Jeans. The iconic piece of urban fashion. Almost everyone wears them, but if you use a bicycle to get around you'll probably find jeans to be impractical over longer distances. They can be too tight and too restrictive for the movements you make when riding a bike, but a cycling jean promises to solve these problems. I tried out the Omnia cycling jean from Vulpine, to see how they stood up to the demands of urban cycling.
Why cycling in normal jeans is not a great idea
On my first ever cycle touring trip I wore jeans. That's before I knew anything about selecting the right clothing for cycling. It was a disaster. They were simply too tight for my legs to pedal properly. And when it rained heavily they got soaked through and weighed a ton- they become near on impossible to pedal in. I learned my lesson that jeans and cycling don't go together.
Why a cycling jean is a great idea
After that experience I kept my jeans packed away in the panniers and only wore them off the bike. I switched to specialist cycling shorts when going on cycle tours. However, when I am riding in the city I don't want the faff of getting changed when I arrive at my destination, or feeling a bit self-conscious in cycling clothes. I want to be able to step off the bike in the clothes I am wearing and step into whatever work or social setting I am attending. Cycling jeans are ideal for this, so I was really excited to try out Vulpine's jeans.
Off the bike performance of the Vulpine Jean
A cycling jean that you can also wear when not cycling can save you a bit of money. It means you don't need to invest in separate cycling and non-cycling clothes. You can just have 'clothes' that work well on and off your bike. The Vulpine Omnia jeans currently cost £100. This is good value when you consider that these jeans can be worn both on and off the bike. Plus they have some fantastic features that make them practical or riding a bike in.
On bike performance
The first thing I noticed about these jeans is the quality of the finish. They feel like they are made to last, that they will withstand a life on the bike. The stitching is flawless and the feel of the garment is luxurious.
On normal jeans there is a seam down the middle of the backside. If you've ridden any great distance in normal jeans you will know that this seam is a major pain point. It hurts! Vulpine's design has a diamond gusset. This is a piece of cotton on the inside that protects you from the seams. This feature works brilliantly and I had no issues on my 5 mile commute.
With these jeans your movements are not restricted like they are with normal jeans. Normal jeans can feel stiff and rub against your skin. Vulpine has clearly thought about the movements you make when riding a bike and incorporated this into the design. In particular, the area around the knees is great for ease of movement compared to a normal jean.
There's a high waist band to stop the jeans slipping down as you ride. There are some reflective details for night time cycling. These are on the side of the back pockets and if you roll up the trouser leg, there's some there.
I love that these cycling specific features are practical, but also subtle. You don't notice them and that means it can look and function like a normal pair of jeans when you are not riding your bike.
I would have preferred slightly deeper side pockets. I was always slightly worried that my phone or cards would slip out, especially if there was a bump on the road. To be fair they never did fall out, so it's a minor criticism.
Rain and longer distances
The jeans are not waterproof, but I tried them out in a light rain shower. It was about a 5 mile ride and they were fine. They didn't get soaked through or stick to my skin or become too heavy, like normal jeans would. If the rain is heavier then I'd be reaching for waterproofs anyway, but for light rain I would just keep going, safe in the knowledge that they would dry off pretty quickly once I got to my destination.
These jeans are really for urban cycling and I would choose something else for cycle touring. I didn't test them out on longer distances simply because I wouldn't ever choose or recommend cycling jeans for that purpose.
These cycling jeans are superb. They have all the practical features that you need for cycling and they also look great off the bike. For urban cycling these jeans make a great addition to your wardrobe. You'll find them on the Vulpine website.
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