As someone who is mildly obsessed with cycling, I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the world of cycling kit too. In 2015, I noticed the name Rivelo pop up on my social media radar.
There was immediately something about the clean and fairly minimal presentation of their website which caught my eye, and it’s fair to say that the same can be seen in the stylings of their kit. It’s all simple lines, block colour, and unfussy details. I also spotted Winnats Pass in the marketing shots.
Growing up in Derbyshire I was all too familiar with steep slopes of Winnats Pass near Castleton. When I was a kid, bikes weren’t geared quite as well as they are now, and the steel framed steed I rode on was quite a lump to drag up a climb like that. If I think about Winnats Pass for too long, I swear I still get slightly out of breath.
This is a Rivelo thing you see; the items of kit are named after all manner of northern climbs that I know all about – Winnats, Newlands, Honister – and lots from elsewhere that I don’t. Having reviewed the Langcliffe waterproof/windproof jacket, and the Winnats bib-tights recently, my overriding impression is of kit which does it’s job.
The Langcliffe was a nice tight race-fit jacket – let’s be honest, there are few things less welcome on a bike ride than a jacket which billows and flaps around in the wind – which did a very decent job of keeping out the wind and rain. I can see myself riding with it tucked in my jersey pocket all through the year. And the Winnats tights are a proper pair of winter tights – warm, protective, and (like it’s namesake stretch of Derbyshire tarmac) substantial.
As so often with fresh new cycling brands, I wanted to know more. Thankfully, head of Product Design Tara Johnson was happy to oblige.
Q: Launching a new brand into a world crowded with cycling kit can’t be easy. Where do you see Rivelo fitting in alongside its competitors?
TJ: We felt there was still space in the market for a brand with a ‘British’, understated aesthetic, that was positioned towards the premium end (without being eye watering!), that also catered equally to men & women. We’ve ensured that our women’s range is just as strong as the men’s, and all our women’s styles are designed from the ground up with the female form in mind. We felt it was important to have this from the start, rather than add the women’s range as an afterthought.
Q: …and I suppose it takes time for a new brand to establish an identity. How do you hope/expect Rivelo will come to be seen by cyclists?
TJ: It does take time, but if you have a clear idea of what the brand stands for it hopefully cements a stronger identity as people become more familiar with the brand. We’d like Rivelo to be known for it’s quality, both in design and performance, and also it’s inclusivity – we’re a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s just about enjoying your bike, and wearing good looking kit whilst doing it!
Q: You’ve clearly gone for a simple and uncomplicated design with your kit – how would you describe the Rivelo ‘look’?
TJ: We deliberately went for an understated look but also wanted to combine this with a high level of technical detail, so it’s the type of kit you can forget you’re wearing and just focus on turning the pedals. We felt there was no reason why classic style and performance couldn’t go hand in hand
Q: I notice the names of many of your pieces of kit are based on classic northern climbs like ‘Winnats’, ‘Honister’, and ‘Newlands’. Do I detect a north of England influence flowing through the veins of Rivelo?
TJ: We’re actually based in South London! We were keen for Rivelo to have a British identity and had decided quite early on to name all the styles after favourite British cycling climbs/roads/streets – some well-known, and some less so! We’ve also tried to keep our photo shoots in the UK, despite having to battle with the elusive British Summer (!) but we feel it’s worth it to promote what wonderful riding we have here in the UK. So, whilst some styles are named after roads/climbs in Yorkshire, and also the Peak District, we’ve also been careful to include our Southern following by referencing climbs in the Surrey Hills and Sussex, and beyond.
Q: When I tested the Winnats bib-tights and the Langcliffe jacket I was impressed with how they performed, and felt they delivered pretty much what they promised in terms of weather protection. I was also very happy with the uncomplicated stylings – your kit in no way screams ‘look at me’, but I would suggest has a quiet ability to turn heads.
The fact is, cyclists are discerning types these days – where is the balance between form and function?
TJ: We felt that the two can be happily combined and you shouldn’t have to forgo one for the other. Just because something is designed to have an end use that’s ‘performance’ doesn’t mean that it can’t also look classic, sleek and clean. We like to describe it as ‘the quiet over achiever’!
Q: What does the future hold for Rivelo – A tilt at global domination? Small but perfectly formed? Somewhere in-between?
TJ: probably somewhere in-between but we’d be happy with global domination! The immediate plans for 2016 are to launch our Spring/Summer range March/April time, which has some new jersey styles (lots of stripes!), a new bib shorts offering for women, new colourways for Newlands, Honister and Ranmore, a windproof/water resistant gilet and some fabulous stripy socks – lots to get excited about! We’re also working on Autumn/Winter 2016 and hoping to add some new styles and colourways to the range then as well, although these are still in the development stages so nothing is confirmed yet.
So there you have it. A British brand happy to take on the British weather, and with a new range in the pipeline for 2016.
As Tara explains, although the prices aren’t quite in the ‘eye-watering’ bracket this is premium stuff, no question, which means you should expect some seriously good kit for your money. As time goes by, and cyclists start to vote with their wallets, it will be fascinating to see where Rivelo fit in.