I have a confession to make. I like to ride a bike in jeans.


When it comes to cycling, your attire is hugely important, almost as important as your bike itself. If you can’t properly regulate your temperature or move freely, your ride will suck. Different rides and different conditions require different clothing, but there’s one thing we’ve long agreed on: you don’t do real rides in jeans.

For years, I lived by this no-denim code. From roads to mountain trails, and whether it was hot and dry or cold and rainy, I made sure to put on the Lycra with a proper chamois before I even tried to ride long distances or with any sort of of vigor. Failure to do so, I realized, would result not only in discomfort, but also in irritation, ingrown hairs, ringworm cruris, scurvy, dropsy, and ultimately death.

Indeed, due to a compound case of cognitive dissonance, marketing susceptibility, and conformity, I maintained this attitude despite the fact that I regularly commuted and ran errands on my bike all over town while wearing cotton underwear and jeans without harmful effect. .

Recently, however, I embraced the importance of dressing up and realized I had overlooked this incredibly versatile piece of clothing. I’ve found that riding in jeans has no real downsides in most cases (I definitely wouldn’t do road racing in jeans, but then again, at this point in my life, I probably wouldn’t road racing at all) and it also has several obvious advantages, the main of which are as follows.

The jeans have pockets

When I ride in jeans, I don’t have to move my wallet, keys, and phone into a hard-to-reach backpack or jersey pocket. I just keep them in my hip pockets, where I always do. (Read it again: hip pockets, not return pockets – the back pockets are for suckers who want to get robbed.) This means I can easily access my wallet when cops arrest me, and my phone is always handy for photographing wildlife or doing massive stock trades. (Although you might possibly say it’s best to be away from your phone while driving, as you’re not tempted to constantly photograph bike lane blockers.) The jean pockets are also highly secure, so you don’t have to worry about your wallet falling out or your keys ringing like bells.

jeans are hot

A pair of jeans is all I need to stay comfortable, even when the temperatures drop to freezing point, and if it’s really it’s cold, I just add thermal underwear. It’s much easier than playing around with the different permutations of knee pads and leg pads, and it’s a lot more dignified than wearing full pantyhose. Analyzing the weather and selecting the right Lycra ensemble can drastically reduce your riding time, while jeans work in a wide range of temperatures and are comfortable to boot, which is why they are the default garment. for most Western countries. Just put them on and go.

Jeans Unlock the rest of your wardrobe for cycling

Lycra only works well in context. For example, tights are great when paired with clipless shoes, singlets and vests and everything in between, but unless you’re going for that 80s look, you’re probably not going to wear them with sneakers and a sweater. Nor is it fun to wear Lycra off the bike. Sure, we all simmered in our chamois for an hour or two after the ride drinking beer, but it’s disgusting and you kinda crave this astronaut traveling 900 miles in a diaper.

Meanwhile, jeans go with every piece of clothing you own, which in turn encourages you to explore the on-bike potential of some of your other non-bike-specific clothing, as well as mix and match both the cycling and non-cycling. cycling accessories. (Apart from jeans, wool sweaters are perhaps the most underrated cycling garment in your closet.) Just as the extra tire volume encourages you to think outside the box and explore a little, jeans let you dress for any singletrack situation to a single-origin coffee purchase at Whole Foods.

Jeans mean less laundry

Whatever else you’ve heard, barring accidents like getting soiled (sometimes those wildlife encounters can be pretty scary), the truth is, you only have to wash your jeans every three leap years. – and that’s true even if you’re cycling in them. All you really need is some fresh underwear and you’re done. In fact, with the judicious use of jeans and merino, you’ll hardly have to do laundry. As far as this Lycra gear goes, as soon as you take it off it’s a biohazard until it takes a trip in the washing machine, and anyone who rides frequently knows you can spend almost as much time in wash your kit stacks only to ride. .

Of course, not all jeans are created equal, and it may take some trial and error to discern which one works best. Or save time and choose from the many cycling-optimized jeans already available. The ones that first got me hooked were Osloh, and they even incorporate a chamois, which isn’t strictly necessary but is psychologically comforting if you come from a roadie background. Lately I’ve been wearing Jean Opus de Vulpinethat are about as comfortable on and off the bike as it gets without to wrap oneself in velvet. And Jean Swrve are very popular (although I have never personally tried a pair). If you think wearing expensive cycling-specific jeans is silly and pretentious, then just look for something with a bit of stretch at Uniqlo; I’ve had great results with those too. (Note: Look for tapered versions that won’t get caught in your chain; ie, skip the bells.)

For best results on the bike with jeans, pair with merino underwear. When summer rolls around and it’s too hot to ride in jeans, just cut them into jorts, buy new jeans for fall, and start the cycle all over again. You will never be able to cram yourself into a pair of pantyhose again.


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