With the growth in urban cycling there's a lot of interest at the moment among cycle clothing companies in producing clothing for riding that have the benefits of technical clobber while looking like normal clothing – these Liquistretch trousers from Charge Bikes offshoot Surface are billed as "cycle friendly" and are the newest kids on this particular block.
Surface have gone down the synthetic route with their Liquistretch trousers which are made from a four way stretch fabric with a kind of Draylon finish that gives them a smart, business-like look. The cut is similar to slim fit jean and the flex from the material gives you room to move.
The 'tech' bit to the trouser is that, Liquistretch material, a stretchy, water repellent fabric. It is the same stuff that is used for rash vests and surf shorts because it keeps its shape, is stretchy and dries quickly it is also pretty hard wearing considering how thin it is - we've put our test sample through four months of hard city riding. You can literally pour a pint of liquid on to your lap and the fluid will bead and run off the material, so it's ideal for clumsy pub drinkers.
However, when the heavens really do open, the fabric will give in and absorb the water, they don't claim to be waterproof, which is what I hoped they were the first time I wore them in heavy rain. To my relief, these are very fast drying pants, literally touch dry in minutes, so no one knew,(except me) that I had wet underpants underneath they weren't so quick to dry – possibly the next line of cycling fashion essentials.
The cyan blue bits of trim remind me of the details found in the Rapha trousers but without the waist gripper. A single button and a hook fasten the flat front of the strides whilst belt loops add extra security when they get heavy and wet or you have taken the contents of your piggy bank to the pub.
The leg length is a generous 34" on our 32" samples but you can take them up to your desired length if needs be. They are comfortable to ride in and feel quite light, a bit like wearing a tight fitting windproof for your legs. I wouldn't put them in the same category as the Rapha trousers we tested a few months back, which are more than double the price [nearer triple! - ed], they haven't the features or the same cut sympathetic to a rider's needs, after 4 months of solid abuse ours are showing signs of wear while the Rapha trousers still look like new. But it's very much horses for courses Rapha's riding trousers are strides designed for riding in that won't look too out of place off the bike, while Surface it seems to me come at it from the angle of fashion trousers that you can ride in. Both have their compromises and which you went for is going to come down to personal preference and spending power
These are bang on the money, for the same price you can get a pair of Quicksilver surf shorts but you get enough material here to cover your ankles too. Their smart casual appearance means you could wear them to work or on a night out without giving away that you cycled there (why should that be a bad thing we're not sure).
From the Company that brought us Charge bikes. Surface offer a smart, slim fit, black trouser made from quick drying four way stretch synthetic fabric which look good off the bike and works well on the bike. Great for those short urban rides.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Surface Liquistretch Trousers
Size tested: medium
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Surface say: "Want to be warm, dry and comfortable without creating a fuss? These double woven, four way stretch shorts and trousers fit like your favourites but feature the full functionality of sweat wicking, quick drying and shower proof properties."
We say: People who want a pair of trousers that look good off the bike and work well on the bike. Ideal for urban rides.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
They sure are stretchy and they wick well too + their liquid repelling properties do the biz in light showers or should your elbow get jogged on a night out, they aren't water proof though
Seamed to be of adequate quality.
Spill proof and light shower proof. Less than ideal when muddy as the fabric stretches with the weight of the schlop. Super fast drying, touch dry in minutes.
The material is remarkably tough despite it being lightweight and feeling thin. The stitching will rot before you wear the gusset out.
They're weight is not a reflection on their toughness.
There isn't a padded gusset or articulated knees or rider specific cut as such but they are comfortable to ride for short jaunts. The amount of stretch is very forgiving.
Although they reminded me of them these are a lot cleverer than my school trousers were but if I cycled any distance in them I would have turned into a Van De Graaf generator.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Literally dried in minutes, shame my pants didn't.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Super quick to dry, slim fit, smart/casual look, stretchy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Get a bit flappy when they get really soaked or muddy.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Indeed
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Of course
About the tester
I usually ride: Bike that I am testing at the time My best bike is: Giant CFR pro. Old school carbon converted to fixed.
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,