Stepping Up | Rapha Shares Design & Development Of Their Two New Styles

Last week I sat down with Rapha Footwear Designer, Joël Salamin. After some much needed caffeine at one of Rapha’s store/cafe’s, and getting to see both of Rapha’s latest styles, the rugged yet sleak, “Explore” and minimal and clean, “Classic” in-hand, I heard from Joël that the shoes have taken a solid 2 years of intense design and development to come to fruition.

“Cycling is changing and people don’t just stay on the road. They shouldn’t avoid riding gravel, and even getting off and walking sometimes, for fear of destroying their expensive shoes.” – Joël

With the above quote heavily in mind during the construction of Rapha’s two new shoes (both were developed at the same time), each of them were fitted with a super durable anti-slip outsole under the carbon footplate. “We saw it almost like a phone case: a functional outer layer designed to protect a beautiful product that you want to safeguard,” said Joël.


Inspired by trail runners Joël also initially tried out a lace-pull system, but found that they became loose during bumpy rides. Instead, he opted for standard lace ups, but only once he’d made a unique discovery for the shoes’ upper.

“The upper folds in on itself, so rather than having one layer that you pull on when lacing up the shoes, the ‘double wall’ makes them stronger and distributes pressure more evenly across the bridge of your foot. The shoe holds your foot firmly in place throughout the pedal stroke but eliminates pinch points for comfort on the longest rides.” – Joël


“Every brand tries to reinforce their ‘single walled’ shoes with stitches, extra material, and so on, but we realised that we could use the material itself to do this. In the end we created something that looks seamless, with less visible stitching, and that is stronger too. It works so well that we used the same construction and fit on both shoes.”- Joël

You can see some of the initial design and development of the Rapha Classic and Explore, as well as some beauty shots of the final product, below.

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Mr. Bailey

Product Designer + Footwear Architect | Founder of @ConceptKicks |

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  • Philippe Holthuizen - 1 year ago

    That little elastic for the laces is dope, might have to steal that idea. ^_^