Factor’s Team Amani x Rapha special editions

Continuing the dream

The 2024 season will be the third year that Factor Bikes and Black Inc have been sponsoring Team Amani. Before that, the team’s riders were forced to compete on bikes that were in poor condition or far below the level of their competitors’ bikes. When Factor and Black Inc started to sponsor Team Amani, it was something of a turning point for the team.

Photo credit: Finley Newmark

“Bringing on Factor as a bike sponsor in 2022 had a huge impact,” Team Amani co-Founder Mikel Delagrange said. “I mean it’s amazing that something like equipment can really make the difference. It was quite a stark contrast from the year before.”

In the first season with Factor and Black Inc, the team accomplished some huge goals, like victories at the Migration Gravel Race (in Kenya) and Evolution Gravel (in Tanzania). But we all also felt the deep sadness following the tragic death of team founder and captain, Sule Kangangi.

Photo credit: nadia moro

Sule died in 2022 while competing in the Vermont Overland gravel race, and his loss left a huge hole in the hearts of all who knew him or even just knew of him. To a certain extent, it even put into question whether the team would want to continue competing. “I think it has on a certain level brought us all together. Because we realized that not only is this a unique moment and we have some momentum, but we also have some responsibility to the next generation to prove the concept,” Delagrange explained.

Photo credit: Finley Newmark

“Because we may not get a shot like this again, we may not get people’s attention again. There’s quite a lot of focus on it now, and if it doesn’t result in something transformative for the region, then we might just be cementing minds that believe in fact it just doesn’t work. So I think we also to some extent feel that pressure to keep going and to be successful.”

Rapha joins the team

Now for 2024, Team Amani has moved to another level with the addition of Rapha as clothing sponsor. Not only does the team benefit from additional visibility such a popular brand can provide, but the designs the creative minds at the British clothing brand develop provide huge motivation and help represent what is unique about East African cycling.

Photo credit: John Kasaian

The bright, evocative Team Amani cycling kit helped spur the imagination of Factor’s Creative Director, Jay Gundzik. “The design for the frames was definitely driven by the Rapha kit design,” Jay confirmed. “The team at Rapha spent a lot of time developing these animal print patterns, which I had already used a little in the previous two designs. They just expanded on it and did some pretty cool stuff because they created laser cut stencils. And then they experimented to get that overspray effect. And they wanted that replicated on the bike.”

But taking a 2D design that works on fabrics and then translating it onto a 3D carbon tube is not as easy as it sounds. “The key was to focus on interpreting their fabric design for a carbon surface. We did a lot of prototyping with our decal manufacturer to get the decals and the sizing and the colors right. Getting the sharpness of the graphics and the frame and making sure the colors were true and right. We did a bunch of back and forth and prototyping to get it to where it is,” Jay said.

Photo credit: Finley Newmark

Communication and passion

“I didn’t want to drive the creative direction too much. My job was to take their kit design and some of the ideas behind those designs and interpret it to fit the bike. So, I sent them some of our design templates and told them to just play around with those to show me how they might like to see the designs from the kit appear on the frames.”

What works well on a jersey can be hard to reapply to a tube, especially when discussing colors, fades, graphics, and making it all scalable for mass production.

“You have to consider the design from a production standpoint because there is someone in our factory, physically, manually putting these things on a ready to paint frame. So we did a lot of back and forth to get the decal templates workable to match the graphics from the kit. The team at Rapha are really great, and they were very easy to work with in the collaborative process,” Jay explained.

Photo credit: John Kasaian

Jay had already created two seasons of special editions for the Team Amani, both of which used bold colors that represented the East African region, as well as prints that celebrated the wild animals so deeply associated with the region. “In the past, I had also used the team jerseys as templates for the design,” Jay explained. “This time though there was a lot more input from the clothing brand, which was great. I like working both ways. I really tried to respect the team’s design, but then also make it Factor. I think the bike design is a result of communication and passion.”

Photo credit: left - Finley Newmark / right - nadia moro

Photo credit: Saltlake_Lian

Olympic designs

In just three short years, Team Amani has accomplished a huge amount and introduced a series of exceptional athletes to elite gravel and mountain bike racing.

They have sent riders to the biggest races in the world and achieved many top results, such as Geoffrey Langat’s in the Unbound XL 350 MILE in 2023. “We are proud of what the team has accomplished in such a short time,” Factor/Black Inc Chief Operating Officer Calvin Chan said. “This has culminated with Jordan Schleck receiving an invite to do the Life Time Grand Prix series this year. We are also proud of the fact that Team Amani now has a development squad called the Black Mambas.”

With several of the Team Amani members also planning to compete in the Olympics road race, Factor has given this very special frame colorway to not only the OSTRO Gravel, but the OSTRO VAM as well. Though the basic design for each frame is consistent, certain adjustments needed to be made in order to fit geometry and frame shape differences.

“The OSTRO Gravel was the original design. Interpreting it to the other model was a process of adjusting the sizing and placement of the decals to fit the geometry and shape of the frames. It’s quite stunning, I think the colors look really cool and different from anything we’ve done. And certainly different from previous designs we’ve done for Amani. I think it’s really a nice evolution; I quite like it. It feels fresh.”

Secure Your Limited Edition Team Amani x Rapha Bike

Each of the stunning designs will be made available for purchase as a limited edition.

“We've decided to donate a significant portion of sales proceeds from these bikes to help fund Team Amani's athlete performance Center in Iten, Kenya,” Calvin said. “And to show further support, Factor Bikes and Black Inc founder, Rob Gitelis, and Factor friend, David Millar will be heading to Kenya in June to take part in the Migration Gravel Race and personally cheer on and celebrate Team Amani and its athletes.”

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