Rapha’s (free) repair service

3 minute read

I was a bit dazed when I came off my bike and rolled down the road. Having got past the initial joy of “all my limbs still work, ish”, through the thankfullness of seeing the big dent in the front of my helmet, and into “ow, my face actually hurts quite a bit”, I realised this had been an expensive mistake.

The bike came out of things pretty well, and just needed the mech hanger bending out, a new GRX shifter and some bar tape. The hardest part of getting that back on the road was sourcing the shifter, with both Shimano and SRAM components being in short supply this year. My clothing was another story…

Suprisingly enough, most road cycling clothing isn’t built to be bounced along the tarmac, and I managed to damage everything I was wearing except my shoes (thankfully my ready-to-be-replaced overshoes took the brunt of that damage). I’d picked a terrible time to do this, as a few things were really new. My 3-week-old Castelli bib tights had a big hole in them, and my month-old POC helmet had a big dent too. For some context on how pleased I was with Rapha, I’ve been comparing them with these two brands:

  • POC ignored tweets and a couple of emails. They mention a crash replacement programme in North America, but not Europe, but I never got an answer about whether they do or not. The helmet was amazing, but the service less so.
  • Castelli’s UK replacement policy is oddly complex, with extra discount if you’ve bought directly from Saddleback. This one was the most frustrating — the almost-new bib tights needed a replacement panel, and it felt very wasteful having them destroyed for 40% discount on a full-RRP set. In the end I picked up a brand new set from Sigma Sports with a reasonable discount (though not 40%), and am waiting for Alpkit’s repair stations to open up as lockdown lifts. Hopefully I’ll end up with a slightly scrappy pair for mountain biking 🤷‍♂️.

The thinnest, lightest thing I was wearing was my Rapha Brevet high-visibility jacket, which came off peppered with holes and a couple of tears. I love this jacket. It’s reflective stripes are perfect for winter riding when you end up in the dark more often, and it still packed down small and breathes really well. Maybe a little too well after the fall…

Here’s a few “before” photos

The right arm of the Rapha Brevet jacket had a couple of holes. The shoulder of the jacket, with a big tear along the seam The back panel was grazed, with many tiny holes and a few you could almost poke a finger through.
The jacket was scuffed all over, with some larger holes on the shoulder and down one arm.

Of all the damaged clothing, this was the one I assumed was destined for the bin. It’s a couple of years old, and a very fine material.

I knew Rapha had a free repairs service, but couldn’t find anything on the internet other than a forum post that said they’d got a free replacement and it had taken 5 weeks. With nothing to lose, I took the photos above, sent them to Rapha and had it in the post the next day.

Three and a half weeks later a package turned up, and in a nice little “first aid” tote bag was my repaired jacket. Here are a few photos of their handiwork:

The torn shoulder seam was repaired with a small patch. Maybe epaulettes will make a comeback in cycling? The grazed back panel has been covered with another layer of fabric. This covers part of the lower reflective band, but is really robust. The arm was sown back together. This made the fit a bit closer, but is really neat.
Some neat repairs. The back patch covers the reflective tape and is quite obvious, but that was a really damaged section.

I’m more than satisfied with the repair. Sure, it’s no longer as-new, and the back panel adds a little more bulk to the jacket, but when there’s all the other expenses of replacing clothing and components I couldn’t be happier that I’ve not had to shell out (excuse the pun) on a new jacket.

Five stars, but I hope I don’t need to use the service again anytime soon!

This post was originally published on Medium.