While Shift may be known to experienced off-road motorcycle riders as the company spun off of Fox Racing and initially associated with 1997 AMA Supercross Champion Jeff Emig, Shift has established itself as an independent brand, stretching beyond the dirt market into street bike apparel.
Shift’s list of sponsored riders include Josh Grant, Justin Brayton, and Sarah Whitmore in the dirt, and Josh Herrin, Chris "Teach" McNeil, Brian Bubash and Jessica Maine on the pavement. Still, Shift’s core market is off-road motorcycle apparel, and the Faction gear is the top of Shift Racing’s extensive line.
Shift Faction Pants
The key to a top-notch pair of riding pants is its ability to stretch. This is achieved by the liberal use of stretch materials and a large number of panels in the pant. Shift uses X-Stretch panel in the critical crotch area, as it allows unrestricted movement of the thighs, a must for racing off-road or on-track. Other stretch materials are used above each knee, on the top of the thighs, waist sides, and in the lower back area. These all combine to make Shift Faction pants extremely flexible and unbinding.
Thick Thermaweld Shift logos on outer knees and hips improve the durability of the pants, as they will absorb abuse that can damage the nylon parts. A simple ratchet belt and medium-duty, no-fly zipper keep the pants up. An unobtrusive vented lining envelops your legs comfortably. Wide cuffs and roomy knee areas make plenty of room for knee braces, and the inside of the knee area is protected by full-grain leather. From top to bottom, Shift Faction is a first-rate riding pant.
Shift Faction Jersey
Fashion in jerseys has been inextricably moving in one direction–lighter. The new Shift Faction jersey would have been called a summer jersey at one time, due to its full vent back. These days, it’s simply a standard race jersey. I have ridden in temperatures in the 40s and was still comfortable, so it has turned out to be a productive trend.
The Shift Faction jersey has a standard raglan cut for easy arm movement, and a strip of flexible material over each collarbone aids that goal–something you don’t always see. The narrow cuffs are stretchy, but not tight, so they won’t cause arm-pump. The styling is a perfect match for the pants, and it comes if four contemporary wild styles. The Faction gear is not for the rider who wants to go unnoticed. Jerseys are typically cookie-cutter, butthe Shift Faction jersey has enough nice touches to put it a step up on the competition.
Shift Faction Gloves
These are lightweight gloves, intended to give the rider the maximum feel for the controls, while still offering some protection–though not a generous amount, by any means. The palm and thumb are the typical Clarino material, but it’s a single layer, so it’s very thin. Sticky silicone on the index and middle fingers, as well as the thumbs works to keep your hand on the grips, and give you added traction on the clutch and brake levers. Flex panels on the knuckles, thumbs, and the backs of the hands help make the gloves transparent for the rider. A simple Velcro-style wrist strap keeps the gloves in place in case of a get-off. The Faction glove is relatively basic, but it does its job perfectly. If you prefer gloves with a light touch, this is an excellent choice.
Shift Riot Helmet
While the Shift Faction line is unquestionably top tier, the Shift Riot helmet is more of a budget offering, running about one-third the price of an Arai or Shoei. The shell is simple injection-molded plastic and, though it’s vented, the vents cannot be closed in cold conditions. Having said that, the helmet meets both DOT and Snell standards, so it will protect you in a fall. The integrated roost guard is very flexible, which can be a plus in some face-plants, as it will absorb plenty of energy. However, in higher speed falls or when hitting hard objects, it may not be the first choice.
One area where many inexpensive helmets come up short is in the comfort category. Interestingly, the inside of the Shift Riot is plush and extraordinarily comfortable. This is an all-day helmet for the off-roader and grand prix racer. Removable cheek pads allow for a custom fit and the entire liner is removable for washing. If you’re willing to allow for the compromises required to hit a price point, you will still be getting a highly comfortable helmet that meets the current American helmet standards.