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review

Swrve Durable Cotton 3/4 Skinny Fit

7
£72.00

VERDICT:

7
10
Durable, stretchy and brilliantly comfortable, if not really that slim – and the pockets need a rethink
Durable
Stretchy
Great comfort
Difficult to access pockets
No phone storage
A bit drab looking
Weight: 
462g
Contact: 

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The Swrve Durable Cotton 3/4 Skinny Fit trousers are superbly practical thanks to some tough, abrasion-proof material with a 4-way stretch for exceptional comfort on the bike and around town. Seamless construction at the saddle, articulated knees and well-thought out waistband impress, though they're not as slim as you'd think – and the pockets could be better too.

These have become an essential part of my morning commute: instantly solving three pressing problems.

> Buy the Durable Cotton 3/4 Slim Fit now from Swerve for £72

The super-tough material means I'm not wearing through the gusset of my work trousers and constantly having to patch them up; the 3/4 length means no worries of chain-oil stains; and for the benefit of other road users, the high waist at the back means I never reveal a tantalising glimpse of the top of my buttocks... which may have happened in my leisure-wear slacks. I also avoid any chilly drafts. It is one of life's few win-win situations.

Swrve uses a mix of 55% cotton, 38% nylon and 7% spandex, and it really does have an impressive stretch. Look inside and you'll find that all seams have been triple stitched, which is especially important where flex is vital and abrasion is likely.

The material has a water-repellent coating for some water resistance, and it's pretty impressive for short distances through light showers. It's not going to cope with sustained downpours, and will never replace a set of waterproof over-trousers, but it got me home in relative comfort on a number of soggy evenings.

That DWR coating also gives the material a degree of wind resistance, which means they are still a viable option as autumn sets in and morning rides get ever colder.

Made to last?

There's an obvious focus on durability in the construction as well as the fabric. You get reinforced belt loops, double-welted back pockets, a reinforced pocket entry, solid YKK zippers and a burly-looking button; they are robust, easy to clean and look after.

2023 Swrve Durable Cotton 3-4 skinny-slim fit - fly detail.jpg

I must have worn through five or six pairs of trousers over the last eight years of commuting to work. I've become adept at patching with a combination of running and box stitch. I am hoping these trousers are going to put an end to that – they feel like they could.

There's even a bit of reflective detailing on the belt loops for visibility... although for the most part, they're likely to be covered with a t-shirt, jumper and/or rucksack. So perhaps not the best idea.

2023 Swrve Durable Cotton 3-4 skinny-slim fit - back detail.jpg

The belt loops at the rear are shaped to carry a mini U-lock, too, although I'm struggling to work out how I would unlock mine when it's behind my back.

Great comfort

Jump on a bike and the stretch fabric really comes into its own. There's no restriction in movement, whether you're throwing your leg over the saddle, or hauling your way to a hill PB.

The waist is well thought out. It's lower at the front to make sure belts don't dig in, and higher at the back to keep you covered when leant forward.

2023 Swrve Durable Cotton 3-4 skinny-slim fit - back.jpg

Comfort in the saddle is very impressive. There's no inner liner or padding but the diamond-panelled seamless gusset ensures that short rides around town are easy on your backside. My daily commute is a 16km round trip, but I've used these on longer rides of up to 35km with no issues at all.

From a practical viewpoint, these deliver exactly what is promised. They feel great against your skin, keep you warm, help you stay dry and stretch with your body to ensure maximum comfort.

Pick your pocket

There are two hip pockets at the front, but they're difficult to access. I can get a set of keys in there and a small wallet, but not a great deal else, and things that might fit just fine while I'm walking can become wedges when I'm sitting on the bike. They're advertised as 'pen pockets,' but I wouldn't want to cycle with a pen stored here.

2023 Swrve Durable Cotton 3-4 skinny-slim fit - side.jpg

The two pockets at the rear are also fine for walking, and one of them is zipped for security. However, I wouldn't want to put anything fragile in there when I'm cycling... least of all a mobile phone.

2023 Swrve Durable Cotton 3-4 skinny-slim fit - zop pocket.jpg

And here's the weird thing: there is nowhere that will fit a phone. Even a fair amount of dedicated lycra can safely take one – phones are practically universal, after all – so why do this casual pair not seem to give it any thought?

I commute with a rucksack and it's no great problem then, but for trips down the pub and short hops around town, I resented having to carry a few small valuables in an extra bag.

Style council

And then there's the aesthetic. For me, these trousers feel a little Beijing 1967 with a hint of Wickes DIY overalls... they also remind me of the grey school trousers I wore in the 80s.

2023 Swrve Durable Cotton 3-4 skinny-slim fit - logo tab.jpg

Head to the Swrve website and the models seem to carry off this look far better than I do. But it's the mixture of grey colour, heavy cloth and the way the legs seem to flap around at half mast. I've taken to rolling them up to just under the knee to cinch them in, and that does improve matters considerably. I really didn't get the sense they were skinny.

I'm not claiming to be a style guru, but I wasn't blown away by the look. Given their all-rounder urban nature, that may be a drawback for some.

Value

£72 seems pretty reasonably given the quality and general usefulness of these strides. Siobhan reviewed the Velocity Women's Cycling Capris and, though they're more expensive at £85, they look much slicker than these. Unfortunately they don't do a men's 3/4, though the full-length Velocity Men's Climber Trousers are very good at £90.

The last 3/4 length trousers I owned were Endura Hummvees. I bought them about 14 years ago and for some reason handed them to a friend, who still uses them today. I definitely preferred the cut and aesthetic of those trousers, and wish I'd kept hold of them. They can still be bought today for £72.99, and that includes a liner too.

Overall

These seem to occupy a little niche of their own; tough cycling 3/4s, but with street looks. They're viable urban cycling trousers that don't look out of place in a pub garden or wandering around town, and if you don't mind the not-that-skinny fit, slightly basic looks and perplexing lack of phone-room, they're a winner.

Verdict

Durable, stretchy and brilliantly comfortable, if not really that slim – and the pockets need a rethink

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Swrve Durable Cotton 3/4 Skinny Fit

Size tested: 34

Tell us what the product is for

Swrve says, "The skinny fit 3/4 shorts made in a Durable Cotton fabric. The Durable Cotton is tough and abrasion-resistant with a 4-way stretch for superior comfort on a bike. this fabric is the perfect complement to all the bike-friendly features our shorts have, giving you a very functional and flattering short on and off the bike. Our classic skinny / slim fit 3/4 knickers made in our new Durable Cotton fabric."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Swrve lists:

low waist in front to prevent your belt from digging into you

higher waist in back to stay respectable and to keep you warm

articulated knees for a better fit on a bike, office chair, or barstool

seamless gusseted crotch for comfort

reinforced reflective belt loops (safety first)

no-stretch interior waistband for a perfect fit throughout the day

double-welted back pockets fit a mini U-lock

one back pocket has zipper for the important stuff

two front pen pockets (stay organised)

high quality YKK zippers throughout

steel jean-style button

burly weight (325 gsm)

reinforced pocket entry for durability

triple chain-stitch sewing for flexibility in all high-stress seams

triple stitching in all major seams for superior durability

stylish regular trim fit for everyday use

55% Cotton, 38% Nylon, 7% Spandex

Cotton feels great against the skin

Nylon is super tough

Spandex adds 4-way stretch for superior ease of movement

DWR coating adds light water and wind resistance

28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38-inch waist cut with a true waist size.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

The design emphasis is on durability, and these are likely to last you a long time.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

These deliver exactly what they are designed to do: comfort in the saddle and smart-casual looks.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Having used them daily for cycling around town, commuting, walking and even work-wear, I have been impressed with their tough feel. I have no doubt these would last well.

Rate the product for fit:
 
6/10

In terms of comfort these fit really well, especially around the waist, but they're a little baggy – they don't feel 'skinny fit.'

Rate the product for sizing:
 
8/10

I would have liked a way to cinch in the bottom of the legs to stop them flapping around.

Rate the product for weight:
 
6/10

These are relatively heavy, but given their intended use it's not really an issue.

Rate the product for comfort:
 
8/10

Very comfortable on short urban rides, commutes, and longer trips out of town.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

How easy is the product to care for? How did it respond to being washed?

Easy to wash and look after.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

These performed very well and have become an essential part of my morning commute. I expect to keep using them for many years!

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Excellent comfort and super tough design.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

I'd like a larger pocket at the thigh that would take a mobile phone.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

They're more expensive than the Endura Hummvee 3/4 length trousers that are a direct competitor, but well priced relative to other casual cycling trousers and shorts.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

These do their intended job really well. They are comfortable, durable and don't look out of place when you're walking around town or heading to the pub. The fit is not as snug as expected, however, and the pockets just didn't work for me - they need to be slimmer and better with typical pocket cargo to score higher.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 0  Height: 180cm  Weight: 83k

I usually ride: Specialised Langster (fixed commuter)  My best bike is: Condor Fratello (new – Audax rides)

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: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, Audax

Add new comment

5 comments

Avatar
ktache | 4 months ago
1 like

I have a pair of swrve denimy shorts, they are my go to general wearing shorts, alright on the bike, but incredibly comfy for when off it.

Enduro Zymes for me for riding, 2 normals for the fine weather and a pair of 3/4 for the winter. Shame they stopped making them, they have lasted so many years and are still going strong. Perfect pockets too.

Avatar
brooksby | 4 months ago
0 likes

I really like the look of these.  Three quarter length trousers made of proper material - not bib shorts or tights - are hard to find, and the ones I have (not Swrve) have been repaired far beyond their natural lifespan.

Now, when do I get paid...? 

Avatar
andystow replied to brooksby | 4 months ago
1 like

I may try them too, although I'm now tempted by the Endura Hummvees mentioned.

Still mourning my René Herse/Compass knickers, arse shredded in a couple of years of occasional use by my Brooks Cambium saddle.

Avatar
brooksby replied to andystow | 4 months ago
1 like

I didn't get on with Hummvees.  They're a bit too "Let's off-road!" for me...

Avatar
andystow replied to brooksby | 4 months ago
0 likes

Turns out both options are currently out of stock in their respective US stores anyhow.

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