Shift wanted to establish itself as a player in the race suit category. Rather than undercut the competition, the new suit was going to go head-to-head with more established rivals. Fortunately we had the knowledge base to start from a very high level. Working with our pattern makers to optimize the articulation of the suit was essential. Understanding the articulation needs of riders as they bend, twist, and exert themselves throughout their races helped us to place leather stretch panels (leather sewn in rows to stretched elastic) where the garment needed to move with the rider as joints move and limbs extend. Other unique touches included embossed rib padding that was silicone-backed and custom perforated, and a perforated aero hump that routed cool air from the low pressure zone behind the helmet, through grooves in the pad, and out of the suit through the custom TPR exhaust vents. Each of these concepts were the first to market. Beyond the function, the look also needed to surpass the competition. We chose to do this by screen printing some of the panels – a technique that keeps the suit light while adding graphic interest. This technique would go on to become the standard graphic application method in MotoGP suits. The logos were single layer appliques given a 3-dimensional look with light gray screen prints. The logo had also just updated for that season, so new shoulder plastics were designed with a heavily chamfered logos. New knee sliders which allow riders to skim along the pavement without harm to their bodies or suits rounded out the package. As with the suit itself, the sliders were tested by racers. I worked with 3-time Superbike champion Doug Chandler to develop the ideal hardness of thermoplastic urethane (TPU) for the best combination of wear and feel characteristics.
The suit was a success and would frequently be seen in magazines on test riders. These guys had a lot of options and could choose a suit from just about any manufacturer. Quite often they chose the Shift Vertex suit. The result was great publicity for the brand in addition to the credibility this halo product gave the whole line. Motorcycle Daily effused, “The needle on the style meter rides far to the right with this suit.” and, “I’ve gone on and on about how good this suit is…”
While at Fox/Shift I gained a reputation for being technically savvy which manifested itself in my nickname, The Professor. It was for this reason that I was chosen to do design suit as well as nearly all of the technically advanced products in the lineup. I am proud to have worked with a number of great, technically adept people to bring this suit from a concept, through prototyping, and into production with both critical and commercial success.
The Vertex Suit was sold in both White/Black or Black/White. Whichever you choose goes with what you got.