Cadence Raw Denim - first look

Cadence Raw Denim – first look


note: the long-term review can now be found here

I’ve been anxiously awaiting these for a few weeks now. I spend a lot of time on the bike in regular clothes, so I’ve been all about the cycling-focused casual wear lately. The Sprinter jeans from Rapha have proven to be a tremendous success for me, so having another pair of high quality denim to compare them to is just what the doctor ordered.

Cadence has been around for a while (a while in this context being 2010), being the first company to bring cyclists some denim specifically for the job at hand. Based out of California and made in the USA, here’s what they have to say:

Ok, so what’s in the bag? Jeans. Which is to say, I get the impression that Cadence, as opposed to Rapha, is about gettin’ the job done, first and foremost (it says so on the inside of the pocket, as you can see below). No epic story printed inside the pocket, simple label, stripped down to what you need and nothing more. No loops for locks, not specifically water-resistant, no hidden flaps or sneaky compartments to be found. Just a solid pair of jeans.

Is that a bad thing? Nope. Why should it be? These are still pretty stylish looking and with the reinforced seat taken care of, these have the appearance of a normal, on-trend pair of jeans that, hopefully, are really easy to cycle in. The denim is a raw finish with a silvery/blue colour, they’re a slim fit with a straight leg, and my very fashionable wife tells me that they look tailored, contemporary, and that they fit me well.

I think they’re tight, but it really depends on what you’re used to. They’re not tight, tight, like hipster tight, but I’ve got some wearing-in to do with them.

Cadence Raw Denim - first look

When I first put them on I was worried that I should have gotten the 32in waist for a better fit overall, but two things are calming my nerves.

  1. They have a bit of stretch. These are made with 2% Lycra, and while they are not as stretchy as Levi’s offering, they have more movement in them than Rapha’s (Rapha’s are a heavier denim).
  2. Even in the first hour of wearing, they have relaxed a bit.

Don’t judge these on the immediate impression. What I’m relying on at this point is the fact that the waist is spot-on (at this point the 30in fits a little closer around the waist than the Rapha Sprinter jeans, which is to say pretty much perfect – no belt needed), the length is good at 32in (the only length available), and crucially, I can execute a full squat in them, which I definitely could not in the standard Rapha pair I had initially.

As I mentioned, these are a straight leg. When I put them on initially the thighs were like jeggings. I tried to pull them down a bit in the leg but couldn’t get anywhere near enough fabric between my fingers to get started. The calves had a tiny bit of room to breathe, but these were tight! For a reference, just above the knee I measure 41cm, and nearer the top of my thigh I measure 49cm.

Relax, though, because that’s what these will do. Within 2-3 hours they have relaxed a noticeable amount. Still pretty tight though…

Cadence Raw Denim - first look

They actually look looser than they felt


The denim Cadence uses for these jeans is not heavy. I think it’s a pretty standard weight but I’ve been wearing the Sprinter jeans exclusively for a while now and they’re pretty heavy, so I kind of forget what normal is. The material feels solid, in any case, and seems like it will indeed be long-wearing. Because they’re not all that heavy, I’m looking forward to seeing how these perform in warmer weather, which we have unfortunately just run out of down here. That will have to wait for the long-term review. Wet weather – that’s a different story.

About the long wearing – these have a reinforced area that covers a pretty substantial area around the seat. This should prove effective against wearing through the material, but we’ll see if that has any bearing on them looking worn in appearance.

As for reflective materials, you get the pretty standard reflective piping inside the leg seams, and a silver reflective label on the back. It struck me as odd that the label was above the left pocket, but then immediately realized that, as it is a reflector, it makes perfect sense if the roads have you driving on the left, rather than the right. Not a big deal if you aren’t, really. How often are you wearing a shirt that is shorter than your belt-line, anyway?

Cadence Raw Denim - first look

Other minor points: although they are tight at the moment, I can still get my hands in the pockets, which are a usable size, as is the change pocket (a tiny but clever feature about the change pocket is that the bottom is angled, so all your change collects in one corner, making it easier to fish out). The length is good, but with my inseam at 88cm, these are a bit short when cuffed once, so uncuffed is how I’ll need to wear these. I’m also a bit worried about them shrinking even a little, even though I’m going to put off washing them for as long as possible and take every precaution necessary. Finally, the zipper is perfectly fine, but it doesn’t have that really solid feel that the Rapha jeans have.

Overall Impression?

On the whole, these Cadence jeans look up to the task. They’re simple, but they look they will do what they set out to quite well. A good quality raw denim, a handy amount of stretch, the reinforced seat, a few reflective touches, a good if snug fit, and a clean, stylish appearance makes for a definite contender. Tomorrow I’ll give them their inaugural taste of cycling and get stuck into putting them through their paces.

Stay tuned for a full review on how the first few months have gone, in, shall we say, ’roundabout a few months?

(edit: a few weeks of wearing, and so far, so good… more to come…)