Review by Jian DeLeon (@jiandeleon)
When Levi's first announced their Commuter Series last summer, we got very, very excited. Initially comprised of a Levi's Trucker Jacket and 511 jeans, both items were modified for the convenience of the urban cyclist. Yet, it wasn't until we saw the spring collection that our jaws dropped. Sure, denim products made for cycling are not a new thing (Rapha's rather pricey performance jeans come to mind), but this season Levi's introduced the Commuter Trousers.
A beefed-up version of a slim chino, Levi's takes the form-fitting 511 silhouette and translated it into a hardy twill/cotton blend, with just a hint of stretch and a slightly higher rise (because as many cyclists know: crack kills). Like the Commuter Jeans, the fabric is treated with Schoeller Technologies' NanoSphere finish, giving them excellent resistance against water and dirt. After a solid week of riding about 9 miles a day on a fixie — including a pretty gnarly fall — we haven't noticed any stains or tears in the fabric. During a light drizzle, water noticeably beads on the pants.
Of course, riding that much in a week definitely works up a sweat, which is why we're thankful that the fabric is also treated with Clariant's odor-resistant, anti-microbial Sanitized technology. Despite the relative toughness of the fabric, we found there isn't really a breaking in period required, and it's actually quite breathable, so you don't have to worry about your legs getting sweaty. They also retain their shape after numerous wears, although we would still recommend washing them cold and hanging them to dry — like you would with any pair of pants.
The devil is really in the details on trousers, and there are plenty of bells and whistles included. First, there's the 3M lining on the side. The stuff is really super reflective, and looks cool cuffed, like a techy selvedge line. Unlike the Commuter Jeans, the trousers have decidedly roomy back welt pockets, including a smaller flap pouch above the right pocket, perfect for stashing a tire patch kit, and easily reachable when you're seated on the bike. Above the left pocket is a strap perfect for a U-lock.
For riders worried about the fabric wearing down over time, there's reinforcement in key areas like the crotch, and elastic gussets on the side pockets. The reinforcing stitches are surprisingly subtle, and thanks to the higher rise, people that work in less casual environments will have no trouble tucking in their shirt. That isn't to say you couldn't wear them on the weekends with a graphic T-shirt and Vans Authentics either. Currently available in three colors, the Levi's Commuter Trouser retails for $78.