When Taylor-Ann Smith got into mountain biking she didn’t find much to her liking when she shopped for jerseys.
“I’d go to the bike shops and they didn’t have anything for women,” she said, “or it was horrifically too small, too short in the torso and I hated the colors.”
She wondered: “I’m not in peak physical condition, but I still like to go out and mountain bike. How come everything for women has to be tight and form-fitting?”
The jerseys on the men’s racks looked more comfortable and performance oriented, she noticed, and came in normal colors, unlike the metallic snakeskin pattern of one woman’s shirt she spotted.
“I want the men’s stuff,” she remembers thinking. “I like that fabric better. I like that fit better.”
After a while it hit Smith: “Maybe I should just be doing it.”
A graphic designer by trade, she put her skills to use and, with the help of an investor, created Ride Force, a clothing line featuring 3/4- and full-sleeve jerseys that she fashioned to be comfortable and perform well for women with a variety of body types. The shirts are a unisex fit, she said, in size extra small through 2XL. And they are designed to be everything she wanted but couldn’t find.
“I don’t like this assumption of feminine when I’m on a bike,” Smith said. “I want my gear to perform. Why do I have to look cute? I want to feel like a badass without worrying about pulling my shirt down or my pants being too tight.”
The fabric comes from Italy. It’s a super premium mesh blend, SPF 30. While other companies will put mesh side panels on their shirts, Smith said, “I thought to make the entire jersey that fabric so it’s 100% breathable.”
“You have to feel it to believe it,” she said. “It’s so buttery smooth and flexible.”
She wears a backpack when she rides and has been irritated by the way it rubs on a seam on the shoulder blade of other shirts she’s purchased. Ride Force jerseys are designed to eliminate that problem.
Other details include putting a hidden microfiber cloth on the front, so the rider can pull the jersey up and wipe her face, and making the back of the shirts 3 inches longer in the back.
“You’re not pulling down your jersey,” Smith said. “It actually covers your butt.”
Smith put a lot of thought into colors as well, going with black, blue, gray, purple-gray and sage.
“As a designer for 10-plus years I’m applying everything I’ve learned with color theory instead of picking colors just based off trends.”
The Ride Force line also includes hats, hoodies and buffs.
A small manufacturer in Denver makes the jerseys. The other items are produced in Bozeman, Montana. Smith likes that she’s supporting U.S. jobs and doing it in the Rocky Mountain West.
“I can tell you who sewed your jersey, who printed the shipping label and who put it in the box for you,” Smith said.
For now Ride Force is being sold online at Ride-Force.com, though Smith hopes to establish connections with shops in Jackson Hole and other mountain towns like Sedona, Arizona, and Bellingham, Washington.
“I hope this brand will become nationwide,” she said.
Introducing other bike items, like pants, is a goal, as is expanding her lines to more sports. She’s heard women say they’d like to wear the bike shirts on the river, and her mom wants to wear them on side-by-sides. Snowmobiling is another area she’d like to get into.
“Mountain biking is just the hole in the market that I identified,” she said. “I really hope to translate it to a multisport thing.”