Vulpine's new Jinzu Selvedge Cycling Jeans are hardwearing, well-made and cut especially for riding your bike, although paying £179 for a pair of jeans is going to be a tough step for many.
So, what makes these cycling jeans as opposed to just jeans? The most important single feature is what Vulpine call the 'diamond gusset'. You know how most jeans have four seams that meet right where you sit on a bike saddle? Below your perineum, if you will. Well, that's not the case here. Instead, Vulpine add an extra panel – that diamond gusset – and arrange the seams so that you're not sitting on any of them while you ride.
This makes a big difference to your comfort when cycling because there's no large, pressure-forming lump of fabric between you and the saddle. And that diamond gusset isn't at all obvious when you're off the bike; these just look like standard jeans.
Vulpine have also cut the back of the jeans a little longer than normal so that you don't expose any flesh when you're leaning forward on the bike. That's good news for you and even better news for people behind you in traffic. Seriously, no one wants to see your arse crack (it's a medical term).
Again, though, Vulpine have made the difference from normal quite subtle. These don't shout 'cycling jeans' when you're off the bike.
The knees are slightly articulated – shaped so that you can pedal easily – and the belt loops are plenty strong enough to carry a U-lock. I didn't use the extra loop at the bottom of one of them that's designed for attaching a carabiner but it's there if you want to sling one on there.
Obviously, the fit will depend on the individual but I found the straight cut to be loose enough for a cyclist's muscles without being too baggy.
Vulpine haven't added reflective details to the turn-ups or anything like that, so you're on your own as far as visibility is concerned.
Cycle-specific features aside, these are high quality jeans in their own right. They're made of 12oz Jinzu selvedge denim from Japan, 12oz being a medium weight. You probably wouldn't want anything much heavier than this for cycling bearing in mind that you'll be generating your own warmth and wanting plenty of flexibility.
Selvedge, if you're not a denimhead, refers to the edge of the fabric as it comes off the loom, and the idea is that it's woven to prevent fraying. Although many people will tell you otherwise, it's as much about the pose value of that white Selvedge edging when you turn up the hem.
You get the usual five jeans pockets, the bottoms of the rear ones being lined so you're very unlikely to wear through them over time. The fly is secured by Vulpine's own metal buttons and you get a neat-looking polka dot lining inside the yoke (the bit below the waistband around the back).
If you're a true denim connoisseur you'll probably want to leave the washing of these jeans for as long as possible to get them to fade nicely over time, but I couldn't very well write a review without having put them through the machine, so I turned them inside out and stuck them on a few cold washes. They came out of it just a tiny bit less blue each time – as you'd expect – and finished up the same size as they went in because the denim is pre-shrunk.
Of course, the danger of not washing your new jeans is that they'll leave dye that you might notice on light coloured stuff so you'll probably want to avoid white saddles for a while.
After several weeks' use the Vulpine jeans are starting to look worn in and there's absolutely no abrasion to the denim. By the look of things, these are going to last for ages.
These are a really comfortable option for cycling around town, that diamond gusset being a highlight, and the clever bit is that they look pretty much like non-cycle specific jeans when you get off the bike so you don't look like a fish out of water when going about the rest of your life.
Well-made, hardwearing jeans that are cut especially for riding your bike, although the price will be a hurdle for many
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Make and model: Vulpine Mens' Jinzu Raw Selvedge Cycling Jeans
Size tested: Large Long
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?
Vulpine say, "Simply designed and constructed for toughness and comfort on the bike from raw 12oz Japanese denim, from beside the Jinzu River. A straight leg cut accommodates a cyclist's physique without losing shape.
"Ideal for heavy use commuting and urban riding.
"Suggested temperature range 0°C – 18°C. Combine with padded Merino Boxers for ultimate comfort.
"There's nothing we wear more than jeans. You get a favourite pair and you smash them until they fall apart, and you still wear them. So there's nothing more frustrating than cheaply made cycling jeans that lack the right details and fall apart all too soon.
"Years of research and design in the making, the Jinzu Raw Selvedge Cycling Jeans are designed to be simple and tough. No wacky adornments, just great cycling features, subtly held.
"Firstly, you don't want to be sat on any seams, so we've used our low-key Diamond Gusset, as with all our trousers. We've cut them long at the back to prevent any Builder's Bum. These are straight cut, in regular 32' and long 34' legs, to accommodate a cyclist's quads, without being baggy.
"The 12oz raw selvedge (unwashed) denim is sourced from by the Jinzu River in Toyama Prefecture, Japan. This is exceptionally high quality fabric that is best not to wash for 6 months+. That way you get the best possible fitting and self-designed jeans. Create!
"Buy into serious quality and longevity. Go for classic understated design. Just be careful of that white leather saddle turning blue..."
The fact that the area you sit on when cycling is seam-free is the high point. The other cycle-specific features are fairly subtle, and that's a good thing on jeans that you're going to wear off the bike as well as on it.
There's no abrasion to the denim at all and all the stitching remains perfectly intact.
The seat area is comfy and the slightly lengthened back helps keep you well covered on the bike.
Right, you could go to TK Maxx and buy some jeans for 40 quid but that's not a fair comparison. These are made from high-quality selvedge denim and the cut is cycle-specific so you have to expect to pay considerably more. You can find Selvedge jeans for that sort of money, but there's Selvedge and there's Selvedge. These fall in to the designer category and for that they are about mid-range. A pair of Levis Made and Crafted jeans will set you back about £130 - but you can pay double that, and these have added cycling features too. That said, £179 is clearly a lot of cash.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The jeans do what they promise, providing on-bike comfort with off the bike subtlety.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The seat panel that means you can stay comfortable in the saddle.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
£179 for a pair of jeans is a struggle, no matter how good they are.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? £179 for a pair of jeans is a struggle, no matter how good they are. It would be a struggle for me too.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
These are high-quality jeans in an excellent cut and they do exactly what they promise, although £179 is a lot to pay, no matter how good they are.
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.