Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

See Inside the Rapha Marketing Machine

Love it or hate it, Rapha has helped make cycling hip again. But these days its understated look is traveling through the sport, with so many copycats appearing that looking good is easier than ever.  So where do its designers get their inspiration? Photographs by Simon Dawson and Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

A cyclist tests equipment in "The Vault," a climate simulation chamber in the basement of the Rapha club at Spitalfields market in London. Almost one in three vehicles heading into the heart of the British capital during the morning rush are bicycles, and the city estimates bike trips will soon outnumber those in cars.

Employees at the Rapha Racing headquarters in London. The company takes its name from St-Raphael, a long-forgotten French road team with which it has no actual association.

Photographs of employees and their bicycles are pinned on display in the cafe area at the Rapha headquarters.

A Tour de France yellow jersey, signed by race winner Chris Froome, in the cafe at Rapha's cycle club on Brewer Street in London.

Caps hang above clothing samples at the Rapha Racing headquarters. 

Staff yearly riding goals sit marked with chalk pen on a plastic hoarding by the bicycle storage area at the Rapha Racing Ltd. headquarters.

An employee makes a call at the Rapha Racing cycle club on Brewer Street in London. Rapha plans to open 20 to 25 new clubhouses in the next three years, a large chunk of them in the U.S., where it already has locations in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Rapha cyclocross jerseys on sale at their cycle club on Brewer Street.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Customers browse at the Rapha Racing cycle club in Spitalfields market. What many online-first retailers are learning is that bricks and mortar shops are key to growth.

Headtube badges from Rapha continental series bicycles. Many customers are members of its Cycling Club, which charges $200 annually for benefits like group rides and a subscription to a high-concept biannual magazine, Mondial.

A mannequin covered in mock cycling newsprint on display in the workshop at the Rapha Racing Ltd. headquarters.

Prototype sample jerseys in the design area at Rapha's headquarters. Thanks to the star power of racers like Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins, the last decade has seen huge increases in cycling both for commuting and recreation.

A branded coffee cup and receipt in the cafe at Rapha's cycle club on Brewer Street. Rapha is pushing hard with cycle "clubhouses" -- boutiques-cum-coffeehouses that mix camaraderie and caffeine with riding gear.

A customer watches bicycle racing on a screen in the outside terrace area at the Rapha Racing cycle club in Spitalfields market.