Over the past decade or so, the pants revolution has been rapid and sometimes difficult to keep up with. We quickly moved from trusted skinny jeans and slim-cut suit trousers to all manner of BIG pant; baggy, swishy, cropped—even pleated pants are having their moment. Unfortunately, the big pants that GQ’s been feeling of late don’t work if you’re a bike-to-work (or bike-to-anywhere) person. For the pedal-pushing bike commuter, you relatively need trim pants that won’t get chewed up by a loose chain or greasy sprocket. Luckily, all kinds of movement-friendly fabrics have elbowed their way onto the scene—to the point that it now feels like every pair of 5-pocket pants or chinos you pick up has some stretch to them. A raft of companies have sprung up developing work-appropriate pants with these tech-y stretch fabrics. But which pairs find that perfect balance between feeling good on your twice-daily bike ride and looking good in your twice-daily standup meetings?
In search of the best pants to bike to work in, we pulled on all manner of commuter pants, lugged bikes down flights of stairs, and rode vigorously (sometimes over a bridge or two) back and forth fro Brooklyn apartments to downtown Manhattan and back . We limited our search mostly to bike pants that look and feel most like classic chinos because they provide the most office-friendly versatility. To suss out the best we assessed the weight, fit, sweat wicking capabilities, pockets, stretch, and hand feel.
The Best All-Around Commuter Pants
One of the cleanest and sleekest looking pairs we tested, Ministry of Supply’s commuter pants were also the most breathable. The nylon fiber is super soft to the touch, and more importantly, it’s engineered to keep your lower body cool while you’re downshifting up a big hill (or the Brooklyn Bridge). The cut is fairly slim and to the naked eye these pants appear to be standard chinos, but they come with a ton of stretch and range of motion. They don’t boast any fancy secret pockets or zippers (no hidden kick-stand down the left leg), but the standard pockets are deep.
The Best Commuter Pants for the Money
Your commuter pants don’t need to cost more than the bike you’re riding. Columbia’s Royce Peak II pants are among the most affordable on this list but check all the boxes you need for smooth rides and easy dismounts: articulated seams, stretch fabric with a water-resistant coating, and handy zip pockets so your phone stays inside your pants in one piece and not on the asphalt in a million pieces. The Royce Peak II doesn’t come with a gusseted crotch, but a slightly roomier fit helps mitigate any potential blowouts. Plus, it’s available on Amazon so you can checkout in a single click and get it lightning fast.
The Best Featherweight Commuter Pants
These pants truly feel like air. Perfect for summer rides, Rhone’s commuter pant is as lightweight and breathable as chinos get. They come in regular and slim fit and a variety of colors (pro tip: We strongly recommend the darker hues so that any accidental bike grease will go unnoticed). There are plenty of thoughtful details as well: to complement the gold standard of zippered and inner media pockets, the placement of the side belt loops aligns perfectly with the rear pockets so you can clip your keys, stow them safely, and prevent any unwanted jingling .
The Best Commuter Pants for the Apocalypse
Outlier’s rugged cycling pants were born out of founder’s Abe Burmeister’s pinchant for blowing out his jeans every few months from biking around New York City. To solve that problem Outlier marries good tailoring with technical fabrics. This office-ready pair might not be quite as indestructible as the brand’s End of World pants, but its durability and super-lightweight Futureworks are perfect for year-round wear. They’re a bit looser and breezier than the other commuting pants we tested, but not loose enough to get caught in your pedals.
The Best Gym-Ready Commuter Pants
It’s no surprise when something from Lululemon feels cozy and looks flattering—that twofer is basically the brand’s bread and butter. But these chino-style pants are shockingly comfortable. They fit like yoga sweats but from ten feet away they look like slim-fit chinos. The ABC (that’s “anti-ball crushing”) engineering and four-way stretchiness provide you a ton of room to move on any bike saddle. This pair’s pocket game is extremely strong as well: The right-hand pocket has a handy inner elastic slip (perfect for your phone), the left-hand pocket comes with a zippered valuables pocket (for your keys), and both rear pockets have snapping buttons for added security. The final touch: flip the cuffs to reveal a reflective strip for extra visibility on the road.
The Best “My Other Ride Is a Harley” Commuter Pants
Chrome Industries’ Brannan pants feature a ton of special features cyclists love, on top of basic stretch and water-resistance properties. The crotch boasts a ventilated—yes, ventilated—gusset for unrivaled breathability and range of motion. On top of that, they come with articulated knees, hidden and secure zip back pockets for all your commuting accoutrement, and reflective cuffs to improve visibility when you’re biking home from work later than you’d like.
The Best Dressed-Up Commuter Pants
Need to haul ass to an important business lunch? These gussied-up trousers are cut from a specially-treated cotton with the just the right amount of added stretch. The dressy crease up front means you can wear ’em with an unstructured jacket and no one at the office will ever suspect you sidestepped the town car (and rush hour traffic) by pedaling your way to work.
The Best Commuter Pants for Braving the Outdoors
Gorewear’s nearly impenetrable Fernflow pants lean more woodlands than city block. (There’s a reason the kids on TikTok love to demo the brand’s jackets fully clothed in the shower.) You can snag a version with added neon yellow accents, but assuming you’re whipping it to the office in broad daylight, best to ditch the construction site-adjacent hues in favor of a tone that won’t turn as many heads at your WeWork. When the weather app says nothing but “STAY INSIDE, DUMMY” (and you’d sooner hack off a leg than hail an Uber) these are the joints to reach for.