Everything You Need to Know About Mountain Bike Clothing [Podcast #239]

On this Episode

Ryan White is the senior product designer at cycling apparel company Pactimo based in Denver, Colorado. He studied industrial design at Wentworth Institute of Technology and has been designing soft goods for almost a decade.

In this episode, we dig deep into the design decisions that go into creating clothing that mountain bikers want to wear. If you’ve ever wondered why mountain bike apparel costs as much as it does, or what the true benefits are to wearing jerseys and shorts designed specifically for biking, this show will answer those questions and more.

Learn more at Pactimo.com. This podcast was not sponsored, influenced, or directly supported by Pactimo in any way.

Let us know if you’d like to hear more episodes like this one where we talk shop and geek out about gear!

A full, automatically-generated transcript of this podcast conversation is available to Singletracks supporters.

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Transcript

Jeff 0:00
Hey, everybody, welcome to the Singletracks podcast. My name is Jeff and today my guest is Ryan White. Ryan is the senior product designer at cycling apparel company, Pactimo, based in Denver, Colorado, he studied industrial design at Wentworth Institute of Technology, and has been designing soft goods for almost a decade now. Thanks for joining us, Ryan.

Ryan 0:53
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me on.

Jeff 0:54
So have you always had an interest in clothing? Or was this just something you got into professionally after graduating with your degree in industrial design,

Ryan 1:04
I would say it was not an initial interest, but it did crop up in college. So when we’ve had a really cool program where you do what’s called a co op, it’s effectively a full time internship. So I did a co op for a soft goods company that actually makes lacrosse and soccer and field hockey stuff. Okay, so I worked there for two coops actually. So a full full year total and during that time, I got a huge exposure to soft goods and protective soft goods. So I learned a lot of cutting so I learned a lot about textiles in addition to kind of mold it padding that kind of thing. So in colleges were cropped up but I you know, continued on the path of maybe I’ll do some kind of hard good I you know, I was always interested in working in the bike industry. So I was like, oh, helmets or anything like that. But eventually, my first professional job was with a clothing and soft goods accessory company. So that kind of set me down that path basically.

Jeff 2:00
Right. Interesting. So what was like your cycling background? You mentioned that you were thinking maybe you would get into hard goods and cycling? Were you a mountain biker or road cyclist? Or what will you into

Ryan 2:12
so I was kind of the classic tale of kid hangs around bike shop too long, and gets offered a job. I worked at Landry’s bicycles in Natick, Massachusetts as kind of my first gig in the bike industry, I suppose you could say. So there, you know, it’s you know, I met a bunch of people that work there, I started riding with them, and it was almost 100% mountain biking for their first two years. But then I dove pretty heavily into road as well. So I kind of, you know, as, as you do, when you work in a bike shop, you accumulate bikes, and you try out different stuff. And, you know, so mountain biker at heart, but I really love riding road and gravel and kind of everything basically

Jeff 2:53
Interesting. Yeah, a lot of people it seems like that’s their story, you know, they start out working in a bike shop, and then, you know, go after school or you know, just get more experience and then go into something else within the industry. So that’s really cool to hear. So how would you describe the PEC Timo style, like what type of writer does the brand target?

Ryan 3:13
Well, I guess you can say our style is not quite irreverent, but we try to have an aesthetic that’s not terribly serious and a little more fun, you know, we like to, we like to play to the more fun aspect of cycling for sure. Even though we are accustomed brand at heart that really has a lot of good product for racing teams, we think our normal customer and based on data to is around between 35 and 55 years old, so we’re actually skewing a little older. Usually that customer has a pretty good sense of their style, they have a pretty good sense of what they like. So the people we find interested in our company, are interested in having something that’s not a big Italian aesthetic or something like that, even though our name does kind of evoke that. But we generally have loud colors, fun prints, we have the ability to create a number of different prints within the same garment very easily. We actually own our own productions. So oh, that’s actually one thing that allows us to really experiment. So we’re able to kind of almost AB test with colors and graphics and that kind of thing. So we’d like to play around a lot. So yeah, I think generally our customers are road centric. So we try to pay attention with what’s going on in the red market. And really key off that.

Jeff 4:34
Yeah, but at the same time, you guys have a lot of mountain bike styles and clothing, I mean, baggy shorts and jerseys and all that kind of stuff. So it seems like you’re definitely hitting all sides of the cycling market.

Ryan 4:47
Yeah, for sure. And a lot of that comes from our custom business. You know, we see a lot of people looking for custom mountain bike, that kind of thing and we’re able to offer that. And one big thing that we’re really keying in on With our mountain bike customer is our mountain bike customer tends to be not a pure mountain biker, only a lot of our customers are crossover. So they have a bunch of different bikes, they like doing a bunch of different riding. And we’re really trying to latch on to what that customer is looking for further baggy stuff.

Jeff 5:17
Yeah. Interesting. So one of the questions that we hear a lot whenever we review clothing, or we talk about mountain bike clothing on single tracks is, is technical clothing even necessary for mountain biking? Like, what kind of difference does it make on the trail? Like why can you just go out and you know, where your cotton t shirt and your your jeans if you want to do that?

Ryan 5:40
Sure, you know, there’s the age old cotton kills concept in mountaineering and, and outdoor gear, generally, the basic concept is cotton is like a sponge, and it doesn’t effectively wick and transport moisture. So that’s kind of the main gist. Don’t wear cotton when you’re writing. Yeah, that being said, if you want to read an t shirt, just writing a t shirt, it’s not the big steel, you know, right. But if you’re going for comfort, I think there is a kind of base level of technicality that you want to look for a polyester t shirt, like a your standard running t shirt, a lot of our mountain bike jerseys are basic polyester with a little bit of spandex thrown in there. The big advantages, polyester is really super efficient at wicking. So you’re gonna transport that moisture off your body onto the surface of the fabric and it’ll evaporate. So you do get a measurable amount of cooling. Now people will say, with polyester, you’re gonna get a stink buildup, like that’s kind of the big knock on Poly. And that’s why a lot of people love, you know, a non technical looking material like a Merino. But Merino naturally has oils in it that basically help resist odor buildup and bacteria buildup, it’s really the bacteria that sits on the surface of the yarns, that’s going to give you that stink. So Merino has the ability to combat that with less washing, and you want to wash it less anyways, because you’re going to destroy your Merino stuff if you wash it to too much. So at a baseline polyesters better than cotton. And then there’s arguments to be made that a Marino’s better, and then what you’re seeing from most brands now is they’re doing some blend of Merino and a polyester and nylon. And what that does is that gives the kind of odor fighting and the wet, wet or cool in like a hot condition, aspect of Merino, but then gives you the durability of like a polyester synthetic that won’t abrade or won’t snag as much. So yeah, you know, that’s that’s kind of where a lot of brands have gone. Yeah, that’s interesting. So I guess to wrap up the long, long answer, you don’t need need technical, but for comfort, it’s a huge, huge benefit. And then when you’re talking someone who’s really high performance, like you’re racing, when you’re wicking, efficiently, and when you’re sweating efficiently, you’re transporting or you’re transporting heat, so you’re able to keep your core temperature down for a longer period of time. So that’s an extreme conditions, someone who’s really racing but if you’re concerned about that, there’s absolutely a benefit to the technical fabrics that are out there now.

Jeff 8:07
Yeah, interesting. One of the things you mentioned, merino wool, and companies are incorporating more of that into like other fabrics is there. In merino wool, in particular, I’m always surprised they’ll say like, this is a Merino sock, but then you look at the label, and it’s like 10%, Merino or 8%. Like, is there? Is there any kind of standard with that stuff like in the industry to say like, it’s gotta have some amount of content? I feel like a lot of consumers are not understanding of that.

Ryan 8:35
No, there is no standard there. The only standards that really exist are, you know, for import tariffs. So the government looks at that, and they charge you different rates based on what your Merino percentage is. But at the end of the day, no, there really is no categorization of Merino contents that you can really used as a guide. Unfortunately, as a consumer, you’ve got to kind of do your due diligence and look to see what the contents are, you know, and hopefully, most brands, we typically have the percentages available on the website of what our materials are. So you can see, like we have a Merino base layer, that’s a 40% Merino, 60% polyester. So we call it a Merino blend, okay, base layer, we don’t call it just a Merino, because we’re trying to be a little more transparent in what the real benefit of the piece is going to be. Now, you know, we use the Merino Merino blend explicitly because we believe in the fact that there’s Merino there and it will aid in the wicking of the material and the anti stink properties. But we’re not going to say it’s just a Merino, because you’re right, you will see a lot of companies that say it’s a Merino piece, and it’s just not and you know, that’s slightly deceptive, I guess you could say, but at the same rate, you are typically going to get probably a more durable product if it’s not fully Merino. So in the end, the consumer doesn’t necessarily lose out except for or if you do feel deceived that you’re not getting a purely Merino piece. So yeah, there’s there’s kind of arguments on both sides, I suppose. But yeah, transparency would be good. Just so consumers understand what they’re getting.

Jeff 10:11
Yeah, interesting. And to be clear, too, I mean, again, it’s a real buzzword like, kind of, I’m glad you brought it up, that Merino is like, kind of a newer thing, or it’s the thing that a lot of brands are using that really benefits the materials properties. But is Merino is that like, from my understanding, it’s a certain type of sheep that that you get the wool from, and it’s like a little bit softer. But again, is there like rules around like, you have to get it from this certain place? Or the certain cheaper? Like, how is that even regulated? Is that like a brand name? Or how does it work? So

Ryan 10:46
there are several companies that are effectively accreditation companies that can track sourcing former, you know, so yes, in effect, there are several brands that are able to do that. We don’t use a lot of Merino at the moment we’re exploring it. We’ve more historically been a printable company, which is kind of our custom background. But I know there are several companies out there that are using the effectively accreditors for their Merino sourcing. Merino sourcing is an important thing to do, just because it is a specific type of Merino sheep. And they also need to track basically the care and well being in the sheep. So you’ll see something with a lot of Merino people call it new slang free. And Riesling is basically a process that they are doing to the live animal to help reduce infection in the animals. But some people look at it as a cool as a cruel practice. So again, I’m not an expert embryo, but I’ve looked into it a lot. And that seems to be the prevailing direction that if you look at any major Merino company, like a smartwatch or something like that, almost all their stuff is nice, like free. It’s basically an animal cruelty in animal cruelty issue. Yeah, interesting. Merino. That is what you want to look for. For sure, because it’s a specific type of sheep. There is a lot of wool out there, that’s not Merino, and it won’t have the exact same properties and handfeel Henfield is a big thing. The softness,

Jeff 12:07
interesting. Yeah, I mean, a lot of people, a lot of writers that I talked to friends and just some of our readers as well, they they have been educated. They know that they want Merino, that it has these performance properties. But I think most of us assume we’re getting 100%. And like you said, That’s not, that’s not even desirable, right? Like I imagine if a piece was 100% Merino, it would be like, sort of saggy and you know, it wouldn’t have some of the other benefits that you would get if you’re blending it with another material.

Ryan 12:39
Yeah, that’s I would say that’s totally a personal preference. But I agree that I would prefer to have at least a small component of synthetic even if it’s like 10 to 20%. For the structure is kind of the main thing, because Merino is a very delicate material, if it’s not blended with something. That being said, there’s companies like icebreaker and SmartWool, that for years have made 100% Merino pieces, it’s just you as a consumer have to understand how to care for those, which is a very delicate washing process and no drying anything. And often, often people hand washing stuff. So the other big advantage. Yeah, the other big advantage is you can make effectively, what’s a washable merino wool garment if you combine it with a fabric that doesn’t have the tendency, or I’m sorry, yarn, the tendency to shrink, or kill or something like that. So yeah,

Jeff 13:29
yeah, that’s, that’s I’m sure. I mean, that’s a huge part. For a lot of people. Nobody wants a high maintenance sort of garment that they’re gonna have to handwash especially bikers, I feel like most of us, we just throw our stuff off. And after we’re done riding, like, yeah, don’t want to do want to have to deal with that hassle.

Ryan 13:46
I couldn’t agree more, we do tend to be a slightly fickle bunch. But you know, everyone’s got a lot of stuff going on. So the less hassles something is the better is generally for the consumer. That’s kind of how I look at it.

Jeff 13:58
Yeah. Well, so we talked about some of the technical benefits to having, you know, mountain bike specific clothing. Why are these pieces often more expensive than like a general athletic wear, like, you know, you could go to you go to like a big, you go to Target and you could buy, you know, quote unquote, technical t shirt for, I don’t know, 10 bucks, 15 bucks. But mountain bike specific pieces, obviously are more expensive. So why is that?

Ryan 14:30
Well, I guess I’ll go a little bit into inside baseball here with like the business aspect. This is kind of my perception as to why there’s a big cost difference. As with a lot of niche categories in anything. You’re going to be paying more partly because you’re in a niche. So a t shirt that you can buy from a champion at Target. They’re producing, not in the 1000s of units, but probably in the 10s to hundreds of 1000s have units per type of garment. So that one teacher, they made 10s of 1000s of at once. So with that kind of quantity, you’re gaining incredible efficiencies and the manufacturing, and efficiencies in manufacturing almost always turn into a lower cost. So that’s why a boutique frame manufacturer has to charge a significant amount more, because they’re effectively just spreading the cost across less frames of all their overhead. So with most mountain bike brands, that’s basically the same story, you’re producing a lot less pieces. Typically, with a mountain bike garment, you know, a lot of them just tend to be a basic tech tee. But you might throw in a sunglass wipe, you know, for instance, we have a New Jersey, we have a New Jersey that’s coming out, it’s a polyester, we do buy it from an Italian mill. So you know, it’s made not in China or Taiwan, but it’s made in an Italian mill. Whether that’s a huge benefit or not is debatable. They both make really great product. But like we’re making less product, that Italian mill is also making less of that material. So the material we’re sourcing is generally a little bit more expensive. What it affords us is it affords us a nimble base on which to improve product change product, manipulate things, if we need to do smaller production runs, if we’d like to, you know, we’d like to create as little waste as possible. And I think a lot of bike brands are generally like that, too, you just don’t want a lot of stuff sitting on the shelf, the end of the day that you have to blow out, it almost is like a, that’s almost an environmental hazard on its own. So I think a lot of it is scale. The other direction you might be seeing costs increase from is if you are including some kind of technology in the urn. So a lot of the basic level tech T’s like I said before, a basic polyester T is better than a basic cotton t so you be totally fine to go out and buy a champion t a target and right in that and it would be better. That being said, for instance, in our new mount, make sure we have a new line coming out called TELUS putting in some product plug here, if you don’t mind, in that new products. In short, specifically, we’re trying to create an ultralight, ultra wicking short, which is kind of not the direction that a lot of the market has gone recently, a lot of people are going towards a very stretchy material, but they’re often putting a DWR coating on it, we did put a DWR coating on our new short, we made it as we made it as fast and efficient, wicking as possible. And we achieve that using yarn from a company called 37.5, which is actually up the road from us in Boulder. They’re a yarn technology company. And what they do is they basically inject activated charcoal particles in with the polyester yarns that we make the short out of. And what it does is it actually increases the speed at which it draws sweat off your body. So paired with a mesh bed liner that we’re going to also be coming out with, that gives you really fast moisture transfer and also really quick drying. So even if you’re short does get a little wet, it dries really, really rapidly. So where I’m going with that is we’ve used a yarn that we’re actually paying a licensing licensing fee for the yarn, and the yarn itself is more expensive, because it has this added technology that doesn’t wash out, it doesn’t degrade over time. So we are using slightly more than, you know, your basic polyester yarn. So that is also going to increase costs on our end, which then obviously translates into a slightly higher cost that on the MSRP side. So that’s part of it, too. Companies are often just injecting a technology of some sort.

Jeff 18:35
Well, it’s, you mentioned the materials and sort of the volume is the construction part of that as well. I mean, are, are a lot of mountain bike pieces. They have more like panels and things that need to be sewn together or like extra pockets. You know, again, for we’re talking about one of these target T shirts, you know, those those are pretty simple. It’s just a t shirt, but I guess mountain bikers, we expect to have pockets in the rear on certain jerseys and zippers and all kinds of doodads,

Ryan 19:04
yep. bells and whistles, every bell and every listen. Money. So this is like a constant struggle and an apparel company, it’s build a concept, get it to where you think would be cool. And then you have to look at it and you have to go, Okay, we have a cost. We have a target we want to hit where are we adding extra stuff where we’re not genuinely improving the quality of the experience for the person. So we’ll have to strip back pockets or zippers or little reflective trims or things like that, that in theory could add to the benefit of the rider where we can cut it will cut it but when we think it’s totally unnecessary, we’ll keep it so for instance, our new TELUS short, we tried to keep it as simple as possible in terms of paneling because you’re right there is there is a cost associated with basic time to sew a garment because you’re obviously paying person to sew the garment. So the more time it takes to sew it, the more money you’re paying paying for it. Also, if your panels are not shaped efficiently, what you end up doing is you end up cutting out a panel, and then you throw away the scrap. Now often like companies like us, since we’re what’s called vertical, since we own our manufacturing, we actually keep that scrap. And then we actually sell the scrap back to mill partners who collect polyester scraps, nylon scraps, and it allows us to keep more stuff out of the trash. Because recycling is a huge thing right now, in textiles, and just life in general. So that kind of is closing the loop a little bit at least on waste. So the less efficient you are with those panels, you’re actually literally just cutting off money, because you’re cutting off fabric already purchased and effectively recycling it or throwing it away. So we recoup a little bit of a cost of recycling, but not all of it. So that does add costs, you have to factor in the loss of material that you throw away. And then you know, a big hit to most garments is a zipper. So zippers are incredibly expensive when you’re talking garments in their general parts costs. That’s probably one of most expensive things you can add. So our new short, the Telus has one fly zipper and then two zipper pockets. And that adds probably 15% to the cost of the shortlist. Wow. Just three pockets. Yeah, it’s incredible. Hmm,

Jeff 21:25
interesting. So given all of that would, what would you say is like the most important characteristic of a successful piece of mountain bike clothing isn’t going to be comfort or durability or performance. I mean, there’s so many things that go into it, what what’s kind of like at the top for you as a designer?

Ryan 21:44
For me, as a designer, I have to look at our customer base and trying to understand what their real right objectives are and what their expectations are for the clothes. Because, of course, that what makes something successful is definitely subjective for both the user and for the company, because we want to just make sure that we are supplying What are consumers really looking for?

Jeff 22:08
What are they looking for the like, what what would you say is the number one like, I don’t know, I would guess it’s just does it look good? Right? I mean, is that kind of on the right track? Or are people more practical and saying, I want something that’s really comfortable or I want something that performs really well?

Ryan 22:25
I think it totally depends on who you’re talking to. So I know a number of people where they are going to value durability and rugged design features is their Paramount focus on when they’re purchasing a piece. So if they get something and they can’t, you know, slide out on pavement at 20 miles an hour and it survives, then that’s a piece of garbage, you know,

Jeff 22:46
just weren’t Dickies I guess right, like Yeah, exactly. You

Ryan 22:49
might as well just start wearing denim if that’s your plan. But yeah, for us, personally, we Pactimo our our ethos with mountain bike design is to really cater to our crossover customer, someone who’s really accustomed to wearing a Laker kit for probably at least half of their riding time. Maybe they’re on a cross bike, maybe they’re on gravel bike, maybe they’re just road riding because they’re also on a road team. So with our new TELUS line, for instance, our conception is to really mark it to that cross disciplinary rider. So we’re looking at lightweight, breathable, stretchy, great fit, and then kind of timeless style. So you’ll look at our new stuff. When it comes out, which is in March, you’ll look at it and you’ll go, okay, you know, it’s not blowing me away the statically there’s not a ton of bells and whistles. But the whole point was really nail our fabric choices so that we’re producing something that is as breathable as we can find as lightweight as we can find and then also helping to transport that moisture off your body. That’s like a critical thing to us. Coming from a heavy road background as our company is, we think we’ve done a pretty good job analyzing what fabrics are doing, going to do a great job of, of keeping a rider comfortable and keeping them as efficient as possible. And we just wanted to apply it to the rider who doesn’t necessarily want to be kitted out. Because sometimes, you know we have we have customers who are kind of banging on the door for something that’s not spandex kit, and they’re just right there just riding road like a lot of people are coming from mountain bike or they’re coming just from another part of life where they’re not really a cyclist and you know there is that there is that kind of hump you have to get over as a beginner cyclists to throwing on lycra. So the idea with this stuff is you know, you can throw it on a and go for a road ride. It is kind of a little more suited for mountain biking. But since it’s so lightweight and so breathable, we think it’s going to work great for that really cross disciplinary person. So for Pactimo, the most important thing to us is comfort. And comfort means really good wicking, lightweight, breathable, lots of airflow. But a lot of mountain bikers are kind of on the total opposite opposite end of the spectrum. So if you’re riding, you know, 161 70, enduro bike, and you’re always with a full face helmet, we do also have stuff that kind of suits that person, our train collection. And that’s kind of a much more bomb proof, thicker fabric, it doesn’t breathe quite as well. But it will definitely give you the ability to like crash out a ton, and not worry about damaging your apparel. So, to me, it’s all about finding company who’s messaging is kind of hooking up with what you’re looking for. And if they offer a bunch of stuff, that’s awesome. We try to cater to a lot of people, but we’re really putting a lot of brainpower into this kind of cross disciplinary, lightweight efficiency story. So

Jeff 25:55
yeah, well, it sounds like, you know, comfort is probably the primary and performance as well, because that plays into it. But how do you trends like fashion trends play into apparel design in general? And specifically mountain bike apparel? Like, is this something you look at every season? And it kind of changes? Or, you know, are there certain styles that you look for places you go to see sort of what these trends are, and how you might be able to incorporate them? Sure.

Ryan 26:21
So we don’t change our aesthetic too much from year to year. And I think if you look at the market more broadly, I think the way that companies tend to separate out is is almost like a generalization of a rider group. And there are certain aesthetics that definitely fit into that. So fashion is definitely a thing, even if people are kind of not too conscious of it, you do kind of dress into the group that you ride with. And that’s not 100% true for everyone. Obviously, I’m not trying to paint people into a corner. But if you’re looking at you know, if you’re looking at companies that are what you’d consider probably mountain bike stalwarts, like Tralee, Fox, right under percent, there’s like a heavy MX influence. They’re like, they’re, they’re motocross crossover companies that make awesome awesome stuff. And you just have to really like that aesthetic, if that’s what you’re going for, and both Fox and ride 100%, they do make pieces that kind of crossover a little more into that all mountain cross country type rider but that that rider is kind of pegged into that kind of more enduro MX look, or just someone who likes that MX look. But if you look at kind of newer brands, like kettle mountain, or Pitsco are seven mesh, there’s a distinctly hiking Outdoor Industry vibe to that stuff where it’s more muted colors, it’s more natural handfeel materials and that’s that’s signifying to me a different type of rider that’s kind of like your, that’s like your weekend warrior, who might also be a hiker, they might go camping, one weekend, mountain biking the next or they’re just really into more understated look. So it definitely is a signal, I think. And, you know, that’s how fashion works. In general, it’s kind of just a signal that you’re putting out to the rest of the world, how you identify them. So we definitely try to make sure that we’re reading the signals of our customers and understanding how they, they’re going to want to look. So we we kind of skirt the line of, we’ve got some fun, bright stuff, because we don’t want to be boring. But we also do have a lot of understated stuff. Because, again, to generalize a little bit, we do have a slightly older customer base. And if we if that customer is going to generally look for potentially a slightly more subdued style, we want to be able to offer that too. So again, our nimbleness in being vertical does allow us to experiment both so our Nutella stuff will come in a slightly louder orientation, or a slightly more subdued orientation, all in the same fabric. But just from like a color perspective and a design perspective. But fabrics also play into that like I was saying, like some people like a more natural feeling jersey, so people gravitate towards certain companies.

Jeff 29:13
Yeah, that’s fascinating. I’m also really fascinated to like see how mountain bike style in general has evolved, you know, mountain biking started in the like 70s, early 80s And you look at pictures from back then that guys are wearing like flannels and blue jeans and stuff and then then we have this time in the 90s where seemed like the the fashion was like kind of influenced by road cycling so that a lot of stuff was bright colors and tight and you know, form fitting and stuff and then today we’re seeing a lot more of the baggy and more muted styles like do you think mountain biking has kind of finally settled into its own style? Or are we still like kind of evolving and and branching out way from like general cycling or road cycling,

Ryan 30:03
it’s tough to say, I think what’s going on right now in mountain bike is just a broader reflection of what’s going on in the bike industry in general, it’s almost impossible to not be aware of what’s happening with gravel these days. We’re obviously like really keyed into it, because we have a huge road component to our brand and, and a lot of road is switching over to gravel. And I think, I think similarly, there are a lot of people who are mountain bikers who have picked up like a monster cross or you know, gravel bike that fits a 2.46 FDB tire thing, but it’s a drop, that’s a drop bar, and maybe they’re going backpacking on it or something like that. And I think there’s this there’s this almost coalescing of this off road community together. And I think a lot of them have decided that like, the more natural country granola outdoor vibe is, is kind of what they’re liking at the moment. And you know, I’m sitting here staring at the dirty jerseys poster. And have you ever seen that it’s like, it’s a photo collection of a bunch of awesome 80s jerseys that you were talking about 80s and 90s, sling TOMAX stuff. And I can totally see it just swinging right back that direction at some point. Because I think, you know, there’s only so many muted colors that you can sell short in and soldiers in. And I think eventually, people are going to want to diversify their closet. Because as fashion goes, it’s cyclical, and people move on, and they get kind of tired of what’s in their closet every day. And it’s a bit consumers. But I think that’s kind of how a lot of this works. To some extent, unfortunately. So I think people will look for a point of differentiation, I bet you’ll start to see a bunch of splashes of color coming in there. But you know, I think the natural look, the baggy Look, that’s also being informed by that move to a lot of synthetic and natural blend material. So blending back in those Marino’s and that kind of thing, or like the flannels, that naturally brings back that outdoorsy vibe of the kind of more earth tone and that kind of thing. So I just think there’s a real moment happening in cycling and the outdoor industry in general, where people are just super into having fun outside, not being on the road, getting out in the woods getting on a dirt, I think that’s really heavily informing color, and silhouettes and different types of garments that people are really gravitating towards, and companies are trying to provide.

Jeff 32:29
Yeah, interesting. Well, we’re also seeing, you know, people just in general are dressing a lot more casually, you know, whether it’s work or socially or whatever. And, you know, there’s this whole athleisure wear trend where, you know, people are wearing clothing, this design for athletic activities, but they’re wearing it all the time in their everyday sort of wardrobe. So what’s your take on that? Is that something that you are seeing or trying to target or that back Timo is working on?

Ryan 33:01
So the athleisure trend to me is interesting. If you really dig back into it, it’s probably been around for about almost 10 years now, I’d say in kind of a big way. Yeah. And it’s kind of shocking to think about, but if you think about when the blue lemons of the world started popping up and becoming a acceptable thing to wear in public, that was about 10 years ago. And I think what’s happened is there’s just been almost a total blurring of line between everyday wear and athleisure. And to me, interestingly, I think athleisure is actually almost just fully been enveloped into normal life. And I think you’re right, that there’s a huge casualization to make up a word of how people are dressing these days. And you know, we’re in Denver, and just kind of Colorado and I think the Mountain West in general has a really different perspective on how you should dress and I have become decidedly more lazy with trying to look cool and current. Not to say that I don’t pay attention to that stuff because it is my job. But you know, right now I’m wearing jeans, a flannel button up because it’s snowing outside right now. And I’ve got like a pair of Mr. Rogers vans that I keep at the office every day because I commute in so that’s kind of like that’s kind of the style that you see on most people in the Denver area unless they really have a job that demands a suit. It’s very casual. And you know, I think that really informs where we come from for sure. In there are definitely brands out that there that are keying off more what’s happening in LA San Francisco, New York, and I’d say they do have a decidedly more sartorial take on what’s going on with their fashion. So I don’t think I’m consciously trying to exude mountain West style with us. But I think it does definitely inform the choices we make in fabrics and colors and silhouettes and things like that. With our mountain bike stuff, we still have a little bit of a technical look to our things just because our heritage is pretty deep in the technical printable customizable fabrics and fabrication. So I think that’s always going to be a line of DNA that runs through everything we do. That being said, like I was mentioning earlier, we are exploring some Merino blends and expanding our line out to include pieces that bluer, that casual and bike line. And there’s a lot of companies that have done that, to varying degrees of success. Like I’d say that there’s a big strain of kind of Mountain West fervor for a club ride type look where they’re bringing, like a, almost a literal Western look to it, that is actually what they do. So you know, they’re, they’re a good example of a company that kind of exudes their, their aesthetic really strong, we try to stay a little more neutral, just because our customer bases all over the country in the world, we have distribution in the EU too. So we want to make sure we’re kind of like, not offensive to any one particular group of people, you know,

Jeff 36:25
right. Interesting. Well, one of the other things that I’ve noticed, and that I think kind of sets your design ideas, apart from maybe what other people are doing is, you know, every almost every piece of mountain bike clothing we test is marketed as a piece that works great on the bike, but also looks good at the bar. And I mean, literally like I bet if you Google that phrase, you’ll find it on like, I don’t know, dozens of, of clothing brands websites. And I recently checked out one of the Pactimo jackets, the originalline hoodie, which you guys mark it as a piece that kind of flips that idea on its head. And it’s designed, first and foremost, for everyday wear, but it also has these like technical features that work well on the bike. So what sort of brought you to try this approach? And like, I don’t know, kind of flip this on its head, like why why go that direction.

Ryan 37:24
So So to be honest with you, a big part of that was, we’re hearing from our custom team that they were looking for almost like think of a pitch jacket, effectively. So something that they weren’t really necessarily looking to ride in all the time, and they wanted something that they could customize. So that jacket, you can actually order that through our custom division with whatever you want on it, which is kind of cool. You know, we have some stock designs that you can just purchase, which is what you you tested. But we wanted to make something that was like a cool hoodie for teams to wear around in the pits at across race or before your mountain bike race or after it. You know, it’s it’s virtually waterproof, it’s a membrane material, it just doesn’t have seen seen ceiling. So we don’t call it waterproof. But it is for all intents and purposes waterproof, it will eventually leak through at the seams. But that takes quite a deluge the waters, the waterproofness of it is pretty high. Anyway, the idea was, you know, we have a number of cross teams, we have a lot of mountain bikers that do custom through us. So we started from the perspective of what would make an awesome piece or an awesome piece to like, have a beer and after the ride. And then we work backwards in there and said, Well, you know, we’re making a jacket out of a technical material. So why wouldn’t we design in some kind of ride specific features. So the the drop tail is one of those things where it’s got a pretty extreme differential between the front and the back of the garment. So when you’re riding position, you don’t get too much bunching in the front and you’re covered in the back. So you still get good amount of water coverage, water spray coverage on the back. Yeah, and then we added little things like a bunch of reflective tabs all over it. So when you are riding, you know, maybe you know, I’ve used to race cross and there’ll be a number of crosses, I’d go to where the warmup was just go out on the road outside the venue and ride up and down on the road. So if you’re on like, cat four racing at 7am, and you’re riding on a road at pre, you know, pre dawn or just after dawn, we wanted to make sure people could see you so reflective zipper, reflective tabs, that kind of thing. So it was mostly born out of the need for a pitch jacket. And then we were like, Hey, let’s let’s make sure you can actually do a little bit of writing and then it’s been really cold and really wet here in Denver, which is very odd for our area. We’re basically a desert, but we’ve been getting a ton of snow. And I’ve been commuting and that thing every single day and it’s been a pretty awesome commuting jacket too. So yeah, it’s kind of one of those things where the material lends itself to being a Nice technical writing piece two. So we didn’t want to ignore that possibility.

Jeff 40:04
Yeah, and given sort of what we’re saying about people, you know, dressing more casually, like in everyday life, it’s kind of funny to even think like, what what could you wear to a bar that people would like, look at you funny, you know, like, you wear a tank top to a bar, and nobody’s going to, like, give you a glance. So it’s kind of it’s kind of like a low bar, right? Like to say, we’re gonna design some that looks good in a bar. Like, I mean, everything looks good. In a bar these days, it seems right.

Ryan 40:32
Yeah, certainly in Colorado, that’s for sure. You’re almost expected to be in like in our Terex jacket or something? Or you’re like, where did you come from?

Jeff 40:42
Or like lycra? I could see that right. Like you don’t usually use cover up. If you got a pair of like, tight shorts on? Yeah,

Ryan 40:49
exactly. We often have like an annual conversation about what makes a good crossover commuter lifestyle piece for that you can also write in, and it’s kind of one of the things where you want three, three, you want three things done well, while you can’t get to pick two. And ultimately, that’s, that tends to be where most things fall, you kind of get to decide what are your real priorities. So there have been brands that have made some pretty successful pieces like back in the day, I was a huge fan of what Jiro was doing with their new robot. I don’t know if you remember that.

Jeff 41:28
Oh, right. Yeah, yeah, had some of those pieces. Yeah,

Ryan 41:30
and I had a ton of it and the JIRA nirodh was way ahead of its time. And, you know, if that if that was made, now, it would have been doing really, really well, I think, and they have a few pieces that are like that, but that’s kind of one of those those collections where I think they can probably the closest of most brands have seen, where I might actually wear that pair of shorts after my ride to a restaurant to grab food and, and I think it also you’re also or companies are also typically assuming a certain level of I need to change and be presentable to go get tacos and beer after my mountain bike ride. I think most people are totally happy to just roll up to the roll up to the bar, and they’re sweaty gear and, and wear that. So you know, it’s it’s cool. I think what a lot of people want to do is they want to extend their reach further into people’s lives and you know, caption capture them outside of writing. So, to me, that’s kind of a good way to focus that kind of discussion. And that’s generally what we do here is, you know, we want to extend our reach into people’s lives so that if you like Pactimo, we’re giving you what you want, no matter where you are. So I think that’s kind of the mentality of a lot of companies are approaching it from and then they add a lot of like, kind of ride specific features that may or may not make it a little too nerdy and a little too, a little too obvious, in standing out in like a kind of traditional dress environment, like a bar or something like that. So it’s a fine line. Yeah,

Jeff 43:05
I mean, I mean, fashion too, right? At its very nature is about kind of expressing who you are. And if you’re a mountain biker, yeah, I mean, why not take an opportunity when you’re not on the bike. I mean, when you’re on the bike, it’s obvious, you’re a mountain biker, but, you know, in the rest of your life, you know, that’s part of your personality as part of who you are, then it makes sense that you would choose clothing that would maybe reflect that,

Ryan 43:29
for sure. And I think I think people are generally becoming a little more comfortable with kind of owning their personality and, and dressing that way. And, you know, it’s pretty easy to mask technical top, especially if you’ve got like a natural blend and materials. So like, if you’re making like a ride tea that’s made of Merino blend, kind of looks like a T shirt. So that’s really easy, where you’re gonna run into trouble. And we didn’t even try and do this with our new TELUS short, we didn’t we didn’t even trying to heal a casual, like, it doesn’t look overly technical. But it would look weird if you’re wearing it not in relation or content in context with a bike, if that makes sense. Yeah, yeah. Interesting. So we went for Tech, we went for technical with it. And it’s kind of unabashed in that in that perspective.

Jeff 44:15
Cool. Yeah. I can’t wait to see that. So what is something you would say that a lot of mountain bike clothing designers get wrong? So

Ryan 44:22
I don’t know that anything’s being done. Wrong, per se. I think I think that the kind of tribal nature of mountain biking, and that kind of many niches perspective that comes through with mountain biking, you’ve got your cross country oriented people, your all train riders, your enduro riders, your epic riders, your bikepackers. You’ve got so many different categories. I think maybe the biggest mistake is just not clearly defining what your brand is trying to achieve, and who you’re trying to speak to. I think some brands You’re absolutely fantastic at it. And it’s just so crystal clear. If I want to kind of exude that look and exude that message as a rider, I’m going to gravitate towards this. And that’s where I was talking about, like the foxes and the tree leaves, like they make killer stuff. It’s just you’ve got to like that aesthetic. And it kind of really speaks to a certain thing. But there are some companies that might be a little bit confused, or they don’t really clearly exude that message. So I don’t know, to me, that’s kind of a, that’s kind of maybe the point at which you’re going to see a lot of mistakes is just features that don’t really match up with who the customer that they’re attracting is, if that makes sense. Yeah. And that’s in as a product designer, that’s probably one of the most complicated things like I was saying, we want to make sure that we’re understanding what our customer is looking for. So that when they come to us for that thing, they’re disappointed by like, weirdly place pocket or a fabric that’s too heavy, or, you know, like, we want to match the expectations. So that’s, that’s, I guess, broadly, probably, we’re gonna see the most discrepancy with the mountain bike product. So yeah, yeah, I don’t want to necessarily, I don’t want to I don’t want to bash anyone, because I don’t think anyone’s like doing anything particularly terrible. It’s just, there’s so much, there’s so much variance in types of riders and types of clothes that match up with those riders that it can be tough to kind of, as a consumer, dig through it all and figure out what’s going to really match up with my needs.

Jeff 46:27
Right? Yeah. And it seems like there are so many clothing brands, I mean, a lot of like, really small ones, right? I mean, there aren’t, like sort of big dominant players in the market necessarily. I mean, it seems like there’s always a lot of these, like, smaller brands that come and go and that yeah, maybe it sounds like maybe part of what they get wrong is like not identifying who their customer is. I think

Ryan 46:51
that’s a huge thing. People, people individually are so varied, that if you’re designing it with yourself in mind, I know for me, I’m a very kind of odd mix of rider. And I have a very different visual aesthetic than I think what a lot of people think I might have, from the type of writing I do. So if I were to just design things that were like, for me, I think we alienate a lot of our customers. So a really a really critical thing is just understanding where the broad base is coming from and trying to really nail that with the messaging. And that’s, again, where our new telesign comes in. It’s how do I really nail that person who’s like, I’m gonna pick up a gravel bike this year. I don’t know if I’m totally into it. But I need something that I can like ride out my door instead of going and driving an hour to the trailhead, so maybe I can capture that guy who is looking for a brand that is speaking to someone who, you know, who may be a roadie, maybe a mountain biker. And they’re kind of dabbling in it. And they don’t want to commit to like, heavier duty short that has a ton of zippers and quarter panels and all that kind of thing. So that’s kind of where we’re that’s kind of how we’re approaching it.

Jeff 48:14
Yeah, interesting. I thought for a second, you were gonna say that you’re like, an odd shape or size. And I feel like that’s what I hear all the time. Every everybody in the world is like, Oh, I’m, you know, I’m a weird size, right? Like fit, I feel like is a thing that is really tough to get. And it’s not anybody’s fault. I mean, everybody is differently proportioned. And so, you know, not not every brand is going to fit everybody and nobody, you know, really we all need custom clothes, when it comes down to everybody needs like, exactly something made for them. But that’s not possible.

Ryan 48:50
Yeah, so I am an odd shape. We all really all right, yeah, I’m really short. And we actually, all of our stuff is slightly too long for me, because I’m actually slightly shorter on average than your standard small. So my stuff that I design actually doesn’t perfectly fit me, which is kind of a funny irony, if you think about it, but that sizing fits or more broad customer base. So to get to the sizing thing, if you don’t mind nerding out on that for a minute. sizing is at its core, the most important thing for a brand, I think, and I think if you thought if you talk to a lot of other people in the apparel industry, sizing really is one of the most critical things that a company does in conception of products. And typically what companies like us do is we have a defined fit that we will reevaluate every year and just make sure that we are not an outlier in some way. We don’t change it year to year, we actually are incredibly consistent with our fit, we actually started having a conversation this year about making some small changes to fit and the ramifications to doing even small adjustments to your fit is incredible. And you’ve really got to consider how that impacts your customers experience, because we have customers who have been coming back to us for seven years. And if they come back, and they buy a New Jersey, and it’s off, because we changed some value in our fit, that’s going to create a bad experience for a loyal customer. So it’s always a struggle of like, we think we can probably improve some stuff. If we, you know, open this up, literally a centimeter can make all the difference in the field of garment. That’s mostly, that’s more so in like the tighter fitting garments, mountain bike stuff is a little more forgiving, because it’s loose. But you’ve got all kinds of portions that you’ve got to take into consideration. So you’ve got to really figure out what are the right leg openings? What are the right lengths for different types of riders, the waist measurements and all that kind of stuff are really super critical for a good experience on the bike. And unfortunately, we can’t hit that for everyone. So there are going to be people who get our stuff, put it on ago, just doesn’t work. And, you know, we wish we could accommodate for that. And the way we do accommodate for it is we do we offer free exchanges, because we’re an online only company. So we want people to be able to exchange it and maybe try whenever other mountain make sure it’s or another type of bibs short, because different fabrics do have different qualities and different feels to them too. So that’s the other consideration. Every single garment, even if it’s fit to the same fit block will have a slightly different feel to it. So there’s there’s a million moving parts. And that’s definitely one of the hardest things for an apparel company. And you know, we have two people that are dedicated to the development of our product. And those two people are kind of the keepers of the fit, and they’re the keepers of effectively what the Pactimo will feel is they’re absolutely critical to our products being consistent. And, you know, a really reliable, consistent, consistent experience for our customer.

Jeff 52:09
Yeah, I mean, it seems like that could easily be a big part of brand loyalty as well. You know, somebody tries a piece or two and they say, yeah, the back Timo stuff fits me really well. And so that’s why I buy it. You know, it’s not because it looks good, or because it’s cheaper because it works well. Like it just fits in I finally found something that fits.

Ryan 52:28
Yep. And I haven’t I haven’t necessarily run the numbers on that. But I know that there are a great deal of people who specifically cite that as a reason that they are aware of loyal customer of Pactimo, it’s just something about our fit that they have latched on to. And it’s a reliable experience for them urine, urine and year out when they want to refresh bibs or jerseys or something like that. So, yeah, it is really a totally critical part of making sure that people have a great experience with you.

Jeff 52:58
Yeah. Cool. So one final question for you. What opportunities do you see for the evolution of mountain bike clothing in the future? Is it all about materials? Are there design things or fashion trends? Or what what do you see on the horizon?

Ryan 53:12
You know, I think there’s maybe two ways to approach this question. So we just came off of Outdoor Retailer show, which is actually here in Denver, which is really cool. For us. It’s a, it’s the biggest outdoor gear Expo in America, where we get to go and see what all the major companies in hiking, skiing, whatever kind of outdoor pursuit you’d like, are doing. And then there’s also our middle partners and numeral partners, that are there mills are where we purchase our fabrics. And it’s just so cool to go there and see all of the new stuff, all of the tech, so short term, year to year, there’s always like a cool new material to experiment with. So material innovations are just coming at you so fast these days, the manufacturing is so advanced, that, you know, we’re mostly playing in just what are different yarn types and compositions and things that can help improve rider experience. That’s a big part of textile design and development. So that’s always one thing that we’re like always trying to pay attention to. So functional increases in our apparel is a huge thing. Yeah. And that’s, that’s always a pretty big strain in where stuff is going for apparel. And then another big thing that is undeniably here is what is the life cycle, the cycle of a product and where are you getting your source materials? So to me, that’s almost going to be going forward. The most important thing when it comes to determining how you want to build a product, it’s where did the source material come from? So is it petroleum based? Is it bio based? How does it perform when it’s on the bike? So So how well does it wear? How well does it wash? How, what’s the longevity of it effectively? How long can you wear it. And then when you’re done wearing it due to it falling apart eventually, or you’re just sick of the style or whatever reason you want to dispose of it, what happens after so like, those are, those are huge things that are happening and like, it’s, it’s impossible to not be exploring that and experimenting with it as a company these days. So to me, that’s definitely the biggest, that’s definitely the biggest direction. And as mountain bikers and you know, people who I think, generally we think of ourselves as good stewards of the outdoors, I think it’s really critical for us to be paying more attention to what we’re selling, and the impact of that. Because in reality, the more stuff you make, the more trash there is. So how can we reduce that footprint and reduce that impact? At the back end? So you really got to look long term in where where your product

Jeff 56:00
is? Yeah, I remember seeing a press release or some news item, maybe it was from Outdoor Retailer about a biodegradable shoe. And, you know, there, they were touting all the environmental benefits of this. But yeah, I couldn’t help but think like, what if you made a shoe that lasted like five years, you know, like, I blow through a pair of shoes in one year. But you know, just imagine that, right? Like, if you’re able to build something that that lasts, rather than, like, oh, you know, it’s easy to recycle or, or put in the ground and turned into compost, like, seems like that, for sure is a good way to help the environment.

Ryan 56:38
Yeah, and that’s, that’s absolutely a totally valid approach for company to take. And I think it really depends on what the arena you’re playing in, is because it’s that kind of, you got to pick two or three things. And for us, specifically, for us, specifically, a lot of our garments are so lightweight, that they just there’s an inherent fragile ness to them. To some extent, like not, we’re not, we’re trying to design things as durable as we possibly can. But at the end of the day, a lightweight teacher material can only take so many crashes can only take so many wash cycles. You know, so like, for certain products, if you’re going for a particular type of technical attribute, you’re going to have to then determine Well, if the priority was the technicality, so the breathability, the lightweight, whatever the function may be, you then have to figure out a way to remedy that on the back end, or like we’ve gone back to a few times we could just try it and like denim, which would certainly be way more durable and lasts a lot longer. But our experience wouldn’t be quite as like freeing and fun, because Because to me, to me, the most important thing is the clothes just kind of disappear on you. But there’s nothing more annoying than like something that rides or does something weird, and you just can’t get it out of your head when you’re writing. So to me, it’s like that’s kind of the most important thing. And that’s, again, speaking to that whole advantage of a technical material.

Jeff 58:08
Yeah, right on. Cool. Well, thanks so much, Ryan, for taking the time and explain to us sort of how mountain bike apparel works and sort of giving us insight into the design process and also how the industry works.

Ryan 58:22
Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much for having me on. It was really cool to have this conversation. And I’ve got all this weight and knowledge. It’s great to. It’s great to get it out there.

Jeff 58:34
Right. Yeah. And it’s funny, I was thinking kind of a similar thing that we have these conversations at trade shows and events and things and consumers usually aren’t a part of it. So hopefully people will find this interesting and maybe have some more insight the next time they’re shopping for non buy clothing. So I’ve got this week. We’ll talk to you next week.


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