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Review: Shift Racing Dyer Hybrid Jacket
The first response you may have about our latest review is: who? Self described as a “fast growing sports apparel company”, Shift has been around since 1997, believe it or not. If you’re a street rider you’ve probably not heard of Shift, but if you ride Motocross you probably have. While you might not be familiar with Shift you are probably familiar with the name Fox regardless of what you ride. Fox is synonymous with Motocross and Fox created Shift nearly ten years ago as an alternative brand of motocross apparel.
Starting in 2004, Shift identified the street market as a segment where rider’s needs were not being met and consequently entered into the foray. Since many Motocross riders’ two wheel passion transcends to the street, it made sense to expand the product offerings. Shift took the expanded product line quite seriously by importing talent from some leading Italian apparel manufacturers. Doing so lends credibility and most importantly real-world experience which is designed into the Shift product line.
According to Shift public relations spokesman Brian Horton, “SHIFT has always been the choice for those looking for something unique and fresh.” Starting Spring 2006, Shift began an aggressive campaign to spread the name in the market. Horton states, “Innovative products like the Dyer hybrid jacket made this the right time to increase our exposure and let everyone know about the great street line we’re expanding.” It was, in fact, the Dyer hybrid jacket that piqued our interest.
An identity crisis?
In the world of motorcycle jackets, there are two camps: leather and textile. Textile can include anything from mesh to Cordura or Kevlar. Leather encompasses a wide array of thicknesses and includes such varieties as cowhide and kangaroo skin. But regardless of the specific material, nearly every jacket falls into one of the two simple categories.
What happens when you blend the two exploiting the positive attributes of each material where it’s best suited? The result is a new category: hybrid. True, there are jackets on the market that incorporate both textile and leather, but from a consumer’s viewpoint, it’s akin to an identity crisis. At what point is a jacket termed textile and at how much leather is needed to label a jacket leather?
Let us provide some examples. First Gear’s Fuel jacket is considered a leather jacket, according to the First Gear website. However large areas, namely the back remain textile. The Joe Rocket Reactor 2.0 jacket is listed as a mesh jacket on the Joe Rocket website, and it too features the back as textile much like the Fuel. Both cover, primarily, the shoulders and elbows in leather and leave the rest to textile.
Now, we’re not trying to “slam” either the First Gear or Joe Rocket gear, both have excellent reputations in the motorcycle community. In fact both jackets aim to provide ventilation where the focus of our latest review, the SHIFT Dyer Hybrid, isn’t about ventilation; this isn’t a comparison review. Sure we may be talking semantics, but from a marketing perspective do you want that confusion when you’re ready to plop your greenbacks to save your back? Truth be told, a jacket need not be classified a leather or textile… a third category exists: hybrid.
Shift Racing’s Dyer Hybrid breaks out of industry tradition in creating this category. The Dyer is primarily leather, we estimate somewhere between 65-75% of the coverage area. And, as stated above the areas where materials other than leather are utilized are not done so for ventilation, rather flexibility. This, we believe, is the #1 selling point of the Dyer Hybrid. It is for this reason the Dyer jacket stands out amongst rivals.
Let’s Talk Flex
An all leather jacket, in most cases, will provide the best resistance to road rash by providing superior abrasion resistance. However some areas of your body have a higher likelihood of coming into contact with the pavement than others, i.e. outside of the elbow versus the inside of the elbow. By taking these “low percentage” areas and integrating a more flexible material instead of leather, you’ve got the safety of leather where it is needed with the flexibility of a textile jacket.
The first noticeable difference when you pick up the Dyer jacket is the weight. Shift claims a weight savings of 25% over all leather jackets. Since there is no “standard” weight jacket, it is difficult to quantify the 25% claim. However, there is a discernable difference. In comparison to other jackets we have around the office, the Dyer is unquestionably lighter.
When you put the jacket on the next thing that will grab your attention is the ability to move while wearing the jacket. Articulation of the arms is excellent; there is very little feeling of restricted movement. The arms are pre-curved as you’ll find in most street/sport jackets. When flexing at the elbow, the use of KorMax™ stretch Aramid inner arm panels results in less bulk and piling versus leather providing greater range of motion. This, coupled with inherent flexibility advantage the textile has over leather, results in a confidence inspiring piece of gear.
It’s not only the arms where you’ll gain the added flex. Shift has also sewn in a horizontal piece of ballistic nylon in the high back area, finished off with reflective piping. When transitioning from a race or aggressive riding position to a more upright position, you’ll notice this panel springing into action. Further, Shift has extended the posterior panel to cover the lower back while riding.
You can see how effective the reflective piping can be. The image on the left was take with a flash, on the right with no flash.
To facilitate shoulder articulation or a shoulder “shrugging” motion, more ballistic nylon panels are sewn into the pattern. These same panels are also found on the sides under the arms, and in this location Shift has also sewn in leather covered memory foam rib pads. Finally you’ll find a Velcro strap, termed a “tunnel” system, just above the waste on either side to custom fit the waist of the jacket.
In only one area was the Dyer lacking: ventilation. That said, it was never the purpose of the designers to create a ventilated jacket. Though many manufacturers will tout their textiles as “breathable”, the textile components on the dyer do not serve that purpose nor does Shift claim this. While it is true the textile panels will feel cooler to the skin, that’s only due to the thickness of the material. It’s for this reason we can’t knock the jacket for its lack of ventilation.
There are some strategically placed nylon mesh panels which do facilitate a bit more air movement then the ballistic nylon and leather. These panels are easily identified on our jacket by their red color. They are sewn in the sleeve, neck and lower chest inserts. These colored panels also add a stylish element to the Dyer hybrid. There are also ventilation holes in the armpit area; so while ventilation might not have been the #1 priority, it wasn't forgotten.
This images illustrates the vent holes in the leather, under the arm.
It's the little things that count
Sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most. In examining the Dyer jacket, some of these details might not be readily apparent. However, rest assured we’ve scoured the Dyer and put it to the test so you don’t have to look.
One obvious feature is the insulated vest. The stitching and construction is typically overlooked, but we’ve seen our share of gear absent of close-knit and even stitching. The Dyer vest has both and this extends into the jacket as well. You’ll find straight seams and reinforced stitching where leather meets textile. In fact, the leather panels are stitched over the ballistic panels, fusing the two together. The quilted vest is also machine washable, so no need to worry about trying to keep it clean.
Were the vest meets the jacket you’ll find high quality nylon YKK zippers. In fact you’ll find YKK zippers on the entire Dyer jacket. One of the smaller items we thoroughly enjoyed was the YKK zipper on the wrists which included a flexible rubber pull. When snapping wrist enclosures on some jackets the rigid or metal pull can sometimes get caught and create a nuisance.
Speaking of nuisances, how many times have you been riding down the road advertising to the world your preference of boxers or briefs? It’s a fact that upper body gear has a tendency to “ride up” your back due to the riding stance and wind currents. Shift has extended the posterior panel to extend lower than the rest of the jacket and more importantly included an elastic belt loop. This is a feature absent on far too many jackets. Before zipping up you simply wrap the loop around your belt and snap it in place preventing the jacket from heading north while riding. While we're talking about this area of the jacket, there is also a zipper for attachment of riding pants.
In this image you can see the belt loop, the zipper to attach pants and the zipper that gains access to the back protector pocket.
The jersey knit liner may appear insignificant, but in reality it’s an important feature. It provides flexibility, air movement and doesn’t add unnecessary bulk or weight to the jacket. Along the front, where the zipper is sewn, Shift has used a heavy nylon material; it is also here you'll find an inside pocket on either side. Around the neck is a soft and comfortable fabric that won't irritate or chafe your neck.
The reflective piping found on the back and sleeves is a nice touch. If you’re a dusk to dawn rider, you’ll appreciate the reflectivity these small strips of material will afford you. They’re discreet and non-descript until light hits them advertising your position and (hopefully) giving you an edge on safety.
Finally, the leather. Our Dyer displayed the same consistency premium cowhide leather throughout the jacket with thickness varying from 1.2 to 1.4mm. With premium cowhide leather, you should see the "fat wrinkles," and natural markings. The feel to the hand should be supple and natural to the touch. All is true with the Dyer, the leather is high quality and we noticed no signs of weakness, blemishes or faults. Truth be told, we’ve seen some highly regarded European leather gear come through our office that didn’t look this nice.
This photo displays the nylon mesh with reflective piping, ballistic nylon, leather and KorMax™ fabrics.
Here you can see a close-up of the leather grain and texture.
Alright, so the jacket looks nice and the materials are top-notch. That's all fine and dandy, but what about "going down" with the Dyer? We know the leather and ballistic nylon are going provide abrasion resistance, but what does the Dyer have to lessen the impact of a crash?
Shift has incorporated CE approved armor in multiple locations throughout the Dyer hybrid. In case you were wondering, the CE Mark is a conformity designation required for certain products to be sold in Europe. The CE label applies to products regulated by European health, safety and environmental protection legislation. It is also obligatory for certain products sold in the European market. Many riders in the United States look for this designation when purchasing gear, though it is of little consequence outside of Europe. And as a side note, CE armor is designed to absorb a single hard impact and must be replaced afterward.
The adjustable/removable CE certified armor can be found on the shoulders and elbows. Like Shift’s SR-1 racing suit, the Dyer comes with a soft back protector as well. There is a large integrated back pocket made for the insertion of an aftermarket back protector should you decide you need more. You should be able to fit just about any aftermarket back protector inside this pocket, a nice feature versus a proprietary design which would limit your options.
Pictured here is the foam back protector. It easily slides in and out of the rear pocket.
As we mentioned earlier, Shift outfitted leather covered memory foam pads in the rib area as an additional measure of safety. The foam "ribs" are comfortable and provide added impact resistance in this area. Memory foam is a visco-elastic polyurethane foam (high density) which reacts with body heat and allows it to mould itself to the shape of a warm body within a few minutes. The most popular use of memory foam is in mattresses, however the uses are ever expanding; such as in the Dyer jacket.
Remember me!? The leather covered memory foam pads are shown here. You can also see the adjustable "tunnel" velcro strap.
You've got to hand it to them... the Dyer Glove
To complement the Dyer hybrid jacket, Shift offers a Dyer Hybrid glove. The glove is a long gauntlet style glove. Much like the Dyer jacket, the glove is also both leather and textile.
Available in black and silver/black, the Dyer Hybrid glove complements the Dyer Hybrid jacket nicely.
Instead of going with a carbon-fiber look for knuckle protection, Shift has installed attractive “dual compound TPU” armor. TPU is thermoplastic polyurethane, a material that offers many advantages beyond good looks. When combined with other materials, as with the Dyer glove, the properties of TPU include excellent abrasion resistance, and high impact strength. You can find dual compound TPU in other applications such as automotive body side moldings. The open back design of the TPU armor provides good flexibility with little to no binding or tightness when gripping or flexing.
Shift uses “overlapping leather finger guards” at each knuckle joint; a similar concept to the open back knuckle design. This provides great flexibility in the glove and also ensures complete coverage. The fingers are also pre-curved for comfort and feature Cordura sides.
Flip the Dyer glove over and you’ll see two distinct padded and reinforced palm areas. Whether your palm hits the handlebars or your palms hit the pavement, you’ll appreciate the padding.
Finally, the Dyer glove has the standard gauntlet and wrist Velcro closures to make sure the gloves stays on your hand during impact.
We have no complaints about the Dyer glove. It was comfortable to wear and while a little toasty in the Summer heat, performed its job admirably (short of throwing ourselves off the bike to test them). They are a nice addition the Dyer hybrid line and go well with the Dyer hybrid jacket.
Frankly, we’re surprised Shift isn’t on the short list of apparel choices for more consumers; if our experience is any indication that is sure to change. With a renewed marketing campaign, international industry experience and backing of a company like Fox, Shift Racing is certain to make a splash into the street market.
We haven’t been this impressed with a piece of gear (Dyer jacket) in some time. The comfort, quality and ergonomics rival that of any gear we’ve tested to date. With a MSRP of $299 and street price $20-$30 below that, this jacket is a flat out bargain in our opinion. The attention to detail, craftsmanship and features have us pining for our next Shift review.
The Shift Racing Dyer Hybrid jacket comes in Black/Red and Silver/Black sizes small to XXL and retails for $299.95.
The Shift Racing Dyer Hybrid glove comes in Black and Silver/Black sizes small (8) to XXL (12) and retails for $99.95
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