Sunday was the first day of spring. Of course, it snowed in New York City so you didn’t feel so “sprung.” (It’s almost as if Leo’s Oscars speech didn’t have the power to single-handedly reverse climate change.)
In any event, the return of warmer temperatures means lots of things. Eating (and drinking) outside, letting your puffer jacket hibernate, and for many, spring signals a return to bike commuting. Sure, there are those grizzled hardcore dudes who ride their bikes to work through the winter. You can usually spot them because they have icicles in their beards, wind-burned skin, and they call you a wuss for enjoying any of the conveniences the modern world has to offer. For the rest of us, riding a bike to work is a way to get a little exercise in the morning and unwind in the evening. It’s a chance to not spend your commute with your face smushed into someone else’s armpit on the subway or to bail yourself out of Uber/Lyft debt.
But riding your bike to work also presents a very specific set of sartorial challenges, and the biggest one revolves around your pants. The checklist for a pair of jeans to wear on your bike commute is long. They need to be cut in such a way that you can get your leg over your top tube and pedal without constriction. They need to be resilient enough to stand up to the elements without showing any stains. They need to to not turn into a stinking heap if you sweat in them. If they have some reflectivity built in, all the better for riding at night. And finally, but most importantly, they need to look good so that you look like a respectable employee at your company and not the bike messenger dropping off a package.
But as more and more people start riding to work, designers are responding with more and more products that check off all those boxes. We found six jeans that will drastically improve your bike commute and that you’ll even find yourself wearing on days when you don’t ride in.
LEVI’S COMMUTER 541
Cyclists have strong thighs so skinny jeans don’t always cut it. Levi’s designed the 541 jeans in its Commuter line to fit an athletic build (read: guys with thicker thighs). But they still have a taper below the knee to create a trim silhouette. The jeans have plenty of bike-friendly features like a U-lock holder and a higher rise in the back so the world doesn’t have to see your ass crack when you ride.
RAPHA PREMIUM DENIM
Rapha’s cycling jerseys and bibs are prized for their clean, minimal design and high performance features. The same philosophy was applied to its recently redesigned jeans. Rapha’s exclusive denim comes from a mill in Italy and has a lot of stretch built in so you can wear them slim and still pedal freely. A reflective Rapha logo is printed on the inside of the right leg so you can roll the cuff up and be visible to cars at night.
OUTLIER SLIM DUNGAREES
There’s a ton of science that goes into Outlier’s Workcloth fabric, most of which I’m not smart enough to understand. Here’s what I do know: It’s tough and it feels great. There is no cotton, so they dry ridiculously quick. You can also go a long time without washing them and they still won’t stink (not that we reccommend it). Even though the silhouette is similar to a 5-pocket jean, these dungarees have a little bit more polish to them so they work great in more formal settings too.
MOTT & BOW WOOSTER
Denim startup Mott & Bow didn’t create its Dynamic Stretch fabric specifically for cycling, but when you make jeans that feel as comfortable as sweatpants why wouldn’t you want to ride your bike in them? The jeans, which are available in two different washes and three different fits (skinny, slim, and regular) stretch up to 35% so you could pretty much do yoga in them. But they also bounce back so they won’t become a saggy blob after a few wears.
CHROME INDUSTRIES BATTERY
Technically, these pants are not bulletproof so we don’t advise getting shot in them, but they should be able to stand up to just about anything else. Inspired by World War II military wear, these pants are made from a sturdy 12-ounce canvas, perfect for those cooler spring days. The stitching is reinforced at all the key areas so you don’t have to worry about any embarassing blowouts. And the front pockets are extra deep so you can stash much more than a phone and keys.
UPRIGHT SELVAGE RIDING JEAN
Cone Mills’ White Oak plant in North Carolina has been producing denim prized by aficianados for more than 100 years. Upright used a Cone Mills’ 11-ounce selvedge denim for their riding jeans, which are sewn in Los Angeles. The “Ride Work Wear Repeat” messaging inside the waistband also provides that extra little motivation you need to get on your bike in the morning.