The quest for the perfect commuter trousers rages on. Filling all the boxes in the style column and all the boxes in the function column is certainly an ongoing battle for the companies producing stylish cycling gear.
One such attempt to answer this age old cry on the trouser battlefield is Union 34. They’ve produced a classic looking pair with a regular leg which have been designed to tick the style and function boxes as much as possible.
So how do the Union 34 Water resistant trousers do?
We’ll get this ball rolling with the style. As I say they have a classic, minimal design certainly complimenting as many tastes as possible by featuring a regular leg cut. Made from (mostly) cotton they’re quite soft and the same thickness as regular trousers which means they easily pass the everyday style test with flying colours. The look and feel to the trousers is similar to a denim finish which I think is perfect for stylish about town and the casual office attire.
Simply put they’re perfect to ride to town/work and then keep going about your daily routine when the bike’s locked up and you’re off on your way. I myself look forward to a slimmer leg cut or a few different colours but I’m sure at least one of those additions is on the Union 34 drawing board.
Stylish cycling trousers
They’re classic design is tempered with some vital cycling functionality. They’ve been cut and designed to work on the bike and have a little bit of stretch added for comfort and shape retention using schoellers unique 2-way stretch fabric. They feel very comfy against the skin and waist as you pedal along but I did start to feel the saddle before too long without any nod to padding.
The fabric has some clever nanosphere technology applied to it that gives the Union 34 element trousers some key cyclewear features in the form of dirt and water resistance. So if you do hit a muddy puddle or a unexpected shower on your way to work you can be reasonably assured you can wipe of the stain and won’t be wearing soggy pants all day.
If you’d care to join me for a quick tour around the finer details of the Element trousers we’ll start at the legs with the presence of adjustable elastic straps with metal poppers inside each hem helping to prevent any chain snagging whilst not compromising the look of the trousers.
Two front face pockets with waterproof lining protection greet us at the front of the element trousers and a mighty four (yes four) pockets at the back. Three main zip pockets with two either side of the back, like you would find on your common a garden pair of jeans and one central which cleverly is also reflective (another nice function nod without getting in the way of the style of the garment). There’s also a very small against the back right pocket but this seems too small for anything of importance so not sure on that one.
On the same pocket is a small black transfer of the Union 34 logo which brands the product without putting on the neon lights. Another classically reserved nod letting the style and look of the trousers speak for itself.
Rain Trousers Test
The element have protection against the rain but are definitely in the water resistant category rather than the water proof. My first experience encountering a rain exposed cycle I arrived at my destination fairly dry, there were a few damp patches but very few. I also discovered something called “phantom got wet” syndrome with these trousers as they’re thin.
Compared to the Rapha softshell trousers which have a fleece lining, when the Union 34’s got wet you feel the cold of the water through the material which gives the impression the water has soaked through even though it hasn’t.
A downpour would catch me unawares one day and that was too much for the poor element trousers resistance and they did let in water but not being advertised as waterproof I can understand that and too there credit they did dry up quite quickly which is another great feature if you are unlucky to get caught in a sudden monsoon as I did.
Summing up the trousers water resistance effectiveness I would say it’s definitley sufficient enough for light showers, puddles and wet roads but if you know it’s going to pour down that day – more water protection would be required.
On the whole, The Union 34 element trousers feel really nice on and look quite smart without being too smart, they’re adaptable to most day to day situations and handle most of what a typical town bike ride commute throws at the typical commuting cyclist. The little touches of detail featured around them are all done in a way that’s not obvious complimenting the minimal design and it’s all this that makes the Union 34 element trousers a great option to look at when you’re buying your next pair of cycling pants.
Value for Money: 7/10