there is a t-shirt with the phrase on it. 'outside is free'. though its originality is open to debate, in this particular instance, the progenitor is the rapha continental's ben lieberson, a man well used to the great outdoors as explored by the original continental across the more obscure parts of north america. at one time, chugging across gravel treacks in the middle of outside was pretty much the preserve of the mountain bike. the rapha continental did much to change our perspective on the subject.
granted, a 28mm road tyre will scarcely fend off the worst that obscure parts of america can throw in its direction, but mountain bikes are so much more cumbersome, particularly when accessorised with suspension forks. and mountain biking is mountain biking. it's not road biking.
the logical extension of this offroading on bikes not specifically designed for the purpose, demonstrates the human predilection to take everything beyond its logical conclusion. in this case, being less than satisfied with only a few miles of the great outdoors. "why not", these individuals are likely to have said, "pack some overnight gear and ride for days and days and days?". or even just days.
the downside to this new approach to velocipedinal adventure has mostly centred around the available bicycle luggage that would enable guys like ben to head into the foothills with an appropriate degree of self sufficiency. backpacks are not the most practical of appendages, while panniers necessitate racks and racks need bolted bits on the road bike that probably doesn't have any. in any case, one of the guiding principles behind road biking is that of light weight, so bikepacking would seem the most appropriate bedfellow, where bar packs and seatpacks, affixed to the bicycle without an intrinsic need for any racks whatsoever.
that's precisely what the collaboration between rapha and apidura is designed to enable, extending rapha's brevet range beyond the realms of technical clothing.
the bar bag is simplicity itself, consisting of a tube of lined, weatherproof material into which all manner of stuff can be, well, stuffed. once everything is inside, it is a simple matter of rolling the ends inwards before clipping each end together to keep all safely inside. rapha advise that the packs may not be considered totally waterproof due to the method of closure, advising that it may be prudent to pack items into waterproof inners to maintain a particularly high degree of waterproofing.
once full to your own level of capacity, the pack is attached to the handlebars by means of two brevet styled straps, then held stable with a clipped strap round the head tube. i had fears that the width of the pack might interfere with an appropriate hand-position on the drops, but in practice this was most certainly not the case. having ridden the specialized awol elite with a standard bar bag attached, the rapha + apidura pack is not only funkier, but considerably less intrusive to line of sight. the top also features an elastic drawcord under which you can safely place a jacket, armwarmers, a map or any other items of cycling paraphernalia you may care to ride with al fresco.
the only bit missing, as far as i'm concerned, is a shoulder strap that could easily be hooked into each closed end for increased practicality when off the bike.
the seatpack works on a similar basis, in that once everything has been crammed into place (and it seemed happy to swallow a substantial amount of stuff), the open end is rolled up and its clips attached to two side straps. it fits to the bicycle by means of a tensionable velcro strap which fits round the seatpost and a further two clipped straps threaded through the saddle rails. i confess that i was less than confident all this would remain in place when ploughing across the roughest bits of the great outdoors, but i was wrong.
the seatpack also features the same elastic drawcord on the top, making it simplicity itself to carry a wind or rain jacket for easy access. with each and every bit of cargo encased within those bright pink bags, even in the event of an occasional cloudburst, everything remained as dry as it had been when put there in the first place.
if you have plans to emulate the rapha continental or perhaps a bit of audaxing now and again, these are the ideal appendages to a bicycle that is not a mountain bike (though they'd work every bit as well on one of those). if it's important to you to maintain a matching corporate presence, the fact that both packs feature the same white and pink stripage as rapha's brevet jersey and shorts (and socks, come to that), you'll be more than enamoured with these first two items from the rapha/apidura conversation. the practicality, design and superb construction of both has all but convinced me to saddle-up and head off into a hebridean sunset. at least until my tea's ready.
unfortunately, at the time of writing, both items have sold out, but i am reliably informed that they will be re-stocked in october this year. you might want to consider forming an orderly queue the minute you've finished reading.
the rapha + apidura handlebar pack retails at £85 while the seatpack is priced at £105. | rapha brevet range
sunday 26 june 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................