We first debuted our Nepal Expedition film and partnership with London-based performance roadwear brand Rapha to create the Transit Elite Sweater in 2009. Since then, we continue to be grateful for Rapha’s friendship, and we are blown away with all that we continue to learn from Rapha’s standards for quality, as well as its innovative perspective on retail. On April 9, we were passing through San Francisco and had the opportunity to get caught up with the assistant manager of Rapha’s San Francisco Cycle Club, John Maniquis. John led the way on a quick ride to Fort Point, and during coffee at Rapha’s in-store café, we asked the following questions to help us all better understand how Rapha is uniquely fostering the cycling community of San Francisco.
How was this San Francisco location chosen?
The main goal with all our cycle clubs is a location that has accessibility to great rides. Our location in San Francisco is positioned ten minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge, for a great ride. Also, it’s important that the neighborhoods for our global Rapha Cycle Clubs have our demographic, which has continued to be in major metropolitan cities that appreciate public transportation and love to cycle.
What are some of the amenities for this San Francisco location?
We have the main table in the middle of the store that often is used for personal office work with our free Wi-Fi. We also have a staircase that leads up to our balcony seating overlooking the shop; sometimes we install photo galleries in this area, but most of the time it is just a great location to have a conversation with a friend, or read a book. Our espresso bar serves FourBarrel Coffee, Red Blossom Tea, and sweet and savory pastries delivered from Vive La Tarte, Dynamo, and Mr. Holmes. We have a bike rack on the wall that is quickly filled by those who hang out at the shop before or after a ride. Outside the shop, in front of our Filbert Street sidewalk, we have one of the few San Francisco parklets. A parklet is urban planning unplugged, a small space serving as an extension of the sidewalk to provide amenities and green space for people using the street. Our parklet has a beautiful, elevated wood bench and a small garden that is bookended by a life-size, cut-in-half Rapha H Van. The Rapha H Van is a vehicle that has become a recognizable icon at our global road races and a fixture at Rapha Cycle Clubs. The last unique details for our San Francisco Cycle Club, which is staffed with fifteen people, are same-day courier delivery, gift-wrapping, and repairs. Our weekday hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and weekend hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the space is around 1,500 square feet, including our small office, back-stock inventory room, and public restroom.
Summarize the Cycle Club’s San Francisco rides.
Three rides weekly now. There is one on Thursdays, which is a night ride, two hours long, very short. Saturdays involve a longer road ride, in the morning. Sunday is a women’s-only ride. Each ride sees an average of at least eight people, and sometimes up to twenty-five people. The numbers are all contingent on the San Francisco weather. We meet at the shop, located in the Marina District, at the corner of Filbert and Fillmore. We mix up the map of each ride every week to keep it fresh and fun.
What kind of events are held at this cycle club, or other clubs?
We have been here for just about three years, [and] we have had speakers, book signings, photo galleries, and we are getting ready to have our anniversary ride. Our events usually focus on cycling, historically or [in the] present day. We have hosted legendary riders for in-store events, and they will host a ride. Sometimes, we design specific products around legendary riders or current riders, like we have done with Team Sky. It has been fun to tap into living legends with the Sky team. For events, we always have the community in mind to keep it accessible and localized, [and] never feel like an elitist brand. We want to feel familiar and welcoming to San Francisco. Periodically, we have limited quantities of product exclusive to the San Francisco Cycle Club; those items are always fun to release, but they sell out really quickly.
Is there an architect or design group that has helped lay out the Rapha Cycle Clubs?
Our most prominent stores are in Sydney and London. If you go in there, you will notice a very specific and consistent aesthetic. Rapha partnered with a London-based design agency called Brinkworth. They have taken the lead on fixtures and how to maximize permanent Rapha brick-and-mortar locations.
For more information, visit www.rapha.cc.
Photos: Jason Roque