Last year, Levi’s premiered a line of clothing specially designed for the casual cyclist. When the majority of us swing a leg over our bicycle, we don’t don the Lycra first, so it’s important to have clothing that’s functional and practical both on and off the bike. Levi’s introduced a commuter parka, and a jacket, but most exciting was the Commuter Jeans. With any pair of pants, the issue I’ve always had is the seat wearing out and ripping. When you’re cycling, there’s constant friction between the saddle and the seat of your pants, and those areas wear out well before the rest. I picked up a pair of Levi’s Commuter Jeans thinking that if they solve that one problem, I’ll be happy. Luckily, they added a few other features as well.
I’ve had a pair of black 511 Commuters for the last 8 months, and I’ve been fairly pleased. They don’t feel like your traditional denim material, as they’re composed of 2% Elastane, providing a slightly stretchy feel. It makes for a more comfortable ride, and from what I can tell, hasn’t affected durability. The seat is reinforced with an extra layer, and while I do see some wear after 8 months, they’ve gotten a lot of use and they’re still holding up.
The Commuter Jeans also use a Water-resistant and dirt-repellent “NanoSphere®” protective finish. In a heavy rain, they still soak through, but they do a decent job in light rain. The water noticeably beads up on the fabric, and they seem to dry out very quickly.
Rolling up either pant leg reveals a 3M reflective strip sewn into the cuff. It’s a great idea, but it’s also pretty narrow strip of reflective material. It’s not going to replace your neon jacket or blinking lights, but it is a nice touch. Any little bit helps when you’re trying to be seen by motorists.
Other cycling specific features include a U-Lock loop, and a higher back to keep you covered while your on the bike. I usually store my lock in my bag, but the loop has come in handy a few times. It certainly works, and is more comfortable than just sticking it in your belt, which I’ve done in the past.
Finally, the Levi’s Commuter jeans claim to use an Odor-resistant Sanitized® protective finish. I can’t say I’ve noticed them get smelly, so it must be working (or maybe I’m not smelly… that’s up for debate though).
Over the long run, I’ve been pretty happy with their durability. The color did seem to fade pretty quickly though. When new, the black jeans could almost pass as a pair of dress pants, but they have a noticeable worn look now (I guess that’s to be expected with any jeans though). At $88, they’re about twice the cost of a pair of traditional 511s, but the price is competitive with other cycling specific pants on the market. In my opinion the price tag is worth it for the reinforced seat, water resistant material, and added comfort on the bike. I’m going to keep riding in these until they fail, so I’ll let you know if and when that happens.