Bike commuting pants. Not shorts or capris, but real pants that look polished and professional. Dozens of companies offer them for men, but if you’re female, the pickings are pretty slim. The good news is that they do actually exist (don’t think this was true 5 years ago). Here are your spring 2013 options in one convenient location.
First, what makes a commuter pant? Generally, these are designed to be something you would actually wear both to a meeting and on an urban commute. I value sweat-wicking fabric, non-chafing seams, and a lack of reflective stuff in obvious places. I prize this kind of clothing – not having to change clothes saves me at least 10 minutes every morning. I could just bike slower, but I really really like going fast.
1. Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pant – $225
These slim leg pants have generated quite the buzz in the blogosphere since being introduced in 2011. Reviews, both by friends here in Minneapolis and on the internet, have been pretty positive, though everyone I know who owns these got some kind of miraculous deal. Notable features include the lack of reflective stuff and logos, Schoeller water and abrasion-resistant fabric, and a reinforced butt. As far as I can tell, the only thing not ideal about this product is the $225 price tag (up from $180 last season). Outlier also recently introduced a jeans style Dungaree pant.
2. Betabrand Women’s Bike to Work Pants – $108
This San Fran based company makes stretch cotton commuter pants with reflective tape on the inside of the pant cuff (for rolling up when you’re outside) and a reflective back pocket flap that can be tucked in for the office. They’ve got a reinforced crotch and a higher back to eliminate gaping, and have also gotten pretty good reviews. I do question the use of cotton in otherwise very bike-centric product – I like to bike fast and cotton makes me feel clammy and gross because it doesn’t dry very fast.
3. Visser Proof NY Pant – $180
These appear to be similar to the Outlier Daily Riding Pant – Schoeller fabric, stretch, slim cut. There’s no mention on their website of a reinforced rear, though. I’m perplexed by the fact that they brag about false pockets. I demand real pockets! This is a new product, and reviews are scarce. The only one I found is non-bike related, but positive. At $180, you’ll save $45 off the Outlier version.
I haven’t purchased any of these yet. My idea of spending a lot of money on clothes has been shopping at a consignment store instead of thrifting. Yet I fantasize about cute, well-cut, well-made clothes crafted from amazing technical fabrics. Maybe someday I’ll take the plunge. In the meanwhile, I’m stalking sweat-wicking but not bike-specific pants (like some from Lole) on sale websites.
I want to see Endura, Levi’s, Nau, and the dozen or so other companies with dedicated men’s commuter lines engage in a little gender parity. Women’s styles are often sold out of popular colors and sizes, so clearly there’s room in the market, especially if you can make something that costs less than $100. While I’ve been managing to get myself to work on a bike and look nice without $180 pants, I am frustrated by the non-functionality of most professional clothing designed for women (such as pockets so small they can barely hold chapstick). Dreaming of a day when my performance clothes and my dress clothes are the same clothes.
September 2013 UPDATE: REI recently released a women’s specific bike jean for $79.50. This makes me feel like the active wear industry might be hearing our collective cries of frustration!