i had a zyn cymbal and also a krut, neither of which were particularly great, but they made the right noises at the right time. i can't recall what make my hi-hat cymbals were and if i'm totally honest, i've no memory whatsoever of what they sounded like.
the woman who managed the newsagents in which i was employed to deliver daily papers, rather decently invited the whole group of paper boys to the reception after her wedding. in those early teenage years, this seemed the ideal opportunity to spend an evening un-harrassed by eagle-eyed parents and most likely ignored by the adults who would be otherwise engrossed. in other words, there would be beer and lager available in copious amounts, unfettered by imposed restrictions.
this was the first notable moment in my life when i discovered that i had no appreciable appreciation of alcoholic beverages, thus the only paper boy without a devil of a hangover the following morning. however, of far greater importance was the existence of a band. discos had yet to be properly invented, thus the first dance between the new husband and wife was undertaken to the sounds of real musicians.
the drummer sat towards the back of the small stage, easily stalked by an aspiring teenage percussionist. i watched every stroke on that snare drum and every glancing blow across shiny cymbals. though i have no idea the make of drums (they may have been ludwig), i do remember the shiny cymbals having paiste clearly stencilled across their circumference. as is my won't, at the first break, i engaged the drummer in earnest conversation.
during this conversation, where i proudly announced the names stencilled upon my own cymbals (see above), the fellow gently pointed out that those were hardly amongst the armaments required by the bona-fide (aspiring) drummer. better to relace them with swiss metal disks that said paiste. for though i might be blissfully unaware of krut and zyn's shortcomings, should i find myself in the recording studio, frowns and furrowed brows would be seen behind the mixing desk.
my initiation into the world of the percussionist had not gone smoothly up to that point. purchasing my first pair of drumsticks, blissfully unaware of the plethora of different profiles and bead shapes, when asked by the music shop sales assistant what sticks i desired, i replied "wooden ones please". he probably still dines out on that one to this day.
the thing is, paiste cymbals are not cheap. schoolboys who have to rifle through their pocket change to afford a half-pint of unwanted lager at wedding receptions are not in the habit of purchasing a crash, a ride and a pair of hi-hats of the quality recommended by the unknown wedding drummer.
nowadays, that is no longer the case. paiste and virtually every other major cymbal manufacturer on the planet offers a budget range which arguably sound almost as superb as the top line 602 range advertised by vinnie. if megastardom passes you by, obviating any need to play large american stadiums supporting bon jovi and the re-formed journey, so-called budget cymbals will often more than suffice.
cycling has long been an imitator of this percussive trend, but while a set of budget cymbals will still sound the same after a world tour of the local hostelries, budget cycle clothing has/had an unenviable reputation of sagging in all the wrong places after only a few rides and even fewer wash cycles. it would be unfair to tag all lower cost cycle clothing with this potential iniquity, but while it may not be true elsewhere, in my experience, when it comes to cycling apparel, you pretty much get what you pay for.
and that, dear reader, is sort of where the moaning starts. or in certain regions of the faith, quite plainly doesn't.
despite a colnago c60 being a darned sight more expensive than a dawes giro, nobody shouts at ernesto. despite a campagnolo eps rear gear mech being a lot dearer than a shimano tourney, tullio's heritage remains unblemished. rapha have long suffered from a deduction of one or two stars in cycle magazine grouptests due to the size of the number on the price tags, an iniquity that seems not to apply to many of their competitors. i'm not here as a rapha apologist; they're big enough and tough enough to argue their own corner without my ten cents.
several years past, a correspondent to the comic suggested that rapha might consider producing a lite range. one that would feature the rapha name on the sleeve, but with prices more amenable to the destitute amongst the peloton. it is a sad fact that the majority of those decrying imperial works for inhabiting the stratosphere, do so simply on the basis of being unable to immediately afford a jersey, jacket or pair of bibshorts. this is, after all, the age of instant gratification.
yet as of today, it seems rapha may have capitulated, releasing the first items in their new core range, consisting of bibshorts and jerseys in both men's and women's styles. the word budget holds different meanings for different folks, but at £70 for the jersey and £100 for the shorts, you could almost purchase two of each for the cost of one set of pro-team kit. but, and i know you're desperate to ask, could budget be as budget does?
or something like that.
as rapha's head of design, alex valdman said "I, like many here at Rapha, thought that this is something which has been missing from our repertoire. I wanted the touch and feel to be rooted in something quite comfortable, but it had to feel like performance wear too."
having covered a reasonable distance in somewhat testing conditions while clad in a bright pink core jersey and black on black core bibshorts (they're also available with white bibs to look less obvious under the lighter coloured jerseys) i'm struggling to see the join (as eric morecambe would have said). i gained my first introduction to the range during a recent visit to imperial works; if i hadn't been told it was rapha's budget range, i'd have been none the wiser. and, mid-peloton, i'm pretty sure no-one else will either.
the jersey is fashioned from a fabric built up to a price point rather than down. the fit is, as usual, impeccable. the trademark hoop on the left sleeve is the same colour as the rest of the jersey, but is raised proud of the surrounding fabric. and it doesn't bear the rapha logo, in case you were wondering. a full-length zip ends at the mid-height collar in a welcome zip garage, while those three rear pockets can carry far more than they were probably designed to. and there's the mandatory fourth zipped edition too.
the hem features the same silicon gloopy stuff as found on the inside of the laser-cut hems on the bibshorts. the latter bears exactly the same chamois pad as found on the classic bibshorts, surrounded by a dense knit, but relatively lightweight, black (only) fabric. it's very hard to see where the economies have been made. infact, it's quite hard to see where any economies have been made.
it has long been my contention that any half-decent pair of bibshorts ought to be somewhat of a struggle to get on, a factor that doesn't always make itself apparent in lower priced garments. the gloopy stuff on the inner hems makes that process even harder. thus, when finally in place, they fit like a second skin, always assuming you've ordered the right size in the first place. perhaps the only notable differences between these and their pricier brethren, are marginally more substantial bib straps and a noticeable waistband; the fit is all rapha, for those who know what that means.
i would and will wear this combination at every available opportunity, possibly more so when the weather pretends to heat up. me being me, i'd have loved a long-sleeve jersey, but i'm sure that will arrive in due course, along with other items in the range. the only thing budget about either the jersey or the bibshorts is the price tag. i wore these combined with leg warmers, armwarmers, a brevet insulated gilet and both a pro-team softshell and hardshell (at different times). everything looked, felt and performed like rapha. there is no visual or performance weak spot that highlighted any difference.
a gentleman in debbie's did say he couldn't hear what i was saying due to the loudness of that pink, but i figure that's a feature, not a bug.
at the risk of paraphrasing rapha's marketing department, this could actually be a new standard.
the rapha core range consist of short-sleeve jerseys available in pink (as reviewed), black, navy, white, grey and light blue. i'm led to believe white will soon be an option. the women's range offers black, pink, white, cherry red and navy. sizes range from xs to xxl. all cost £70. the bibshorts can be purchased with black or white bibs at a cost of £100 per pair. the women's range also features a pair of non-bibshorts.
tuesday 23 february 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................