N.Bidlake All-Rounder suit trousers are nicely made and fit comfortable on the bike, but, er, that's it. We'd like a few more bike-specific features.
There are some things in life that are sent to test you, that exercise your moral belief and to question your very existence. When we were sent these N.Bidlake All-Rounder suit trousers to examine their fibres and ponder whether their existence involves being on a bicycle, it raised many questions and an eyebrow.
N.Bidlake are new to the cycling scene and have brought to the market an interesting choice of product, a pair of suit trousers. But they are coming at it from the other way, these are first and foremost tailored trousers rather than cycling trousers that are tailored.
To make it clearer, let's see what the somewhat hefty $160 price tag gets us.
The fabric is a wool and polyester mix, not 100% wool as you would expect in a suit trouser of this price. The synthetic fibres give the fabric some elasticity and allow it to stretch and return to its shape. They also help the material to dry faster after a soaking that if it were 100% wool and seem to make the fabric a bit more rugged and wear resistant. (That said, I remember deforming the knees of my hired tuxedo at a wedding after just one epic knee slide across the dance floor and I guess this poly mix would do the same, if one was to do something similar. And epic.)
The cut is slim with a straight leg and a low waistband that keeps out of the way of your gut when bent over the bars. But the rear isn't raised and if you have a skinny bum, you could be showing it off while out on a ride. My pert bottom was kept out of sight so not really an issue for me.
The aperture at the leg bottoms was slim enough not to flap into your chainring. It doesn't need to be rolled up or tucked away as is usual for something designed for cycling.
The slim, straight cut of the legs has enough give in the material to allow your thighs to expand when entering a Strava section on your way to work.
The trousers look good, not just for suit trousers but they actually looked pretty cool, complementing a slim physique.
However, I can't help thinking about my old chemistry teacher who was a bit zany and would wear Hi Tec Silver Shadows with his grey suit. That looked daft. But I digress; plus that was 20 years ago, and then some.
The wool poly mix fabric is thin. It's much thinner than, say, the denim of a pair of jeans. Although we are only talking maybe a millimetre, you do feel this right at your saddle interface i.e. your bottom. On a thinly padded race saddle, your cheeks really feel the terrain you are rolling over on hard, narrow tyres.
The cut of the trousers is well designed to work in the saddle and feels very comfortable, but I think cycling trousers need to be more than just trousers that work well on a bike. There are too many useful features from other urban cycling trousers missing for these to get a high rating.
For example, the pockets are shallow making anything that is in them rise up uncomfortably to the crease at the top of your legs. The low waistband doesn't have a silicone gripper at the back to keep your shirt tucked in. There are no reflective panels or seams or any safety conscious design features. The button waist closure has no overlap so comfort is compromised there. There are no extra hidden pockets or carabiners to clip your keys on, no logos stamped on to the outside, no seamless gusset or articulated knee joints or abrasion resistant patches. These are simply suit trousers that have a cut that works well on a bike.
Using these trousers I kept thinking that N.Bidlake has not done much more than more than find a product that feels comfortable on a bike, and labelled it 'for cycling'.
I feel that they could have made this into a great product with a few sympathetic tweaks for cyclists and justified that hefty price tag.
Simple smart and robust tailored slacks that work well for cycling but lack features, and at a price.
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Make and model: N.Bidlake All-rounder Trouser
Size tested: 32
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?
This is a tailored trouser with a bit of toughness, designed for adventure, not an outdoor pant with a tailored cut.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Engineered to be durable, repel water, dirt, and oil without looking technical, made with a wool/polyester mix.
These trousers have actually surprised me in how robust they are.
They offer good movement and dry quickly and very little chafing.
After a few months of riding with these they still look like new, no loose threads, no bobbling, no shiny rubbing marks from the saddle and no holes from failed dismounts.
Nice slim cut, comfortable to ride in even in the rain.
If Marks and Spencer had the same cut of trousers they would be a fraction of the price.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
They are tough and they are very smart looking.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Cost and lack of features.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? If I really needed super tough suit trousers.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? To tough guys in suits.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Add some bike features to these trousers and they would be a top performing pair of strides.
Age: 40 Height: 179 Weight: 75
I usually ride: Condor pista My best bike is: Condor Pista fixed. Look KG241, Jean Thomann vintage
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, touring, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, bare back