Since its emergence onto the scene in 2008, the Sun Valley darling, Club Ride, has become one of the most talked about brands in the industry. The hype centers on Club Ride’s clothing lineup, which blends cycling-specific functionality with cuts that you’d actually wear off of the bike. As somebody who’s long appreciated the strange looks and occasional remarks that come with wearing Lycra, I wouldn’t peg myself as Club Ride’s core customer. But I have to admit; I started second guessing myself when I first laid eyes on the Club Ride Rale pants.
The first thing that immediately jumps out at you is the quality of the materials. The Rale pants, while billed as “jeans,” are built from a stretchy softshell material that’s protective, like denim, only it features superior technical properties. In other words, the fabric is water-resistant, quick drying, and highly breathable.
And when combined with the sensible cut, this yields a barely-there feel that’s prime for both chilly and warm weather alike. Altogether, with the exception of one or two loose threads, the finishing is excellent all around.
Quality materials, a gusseted crotch, and a sensible, articulated cut are some of the highlights of the Rale pants. Traditional pockets are used as well, which greatly enhances the off-the-bike utility of the pants. Additionally, Club Ride included a zippered pocket at the left leg, which also has reflective accents for nighttime commuting.
These accents also find their way into the seam of the right leg, exposing them when you roll up the pant leg to swing past the chainrings. The increased visibility makes both options appropriate for commuting, in spite of the low visibility of the pants’ Black color.
In terms of fit, the Rale features a moderately slim cut that keeps them looking modern without going over the top. However, I found that the fit was more straight legged than skinny, tapering just slightly towards the ankle. And for those of you with powerful quads, you’ll appreciate that Club Ride incorporated a little extra room in this area.
At the waist, I found that there was a little more room than I’d prefer for riding, which was amplified by the stretchiness of the Stretch 9 fabric. And for some perspective, my everyday pant size is a 30×30 and I wore a Medium in the Rale pants. However, there was enough room in the legs to most likely size down to a Small without sacrificing comfort. And if push came to shove, I could have always utilized the included belt loops. I’ll take the blame for this one.
Club Ride has left the legs on the Rale pants a bit long, with the seeming intention that the user hems them to fit. It’s not a big deal, but it’s worth keeping in mind that they’ll likely require some extra effort to achieve the perfect fit. Then again, a size Small might have alleviated this. And while their non-flamboyant aesthetic is suitable for wear in public, the zippered side pocket and reflective accents offer a not-so-subtle hint that they’re actually technical apparel. That hasn’t stopped me from wearing them, but it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re looking for something truly understated or subdued. However, if you’re a connoisseur of vintage Levi’s, namely the 517 twill polyester pants, you’ll find the Rale pants to be rather familiar in appearance.
With an attentive cut and functional materials, the Rale pants deliver a comfortable ride feel. Plus, its features are ideal for anyone who’s daily routine includes lengthy saddle time—just make sure to layer with your favorite pair of bib shorts. Ultimately, if your aesthetic is more focused on being loud than that of subtlety, you’re probably not cut out for Club Ride. But if you’ve been looking for the perfect marriage of form and function, you’ve come to the right place.
Photo Credit: Ian Matteson