You don’t have to dress like a fluorescent ninja to ride a bike comfortably. Then again, not all trousers are created equal. Many brands are now offering pants that are tailored (sorry, terrible pun) for an active lifestyle. These are a few we’ve been wearing lately.
Testers: Eric McKeegan and Adam Newman
Fit and shape: The slim cut is bordering on skinny, but there is less taper at the ankle than a true skinny jean. Only a 32-inch inseam is available.
Material: Made from raw, untreated 12 ounce denim and 2 percent spandex, it is heavy and just a touch stretchy.
Comfort on the bike: They could use more room in the thighs and the heavy material can get chafey on long rides.
Bike-friendly features: Double thick seat area and reflective patch.
Hits: Great pockets, simple styling, quality workmanship.
Misses: Could use more stretch, or more room for riding. Doubled seat area means double thick seams down there, too.
Best for: Hanging at the pub
Fit and shape: These fit slim and straight with a body-hugging style that might not be for everyone.
Material: The StretchRide cotton/lycra blend is the lightest of the pants tested, and one of the most stretchy.
Comfort on the bike: Despite the slim fit these have plenty of stretch to accomodate a cyclist’s physique and movement.
Bike-friendly features: Reflective accents and a zipper hip pocket that can fit an iPhone 6.
Hits: Super deep front pockets are great for making sure your stuff will never fall out.
Misses: Hip pocket is discrete but it still has a techy vibe that might not be for everyone.
Best for: Summertime rides
Fit and shape: Relaxed fit version is definitely more baggy than what’s “hip” these days.
Material: OK, technically not a jean, but same idea. Made from a new textile called Nature2X, it’s a blend of Tencel® (made from eucalyptus trees), polyester, spandex and cotton.
Comfort on the bike: Incredibly stretchy, these pants disappear as you wear them. The relaxed fit is baggy enough that you need to keep an eye on your cuffs when you ride.
Bike-friendly features: Seamless crotch panel.
Hits: As comfortable as your favorite sweatpants.
Misses: Front pockets could be a bit deeper.
Best for: The office
Fit and shape: Only pair here sold as S, M, L, XL so sizing isn’t as flexible. More room up top with tapered legs.
Material: Thinner than typical denim, with a soft sheen thanks to its 55 percent cotton, 30 percent polyester and 15 percent nylon weave.
Comfort on the bike: The looser cut above the knee offers plenty of freedom of movement while the tapered lower leg stays clear of the chain.
Bike-friendly features: U-lock holster, plus reflective accents on the inside of the right leg and a deployable reflective flap from the back pocket.
Hits: The rinse is the perfect shade of blue.
Misses: Lack of traditional pants sizing is a drawback.
Best for: Date night
Fit and shape: Fit is slim but not skinny. The classic straight leg style is modern without being hipster tight.
Material: Very similar to classic denim, there is not much stretch despite a 93 percent cotton, 5 percent polyester and 2 percent elastane construction.
Comfort on the bike: The least stretchy pair, they still allow more freedom of movement than normal jeans, but not enough to be comfortable on every bike.
Bike-friendly features: 3M reflective accents at the cuffs and a U-lock holster at the waistline.
Hits: Thick denim should be durable. Can often be found on sale for less.
Misses: Raw ink stained my bike saddle.
Best for: Working in the yard