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In today’s Scale up story, we’re exploring the history of Rule 28, a high performance cycling apparel brand that’s backed by rigorous research and development.

Where they started

The Rule 28 story all began with a sock.

Sam Calder had been an avid cyclist for a while, competing in cycling competitions all over the UK and Europe. Naturally, he was highly interested in aerodynamic clothing, keen to squeeze every millisecond of advantage out of the clothes he wore during races.

Aerodynamic skinsuits were quite common at the time, but nobody had done aerodynamic socks.

Sam Calder, Rule 28, Founder

Curious to discover whether gains could be made via a sock, Sam had four prototypes made. And while they weren’t anywhere near the quality that Rule 28 offers today, they worked.

The big turning point was when some of Sam’s friends used his newly created socks in a winning performance in the British Track Championships. “It wasn’t all due to the socks, of course”, said Sam, “but they certainly helped.”

The socks were never intended to become a business venture, but their appearance in the race raised more than a few eyebrows. For the first time, a sock was more than just a sock in the cycling world.

It soon became clear that Sam would need more than four pairs of socks. Friends and other athletes began getting in touch, asking where they could get some. And so Rule 28 was born.

Where they’re at now

Rule 28 saw great success right off the bat. Demand was incredibly high, and for the first year or two, Sam struggled to meet it. But as the business grew, so did Sam’s understanding of how to run one effectively.

Today, Rule 28 is so much more than socks. They offer an entire range of cutting edge aero and non-aero cycling apparel, from armguards to aero sleeves, skinsuits to jerseys, and much more.

What sets Rule 28 apart from many of its competitors is the research and development that goes into every piece of apparel in their store. Each new bit of clothing undergoes rigorous testing and improvement, with the data and findings displayed publicly on their website.

Many companies doing what we do are 95% marketing and 5% data. We wanted to reverse that, with the data at the forefront. The marketing is there to make our findings understandable and accessible.

Sam Calder, Rule 28, Founder

Where they’re going

The next big thing for Rule 28, Sam explains, is a venture into bespoke, personalised apparel for cycling clubs and groups.

This new product is currently being trialled, allowing customers to mix and match the clothing elements they’d like, with their own logos, colours, patterns, and more.

Sam is also looking at moving some product over to the USA, making his clothing more accessible to cycling enthusiasts across the pond. Smarter inventory positioning will allow Rule 28 to save time and money on speed and cost of delivery respectively.

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