I always believed that most apparel should be made from natural fibers such as cotton and wool. Although I still feel that way, I have learned that man-made fabrics can have advantages, especially in hot weather. That’s why I started wearing polypropylene shirts and undergarments when riding on hot SoCal days.
I like that poly wicks moisture away from my skin to evaporate, producing a greater cooling effect than cotton. Cotton just gets damp and keeps that moisture next to my skin, making me and the shirt feel clammy.
Now, I’ve found a shirt with a new material thanks to Tranzend and its Ultra Shirt, and it works a bit better than poly. Tranzend utilizes a patented material that uses a technology the company describes as S. Café. They say the S.Cafe ICE-CAFÉ patented material is made from recycled coffee grounds and “ice-cool yarn” from xylitol—an alcohol found in plant material. The shirts’s label says it’s 60 percent Nylon 66, and 40 percent polyester. It is designed to offer thermal regulation and a cooling effect activated by body moisture, absorbing, then dissipating body heat quickly.
Tranzend claims it cools the skin by 1.8– 5.4°F. Additionally, the material is claimed to eliminate odors through absorption by the recycled coffee grounds. No, it doesn’t smell like coffee. I’ll leave it to wearers to determine how that works out. Personally, I smell like a rose, so no armpit odor for me. Tranzend also claims the fabric offers UPF 50+ protection from ultraviolet rays. Wash in cold water, then tumble dry on low. The shirt is wrinkle-free.
Okay. Let’s go riding.
I don’t wear shirts with collars while riding my motorcycles and rarely a long-sleeved shirt. However, I’m testing the Tranzend Ultra shirt, so I put it on to feel how this fabric works on a hot day.
This shirt is well-made. It has a nice, slim fit (you might want to order one size up) and is quite attractive. I like the texture of the weave. Tranzend says the Ultra Shirt is laser-cut, and production involves “ultrasonic sewing tech,” whatever that is, to eliminate seams.
No matter the adspeak, the Tranzend Ultra Shirt is a quality garment with plastic snaps down the front, a traditional button at the neck, plus magnetic closures on the cuffs. I was concerned that the magnets would separate while putting an arm into my jackets, but they held firm.
The toughest test came on a ride with temperatures between 95-98°F. I wore the same motorcycle jacket I had worn the day before with a poly t-shirt in similar temperatures for comparison. In a non-scientific assessment, I did feel that the Ultra Shirt is a bit cooler, and it wicks away moisture, supporting Tranzend’s claim.
While standing around in the heat at the Rock Store with pals, I really did not feel much difference compared to poly. However, while riding, the Ultra Shirt started to work. I felt cooler, and the air passing through my widely vented jacket simply evaporated the perspiration quickly and left me with a nice, cool feeling—even more so than poly.
So, the Tranzend Ultra Shirt works as claimed. It cools me as well, or better, than any of my other shirts. With its stretch, it is extremely comfortable while in the saddle. The fabric is nicely breathable and has perforations under the arms for airflow.
The Tranzend Ultra Shirt is being offered through Kickstarter. Tranzend successfully offered and delivered its Ultra Suit on Kickstarter in 2017, plus the crowdfunded Ultra Suit 2.0 and Ultra Coat, so Tranzend does have a credible history. However, as always with Kickstarter, you are buying at your own risk. The Kickstarter Exclusive price is $109 (plus $15 shipping worldwide—design in Taiwan; made in Vietnam), with a claimed MSRP of $179. The estimated delivery date is December 2021, and the project has already exceeded its pledge goal by four times.