Best Cycling Trousers for Commuting [Top 3 for Men + Women in 2020]
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 3]
These are my go-to comfortable cycling trousers. For me, they’re perfect: they’re stretchy, fit well, are water resistant, have plenty of deep pockets and they look good.
Chrome Industries are pros when it comes to urban cycling. They know that perfect blend between style and function and the Madrona Pants are another great example of this.
The Madrona Pants feature a reinforced waist and gusset, a reflective inseam, four-way stretch and also offer plenty of breathability. They dry quickly too, should they get wet.
While DUER aren’t a specifically a cycling brand, their entire range of trousers are built around the ideals of an active lifestyle. That’s means, with the likes of the No Sweat Pants, you’ll discover some truly comfortable trousers that offer plenty of stretch.
Indeed, DUER are a staple of my wardrobe and the No Sweat Pants are great to cycle in. They come in lots of fantastic colours too.
Although pricey, the Mission Workshop Division Chino could well be the ultimate urban cycling trouser.
These cycling chinos are extremely lightweight and feature a sturdy 4-way nylon fabric stretch – meaning they are very comfortable to cycle in. They also dry extremely quickly and allow your body to breathe.
The Mission Workshop Division Chino also has lots and lots of pockets. There are your two standard (and deep) front hand pockets, one of which features an extra zipped pocket for valuables. There are then a further two zipped pockets on the rear, plus another small zipped pocket on the side of the right leg.
Best Women’s Cycling Trousers for Commuting [Top 3]
Stretchy, comfy, full of pockets and looks good – what more could you want from a pair of cycling trousers for commuting?
These women’s biking trousers feature a reinforced waist and gusset for extra durability, as well as a water resistant DWR coating to help keep you dry on rainy days.
Ministry of Supply are the masters of creating smart-looking clothes for office that also feel great to cycle in.
The Momentum Chino is one of a range of stylish bottoms and skirts that Ministry of Supply have available and their classic design is great to combine in both formal and casual settings
As the name suggests, the Momentum Chino enables you to move with ease thanks to the 4-way stretch, while the forward side design creates a slimming silhouette.
The fabric is made from a blend of 58% Hollow-Core Polyester, 31% Nylon and 11% Elastane, which helps keep these cycling trousers feeling light and fresh.
Jeans can be notoriously uncomfortable to cycle in. But not DUER Performance Denim Jeans which boasts lots of added stretch and breathability in order to make riding in jeans a breeze.
Indeed, DUER are so confident in their material, that they’ve even created skinny jeans for cycling.
In order to create this magic denim, DUER have used a blend of 70% cotton, 28% Coolmax Polyester and 2% Lycra in order to make these jeans as light and stretchy as possible.
Urban Cycling Trousers
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.
GUIDE: Best Urban Cycling Trousers
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.
Urban Cycling Gusset Pants
Some examples of stylish urban cycling trousers with a gusseted crotch are the Resolute Bay Cycling Jeans, Osloh Bicycle Jeans and Levi’s Commuter range. The likes of swrve and Rapha also provide top quality gusset pants for cyclists.
Do Waterproof Breathable Cycling Trousers Exist?
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.
Water-Resistant Cycling Trousers
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.
Indeed, I recently completed a thorough round-up of the best cycling chinos around for both men and women urban cyclists. I’ve reviewed quite a few stylish cycling chinos in the past few years, with the Spoke Bulletproof Chinos being one of my favourites.
Casual Cycling Trousers
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.
Whenever I’ve worked office jobs, finding smart cycling trousers has always been one of the greatest challenges. And that’s why I wrote a guide about exactly that: smart cycling trousers that are suitable for the office.
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.
Reflective Cycling Trousers
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.
- The Best Cycling Chinos for Urban Cyclists
- Best Waterproof Cycling Overtrousers Under £50
- Cycling to the Office: Trousers
- The Best Cycling Jeans Around for Men and Women
Best Urban Cycling Trousers for Women
Likewise with women’s cycling trousers, I’ve covered the best women’s cycling chinos in great detail in the guide below.
If you’re looking for women’s cycling jeans, there are also a few really good options. For those based in the US and Canada especially, Osloh Bicycle Jeans are definitely worth checking out. The jeans are made from top quality denim that offers a good amount of stretch, a warrior gusseted crotch and very smart pocket design.
Again, if you’re on a budget and want a decent pair of cheap cycling trousers, make sure to check out UNIQLO – a brand offering stylish activewear with many products offering breathable and stretchy properties. In particular, the UNIQLO Ines Chinos – available for just £34.90 – are a great budget option for urban cyclists.
Where to Buy Cycling Commuter Trousers
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.
The below guides can help you find your perfect cycling trousers for commuting.
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.
Best Places to Buy Urban Cycling Trousers
|No Such Thing||££££||✔||✔||Chic Jackets||UK|
|Resolute Bay||£££||✔||✖||Cycling Jeans||UK|
|UNIQLO||£||✔||✔||Cheap Merino Tops||Intl|
More Places to Buy Urban Cycling Pants
|Café du Cycliste||£££||✔||✔||Lightweight Jackets||FR|
|Chrome Ind.||£££||✔||✖||Urban Jackets||US|
|Osloh Jeans||££££||✔||✔||Cycling Jeans||US|
|PEdAL ED||££££||✔||✔||Cycling Chinos||IT|
|System of Motion||££||✖||✔||Women’s Shirts||UK|
|Vulpine||£££||✔||✔||Harrington Rain Jacket||UK|
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…
- Osloh Bicycle Jeans – Review
- Resolute Bay NX1 Cycling Jeans – Review
- SPOKE Bulletproof Chinos – Review
- DUER No Sweat Pants – Review
But these are also worth checking out:
- Ligne 8 Women’s Cycling Jeans – Review
- Levi’s Women’s Commuter Jeans – Review
- Iladora Ladies’ Perfect Bike Pants – Review
- Salva Gamba Waterpoof Over Trousers – Review
- Union 34 Element Trousers – Review
- Endura Urban Pants – Review
- Resolute Bay Cordura Jeans – Review
- Bluff Works Wrinkle-Free Pants – Review
- Rapha Softshell Trousers – Review
Find Stylish Urban Cycling Trousers for Commuters
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.