What could be harder on a pair of pants than biking to work and back again every day? Commuting by horse? Maybe. Sitting on a pile of hot coals? Just about.
People have been riding their bicycles around cities for decades, if not centuries, but it's only been in the past five years or so that we have seen a handful of pants designed to look good while resisting the beatings of pedaling on bike seats. Put simply: these pants have the iron crotch. Not a communicable condition, but one of great import to your nethers. Have a look after the jump. Not all of them are pretty, but they are all built for biking.
View 10 Cycling Pants With the Iron Crotch on the following page...
Outlier is the king of this realm—always refining their gear and the fabrics they use are comfortable and keep clean without washing. "The "self-cleaning" NanoSphere treatment emulates the surface of a lotus leaf, giving it nice resistance to water, coffee, wine and dirt," they tell us. "When it does get wet, it dries much faster than conventional fabric, keeping you in comfort no matter the weather." We had a two-year-old pee in our laps while wearing a pair to test such claims and, indeed, ten minutes later they were dry and odor-free. The best part, however: the fit. Their stuff beats the pants off of most straight slacks as far as overall appearance goes. We could have chosen any of Outlier's bottoms to top this list, but the Keirin Cut Dungarees get a special nod because the thighs are cut slightly bigger for the massive legs of a daily cyclist. Gusseted crotch, too. Man do we love those.
These jeans are so handsome that we'd wear them simply for walking or even just sitting in the lotus position in the park. Alas, they are made for cycling, as you can clearly tell from the reflective pink binding on the insides of the legs. There's also a reflective Rapha logo on the interior of the right leg that becomes visible when you roll the leg up for riding. More? There is a little bit of stretch to the performance denim (made from nylon, cotton and elastane-blend yarns) and a high-backed waist is complemented by a lower cut in front. Still more? The right rear pocket is reinforced to hold a compact D-lock and the inside of the waistband has some grip for added support. We don't know how they ward off the odor of young piss, but these are also fast-drying.
Levi's have been riding bareback longer than just about any other make of pant, so it makes sense that they'd come around with a commuter series of clothing. The 511 Commuter Trousers are cut skinny, which might palm some balls more than they are used to, but the price-point on these is significantly lower than their predecessors on the list. The fabric also features a NanoSphere treatment (with Sanitized odor protection) and is made to stretch a bit. 3M Scotchlite reflective tape on the interior cuffs, a U-lock belt-loop, utility pockets and double-layered seat and back pockets round out the bike-specific features.
Pedaled - High Density Chino
This Japanese brand takes a more pastoral approach to cycling pants, using natural techno-free materials like cotton and hemp and relying on smart shapes and ventilation to make them ride-ready. The Japanese have a tendency to do things right, and these look proper. The Chinos keep it simple with a reflective strip in the inner seam of the leg and no other whizbang to speak of.
American Apparel - Work Pant
These aren't bike-specific and while a great many of American Apparel's pants can barely withstand the rigors of 15 consecutive squats, the Work Pants are the exception. These are rugged and thick and will hold up to heavy cycling for a while and still look good enough to wear with a dress shirt (or one of their super-slutty v-necks).
Pistard - Giro Pants
Speaking of piss, Pistard drops in with these stretchy, strong chinos. "You will get all the comfort and good look of a classic cotton twill, but with the persistence of polyestere and and the stretch freedom of elasthane." We like the way you say "polyestere," Pistard. Makes it sound like a magical kingdom.
Betabrand - Cycling Jeans
These are just too much. They were decent looking until the cuffs reared their gleaming meshy heads. That is to say nothing of the reflective triangle that tucks into a back pocket and can be seen by satellites. No, we wouldn't put these on our least-favorite dog.
Swrve - Regular Trim Fit Jeans
Regular. Trim. Fit. Jeans. (With the iron crotch.)
Chrome is a top name in biking gear—specifically messenger bags—and we are sure these knickers will last for ages, but the point of commuter pants for us, is that they shouldn't necessarily scream "I FUCKING CYCLE!" These are obviously designed with the bike messenger in mind, but we're looking for more subtext in our biking pants, and will pass on these.
Ibex - Commuter Knicker
There was a tiny rumble in our comments roll suggesting Ibex wares as a cheaper alternative to Outlier, but that's like comparing fresh apples and technicolor oranges. These are trying to be understated, elegant, and simple but are failing.