It’s finally that time of year again. You know what I’m talking about—mountain biking season. The trails are drying up, the streams are roaring, wildflowers are starting to pop, and you’re probably looking to upgrade to a jersey and short combo that’ll raise the stoke factor even higher. And let’s be honest, no one really wants to see you rocking that sheer, almost see-through lycra bib short or those baggies that you pretty much blew the rear out of last season when you were getting all sendy on those flow trail hits. 2017 is the year to look the part once again in pieces that are equally functional, comfortable, and stylish. We decided to do the hard work for you (if you consider testing mountain bike kits on the trails of glorious Sun Valley, Idaho hard work) and came up with our takeaways from the latest offerings from four of the choicest brands. Decide what you’re really digging, get the goods, and get flowing out on the dirt.
Based in Idaho’s southern Rockies, Club Ride is a brand that has firmly established itself at the very top of the mountain bike clothing game. Club Ride was one of the first brands to come up with the idea of producing highly functional bike clothing that is also perfectly stylish enough for kicking around town pre or post ride. It’s an act of mercy, really. Who wants to have drinks with someone outfitted in lycra from head to toe? Club Ride prides itself on being pioneers in the fields of design and technical features as well as always promoting good vibes and equality between all levels of riders. It’s a home-grown company that has achieved international acclaim while staying true to its original philosophy and intent.
The Bolt encapsulates the core of Club Ride’s products to a T: stylish Western-themed shirts that are the perfect marriage between function and fashion. A snap button, collared shirt that performs as well or better than a full-zip road jersey? You best believe it. Club Ride produces the Bolt in their signature RideDryWear fabric that wicks and quick-dries with the best of them. I noticed this the most when I arrived at the top of sustained climbs and the jersey was adequately drenched, yet a few minutes later while hitting the descent I was completely dry again. Mind boggling. The Bolt also has breathability in spades. While riding on a sunny day in the mid-70s, I wore a light base layer and was never close to overheating. Underarm and side panel mesh venting also do a great part in making this possible. Another plus from this jersey is the zippered rear storage pocket with a media port for your phone and two buttoned chest pockets up front. If you’re like me and don’t usually like riding with a pack, this is huge. I also found the snap button system to be convenient when wanting to open up the front of the jersey for extra air during long ascents. One could argue that a full-zip would do this better but then this piece would lose a lot of its excellent style. And boy is there style. What can I say? I am a huge fan of the asymmetrical plaid pattern on the right shoulder and solid color on the left. It definitely stands out.
The Fuze is everything that a mountain biking short should be with equal parts versatility, comfort, and style. Another plus is that they come with Club Ride’s Gunslinger removable chamois which gives the old undercarriage a comfortable amount of padding. The Fuze is made with a midweight stretch double-weave fabric with spandex material added to the inner thigh area to provide breathability. The fairly thick outer material also came in handy when I inadvertently decided to see just how tough the Fuze is by sliding out on some gravel and slick rock. No blemishes or rips whatsoever—the only damage done was to my pride. Other handy features include an interior Velcro waistband adjuster, two-zip side pockets, and two hand pockets. The Fuze short is definitely the real deal.
An updated take on one of the first tops ever produced by Club Ride, the current New West shirt features a more modern plaid pattern than its predecessor. Materials and features are nearly identical to those described for the Bolt above. The only noticeable difference is that this jersey has a single, no-button left chest pocket instead of two snap button chest pockets. This might be a slight annoyance for those of you who prefer to store things in your jersey while riding. Other than that, the New West is the Bolt with more plaid. Choose either or both and you simply can’t go wrong.
Unlike the Fuze, the Commander shorts do not come with a chamois liner—but that’s not a problem because you can wear whatever liner you prefer with them. The shorts are solid and stylish. With two hand pockets and two cargo pockets each with a zip outer and Velcro inner, the Commander has all of your storage needs covered. Achieving a custom fit around the waist is also highly efficient with an inner Velcro waist adjuster and outer belt loops. Fit and function while climbing, descending, and generally flowing is also quite superb. I love how tough and slightly stretchy the outer material is but, unlike the Fuze, the Commander has no lighter spandex inserts in the inner thigh areas which makes it less breathable. While this short is a perfect go-to for cold to fairly warm days, riders may want something lighter for those scorching mountain rides that can happen often in July.
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