Review: Rapha Classic Road Cycling Shoe

Cycling shoes these days come in all sorts of designs and technicalities, boasting from full carbon custom shoes like the ones from Hanseeno to the ‘regular’ three strap Velcro nylon-soled shoes. Once all the hype, BOA dial-type closure systems are slowly being favoured by old-school shoelace systems, occasionally mixed with a Velcro strap or two.


Photo: Rapha


Apart from design and style, cycling shoes, like all other shoes, are influenced hugely by personal needs. If you have wide feet, shoes from Italian brands may prove to be too narrow even though you may like a particular design from the brand very much. Consequently, if your feet shape is not similar to the cut of your favourite shoe, you would never be able to use them comfortably in the long run.

Rapha is a brand well-known for its line of cycling clothing and accessories, as well as its unique, simplistic style that oozes sophistication at the same time. It is also known for curating special experiences on the bike and boasts a strong local community across the various continents in the world.


Photo: Rapha


It is with this unique sense of style that their cycling shoes were crafted from. A performance shoe made for the masses should never be about pure performance, but also about comfort on and off the bike. Any decent cyclist would know that cycling shoes are not the most comfortable things once you are off the bike, and make you feel as though you are on an ice skating rink when you step on the tiled floor of your usual Kopitiam.


Features of the Rapha Classic 

I got the opportunity to test out a pair of Rapha’s Classic cycling shoes (and consequently looked so cool when paired with the custom kit they sent me during the last review) for a month and was I happy with the level of comfort and performance they offered.


A shoe bag and special note from Rapha is included in the box
Double D laces to provide extra comfort


1. TPU rubber outsole

My most favourite thing about the shoe was not that it featured a lightweight carbon sole or a sculpted heel that keeps my foot in place when powering up climbs, nor was it the adjustable arch support that the insoles offered.

The rubber outsole proved to be very useful when walking around post-ride. Photo: Rapha


It was that the outer carbon sole of the Rapha Classic was covered with a TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) rubber outsole that made walking around the local café or hawker centre not seem like a death trap waiting to happen. Mind you, it is not that the former features that I mentioned are not important, they form the basis of any high-performance shoe, but they are also found in most other shoe brands out there as well.


2. Double-wall lacing system 

Another distinct feature that I grew to like was the double-wall lacing system, which allowed me to adjust the fit of each part of the foot even more precisely than any of the other retention systems currently available but also eliminated pressure points on the top half of the foot.


Photo: Rapha


Fit wise, these felt slightly wide for my feet, but they are not wide-cut. I wear Giros and Shimanos (non-wide cut) usually, and these felt a tad wider in the forefoot than the Giros and closer to the cut of the Shimanos. Most riders should be able to dial down their fit quite easily with the help of the lacing system and adjustable arch support unless you have very wide or narrow feet.


Final verdict 

Photo: Rapha


My advice? If you are looking for a pure performance shoe, don’t buy this. Buy a shoe that can wrap its carbon outsoles around your feet and provide you with a superbly high level of stiffness when you push out 800W during your group ride. But these shoes are uncomfortable for most riders who are just riding around and enjoying the social aspect of riding (as well as the post-ride coffee).

Instead, if you are in the market for a performance shoe that is still comfortable enough to walk around in and look cool doing so, give the Rapha Classic shoes a serious consideration.


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