One of the most important considerations to make for urban cyclists and commuters is your pants – after all, this is what surrounds your cycling engine.
Urban cycling trousers can come in many shapes and sizes, depending on your needs. If you live in the a wet climate (the UK for example), then waterproof cycling trousers may be an everyday requirement, or at least an option to have in your bag. But if you’re riding to the office in fair weather, maybe you’ll just want some smart cycling trousers.
Of course, while you want your trousers to be practical, when you’re looking for the best urban cycling pants, you should also love the style. There’s no need to make the compromise between the style of regular pants and the functionality of cycling trousers. These days there’s plenty of choice when it comes to finding stylish cycling pants boasting tonnes of practical design features.
With that in mind, let’s push off and start our journey to find the best cycling trousers for urban commuters.
Key Features of Smart Cycling Pants
When you’re on the lookout for cycling commuter trousers, there’s a few things to keep in mind, primarily: fit, function and style.
One thing the best cycling trousers all have in common – whether they be waterproof, jeans or chinos – is that they should always be a little more stretchy than your everyday keks. When I’m trying out new pants, I always do the “squat test” in them – if squatting is easy, so too should be cycling.
Another thing to consider with urban cycling pants is the fit – in particular: do they cover your rear? One of the most disconcerting things about seeing a cyclist in “regular” clothes is when their backside has been exposed because the pants they’re wearing don’t quite fit right. This can easily be combated by a raised-rear to the trousers, or a longer drop to your t-shirt or jacket.
Best Men’s Cycling Trousers for Commuting [Top 17]
These jeans are made from a blend of cotton, polyester and Lycra, which provides a comfortable and breathable stretch to the material, but the waterproofing comes courtesy of the polyester membrane of the eajns.
But these aren’t just practical waterproof jeans. These are beautiful jeans. Even those with the most discerning of eyes wouldn’t label them as ‘cycling jeans’ based on their appearance.
The All-Weather slim fit denim jeans from DUER are a practical take on a classic wardrobe staple. Coming in a choice of two colours your outfit doesn’t have to be compromised due to your choice of transport into work.
These jeans also benefit from being both water and windproof thanks to the specialist membrane used, you’ll be covered no matter what and kept both dry and warm while riding to work.
Fit wise the All-Weather jeans are also a comfortable and flexible fit due to having 2% LYCRA® included in the blend, ensuring optimal movement and comfort.
The only downside to these jeans is their hefty $199 price tag. However, DUER also have a cheaper “Stay Dry Denim” jean which is very similar although not quite as waterproof (but can still protect you from moderate downpours) and retails for $139.
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.
Two front hand pockets
Two buttoned rear pockets
✅ Cycling fit
✅ Reflective detailing
Based in Sweden
Free shipping in Europe (inc. UK)
Free Rest of World Shopping on orders over $120
No import tax across Europe, and no import tax up to $800 in America (more info here)
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.
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.
Like Resolute Bay did in the UK, Osloh came into the scene in the USA by producing only jeans for cycling.
And, like Resolute Bay, Osloh have done a great job in producing cycling denim jeans that are strong, stretchy and practical.
Durability is at the forefront of what Osloh bicycle jeans are all about. Not only do they feature a sturdy gusseted crotch, but they’ve also reinforced all the areas of the jean that are likely to wear out when they’re frequently used for bike rides. That means you’ll also find a quilted reinforced chain side leg panel, a double lined phone pocket and binding at the seams.
When it comes to reinforced cycling jeans – it doesn’t get any better than this.
Osloh’s Denim Traffic Jean is also packed to the rafters with pockets. There’s four front pockets, three rear pockets and a side pocket that I really like for putting in my earbuds (a phone fits too, but peaks out of the top).
The Traffic Jeans utilised buttons throughout the pant, with a button-up fly and a double-buttoned closing at the waist. There are also snap waistband adjusters on either side if you want to bring in the waist at all and avoid wearing a belt.
Chrome’s Plask Hybrid pants are a very practical pair of trousers for commuting with their 10k waterproof and windproof front panels which will stop water and wind from penetrating the material, resulting in a warm and dry riding experience.
Along with that, the front panels are not only waterproof but the Plask Hybrid pant is also made from a very durable 4 way stretch material, therefore allowing for a non restricted and comfortable range of movement on the bike.
Furthermore, other features include five well sized pockets and a reinforced gusset area to ensure that the material doesn’t wear through after a while. Similarly, there is also extra ventilation around the gusset to enable the area to breathe to avoid becoming too sweaty.
The DUER Performance Jeans have tonnes of stretch and are pretty durable too. But, importantly, they look just like good-looking every jeans.
They’ve not been built specifically for bike commuters, but instead for active people going about their business. But that means, whether by design or not, DUER have created jeans for bike riding in style.
Indeed, as well as being great stretch jeans, DUER’s Performance Denim is also breathable thanks to the COOLMAX fibres wicking moisture from the body, while the jeans also feature reinforced seams and DUER’s signature gusset to ensure they’re durable too.
The DUER Performance Denim Jeans come in a range of colours and are also available in both a slim fit and relaxed fit design.
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.
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 Flex 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.
The 511 is the best Levi’s cycling jeans option now available and they come in around 10 different colours, so you’re bound to find a finish you like.
Two deep front hand pockets
Coin pocket on right side
Two deep rear pockets
Based in USA, with distribution centres around the world (including UK)
If you’re on the lookout for some cheap stretch jeans, UNIQLO have you covered.
For under £40, obviously these jeans aren’t going to boast all of the fancy features of the previously mentioned bike jeans, but you’ll still be getting a decent pair of jeans that provide some added stretch for bicycling.
Essentially these UNIQLO jeans are everything you’d expect from a normal jean, except that they are made from a blend of cotton and Spandex, which explains how they’re able to provide some extra stretch to the material.
The Chrome Storm pants can, much as the name suggests, withstand commuting in a storm – that’s just how resilient these trousers are, with a 10k mm / 5k mvp waterproof rating. They are built using 100% taped seams and are more of an overtrouser style: you could definitely fit a pair of slim cut trousers or padded cycling shorts underneath for commuting.
The trousers, though slightly baggier in fit, are still very stylish with the added bonus of being very stretchy and maneuverable, keeping you flexible and comfortable while in the saddle.
Other features also include ankle zippers, a water resistant zip pocket (keeping your phone safe and dry) and a reinforced two layer back panel to ensure that the road spray cannot seap through the material on long wet commutes into work.
In Chrome’s own words, ‘the Storm Rain Pant is our ultimate layer for your urban commute’.
Like all of the Chrome Storm range, these pants aren't messing about.
They're not necessarily the best-looking keks around, but they WILL keep you dry whatever the weather. They can be worn alone or treated as an overtrousers with plenty of spaces for another pair of pants underneath.
The Endura Hummvee range is a classic when it comes to battling the elements, based in Scotland, Endura knows how to make warm and dry clothing that can withstand even the most brutal of weather conditions.
These durable Endura Hummvee II Trousers are a robust and comfortable trouser that is hard wearing and hard working. They are Clickfast™ liner compatible, making it easy to clip a padded short into the trousers, or you can use them without simply unclipping the padding.
In addition, another great feature about these trousers is their multi use design as they can be used for urban commuting or even hitting the trails at the weekend for a shred, a great all-round trouser.
The Bluffworks Ascender Chinos have 10 pockets. 10!
It’s a bit hard to explain them individually, so here’s a diagram that shows them all:
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.
Sometimes you can find real value on the high street, and with Marks & Spencer’s Slim Fit Stretch Chinos, that’s certainly the case.
For under £20, you’re obviously not going to get all the bells and whistles that the premium bike chinos on this list are going to boast, but that doesn’t mean you can’t atleast get a good pair of cheap stretch chinos for commuting.
The M&S Stretch Chinos come in a real of fits and colours, and the reason they’re stretch is that they’re made from a winning blend of 98% cotton and 2% elastane.
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.
Just because you want to feel good on your ride doesn’t mean you can’t look good too.
Find stylish cycling trousers, jeans and chinos for everyday life by reading our reviews and style guides below.
If you want your cycle pants to stand the test of time, a gusseted crotch is one of the most valuable features as it can really protect against wear and tear. Don’t know what a gusset is? Fear not…
What is a Gusseted Crotch?
Shorts or trousers with a gusseted crotch are the holy grail for cyclists. But exactly what is a gusseted crotch?
Basically, gusset pants – AKA diamond crotch pants – feature a diamond-shaped piece of material that is sewn over the crotch area of trousers. The purpose of this is to stop the four seams of the trousers coming together in a high-pressure area – increasing freedom of movement, comfort, as well as the durability of the trousers. For cyclists especially, the trouser crotch faces a lot of wear and tear, so the best cycling pants usually have a gusseted crotch too.
Most trousers aren’t waterproof. And for good reason. When you make something waterproof, it’s near impossible to make it breathable too – and it’s important that your legs can breathe. Otherwise, while you’re keep the moisture of the outside world out, you’re creating your own moisture inside and locking it in. And no-one wants to be wet (well, only in that way, you dirty git).
Generally speaking, you only want to be wearing waterproof cycling trousers in torrential weather – it’s overkill otherwise. If you do live in a rainy climate though, there are some cycling rain pants options for you.
What are the Best Waterproof Trousers for Cycling?
I should start with a disclaimer here: you’ll find it near impossible to discover waterproof cycling trousers that are comfortable enough and good-looking enough for everyday life.
Breathable and waterproof aren’t two things that go very well together, so waterproof cycling trousers should generally kept back for those awful downpour days – the days when it is actually best to sacrifice style for out and out functionality.
Best Cycling Rain Pants
If you want impenetrable waterproof trousers for cycling – the kind of stuff that can withstand a monsoon, you’re probably best looking at waterproof overtrousers as the best bicycle rain pants. Otherwise, you’ll be hard pushed to find anything that comes close to resembling stylish cycling trousers.
Types of Bike Commuting Pants
Getting a comfortable pair of bike commuting pants can really make your commute significantly more enjoyable. For me, they’re the most important piece of kit for urban commuters.
I used to wear cheap trousers and jeans on my rides and always found that my legs would get uncomfortable pretty fast, either because the material would start chafing, my movement would be restricted, my legs would get really hot and sweaty and I’d often be doing my best builders’ bum impression.
If you cycle regularly – or even live a somewhat active lifestyle for that matter – investing in a good pair of urban cycling trousers is a very wise move.
Obviously, there’s lots of different types of cycling trousers out there though, ranging from waterproof cycling trousers, to waterproof overtrousers, water-resistant pants, urban cycling chinos, urban cycling jeans, casual cycling pants and more office-friendly smart cycling trousers. In the below sections, we’ll take a more in-depth look at each of these to find what is best suited for you.
Waterproof Cycling Overtrousers
One of the most popular forms of waterproof cycling trousers are over trousers, i.e. waterproof trousers you put over your existing trousers. This is an option I tend to go with as its near impossible to find good-looking waterproof trousers. Therefore, I wear regular cycling trousers – maybe water-resistant cycling trousers – but will carry an emergency pair of waterproof overtrousers in my bag, if I suspect the weather may turn.
My personal preference is the Regatta Pack It Over Trouser. You can find these from £7.99 on Amazon (for both men and women) and are – as the name suggests – extremely easy to pack away in a small bag which you can throw in with the rest of your carry.
Now while it can be difficult to find good-looking waterproof cycling trousers, there are plenty of stylish water-resistant cycling trousers out there. The difference between “waterproof” and “water-resistant” simply comes down to how much water the material can handle. Water resistant gear will usually do a good job in light rain, but won’t last in the downpour.
However, absolute downpours are relatively rare, so my preference is to wear stylish cycling pants with a bit of water-resistance in them.
Cycling Commuter Pants
If you’re looking for a good pair of bike pants for your ride to work or just ambling about the city, cycling commuter pants – like most pants – come in many shapes and forms… there’s cycling chinos, cycling jeans and smart cycling trousers. The following sections will take a more in-depth look at each.
Urban Cycling Chinos
I love chinos. For me, they’re the perfect middle-point between casual and formal attire. They look good with a t-shirt or a dress shirt and they can also be great bike commuter pants.
But you don’t have to don stiff normal chinos when riding around, there’s a great selection of stylish urban cycling chinos around.
While I talk about “cycling in style” on Discerning Cyclist, this doesn’t mean we are overtly fashion or style conscious. I am certainly no fashion guru. The idea is mainly about finding everyday-looking clothes that are comfortable and functional to cycle in.
So rather than ‘stylish cycling trousers’, a better way of putting it may be ‘casual cycling trousers’ – i.e. regular pants that are great to cycle in – whether they be chinos, jeans or whatever type of keks you like to go about your business in.
Smart Cycling Trousers
Many people cycle to work, with many having the same dilemma: should I cycle in sports gear and then get showered and changed at work or are there smart cycling clothes I can wear that will feel good on the bike and be suitable for a day in the office? I’ve always preferred the latter.
“But Pete, aren’t you a sweaty stinking mess all day?”
No beautiful fantasy stranger, I’m not. I don’t commute more than 30 minutes by bike and I don’t ride in a frenzied state. I take my time and enjoy the ride – and by doing so, don’t become a sweaty mess.
Again, I tend to opt for cycling chinos or cycling jeans as my go to smart cycling pants options as these types of trousers can transcend styles.
Urban Cycling Jeans
I used to ride around in cheap everyday jeans – and it’s okay to do so – but you’ll often feeling hot, clammy and uncomfortable, with chafing a real risk. But if you get jeans that are real bicycle trousers – you’re in for a treat.
The first time I tried a pair of urban cycling jeans (the Resolute Bay Cordura Jeans, in fact), I was hooked. The jeans looked damn good, but they were also stretchy and breathable – which once you’ve experienced on your commute, there’s no going back. Resolute Bay also include reflective striping on the rear and side of their cycling commuter jeans – which is a massive benefit when cycling at night.
There are plenty of other biker jeans brands out there too, including the famous Levi’s Commuter jeans range – which have unfortunately dipped in quality in recent years. Other urban cycling jeans brands to keep an eye out for are the outstanding Osloh Jeans, as well as Rapha and swrve cycling jeans.
You can also read a guide on the best cycling jeans in the UK – including the best women’s cycling jeans and the best men’s cycling jeans – below.
Breathable Cycling Pants
When you’re looking for trousers for commuting, ensuring that you get a good pair of breathable cycling pants is key.
If you’re ever running a bit late and end up cycling faster than you’d like too – your legs are gonna start heating up, but if you’re wearing breathable cycling pants (and ideally moisture-wicking ones) the damp damage (dampage!?) is going to be massively offset compared to if you were wearing heavy regular pants.
In the past, reflective cycling trousers meant finding awful hardcore hi-vis cycling pants. The stuff that is clearly cycling gear.
One of the best innovations in recent years, though, came from British start-up Resolute Bay, who introduced reflective cycling jeans. And, no, the denim isn’t entirely hi-vis. They include reflective detailing on the rear and side of the trousers – i.e. where you need to be seen in low-light. It’s crazy how subtle this detailing is and people are always astonished when I point out that these are “cycling jeans” and then show them the reflective detailing and other cycling-friendly features, because they just look like a damn good pair of jeans.
Best Urban Cycling Trousers for Men
When it comes to picking out the best urban cycling trousers for men, I have a couple of favourites.
As I’ve already talked about in great detail, the best cycling jeans in the UK for me are undoubtedly the Resolute Bay NX1. A pair of bike jeans with plenty of stretch, a gusseted crotch and reflective detailing. I’m also a big fan of Osloh Bicycle Jeans which again are a superb pair of bike jeans with plenty of stretch and outstanding build quality. Osloh Jeans are also based in the New York, so are recommend for American and Canadian visitors as to avoid excessive shipping and import costs.
If you’re on the lookout for cheap cycling trousers though, I’d highly recommend checking out Japanese brand UNIQLO. This is one of my go to places for finding cheap, functional and stylish activewear. The gear isn’t built for cyclists especially, but you’ll find a great range of breathable t-shirts, merino jumpers and stretchy trousers – all at affordable high street prices.
The UNIQLO chinos I’m especially fond of come in a slim fit but with plenty of stretch. They’re superb comfortable and cost just £34.90. They won’t last forever, but they’re great value.
When you’re looking to buy cycling commuter trousers online, the breadth of choice can be a little intimidating. However, with Discerning Cyclist, there’s no need for you to trawl the web for the best urban cycling commuter trousers – I’ve done that for you.
Plus, in the tables below, I’ve put together some of the best places to buy urban cycling trousers in the UK, US, Canada and Europe.
Cheap Urban Cycling Trousers + Jeans
The downside of truly fantastic products that combine style with top-level functionality is unsurprisingly the price tag to go with it – and for a lot of people, it’s just not viable to spend more than £100 on a pair of trousers – even if they can last for years.
But don’t worry if you’re on a budget, there’s still some really good and CHEAP urban cycling trousers out there. They may not have all the flashy functionality – but they do a damn good job.
If you don’t have a fortune to spend, the key features to look for in affordable trousers that are good for commuting are stretch and fit – essentially, are they comfortable to ride in?
With stylish cycling clothes in general, I usually recommend UNIQLO if you’re on a budget. There gear isn’t built specifically for cycling, but most of their range features breathable and stretchy materials in classic designs. I love this gear.
The UNIQLO Slim Fit Chinos are one of the my favourites and a staple of my wardrobe. They look great and provide plenty of stretch, making cycling in them very comfortable. There’s no gusseted crotch or reflective detailing and so on like you’d find in premium cycling trousers, but for £34.90 you really can’t complain.
Urban Commuter Cycling Pants Reviews
I’m also reviewing the latest urban commuter cycling trousers on Discerning Cyclist – figuring out exactly if cycling trousers are as good as they say they are.
Below is a list of some of the best urban cycling trousers for commuters that I’ve reviewed…
Discerning Cyclist was created to help bridge the gap between and style and functionality – and showcase the most stylish urban cycling clothes for commuters. Thanks for reading this guide on the best cycling commuter jackets, but you can read more about other topics in the links below.
Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels.
Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels. See Pete's Muck Rack profile