By Jennah Dunham
Bicycles, as we all know well and good, are not simply for recreation. For many city dwellers, it is the preferred method of transportation. We navigate the city on two wheels to avoid the ever-increasing public transit delays, traffic congestion, to save that cash money by not paying for parking, to relish in those sweet moments in transit before punching in the time-clock and to soak in the place we call home at a relaxed pace.
For 9 years, I lived, breathed and looked forward to the time spent traveling from A to B via bike, but finding comfortable attire that transitions from on the bike to off the bike was (is) never easy. If you know me, I am late to life and usually on the fly from the office to the post-work rendezvous. Do I really want to swap out the wardrobe multiple times or manipulate my outfit to be a bit more bike (read saddle - y’all know what I’m saying) friendly and add more time to tardiness? Not necessarily, but will I, yes. I’m fairly certain that my backpack’s contents were 90% alternate clothing options - adulting work attire, cycling-specific options and non-lycra real people clothes.
Fortunately, there is a rise in commuter-specific wear that allows you, the rider, to go off the bike without pulling a Clark Kent/Superman. What’s even better about this trend? Brands such as Giro, Levi’s, Betabrand and of course, Shebeest, are making the commuting experience for women that much sweeter with pieces designed with the lady in mind.
The Skinny Americano jean, designed by Shebeest, and tested by yours truly makes for an excellent choice for pedaling about from home to wherever your bike takes you. The dizzying dotted pattern will definitely stir up conversation because polka dots are hard to miss and look adorable on and off the bike. The pattern isn’t all you will be raving about when your friends and co-workers ask about these pants. The designers at Shebeest definitely get style-cred for the visual appeal of these jeans, but it’s the elements you might not catch right away that take the cake.
Off-Set Rear Pockets
The offset and deep rear pockets do not interfere with the saddle while cruising about. Hold on, you’re saying that rear pockets don’t have to be rendered useless while riding? I’m listening. Okay, I might not use rear pockets to their full stash advantage as I usually have a bag in tow, but now I’m given the option to actually have access to store my trinkets (phone, chapstick, cash) or ground scores. I’ll take it! I don’t know about you, but sometimes items left in my front pockets end up unexpectedly stabbing me (I’m looking at you chapstick tube). Nobody needs a surprise pocket stabbing while maneuvering through city traffic.
The reflective scalloped piping added to the left ankle cuff and left rear pocket offers a nice glimmer when hit with light and another visual cue to driver’s that there’s a cyclist ahead. Apparel with reflective features for your early morning and nighttime commutes add another level of safety coupled with lights. Be seen out there, riders!
Crotch Seam No More
My gripe with other commuter specific jeans I own or have tried is the crotch seam. Shebeest has done away with the pesky seam and designed the jean with a crotch gusset. The gusset makes a huge difference in terms of extended comfort in the saddle. Another added feature to the gusset is that it is fleece-lined giving a little more cushion down below. Worried about chafing on that long commute? Worry no more, friends.
The jean material is 97% cotton and 3% spandex offering just the right amount of stretch when out on the streets. Standard jeans, especially skinny jeans, definitely restrict leg extension and movement. The cotton-fiber and spandex blend is also incredibly light and breathable.
The inside of the waistband is lined with a polyester fabric which I found got rid of the waist pinch and rub I feel in regular jeans. The lining also sticks with the polkadot them or perhaps you’ll end up with Shebeest’s beloved houndstooth lining pattern.
The first time I placed my hands in the front pockets I had one of those “oooooh, this is nice” moments. The polka-dotted polyester lining feels good to the touch both on the fingertips and on the legs.
Coming in at $115.00 MSRP might cause sticker shock, but the comfort ithe jean provides and the quality construction is worth the cost. These jeans are made to last. The pattern is lively and fun, but I would love to see solid colors in the Skinny Americano line-up. The sizing, depending on rider preference - loose versus a tighter feel - seems true to size (XS - XL). The size S that I put some miles on had just the right amount of waist and leg room, which has been difficult to find that balance in other commuter-specific jeans. I’ve found myself sizing up in the waist in order to find the right leg fit for my thunder thighs with other brands, but these jeans actually fit my cyclist trunk. Ladies, give these jeans a whirl - you won’t be disappointed...just be ready for all the compliments you’ll be receiving as you ride on by!
Jennah Dunham is a higher education professional, coffee and stout addict, transplant to Asheville, NC via Chicago, singletrack shredder, and climber of the steepest roads and mountains in Western North Carolina. She rides for the thrill of competition, freedom to explore and to eat all the pizza and cookies. You can follow Jennah's two-wheeled adventures via Instagram: @jennah_dunham.