Review: Premium Bicycle Commuter Gear from Levis, Outlier & Mission Workshop

For the past couple seasons, I’ve been riding around town in commuter-oriented pants from both Levis and Outlier, and both have held up extremely well. More recently, Mission Workshop’s new Trigger commuter jacket joined my collection and was impressive from the first ride.

Part of what makes these three pieces particularly appealing is that they transition seamlessly to off-the-bike use. In other words, you’re not going to look like a messenger bro at the office, and that’s a good thing for most of us.

Shown above are the Levis 511 Commuter Trouser and MW Trigger jacket. We’ve gotta hand it to Levis, they took the ball and ran with it for their cycling line. The pieces all appear very well thought out, reasonably priced and if they hold up as well as these pants, a pretty good deal. Both MW and Outlier started out as cycling oriented brands, but their styles crossover into everyday life and perform equally well on the bike and off.

Roll past the break for the complete reviews…

The Levi 511′s sit just below the waist and do a good job of balancing rear coverage when seated on the bike and not being too tall in the rear such that they look funny standing around the water cooler.

Commuter friendly features include reflective piping inside the lower legs and a U-lock loop built into the waist band. Even on my road bike with no chain guard, the legs are slim enough that I didn’t get any grease on them or snag them on the gear’s teeth.

The slim fit looks modern and fits my cycling legs well. The only downside is when it’s super cold and you wear tights underneath, they tend to pull funny against the extra layer of fabric. They’re definitely more comfortable on their own.

The material is coated with a NanoSphere water repellant finish as well as an anti-odor Sanitized finish. Levi’s recommends line drying them, which I haven’t done at all, and they still seem to push water away pretty well. They have 2% Elastane, giving them just enough stretch.

The current version is a little darker khaki than these. Retail is $78. Check out their full commuter collection here.

Outlier’s OG Pant is their original garment and is an amazing pair of pants. They’re made of Schoeller Dryskin fabric and also treated with a NanoSphere coating to repel water. They’re a four-way stretch and move quite naturally on the bike, are cool enough in the summer but seem to be just warm enough for early fall riding, too. When the temps really plummet, you’ll want a base layer.

The OG pants have been out for about four years, and they just recently revised the fit and details slightly from the version shown here.  They’re a little leaner now, and the waist band supposedly has better construction with a more domed back that fits the waist better. I like my pair, but all of those changes sound like good things.

The only non-commuter aspect of these is a lack of reflective bits, which is fine. If you’re a serious commuter, you likely have lights on your bike and plenty of reflective strips on the rest of your gear.

Retail for the Outlier OG Pant is $198. This puts them at the high end of clothing, but if I’ve learned one thing in my many years it’s that you generally get what you pay for. Want a pair? Check them out at Outlier.cc and prepare to wait. They offer them in three colors, but being a small company, they’re often sold out of many of the options.

The Mission Workshop Trigger is their latest jacket and it’s aimed squarely at bike commuters. It’s made of Swiss made Schoeller WB400 soft shell fabric, which is both wind and water resistant. My first ride with it was in the low 40′s at night and, with a T-shirt and light sweater underneath, was plenty warm for more than an hour of riding around with friends.

Three main things make it a bike-specific piece of clothing: Internal media pockets with headphone cable ports, a full width zippered rear pocket and extended sleeves with thumb loops. There are no external front hand warmer pockets. A full length YKK water resistant zipper keeps wind from entering down the front, and a slightly raised collar blocks wind from the top.

The cuffs, collar and waist are all lined with JRC Reflex Black piping, which is a totally inconspicuous matte black during the day but lights up plenty bright at night. Also visible above is the reflective section on the Levis pants’ cuffs.

I’m 6’2″ and found the sizing to be just right with an XL for this jacket. Based on Mission Workshop’s sizing chart, I could have gone with a Large, too, but the sleeves would have been a bit short when using the thumb loops. With the XL, they’re snug around my thumbs, but when not using them the overall fit is perfect because it allows enough room for a light base layer but not so big that it can’t work over a lone T-shirt.

Retail is $285 and it’s available at MissionWorkshop.com.

Comments

recur - 11/23/12 - 11:16pm

Glad to hear somebodys Outliers held up. My just fell apart at every seam after way too short a time.

rad - 11/24/12 - 9:12am

Do I spy with my little eyes the steel Volagi?

Bromungandr - 11/24/12 - 11:12am

You guys need to check out SWRVE clothing. It’s american made and the people there are very passionate creating casual cycling and cycling related clothing.

slippy - 11/26/12 - 5:07pm

Love Mission Workshop’s stuff, it looks great, and my backpack has held up really well after a year of abuse (NW commuting, under the seat in front of you abuse). I don’t get the point of this softshell though – having a t shirt plus sweater underneath seems like too much layering needed, and how are thumb loops cycling specific?

fixed - 12/20/12 - 10:45pm

What shoes are you wearing?

Tyler (Editor) - 12/21/12 - 9:30am

fixed – both are Keens…I have about 20 different pair, they’re awesome. Real bummer they stopped making the bike-specific Coronado Cruiser (black), but the regular Coronado’s look the same just without the grippier rubber pedal contact patch on the bottom and a slightly less stiff sole.

rad – yes, that’s the steel Volagi Viaje XL they had on display at Interbike. It’s a sweet ride – comfortable and fast. We’ll be doing a full review on it early in the New Year.

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