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Bike Commuting Pants: Outlier vs. Levi

In 2014, I bought some Outlier pants to be my daily wear for commuting by bike to and from work. Roughly an hour ride through Boston traffic in all sorts of weather gave me ample opportunity to try out the Outlier and Levi's pants on the bike.

Levi 501s

Levi 501 jeans are button-fly, shrink to fit jeans. I love the button-fly for the comfort factor. As they're jeans, they survive just about everything. However, the feature of "shrink to fit" becomes a liability on the bike. You can read all about the jeans in the aforementioned blog post.


The Outlier pants are still going strong a year later. They've survived trips around the world, still look like new, have not faded, and generally look great whether in a suit or on the bike. However, wearing black slacks looks formal. Even after an icy ride to work, they still look like formal business slacks. This is great for when I want to look formal, but less so when a pair of jeans brings the right look. Therefore, I started looking for a pair of bike-friendly commuter jeans.

Levi 504 Commuter

The Levi 504 Commuter jeans fit the bill. I bought them because they were on clearance at $34, which was vastly cheaper than any other commuter jeans I tried. They fit great, have the classic Levi's look, and have a few features which make them golden on the bike.

First, the jeans are a blend of cotton jeans and elastic to allow for stretch when needed. They are cut for the riding position and have some sort of treatment to be more water repellent and smell 1000% less after a week of sweaty rides. The 1000% less might not be scientific, but it's accurate. The reflective fabric on the outside seam of the legs is a nice touch for when you roll them up to ride.

Second, and this is a huge thing, the diamond cut crotch is key. The 501s, and most non-commuter jeans, have a huge knot where the 4 panels of the jeans comes together. This knot hits me on the bike right in the perineum. It hurts on short rides, and possibly does long-term damage to sensitive body parts. The 501s also lack stretch here, so this knot repeatedly stabs you the entire ride. The cut of the 504s eliminates this knot and with the stretch fabric, makes you forget you're wearing jeans on an hour-long bike ride.

Third, they dry quickly. Riding in the drizzle, rain, sleet, snow, or just getting splashed, the pants dry quickly. The rest of me may be wet, but the pants dry faster than I.


In Summary

In summary, there are a number of options for biking clothing, increasing more every day according to websites I follow about commuting. Right now, the Levi 504 Commuter's work for me.

This article was updated on 2020/05/27 23:38:42