Before we get into it though, one common question needs answering:
What Are Chinos?
Chinos are a category of trousers that are made from a hardwearing cotton (or blend) twill originally produced in China. Chinos have a slimmer silhouette than other trousers, with a straight leg shape and fit.
Advantages of Cycling in Chinos
If you’re commuting by bike, the good news is that cycling in chinos is one of your best options when it comes to full-length pants. That’s because chinos tend to be lighter and more breathable than many other types of trousers (such as jeans, khakis and waterproof pants).
What’s more, chinos are typically some of the most stylish trousers around, which means that they’ll look good at your destination – whether that be the office or meeting up with friends.
Chinos for Cycling: Key Features
So if chinos are good for cycling anyway, should you invest in a pair commuter cycling chinos that have been built with urban cyclists in mind?
The short answer is: yes. You can absolutely cycle in regular chinos, but bicycle-specific chinos will provide you with some extra functionality that will make your commute (and your day-to-day life, for that matter) much more comfortable. The key cycling chino features that will benefit commuters are:
Added stretch: makes mounting, dismounting and pedalling much easier the bike easier
Deep pockets: so your phone, keys and wallet don’t fall out!
More breathable: my blending cotton with other materials such as polyester, biker chinos allowed your body to breathe and stay fresh
Water resistance: stops light rain from seeping through the trousers
Obviously, not every bike chino will have all of the above features, but in our guide below, we’ll run through what each of the best cycling chinos offer you, the rider.
Stylish Bike Chinos
As ever my focus will be directed on two things: 1) style (do the chinos look good off bike?) and 2) function (do they make your ride comfortable and practical?)
I’m a big fan of chinos – and especially cycling chinos – because they are a very adaptable piece of clothing. They can be worn with a t-shirt for a casual look but can also easily be transformed into more formal occasions with a shirt.
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Discerning Cyclist’s expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing cycling products so you don’t have to.
If there’s two things the Scandinavians know about its cycling and style.
So, when you get a Swedish brand producing urban cycling clothing, you should pay attention.
Sigr’s Riksväg 99 Chino is a perfect blend or urban style and cycling functionality. These elegant bike chinos are study with a good amount of stretch and have been cut with commuters in mind – so that pedalling is easy in the Sigr chinos.
The Riksväg chino also boasts lots of discreet reflective detailing, including on the pocket flaps on the rear, as well as on right leg if you turn the trouser leg up.
These pants both breathable and comfortable, with a nice blend of cotton, polyester and spandex ensuring a nice balance between form and function.
Sigr also produced a similarly styled cycling chino short, the Strandvägen.
If you’re on the lookout for smart-looking, office-friendly cycling clothes, then Ministry of Supply is probably your best option.
The Momentum Chino is just one example of their outstanding cycling to work range. The Chino is extremely lightweight, breathable, soft, stretchy, yet durable, and has a DWR coating to repel light rain.
It comes in a very sleek, minimalist style and is available in six different colours. The chinos are also abrasion and wrinkle resitant, which means you don’t need to worry about them creasing if you ever need to throw them in a bag.
Ministry of Supply also provide customers with the option of a slim or standard fit based on your own preferences.
One thing that’s never in doubt with Endura is how comfortable and functional gear is for cycling. And it’s no different here: although rugged, these Endura chinos are soft to the touch and offer plenty of stretch to make it easy to get your leg over the saddle and while pedalling.
But Endura have also done a great job on the style of these bike chinos. They look smart and you’d never identify them as “cycling clothes” unless you already knew them.
Although not cheap, these chinos certainly aren’t overpriced and provide real value for money when you consider the quality of the pants.
Although a very pricy pant, Mission Workshop’s Division Chino is built-to-last.
These are great all-round stylish cycling chinos that will be able to keep up with you – regardless of what your day entails.
Importantly, the Mission Workshop chinos are water-repellent, so they can keep you dry in all but the most severe of downpours and are made from durable four-way stretch nylon fabric – so cycling in these chinos is no problem.
Another thing I love about these urban chinos is that they include a zipped pocket on the side of the trouser to keep any of your valuables secure.
While these trousers look good, they are a little stiffer than typical chinos and so don’t quite fit into more formal or office environments. That said, these are great chinos for the outdoors and ambling about in a city: they’re warm, flexible and durable.
But why are they so good? Well, for starters, they look great with a slim fit design and come in lots of different colour options.
The material also has a premium look and feel and offers plenty of stretch due to its blend of Cotton, Tencel, Coolmax Polyester and Lycra Spandex.
The No Sweat Pants are also pretty sturdy with reinforced seams and a hidden gusset. Another big plus for cyclists is that they are also breathable due to the Coolmax Polyester fibres ingrained into he material.
PEDal ED have really come up trumps with their range of cycling chinos which look simply fantastic.
Made from a blend of cotton and elastin, these bike chinos boast a four-way stretch and are available for £94 – not bad for a premium, practical and stylish product.
A reinforced insert means that the PEDal ED Cycling Chinos are hard-wearing on the most delicate areas and won’t wear out in a hurry, while discreet reflective detailing is valuable for cycling at night.
They also boast four-way stretch to make cycling a breeze, while they also offer a tapered leg and a slighly higher raise to prevent “exposure” and guarantee bike comfort.
Basically, PEdALED cycling chinos are ideal for your commute and destination.
Bluffworks is a brand devoted to producing stylish, comfortable and practical gear for travelling. So while they’re not creating gear specifically with cycling in mind, there is a great deal of crossover.
And it’s not just pockets that the Ascender Chinos are blessed with… they’re also extremely lightweight, moisture-wicking, odour-resistant, crease-resistant, stretchy and breathable.
The Ascendor Chinos are also very customisable and come in two different fits (Tailored or Regular) and four different colours.
Another cheap chino options for bike commuters is the UNIQLO Ultra-Stretch Chino range.
If you’re on more of a budget but still want chinos with some good functionality for cycling, I often ecommend checking out UNIQLO, a company with a reputation for providing lightweight, stretchy fabrics on stylish garments for pretty cheap.
UNIQLO’s Ultra Stretch Chinos are one great example of their budget cycling-friendly gear, with the chinos made from 97% cotton and 3% spandex to ensure stretch.
You obviously won’t be getting the same level of quality and superstar features as those seen in our list of the best chinos for cycling, but you’re still getting a product that will provide some extra comfort and give on your commutes.
The Momentum Chino for women is a trouser that does a remarkable charge of feeling really good, stretchy and breathable while you’re cycling to work but it still manages to look extremely sharp and can fit into an office-environment without anyone suspective that these chinos are built for active performance.
These Ministry of Supply ladies’ chinos are soft, durable and strechy thanks to their blend of “hollow-core” Polyester, Nylon and Elastane.
They’re also quite customisable in terms of style as they have an adjustable inseam so they can’t be worn at full length or ankle length. There are also drawstrings on the inside of the pants and these can be left hanging out or tucked in,
Available in navy blue, khaki or black, the Sigr cycling chinos for women are a stunning pair of trousers that look great at your destination and are packed with discreet functionality for cycling.
As well as being stretchy and breathable, the Riksväg 99 Ladies’ Chino also featured reflective detailing on the rear pockets as well as on the right leg when the trouser is turned up.
They’re made from a blend of cotton, polyester and spandex which ensures ensures they’re lightweight and offer plenty of stretch for cycling, while there’s plenty of good pockets that won’t let your valuables fall out when you pedal.
What’s the Difference Between Chinos and Trousers/Khakis?
Now that we can define what exactly chinos are, what’s the difference between chinos and other types of trousers and, in particular khakis?
Chinos v Trousers
All chinos are trousers, but not all trousers are chinos. Chinos are a category of trousers that are made from a hardwearing cotton (or blend) twill originally produced in China. Chinos have a slimmer silhouette than other trousers, with a straight leg shape and fit.
Chinos v Khakis
Although there is a lot of crossover between chinos and khakis, there are some subtle differences. Both are made from a cotton twill, have a slimmer fit and straight cut style, but khakis tend to be made of a thicker material than chinos.