Levi’s Commuter jeans aren’t disappearing from the market-place, but mine are disappearing from me using them. I now have new jeans for cycling in (I do realize that all jeans can be cycled in…), and, overall, I’m much happier with these (review coming shortly).
Like everything they do, the Rapha jeans appear to live up to the standard that has been long associated with the brand. Pricey, but great looking with high quality materials, no detail uncared for, plus a suggestion that they will last longer than their competitors.
About that. It seems to me that I gave a fairly positive review of Levi’s Commuter jeans some time ago. Let’s revisit that, shall we?
I liked their cycle-specific features, such as being cut for the bike (higher in the back and articulated knees), water and stain resistance, reflective inner seam when the legs are rolled up, and they stretch. They have a loop on the hip for a mini D-lock, but I don’t have a mini D-lock, so I didn’t care. Now, most of theses things are pretty standard, and dare I say, expected these days for this type of product, so no points for upping the game here. Their water resistant material works reasonably well for shorter, lighter showers (and no more) and doesn’t feature in every brands bag of tricks, and the amount of stretch they offer makes for an exceptionally comfortable pair of jeans to ride in, that much I can still confirm.
One year on, and I’ve got a few reasons why I wouldn’t buy them again. Well, one, actually. The quality. It’s just not there. It looks like Levi’s is selling them much cheaper these days, but when I got them they were about $140 AUD (edit: nope, they’re still expensive), which isn’t cheap, depending on your buying habits. That’s nearly what I paid for the Rapha jeans, albeit on sale, which they do seem to be having more of lately. For a reasonably expensive pair of jeans that is designed for the rigors of riding a bike day in and day out, I am most disappointed with the wear. This may have something to do with the stretchy material making for a softer finish, but it started wearing after only a couple of months (2) on a smooth saddle, and now has two nice worn patches on the butt (not worn through, mind you, but it’s rather conspicuous). As mentioned in the original review, I had a black pair of chino’s that I was able to return and exchange for these. Sure, the jeans lasted longer, but not long enough.
The zipper doesn’t always hold, and what’s made them actually unwearable is that they have shrunk wildly. I wash everything on cold and hang to dry out of direct sunlight, so there’s nothing more I can do to avoid shrinkage. These things have gone from being able to be cuffed to finishing at just above my ankles unrolled. Plus they’re tight. They were always a slim fit, but this is beyond that now. Think jeggings. Not a good look. Not on my watch.
So, the final verdict:
The high points: really comfortable to ride in due to the soft, stretchy material. Nice assortment of cycle-oriented jeans features, like reflective piping on the inner leg, mini-U-lock loop, on-the-bike cut, kind of water resistant and as a result, pretty stain resistant. In warmer weather they actually seem to breathe better than regular jeans, avoiding that heavy feeling that makes jeans more uncomfortable to ride in. I actually went on a last-minute, proper ride in the hills in them in pretty warm weather, and, while they definitely weren’t as good as a set of bib-shorts (in all possible ways), they weren’t all that bad, either.
The low points: unfortunately, these are deal breakers. They were fast wearing (none of my other regular jeans have ever worn out in the saddle-area). Potentially a dodgy zipper that can slide down even when the zipper-pull is in the locked position (I’ve heard other people mention that), but that’s minor, as long as you actually do up the button. What made them unwearable in the end is that they shrunk so much. Really, I’d still be wearing them now and then despite the wear in the backside if it wasn’t for that.
If you are ok with all of the above, then go ahead and get a pair. I’m done.