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Beta Editors’ Choice: Club Ride Motive Shirt

Semi-formal

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Basics

-85% polyester, 15% spandex
-Ventilated by way of dissolvable yarn
-4-way stretch
-Also available in women’s version called the Camas


Pros

-Supremely breathable
-Light and stretchy
-Won’t make you look like a mountain biker

Cons

-Expensive
-What? No plaid?


Price

$90

Brand

Club Ride


Have you ever been to a sold-out arena concert? Some giant venue that can hold, like, several small towns’ worth of people? I can’t imagine it, especially now. But what really blows my mind is how some performers can get up there and act more casual than I am when I need to speak on a Zoom call. I mean, I saw footage of Billie Eilish putting the mic down for a second to fix her hair, and it was like she was doing it in line at the post office. And she’s a teenager. I think it’s all in how they carry themselves. As if whatever they’re doing isn’t even that big a deal. They live and breathe it. So, why would it be any less natural than living and breathing? 

That’s why I’m pretty sure I ride better when I’m wearing a collared shirt. I’m so on top of this whole mountain biking thing that I can do it in the clothes I wore on my Zoom call this morning (which went fine, by the way). But collared shirts have been slow to evolve. The fanciest feature you’ll get is a 4-way stretch fabric, and those didn’t even show up until a couple years ago. Leave it to Club Ride, who have built a business around this exact mindset, to push the envelope. They’ve been steadily bringing some higher-tech offerings into their low-key lineup, and those worlds again collide in the Motive shirt.

The Motive’s standout feature is its dissolvable yarn. First: little useless yarn trivia; Yarn is not thread. Yarn is the raw material that makes up thread and fabric. As the fabric is being created, the polyester yarn that makes up the structure is intermittently substituted by strands of yarn that can be dissolved in water involving no toxic chemicals. After construction, the fabric is dipped and the dissolving yarn … dissolves. The point is to leave perforations that are far smaller but far more numerous than the laser-cut perforations popular in riding clothes like some high-end baggie shorts or bibs. But it’s better. Perforating after the fact interrupts the structure of the fabric and can lead to weak spots. 

Also, the approach Club Ride took is more effective. It’s hard to get that instant-A/C I feel in my high-tech jerseys when I’m wearing a tightly-knit collared shirt. But I feel it on the Motive. It’s far more effective than perforation would be because it’s everywhere. It’s like helmet ventilation. Cover the front of the helmet with big swoopy holes and it won’t do anything if there’s nowhere for the air to go once it hits your scalp. The Motiv allows air to go through the fabric, circulate and exit, bringing my body heat with it. And it takes so little wind or motion to get the process going. Even if I get out of the saddle quickly, there’s a bit of a rush of coolness on my back as long as I’ve got a little dusting of sweat. Of course, the other side to that is, if I try wearing it on the outside of a baselayer for a little mid-season compromise, it’s still just as breezy. I get used to collared shirts being like mini windbreakers, but the Motive’s barely-there structure means it is warm-weather only.

The Motive has an adequate but moderate amount of stretch. It’s a rubber band compared to the New West shirt, the O.G. Club Ride button-down, but it’s just enough. I don’t feel it tugging on my shoulders and armpits when I was in my probably-unhealthy hunched position while climbing. And of course, it connects with snaps, but not big metal mother-of-pearl snaps. They’re thin, light plastic, and they’re not cold against the skin on a breezy day.

There’s other little touches as well. A sunglass wipe because, despite the cotton-like look, the fabric still can’t clean a lens without streaking it. But of course, the sunglass wipe is tiny. Just about every shirt brand is guilty of this, but when you’re wiping your glasses with their bag as god intended, do you use your index finger and make little circles, and then do the other side? No, you wrap the whole thing in the bag and clean both sides at once. Please, bike apparel brands, use some common sense and give us a reasonably sized sunglass wipe. There’s also a tiny pocket that seems more aimed at the urban-cycling market, but it’s not a bad place for snacks or gels if you don’t have an easy-access pocket on your pack. I just constantly keep a fiver in there. Either it’ll disintegrate some day, or I’ll find it when I need it most.

On that note, back when I started wearing button-downs, I’d get ‘em for $5. This shirt is $90. But as I’ve outlined, there are no other shirts in this sort of style with this sort of tech. I don’t feel like I’m being gouged any more than when I’m buying any other piece of apparel. And anyway, you can’t put a price on confidence.

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