With a bicycling renaissance gripping our cities, never has the cycling demographic been quite so broad or visible as it is today. However, from the hard-core commuter to the café conversationalist, the bull-horn brandishers to flat bar bandits, everyone is looking for something a little more subtle than the loathed legging to make their trip across town. The answer? Well, it's cycling jeans, of course.
Now, to work out why, let's take one moment to straighten our deerstalkers, paste on our Poirot tashes and pull on our favourite Scandie jumper - why exactly is the hardy and high abrasion jean a coveted urban cycling accessory? Well, let's face it, jeans are as close to an invisibility cloak as we've come - ubiquitous, unassuming, and all-purpose; cycling jeans are hidden in that most elusive of places, plain sight.
Unlike your shorts, leggings or lycra, a good pair of cycling jeans affords the cyclist the pleasure of their pedal about without them having to worry about carrying a change of clothes. Under the radar, the transition from bike to bar becomes at once seamless and not an exercise in self-confidence.
What makes a jean cycling specific?
Well, whilst your favourite pair might be perfectly comfortable for that wander around town, there's something about the reciprocity of cycling that makes you curse your high street hosier. Yes indeed, whilst the ordinary jean is an upright citizen, cycling jeans are cut for cadence, and with features to match.
The first thing you'll find different to your regular blue leg tubes is the material. Yes, as it turns out, the world of denim is much like Animal Farm; some are complete pigs. Whereas the common jean is made from the roughest, toughest, drag-you-backwards-through-town-for-having-insulted-the-sherif's-horse grades, most cycling jeans will be made from high grade, often Japanese denim, allowing them to stretch to accommodate an on the bike position. The huge benefit of this then, is simply put, comfort. Your jeans fit you, rather than the expectation being for you to fit your jeans.
Other common features include some degree of incorporated reflectivity, usually on the pocketing or inside the right leg, as the inevitable turned up/tucked in hero pose is much loved among the bicycling community. This often allows for better visibility at night, but also, encourages you to hoist that ankle away from the menace and trouser muncher commonly known as the chain-ring.
Additionally, you might see more reinforcement around the rear of the jeans to cope with on bike saddle stresses. Rear blowouts are common among jeans not designed for being propped atop a seat post. By either reinforcing, or redesigning the cut of the jeans, most cycling jeans work on moving stress away from the seams and making sure that the bus driver doesn't know the colour of your underwear.
Another common measure in redoubling the integrity of both your trousers seaming and your own street cred is the use of diamond gusset stitching. This ultra thorough, hard wearing seaming is more than up to the job of making sure that you're covered, and that the only blow-outs you're getting are certainly not going to have provenance in your pantaloons.
So, which brands are out there? Well, the most specialised and focused urban jeans come from Muxu, dedicated as they are to offering the city cycling the perfect cut for class whether pedaling or promenading. For real bike to bar panache, Muxu is a great choice and offers a fit that makes them almost indistinguishable - the perfect silent blue assassin.
More of a commuting sort? Well, if leaping from bike to office, we tend to say that you're after Swrve. Making simply the most uber practical jeans, you can be assured of a good degree of rugged comfort - the sort that doesn't come out in the wash. With Swrve cycling jeans barely noticeable out in the wild, tracking down a pair this side of the pond can be a little difficult - fortunately, well, we know a guy. Even more fortunate than that, he runs Swrve.
For that rough and ready rag around town? Well, I'd say Cadence are the brand to be looking at. With their Raw Denim approach, you get a great fit the more often you wear them - truly, the Brooks Saddle equivalent of the trouser world. Once broken in, these jeans are durable and dandy on the road, with a reinforced rear and a 2% lycra content for that all important give.
Mind made up?
So, with the benefits of biking in bespoke bottoms firmly extolled, you might wish to grab yourself a pair in the not so distant future. If you're ready to answer the call, then why not check out our carefully selected range of the best denims for your dollar?