Club Ride, based out of Sun Valley, Idaho, since its inception in 2008, is a brand you could argue was ahead of the curve. Think about pre-COVID days not so long ago and picture what you see casually shopping at a grocery store, coffee shop, any visible place other than perhaps the office: athleisure wear. At some point, perhaps foralways [sic], it became fashionable to flaunt workout wear, even if clearly not post workout—perhaps he, she or they is en route to workout, briefly stymied by the irritation of collecting a few bins of arugula at Trader Joe’s. Perhaps not. Either way, the fitness element of everyday fashion has a firm foothold in modern society.
And those familiar with Club Ride would quickly, and rightly, argue that Club Ride never envisioned it being that way—quite the opposite, ride clothes that don’t scream ride clothes, don’t scream the workout, scream nothing. Be yourself in more casual attire that celebrates mountain living while designed around that lifestyle’s best attribute: the mountains.
If we take one step farther back, in our unnecessary and unsolicited analysis, we see that since Club Ride’s 2008 start date, a lot of brands have since followed that mountain-first mindset, either relocating headquarters, or directly marketing as ‘what we want, so you get it too,’ which is pretty much the story of Club Ride, omitting the irreverence of singlespeed endurance riding part and a focus on flying the baggy rather than Lycra flag.
Which brings us to the shorts you see in front of you. Club Ride’s Hifi short would be insulted to be called athleisure and looks every part a highly technical baggy—because it is. The midweight, mid-length short combines two-way and traditional stretch panels, along with a reinforced crotch and eight (yep, count ‘em) pockets for a slim but by no means tight fit. Rearward-facing Velcro adjustments cinch the waistline, which rises higher in the back for an on-the-bike fit and a water-resistant finish coats the fabric, making for a day-in, day-out, go-to trail short.
It’s hard to find a longer short that isn’t poofy, yet doesn’t restrict kneepads. It seems like these days, most new short offerings are prone to show a little more thigh, and are lightweight—like, really lightweight. Something immediately noticeable with the Hifi short is that it’s substantive. Not heavy by any means, just that they don’t feel flimsy. Which is pleasantly reassuring. Shorts to last.
At the same time, the Hifis feel plenty comfortable, right out of the gate. Almost as though you’ve already owned them quite some time, or they’re a pair of well-worn pants—easy to move, unrestrictive, feeling baggier than they are. This is quite appreciated, as they’re not baggy, they’re a slimmer but comfortable fit.
I was able to fit both pared-down, XC-style knee protection (funny to think knee protection is so common now that we have to differentiate between XC, trail, enduro and DH knee pads) and burlier, exo-protective overbuilt knee/shin guards. I expected it to be a squeeze, sneaking in overbuilt armor but it really isn’t. The knee opening is just the right size, while also not flaring like bellbottoms. The overall physique feels narrow enough not to snag on things or flap about, yet the opening is bigger than one would think.
On the bike, it’s an on-the-bike position so things felt appropriate and not as though certain panels were pulled or strained. If anything, the shorts sit a touch lower on the waistline than others I’ve recently ridden, but the higher back waistline to the Hifi alleviates any plumber ‘pparrel worries. They just fit. It’s not some magic fit, where it’s mindboggling to fathom that the shorts themselves are somehow fastened to you, it still feels like you’re wearing shorts, but I didn’t notice any odd pressure points or much change at all throughout the course of a ride, regardless of length.
One area where the Hifi may feel more in the traditional camp—nothing wrong with that, mind you—is that the shorts use a snap enclosure. While spending the majority of my testing time within these shorts, I was aboard a bike with subpar brakes. This means that I was repeatedly fooled with sharp corners, which for me results in unpredicted moments of hurried, helpless flailing. I’d love to—well, not really—see my survival body English take over. It feels as though each appendage independently decides it’s time to save its—and only its—self: four different limbs, four different directions. And in moments like these, I snap buttons wide open with a loud metallic pop. Then the same thing happens at the next hairpin.
So if you’re a snap popper like me, make sure you’ve got some good brakes, as I can’t fully fault Club Ride for this one.
The pockets. Yes, there are many. Eight to be exact. And though my formative riding years took place in the ’90s, I harbor no fondness for the cargo-short era. But these pockets make a lot of sense. The two waist pockets work great for car keys, a full-size cell phone, maybe something candylike that could melt, and the contents don’t festoon your footwells when driving to the trailhead. Yep, I have to drive to the trailhead.
On the trail, I was able to relocate my phone to the zippered left pocket during riding where I needed to repeatedly check and recheck that I was indeed following the right connector to trails I hadn’t ridden in a while. The zippered enclosure makes it secure, the angled outer-thigh placement makes it so that you really don’t feel a phone flapping around. It’s a modern wonder that riding shorts are smart enough to have pockets where you can’t feel cell phones while riding—or at least not while descending.
The external-most mesh pockets. I assumed these to be nominal at best to boost the overall pocket count. I was wrong. I run hot and riding in San Diego County. I’m often wishing I brought along the nice little sunglass bag to clean off my fogged and wet lenses. Since I was already wearing a buff (COVID, real talk) I figured I might as well bring the baggie. And in the mesh pocket went the baggie and it fit great. It also works well for used GUs.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the Hifi shorts. Despite their substantive nature, I neither felt too hot during rides in cooked canyons, nor too chilly in morning mist and fog. They strike that balance of slim enough and just the right length while having comfort that doesn’t flap. They actually remind me a lot of my favorite pair of shorts I’ve owned—long dead Sombrios (either the High Line or Low Line, definitely a ‘line’ name) that were longer, narrower, and had freedom of movement while never falling apart. Well, almost never. The Hifis have that same familiar feel, and also have the feel that they’ll last for years to come. And if that’s anywhere near the case, they’re well worth the $100.
Get the details on the Hifi at clubrideapparel.com
Can we talk about those zebra stripes?