A further note on the hypocrisy of Rapha... They try to cloak themselves in this image of the artist/individualist. For example, look at the way they cosy up to the independent frame builders and the model of production used by those builders (e.g.http://www.rapha.cc/builders
; --- http://www.rapha.cc/bicycle/
; --- http://www.rapha.cc/bespoke-the-handbuilt-bicycle
; --- http://www.rapha.cc/jordan-hufnagel
and --- http://www.rapha.cc/aende
). If they believe so fervently in far east production then why don't they post pictures of carbon frames being built in China? Or does that run counter to their marketing?
Below in blue font is a quote from http://www.rapha.cc/builders
BUILDERS, BIKES AND PARTNERS
What follows is a collection of workshop photos and interviews with the independent frame builders who have built Continental team bikes. While cycling and bicycle manufacturing is overfast and obsessed with efficiency, these builders and their processes are not. In fact, it’s their individual experiences and character, and their attitudes and preferences that shape and inform their product.
About the Bikes
Our approach to building bicycles for the Rapha Continental Riders is a reflection of our environment both in terms of riding and in terms of the people, builders and brands local to the Pacific Northwest; Portland in particular. Inspired by the style of riding we’ve come to affectionately, if not with tongue-in-cheek, refer to as Gentlemen’s Racing or Epic’ing. It calls for steel and timeless classics to be lovingly, and with great deliberation, paired with lightweight nano-technology – on these bikes leather and carbon play well, ride heroically and look stunning together.
Each reliable understated bike starts with a local independent frame-builder and craftsman. For the West Coast Riders we worked with Ira Ryan, Tony Pereira, Sycip, Davidson, Signal, Rick Hunter, Lyonsport. For the East Coast Riders we went with Richard Sachs, Bilenky, Seven Cycles, Circle-A, Independent Fabrication and Igleheart. They’re custom and brimming with intention. They are hand built and designed to handle gravel descents as well as 23% perfectly paved climbs with panache and a grin.
Why don't they just put the riders on a Chinarello that they bought off of e-bay? Or does that not fit the image?
The point is that they seem to be touting the benefits of craftsmanship in the Western world, and the small production aspects associated with the makers, while pursuing a completely different course behind the scenes with their own business model. They are cloaking
themselves in the aura of these manufacturers while believing something very different for themselves and acting in a different way. That is hypocrisy. They penned the article to try to blunt the criticism of their products and manufacturing as found on forums such as this one. I find it insulting. I have bought their products in the past, knowing after the first order (and inspecting the tags) that many of the products are made in China. But now I am going to re-think my purchases based upon the article. And as for the builders, it seems to me that Rapha has made fools of them. The message from Rapha to hem seems to be a spin on the "Do as I say, not as I do!" to maybe "Do as I spin, not as I do!" Those custom builders should take some serious time to reflect upon their relationship with Rapha and the way Rapha is using them to spin their image.
Bottom-line: You can try to put lipstick on a pig, but underneath it all it is still just a pig.
Edit: Had to add a link to the Rapha site about Moots: http://www.rapha.cc/moots
They are located in Colorado, the state where I live. Steamboat, Colorado is an expensive location to manufacture in, yet Moots have done everything they can to keep production there and employ numerous local people at the Moots Factory. The article discusses the factory a little and they provide pictures from Rapha's tour of the factory. In other words, Moots doesn't just design
the frames there, they build them there with local workers and pay a good wage to the workers in the process. Apparently Rapha thinks enough of this business model to write about it, but not to adopt it. Good for Moots! (Bad for Rapha.)