Getting around on a bicycle is simple enough if you’re not going to ever be seen by anyone who cares how you look, or it doesn’t matter what happens to your clothes. Sadly, that isn’t the real world. If you plan on going to work, to the store, or even just out for a pleasure ride, you need the right pants. They must be sturdy enough that getting caught in the chain won’t destroy them, attractive enough that you can be seen in public wearing them, and comfortable enough that they protect your parts.
In curating our list, we wanted manufacturers that were creating pants that you could bike to and from work in, as well as wear all day. We looked for moisture control pants that would wick away wetness so you don’t reek of stale sweat and can stay cool during your ride. We chose pants for casual Fridays as well as those that were a little more natty. From the elite to the workaday, here’s the 9 best bike commute pants for getting where you’re going and climbing the corporate ladder.
Levi’s Commuter 511 Slim Fit Trousers
Pro: Dirt resistant
Con: Not comfortable during extended rides
School’s In: Leave it to Levi’s to make a cotton / polyester blend so fine that these could be your only pants. In the rear is an extended rise for more protection specifically for cruising along while double-layers on the rear pockets and seat add durability with a touch of comfort. 3M cuffs handle the reflective nighttime protection from motorists and a U-Lock holder on the waistband gives you a place to stash your bike lock while in transit. Multiple colors, styles, and fabrics to choose from so you’ll never be boring.
Betabrand Bike to Work Britches
Pro: Secret internal phone pocket
Con: Minimal choice in length
Out for the Evening: Minus the fact that San Francisco-based Betabrand made us use the word “britches,” these have a lot to love. Though they do have a limited palette, each color looks striking and clean, never once tipping off that they are commuter pants. This subtlety extends to the denim which has just enough polyester and spandex to give and stretch, but not so much they rip easily or look tacky. With a gusseted crotch, there’s a lot of play in your range of motion so even active riders will feel free where it counts.
Upright 12.5 oz Riding Denim
Pro: Extra room for serious movement
Con: Very little give
Back to the Future: These are the U.S.A.-bred riding jeans you’ve been craving. Made with pure American Cone Denim and constructed right in the city of angels, you’ll get a nice, thick thigh along with just enough taper to keep these from getting caught, but not so much that they’ll be mistaken for skinny jeans even when riding your fixie. Reflective panels on the cuffs keep you safe while the heavier denim protects everything else.
Swrve Lightweight wwr Slim Trousers
Pro: Fabric is thermoregulated to avoid temperature spikes
Con: Large thighs can leave flopping fabric
Outdoorsman: While the average commute probably doesn’t include wind, rain, dust storms, or thorn bushes, these pants are ready for them. Created out of nylon, spandex, and Coolplus, the Slims have more in common with a tent than most of your wardrobe. TheSwrve designers made a simple, uncluttered pant that is rock solid against rips, damage, and the curse of El Niño. Articulation at the knees and gusseting in the groin will keep you light and mobile for jaunts around town or grueling adventures.
Lulu Lemon Commission Pant
Pro: Water beads up instantly
Con: Limited color selection
No Limits: Designed with flexibility in mind by the company who’s forgotten more about motion than we’ll ever know, Lululemon, the Commission Pants are an unlikely mix of Chino and Lycra that bends when you need it to and stands fast when the weather turns. Loads of protected zipper pockets keep all your EDC gear covered and secure so that it won’t get wet nor disappear on the road. The cut is business casual while the moisture wicking and water repellent fabric works hard for dryness inside and out.
Aether Bike Pant
Pro: Concealed D-Ring in front pocket
Con: Obvious zippered rear pocket breaks the lines
Utter Simplicity: From the nondescript name to the two color choices, Aether has taken a lot of unnecessary variables out of the equation, leaving only a clean, simple pair of pants. The stretch-twill Schoeller fabric moves and bends when riding, but also hangs and drapes attractively so the moment you step off your steed you look like a captain of industry. 3XDRY wicking and a stashable back pocket reflecting flag stay quietly hidden away, letting the fashionable cut speak for itself.
Pro: Serious interior grip material around waist
Con: Unusual waist / leg fit
Alpha Denim: When you want the cock-of-the-walk jeans that prove you’re a serious cyclist and serious about your clothes, there’s really no choice but to get out the Raphas. Milled in Italy, where craftsmanship is king, these bear a straight fit with denim that is adept at fighting off abrasions. Offset inseams prevent chafing after repeated use, and the classic dark coloration shows just how devoted Rapha is to looking good on anyone.
Mission Workshop The Division Chino
Pro: Stash and knife / bike tool pocket
Con: Single inseam size
Unkillable: Built to stand the test of time, the Division Chino is a set of slacks with the soul of a Timber wolf. They’re treated to resist and repel water, both of which they do admirably, yet the nylon body isn’t at all dense, creating a forgiving airflow. The technical nature of the Swiss Schoeller-Dryskin fabric allows these to be worn for any activities far above simple cycling. Dampness and water weight fall away to reduce exertion and fatigue.
Outlier New OGs
Pro: Can honestly go from hiking to business meeting
Con: Expensive (but worth it)
Everyday, Everywhere: Outlier is a little cagey about exactly what materials go into these pants, and we didn’t do a lab breakdown; but even though they throw around words like “nanosphere,” all we know is these fit and flex like a dream while resisting grime. Mud, blood, and beer won’t stick to the OGs and the four-way stretch fabric from Schoeller textiles of Switzerland moves intuitively. While they do look professional, the real story is the interior which is soft and supple, but also cuts down on skin contact for more breathability. You’ll start wearing them everywhere, we promise.