Behind the Ride: Mike Herlinger

Mike Herlinger founded Club Ride in 2008 and remains the man behind the brand, involved in every aspect of the business. Read a little more about his background and what makes him tick. 


Tell us a little about the shirt that inspired the brand.

The idea of Club Ride simply comes from solving a problem. I didn't want to show up at an outdoor patio after a bike ride in fitted lycra clothing. I went to change into a tech tee and spied my vintage western shirt I picked up in college in SoCal. The shirt comes out on special occasions and when it does, it's time to party. I felt that every time I'm on a bike it's a similar feeling. The freedom, the exhilaration, movement, social vibes... all of it screams party shirt. I wanted to create a concept that supported those thoughts so we used the most technical fabrics to support the work we do on bikes and blended it with cool, casual and fun styling to create our Trailhead Party shirts. The idea expanded into a larger collection, not all party but not all serious either. Our goal is to make very technical clothing that is wearable on and off the bike. Party or work, picnics or single speed worlds. The clothing fits our life around two wheels


How did the early surf and skate scenes influence your ideas for Club Ride?

I suppose growing up near Hermosa Beach California in the '70s-'80s set a tone for my view on life and sport. I did a bit of both growing up and loved the freedom those sports delivered. The tribes around those activities gave a sense of non-conformity at the time which I drew from when I said no more lycra. I won't conform or show my conformity in that kit. I want to be different and I want to be me, and a race kit was not that. Actually neither was a logo baggy downhill shirt. I wanted clothing that was easy, comfortable, unique and set the tone for social fun on two wheels. Surfing by yourself is certainly fun but waiting for the next wave with a buddy is super similar to sitting on the tailgate with your buddies after a ride. I sort of see it like, why would you surf in a speedo?

Do you miss the days driving around the country to hand deliver Club Ride apparel?

That had its ups and downs but it was a special time in my life as I was really creating something from nothing. I was challenged with creating a new category in bike that didn't exist before Club Ride and that was fun. My daughter Liv was just born and my son Jack was three so that was hard leaving as much as I did but experiencing the country based on traveling from bike shop to bike shop was indeed a memorable time in my life. It also allows me to know most safe places to sleep in a van in the western US.

Favorite bike and why? Favorite bike paint job?

Oh boy... so many. The bike that holds most of my memories are my single speeds. I had a custom Independent Fabrication for a while when 26 was around. I rode that rigid at the Park City P2P event so had a special bond with that machine. My Salsa El Mariachi also stands out as it was around the longest and probably saw the most miles. I think this one has a special place as we repurposed this bike with Robert Freeze who runs Old Shovel YouTube. He stripped and painted the bike and we passed it to a young high school girl that needed a bike for NICA. That was truly a special moment for me to be in the position to pass along a thing that gave me the freedom it did to a young person just getting into the sport.

Front derailleur? Single speed? 1x12 with a massive range?

Nowadays 1x12. Sadly withough a single speed. Some shoulder things or maybe just in-between SS bikes. Weird that I signed up for High Cascade 100 this summer and I am more nervous about not riding it on single speed and having gears. It feels like you always have 12 options vs 1 and that adds more decisions than I care to have. I love the simplicity of 1 gear, just go at the pace that 1 gear and you can pedal.

Do you ever wear spandex?

Well its funny as our clothing has spandex so honestly yes. Spandex is a filament type used to allow stretch in our garments. But, do I wear form fitting race kits. No, not any more. I dont do the things where its needed. I use the analogy of I am swimming laps I'm going to wear surf trunks. If I chose to enter into a swim meet then I would wear speedo's. But honestly, I think wearing a speedo is part of the reason I would never sign up for a swim meet. Part of the reason... my inability to swim competitively is another.

What's next for Club Ride?

I want to continue to grow our loud speaker so that more cyclists learn about us, what we stand for and that there are options out there in bike apparel that might be a better fit for their personality and riding style. The gravel scene is pretty interesting for us. I believe there are lots of cyclists out there riding gravel that could use gear that supports their social or party experience on 700c wheels. All of our clothing works for gravel but there could be a little somethin somethin on the horizon that just may have a little more relevance to that category of bike.

In the meantime, don't forget to check out the fresh Men's and Women's Spring 2024 Collection.