Showers Pass Hybrid zip-off pant is two very competent bits of clothing in one and arguably the most innovative take on the street smart, bike practical leg wear brief. Versatile enough for general riding, cantering across town for those straight to business meets and a spot of touring too thanks to their cut, convertible nature and host of civilian practicalities.
However, while you'll only attract admiring glances in either black or taupe (that's stone/grey to you and me), technical under shorts are essential for all but the shortest of hops and the heavier tog can intrude when temperatures nudge the high teens and twenties.
There's nothing particularly earth shattering about their breathable, water-repellent polyester construction characterised by neat stitching and a comprehensive list of features. Taken from the top we've the sturdy belt loops, giving no excuse for 'Dagenham smiles' during sprint for your life traffic light breakaways or tedious out of the saddle slogs familiar to us fixer faithful. Generous front pockets give the hands somewhere to hide while being very accommodating of change, phones and everyday oddments.
However, key rings showed a tendency for tangling in the waffle-esque mesh linings. The Jekyl and Hyde nature of butt pockets is well documented and despite a better cut, cargo will still induce discomfort after 15 minutes in the saddle - less on a sit up and beg town hack. Combat type trousers can set office anti bike contingents on red alert so the zip-offs feature a subtle diagonal thigh pocket that snaffles compact cameras, wallets, smartphones etc with ease, but their neatest feature has to be the removable legs.
Zippers hide beneath a subtle valance, ensuring a seamless look while press-studs overcome the need for clips, preventing the bottoms tangling in the transmission. Fifteen-mile round trip commutes and longer jollies at a tourist typical 80 rpm were comfortable, refined affairs, ensuring I arrived at my destination with style and dignity -well, the usual levels of style and dignity at least.
Water resistance is pretty good-at least in the passing showers sense, but the heavier material offers better protection from chill than rain. On the flip side, October's mild conditions saw a slight lag in moisture trafficking, so I converted them to shorts when hustling around in the saddle, adding the bottoms in forty seconds flat before sashaying through the office/bar/college/restaurant (that's a lot of sashaying - ed).
Two very practical and stylish garments in one that perform well on the bike and look great off it.
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Make and model: Showers Pass Hybrid Zip-Off Pant
Size tested: Black - M
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?
"The most versatile bike-to-office pant ever! Multi-functional lightweight, stretchy soft shell pants convert to knickers and shed dirt and water. Quick drying too. Dual leg snaps keep pant legs away from chain and crank, belt-loops and pockets take you from saddle to swivel chair without a hitch". No quibble here.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Lightweight 4 way stretch soft shell fabric
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Showers Pass have some serious savvy when it comes to garments that look street but are cycling practical. Cut is best described as tourist-great for churning along to about 80 rpm with no hint of discomfort-so long as you've remembered undershorts. In milder weather, the heavier tog weight isn't quite so efficient at wicking moisture but this is easily overcome by simple conversion to knickers. In short there will always be an element of compromise but these are as close to the desig brief as I've come to date.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Sleek, practical and fiendishly cunning design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, only no-one's got butt pockets sussed yet.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 38 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)