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If there's any brand in cycling that simultaneously embodies the sport's core, history-steeped traditions as well as its more adventurous, sometimes-radical fringes, it's Rapha. The UK-based bike brand known for its high-quality apparel can simultaneously pay homage to the founding of a race like the Giro d'Italia with its frequent use of the color pink while incurring a multi-thousand-euro fine for "non-compliant clothing" at the very same event. That penalty was the result of a surprising collaboration with London-based skateboard brand Palace, and now Rapha is joining forces with another style brand—this time it's Brain Dead—on an ultramodern new collection of mountain biking clothing.
When Rapha debuted its first MTB line a few years ago, it followed the clean, understated aesthetic that the company established itself with. But the Brain Dead collab, as anyone familiar with that brand's recent work with The North Face, Evolv, or ASICS might predict, might better be summed up as psychedelic.
The line is divided up into two parts: on-bike and off-bike. The former's flagship is the Rapha + Brain Dead Trail Lightweight Jacket ($188), a packable, ultralight, windproof zip-up whose trippy print belies its technical weather protection. To complement, there's the Rapha + Brain Dead Trail Pant ($195), which is made rugged with reinforced knees and seat plus DWR. Collab versions of Rapha's Trail Technical T-Shirt ($85) and Trail Windblock Jersey ($152) round out the riding clothing, but there's also a hip pack and a water bottle to put inside it.
As for the off-bike part of the collection, the kit includes a heavyweight hoodie and long and short-sleeve shirts. But the standout here is the Rapha + Brain Dead Trail Maintenance Pants ($200), which are patterned in tie-dye and equipped with cargo pockets, a drawstring waist, and cinch hems (plus a strange little demon in purple embroidery).
The entire collection is a reminder that highly technical gear can still be creative, and it doesn't have to be ironic in the process. It's a lesson that's worth learning over and over (ideally, in this case, while riding a bike at high speed through the woods).