first time I read about the company – an article in Management Today a few years back.  I visit the company’s website and drool regularly.  And now I’ve got a lovely little A5 booklet I can tuck under my pillow.

Everything about the brand is understated.  The clothing itself, obviously (none of your day-glo lycra here) but everything else reflects that too.  The website’s great.  It captures the passion that some of us (and I’m by no means as bad as it gets) have for cycling with some fantastic editorial content and images.  The DM piece is exactly the same (as you’d expect).  The first 18 of its 31 pages contain some brilliant photos and an article written by Tim Krabbe, a Dutch novelist well-known in cycling circles for his classic book The Rider.  Only then are a few of the products presented.  Cool.  It even smells great.

The fella who founded Rapha, Simon Mottram, used to be a brand consultant, so you might expect him to get it right.  But he’s also a fanatical cyclist, which I think is just as important.  Honestly, I’m racking my brain and I can’t think of another brand that’s so compelling.  Well, to me, at least.  It’s obviously an individual thing based on personality and passions – I’d love to know if anyone else has a similar relationship with any other brands?

Anyway, if anyone’s wondering what to get me for Christmas…

Me and my bicycle

logoredcopy.jpgVia Davies, I’ve just joined new niche social network Me and My Bicycle.  It’s been started by Ben Ayers who writes the New Media Curious blog. 

Funnily enough, just after signing up I noticed on Ben’s page a message about the site nearing a hundred members and that, “the hundredth member when they do show up is in for a treat. Haven’t thought about what they get yet apart from the glory and being able to tell their grandchildren etc etc etc…but it will be pretty fookin good.”

And guess what?  I’m the hundredth member!

I’m quite into my cycling at the moment.  The countryside round here is fantastic for getting out on the bike…which is just as well, as next May I’m organising a charity bike ride from London to St Emilion and need to get considerably fitter if I’m going to make it…

Best of luck to Ben with the network.  I share his interest in niche audiences, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one develops (and, as it does, how quickly commercial organisations become interested).