I’ve found the most unforgiving article of everyday clothing – when it comes to cycling – to be jeans. They’re thick, warm and don’t typically offer enough give or stretch for riding comfortably – making it hard even to get your leg over the saddle.
It’s unsurprising, therefore, that there’s a multitude of cycling clothing manufacturers out there who have gone on the pursuit of creating commuter jeans that boast functionality suited to cycling.
Indeed, while I knew of maybe six or seven makers of ‘cycling jeans’, I came across in excess of 15 different manufacturers – from various corners of the globe, while conducting research on this topic. In this post below I’ve picked out five of the best jeans for cycling for both men and women, as well as a few others that are worthy of further investigation.
First though, what features should you be looking for in the perfect pair of cycling jeans?
Bicycle Commuter Jeans – Key Features
- Gusseted/reinforced crotch – jeans generally wear down on the crotch faster than any other place – especially when cycling – so a gusseted or reinforced crotch really is crucial to ensure your jeans last the test of time.
- Stretch fit
- Slimmer fits are better – less to get caught up in your chain.
- Sweat wicking
- Reflective detailing
- Water resistant – there’s nothing worse than wearing damp jeans, they take a seeming eternity to dry and can be extremely uncomfortable
So, with the bicycle jeans’ features in mind, let’s set about finding the best commuter jeans for cyclists, starting with the best urban cycling jeans for men.
Best Cycling Jeans for Men
Resolute Bay are a British start-up whose primary focus is on cycling jeans – so unsurprisingly their jeans are packed to the rafters with functionality. The key identifying feature of their cycling jeans is the expandable reflective rear for when you’re cycling – it’s a good idea that is also discreet when you’re off your bike. Prices range from £40 to £159 and for your buck you get five pockets, the zip-up ripstop reflective back yoke, 12oz raw Japanese denim, reflective arrow when rolled, rivets and bar tacks at key stress points and reinforced pocket bags. You can read a review of the excellent Resolute Bay NX1 Cordura Cycling Jeans here.
One name that came up time and time again when asking about people’s favourite bike jeans was that of Swrve. There are currently six models in the Swrve jean range, with products ranging from skinny to slim and regular fit – meaning there is plenty of choice regardless of body shape or style preference. Swrve’s Cordura regular fit jeans – available for £80 – are a great example of why the Swrve range is so popular; they feature a seamless gusseted crotch, articulated knees, reflective detailing and a slight rise on the back. Basically, these jeans tick box after box.
If you want a sturdy pair of bicycle jeans with plenty of pockets, look no further than Osloh’s Traffic Bicycle Jean. These are truly premium pants with a gusseted crotch, and reinforced materials on the potentially weakest spots for cyclists. These bike jeans are made from 12oz denim, made up of 99% cotton and 1% spandex, but that 1% goes a very long way. You can read a full review of the Osloh Bicycle Jean here.
No messing from Rapha: durable, fast-drying, added stretch and branded reflective detailing on the right leg when rolled up shows that these are certainly some of the best cycling jeans around. Undoubtedly though, the £150 price tag is going to be hot enough for many people to pass up on these otherwise solid cycling jeans.
The DUER Performance Jeans have tonnes of stretch and are pretty durable too. But, importantly, they look just like good-looking every jeans.
Undoubtedly the most famous producer of cycling jeans are Levi’s and their ‘Commuter’ range. Sadly, this isn’t quite what it was circa 2011, but the Levi’s 511 jeans are still good jeans for commuting by bike, with added stretch built into the jeans thanks to their 99% denim, 1% elastine blend, while the fit is also great for outdoor lifestyles – including those who get about on their bicycle.
While the price of Levi’s 511s can fluctuate from around £30 to £100 depending on size, fit and colour, these might be the closest you’ll get to cheap cycling jens for men.
- Levi’s 511 slim fit jeans combines an ideal cut and stretch designed to move with you and provide all day comfort no matter what you throw at them
- An ideal cut from the original Levi Strauss & Co. meant as a comfortable alternative to skinny jeans with a lean look and added stretch to move with you
- Slim from hip to ankle, resting just below the waist, the sleek cut is more than meets the eye, with comfort stretch, these pants are able to flex and move with you and your lifestyle
Other Notable Men’s Jeans for Cycling
Outside our top five though, there are also various other very good cycling jeans for men out there. Muxu’s Slim Fit jeans (£60) are great, while American/Canadian brands like Cadence and Ligne 8 also provide great offerings.
Best Cycling Jeans for Women
Available in various fits include high-rise, mid-rise, plus slim and skinny fits, DUER’s Performance Jeans are excellent for active women. They offer lots of stretch, are extremely comfortable, feature a tough gusset to ensure they’re durable and – they look great.
Elizabeth provided a rave review for these back a few years ago, and they remain probably the best cycling jeans for women out there. American-based Ligne 8’s ever expanding range of stylish clothes you can cycle in continues to impress, and with shipping to the UK seemingly free, there’s no reason not to task advantage of their collection regardless of your location. As for the jeans, they are water resistant and made from flexible material perfect for cycling. The look and feel of them are also in line with ‘regular’ jeans, so you certainly won’t look out of place on or off the bike.
Another US brand providing great options for ladies on bicycles, and their range of trousers and jeans for riding in is highly extensive and impressive in equal measure. The Black Bike to Work Skinny Jeans ($118) are certainly worthy of further investigation, being water and soil repellent, providing a four-way stretch, a gusseted crotch and all wrapped in a very flattering and stylish design. Free delivery to the UK is available when you create an account.
Another solid effort from Rapha with these mid-rise, skinny-cut women’s cycling jeans that are fast-drying, stain resistant and hardwearing enough for regular riders. There’s also offset seams for extra comfort, as well as branded reflective detailing when the right leg is turned up.
Levi’s finally extended their Commuter range into the female market in April and have received mixed reviews since. The lack of a reinforced crotch and U-lock holster – as featured in the men’s range – were disappointing exclusions, although that’s certainly not to say this range is a complete dud. Again, Elizabeth checked these out when they came out (and you can read more about them here), and while the quality isn’t necessarily the highest on the market, you’ll struggle to find a more flattering pair of jeans when it comes to fit.
- Material: Outer material: 60% cotton, 24% polyester, 12% viscose, 4% elastane.
- Care instructions: (English language not guaranteed). Machine-washable at 30 °C.
- Parts of animal origin: contains non-textile parts of animal origin.
What jeans do you cycle in? Do you have any particular favourites? Comment below.