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Review: Bluff Works commuter pants

Over the winter, Stefan Loble, the founder of Bluff Works, reached out to us to see if we wanted to try out his company’s pants. As it was still brutally cold where I lived, I agreed but knew it would be a while before I could give them a proper on-bike shakedown.

Well, many months later and we’ve finally gotten a good bit of use out of the pants. RL and I teamed up to offer our thoughts and observations of the pants for your review.

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First off, the pants themselves. Here are some details straight from the Bluff Works website:

* 100% technical, breathable quick-dry polyester. Nylon pockets.

* Zippered front hidden internal security pocket to deter pickpockets. Large enough to hold your passport.

* Rear zippered pocket sized for an oversized travel wallet.

* Discrete side pocket phone storage to keep you from sitting on it. Fits an iPhone or a Galaxy S4.

* Hidden loop to clip keys or a security badge inside your front pocket.

* Nickle-free jean tack closure.

* Interior pocket images made to inspire.

* Designed and manufactured in New York City, of imported fabric from Taiwan.

* Machine washable. Line or tumble dry.

One thing to make clear right up front: these pants are not marketed for bike commuters, nor do they have any bike-specific features. The features the Bluff Works DO have turn out to be great for we bike commuters, even if they were not specifically intended for us.

The stitching is tight and even, and the fabric feels like a very quality material. The Bluff Works are put together very nicely. They come in four colors: charcoal, classic grey, velvet brown, and light khaki. I got a charcoal pair to wear, and RL got khaki.

The zippered pockets and key-hanging tab are great for an active lifestyle. You don’t have to worry about items falling (or being lifted) from your pockets on the subway or the bike. The soft nylon inner pockets feel great against the skin, and are roomy enough for pretty much anything you need to carry. Best of all, the care instructions are printed right on the pocket liners!

Zippered inner pocket:
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Key tab:
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Instructions:
instructions

Jack’s thoughts:

The polyester fabric is soft, and has a slight sheen. My wife didn’t care for the sheen, but I rather liked it. I think these pants make me look pretty good, and I think they make RL look good, too. As you may remember from our previous review of the Levi’s commuter pants, I think commuter-friendly pants should actually look the part of business-appropriate attire, not dolled-up jeans. The Bluff Works answer my prayers in that respect! I felt perfectly comfortable in casual situations as well as more formal events. Hell, I even wore these beauties to a memorial ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery, and a couple people remarked on my snappy duds.

The cut was overall pretty perfect for my body. I did find the waist-to-crotch measurement a bit snug, and you’ll see that RL did too. Otherwise, the pants were comfortable and stayed looking nice — no ironing needed after a wash.

As I mentioned, the pants aren’t geared specifically toward cyclists, so all the seams and whatnot are just where you’d expect them to be in a pair of regular street pants. That being said, I didn’t notice any discomfort riding with the Bluff Works pants on. They stayed nice, too — with the fabric warding off splashes and stains and staying wrinkle-free, you really could go directly from bike to boardroom in these!

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I give the pants a solid thumbs-up, but I’d love to see perhaps a reflective inner cuff or something to make them a little more bike-friendly for our purposes. And, at $88 for a really nicely-made pair of pants, designed AND manufactured in New York City, I really applaud that. I’ve spent more for lesser pants that didn’t look (or perform) half as nicely.

RL’s thoughts:

I liked the way they fit, a bit more slim than my other slacks, but they’re nothing like skinny or hipster jeans. It’s super hard for me to find pants with a 29″ inseam…yes, I’ve got short legs. When I received them I wore them to various holiday parties and events without having the need to iron or even wash them. Yes that’s correct, I didnt’ wash them for about 3 months! During those 3 months, I wore them about 5 different times. I didn’t have to iron them either. Basically after I wore them, I hung them on pants hangers, the kind that you clip the waist to. That allowed the fabric to relax and not get wrinkled.

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The material used isn’t as soft as some of my other slacks,but it is more durable. With that said, it’s thicker and rougher to the touch. They almost remind me of a better quality of Dickies work pants, but much more stylish. I dug the zippered pocket in the rear and the other in one of the side pockets. Speaking of side pocket, the right side had this cool loop that you can clip your keys onto for safe keeping.

rl_pants

Surprisingly the Bluff Works pants never caught a stain nor did any of the stitching come undone. I wear these pants anytime I am going to a business meeting, church, or on a hot date with my wife. She actually likes the way these fit on me. One thing you have to look out for, MOOSE KNUCKLE. That’s the boy version of Camel Toe. Ya these pants are notorious for showing off your package especially if you’re sitting down. I noticed this when I was at church. I was sitting and when it was time to pray, I looked down and WHOA! I had to use my Bible to cover up and be modest!

Other than the Moose Knuckle, no complaints about these pants. They wash easily, wrinkles come out if you just let them hang, doesn’t stain and no odor! Yep, even the most humid of days that produce the worst swamp balls/ass, no stank.

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Again, the Bluff Works might not have any bike-specific features, but that shouldn’t deter you from checking these out. Outstanding fit and finish, smart features, and a polished look are worth the price of admission. Bluff Works is planning other products in the future, so keep your eyes out. In the meantime, swing over to their website, where the pants are available for online purchase.

Chrome Vanya Riding Knicker Review – Will Bike for Pants!

Aloha Bike Commuters… I’m all cappuccino’d up and ready to roll!  Today’s feature, everyone’s favorite two-legged entity: PANTS!  In particular, a review of the Chrome Vanya Riding Knicker – knicker makes me snicker…!  If you remember our earlier article, I mentioned that we received these women’s riding snickers about two months ago from the sunny drain bamaged Chrome folks out of San Francisco.  (I jest – SF BC.com readers, I too hail from the land of sunshine-crack California).

Pants - as interpreted by The Oatmeal

The DL: My fave commuter-to-office-to-pau-hana PANTS!  I have done daily rides, night rides, long hot sunny rides (not my favorite for the Vanya) and morning commutes.  I love the pockets, capri-length, fit, wicking, easy washable and durable material and the transformation to business casual with heels.  Only gripe is the crotch panel gets swampy with our humid weather, even if I go commando!  I do appreciate the panel nonetheless, since you don’t have to sit on a hefty seam during your ride.  The only thing hefty about the Chrome Vanya is the price tag at $120.

The headless rider modeling Chrome Vanya snickers in BlueSteel: no rolling the cuff necessary for bike mounting!

The Tech Specs:

Weight: 1.0 lb.

Fabric: Everest 4-way stretch performance fabric

Product Source: Oakland, CA, USA

Features:

  • Everest 4 way stretch performance fabric
  • Classic 4 pocket configuration
  • Zip-secured side cargo pocket
  • New sizing runs true to size: XS (Size 0-2), S (Size 4-6), M (Size 8-10), L (Size 10-12)
  • See “Size Chart” link for exact measurements

The riding snickers come in both Charcoal and BlueSteel (not to be confused with Derek Zoolander’s”Blue Steel”.)

Full Frontal of Little Miss Vanya... a.k.a. "Pants"

Me Likey: I have just been putting them to the test for 15 minute lunch errands to the Zach Manago Ride in Paradise.  The pants are versatile enough to work for anytime short or long-range commutes if the temperature is not too hot.  Good in the summer rains too, the Vanya snickers don’t give a shiz about rain or mud – the stuff wicks well, and bike grease comes off easy in the wash!  Plus, you don’t look like a spando weirdo rolling into a bar or restaurant after work – no clothes change necessary from commuter to socialite… (uhhh, does that qualify for cycle chic!?)  The pants have a good amount of stretch and a solid fit with no butt crack revelations along the way! Everyone at my work loves them too; they are jealous of them as regular office pants, and double jealous when they found out they are bike-friendly.  Last but not least, the pants were most comfy while biking around Lake Tahoe for a family vacay: perfect length and material for dry sunny afternoons transitioning to crisp, cold evenings.

Chrome Vanya women's pants fared best in Lake Tahoe summer weather!

That’s right folks, theses pants are SO amazing, I would bike a charity century ride around Oahu and puke tons of HEED electrolyte drinks if the reward at the end was a pair of Chrome Vanya Riding Knickers instead of a dri-fit commemorative tee.

Back it up: two patch pockets reinforced with red stitching!

Me NO Likey: The gripes about the Vanya are few and far between: namely that they are too warm for extra hot days and on the pricey side!  When I rode them on long rides in bajillion percent humidity at 12pm in Honolulu, I got so hot that my shins were sweating!  I rolled them up past the knee and toughed it out… but all in all, I should have opted for spandex in the first place.  Also, me NO likey the price tag on the snickers, at 120 bones, I would much rather buy a separate pair of bike pants and work pants.  (Then again, this is coming from the person who shops at the Goodwill and my sister’s closet).

Red mesh pockets = minimizing sweaty upper thigh: Note my pockets are empty...

Pants Recap: Thank you, Chrome, for making a stylish, versatile, durable, and stretchy cladding for my lower half!  My former Vanya-less pantsless self (imagine me standing on a median, with a cardboard sign saying “Will Bike for Pants”)  could never have imagined a better fit!  I will definitely wear these guys into the ground on and off the bike!  All you Cycle Ladies in search of a nice urban commuter pants option, check out the Chrome Vanya if you have mad cash money to spare.

AMENDMENT!!! After some skepticism from the general public that the Vanya can do a heels pants transformation megatron, I have decided to post this photo that I cajoled a camera-owning friend of mine to take!  In Honolulu, the capri or cropped pants and heels look totally passes for business casual!  Check it peeps:

Chrome Vanya gets down to business with a red top and black summer heels: YOU CAN DO IT!

Poli-wonkies and Pants – a Bikely Update

Hello loyal, curious, or bored-at-work Bike Commuters readers!  Here to report from the island of Oahu is Mir.I.Am.  A couple of enthralling bikely updates are in order regarding two of everyone’s favorite bike-related topics:  A) Political two-wheeling and 2) Pants-wearing.

Disclaimer on Adulthood: When trying to balance adulthood, I frequently find myself writing lists to prioritize where I will spend my time.  Some recent lists of things that matter/hold my attention span for longer than 17 seconds:

Fist Pump for gettin' things DONE.

Fist Pump for gettin' things DONE.

Back to Two-Wheeled Mayoral Rides:

When I tried to insert meeting politicians for bike advocacy into the equation we end up with a list like this:

  1. Boyfriend
  2. Food
  3. Sleep
  4. Bike Stuff …

10.  Farmer’s Market
11.  Cartoons
12.  Meeting up with Politicians to talk about Bikes

13.  Tanks of Bullfrogs in Chinatown Markets

14.  Getting Dressed

As you can see, it took quite a while for me to come up with something more compelling than #13 (Meeting Politicians) , even though this particular event is involved in #5 (Bike Stuff) and #7 (Volunteering).  Tanks of bullfrogs were added to put things in perspective.  Actually, tanks of bullfrogs are pretty cool but they are a little icky especially knowing that they are being sold to Asians as food and not pets.  Getting dressed is worse than tanks of bullfrogs and politicians.

Tanks of Yumfrogs in Honolulu Chinatown

Needless to say, Chad Taniguchi (my apparent hanai bike step-dad of HBL) convinced me via email to volunteer to represent the HBL in a meeting with Mayor Peter Carlisle of Honolulu last week.  In some circles, meeting with politicians may be considered “advocacy”, which is leaps and bounds better than just promoting “awareness“.

We went over some policy wonkiness (a.k.a. poli-wonkies) as follows:

  • Mayor recognizes HBL is an active, large, diverse, responsible organization that can help Honolulu become a bike friendly city
  • Mayor is willing to work with HBL, support us publicly, including riding on a high profile ride
  • Mayor embraces vision for bike friendly Hawaii and is willing to have departments work together with HBL to make it so
  • Mayor supports Complete Streets ordinance and vulnerable users’ bill in principle; provides channel to work on it with HBL
  • Mayor is willing to meet with HBL again in 6 months

Oops, I missed the note to make a serious face.

A “great success!” resulted from our meeting with the Mayor, in that he agreed to ride with HBL this Sunday for the Zach Manago Ride in Paradise, a two-day ride around the island in support of bike safety on Oahu.  Surf Mayor Peter Carlisle will join us at the beginning of the ride from the State Capitol to Waikiki – on a loaner bike despite sarcastic complaints of his pants needing a squishy seat.  Although poli-wonky advocacy is not my favorite type (see “how-to” on profuse hand-waving technique from my original commuter profile), this one turned out pretty good.

On to Pants:

Speaking of pants… Review coming up soon for these amazing Chrome Vanya Knickers that arrived in the mail yesterday!  (Cue pants fanfare…)  As you can see from the above list of adulthood priorities, “pants” falls under the category of #14: Getting Dressed, not one of my favorite activities in the land of bikinis.

Vanya Knickers - you shall house my lower half for the ZMRIP ride this weekend.

Vanya Knickers - you shall house my lower half for the ZMRIP ride this weekend. Thanks Chrome!

As far as clothing goes, I can say that it’s pretty enjoyable to be inside these knickers like an Anchorman Pants Party!  I plan to ride/sweat in them for a solid 20-30 miles on Sunday during the Zach Manago Ride in Paradise.    Passing on the sham-crotch-spando wear in favor of pants that actually looks like, well, PANTS!

Until next time, or until I get a real camera so I can show an updated photo of my awesome 3M ruban reflechissant as well as said pants in action, please enjoy the following scan:

On a day with a more sturdy xerox machine, I would have put them on and scanned my butt, but this is probably less obscene. Vanya Pants Scan!

We shall see if pants-worthy political advocacy moves up on the list of adulthood priorities after the Sunday ride – to my Hawaii Bike Commuters, see you this weekend!  Later, Cycle-gators.