Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: Columbia Cyclocross Pants

I saw these on the REI sale rack last spring for $40. I tried them on and they fit, though they felt a bit funny somehow. I liked the bikey features, so I decided to buy them regardless of the weird fit -- and the odd white stitching.

Well they have turned out to be heart-breakers. The fit never worked out, specifically, they are short in the butt and not roomy enough in the thigh. Both of these shortfalls are pretty critical failures for bike-specific pants.

The reason they are heart-breakers though is that they have so many great bikey details, but the execution on the basics just falls flat.

To wit:
  • I love that they have a built in strap for cinching the leg. But without more taper (which may require a zip and hence increase cost), the strap creates the Bilbo Baggins Effect, creating a billow of pant around the ankle which likes to get all in the chain funk.

  • Bilbo Baggins Effect

  • The reflective bits stitched on the pants at various spots are pretty nice and I would love it if my daily drivers had some built in reflectivity, especially on the back of the pant. But there is now such a thing as reflective material that is not white. You can get muted gray and even slate color material that reflects. The white on black of these pants is fugly. And good lord, the white/gray stitching is just awful. I feel like I'm back in 8th grade when "parachute pants" were the rage. The product page for this pant on the Columbia site does a good job of muting the white stitching.

  • Zip rear pocket. Nice. But only one? And the front pockets are so shallow I can't even fit my hand in there. Actually putting stuff (pocket knife, chap stick, change, cash, etc) fills them uncomfortably against the thigh, which, as mentioned, is not cut ample enough for my thighs. Note that I've not run into this issue on other pants that I cycle in daily, which are not cycling-specific pants. So it's not a case of thunder-thighitis. The pants also have the funny thigh pocket that I never understand. What goes in there? Cigarettes?

  • Material. Is stated simply as "nylon." And it feels like it. They breathe about as well as plastic wrap.

I have something I want to tell you. I'm not like other guys. I mean, I'm different.

But check out the gusseted crotch, and the darts sewed into the thigh, and the rear panel at the waist line. And the solid button with button hole. The details are rad on these pants. I so wish they fit and they were made with good material and wearing them didn't make me look like an extra in the Beat it video.
And the name is of course preposterous. If done properly, these would be more aptly named, Commuters. God help the poor bastard that attempts to race cross in these.
So, I hope the people at Columbia keep putting out such well thought-out cycle pants, because they could really deliver a high-value pant with their hugeness. They just need to make sure they nail the basics first before piling on the cool bike features.
If you are in Spokane and you wear 34x32, you can have these pants. Just email me and you can have them. Maybe you'll love em.


Anonymous said...

If you still have the Columbia Cyclocross pants I would be happy to get them from you. I'll pay for shipping of course.

Please email me back at

Anonymous said...

Do you still have the pants? Please email me: