Everybody I know who bikes in jeans (myself included) pretty quickly discovers the shortcoming of those jeans. They wear out very quickly on a bike saddle.
I've discarded three or four pair of pants this year from overly large holes in the rear and -- even worse -- in the 'taint' region. I've come to appreciate the sturdy construction and reinforcement in bike specific clothing that don't look like bike specific clothing.
Check out, for example, Outlier's new "Workwear Pants."
It's like jeans, but instead of denim Outlier uses their "Doubleweave Canvas," which is a tough fabric on the outside for great durability, but with a soft brushed inside surface for great comfort. Curved waistand and gussetted crotch ensure freedom of movement on the bike and off.
The price might seem a tad high, but compare made in America value against several pair of disposable pants.
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Yeah, durability is why I've started enjoying Backcountry Khakis from Rail Riders and am thinking about some Rock Jeans as well. However, I'm seriously jonesing to upgrade even further to some of the Outlier stuff.
@Josh I completely wore through my first pair of Prana -- sorry, I don't remember which they were. My second pair are still going strong, but I don't wear them as much because I kind of ruined them in a mishap involving spray foam insulation during an attempted flat repair (it didn't work). The little tag inside the pants says "Breathe." I don't know if that's a style or motto.
Must be nice to be rich. Those of us AMERICANS who work hard for more than a full-time week and earn less than minimum wage can't afford to pay for prissy designer clothes. I'll take basic Nashbar and basic Performance lycra and synthetic jerseys any day. I'm still wearing first pair of non-American shorts, which I bought for 20 bucks five years and 20k miles ago.
=v= I've been through good economic times and bad, and either way it makes more sense to buy long-lasting clothes, because they save money in the long run, duh. This prissy (give or take the letter "r") reverse-snobbery makes no sense.
I wonder what the Copenhageners do? Maybe they don't put enough miles on their bikes for this to be an issue? Or they have closets stuffed to the brim and never rely on staple items? I'm not being flippant about this at all - what do people do who live in a culture that is attuned to bikes as transportation?
One thing I heard over at Bike Skirt, where this same topic is up for discussion, is that a wider cruiser-style saddle might be better for clothes because it spreads out the pressure.
Re the "zomg elitists with your designer clothes!" - having a lot of family who get all up in arms about what "rich elitists" spend on various items, I've noticed that the difference is more about what things one deems worthy of a splurge. "Real Americans" spend money on cars and recreational toys. Prissy elitists spend money on things like durable clothes and nutritious food. When I realized that, I lost any respect for the But I Am A Hard Working Real True American contingent.
@opoponax - I had exactly the same thought regarding the Dutch, Chinese, etc who ride bikes daily. Do they have problems with seat wear? I also considered that they probably have wider saddles. I guess I'll ask Mikael @ Copenhagenize and ask how they do it :-)
@Anon6:35 - I buy a lot of inexpensive made in China stuff also, but for those who have the $$$, would you prefer they send their money to China (over $2 Trillion in American dollars sitting in their banks right now, LITERALLY more than they know what to do with), or send that money to American textile workers?
=v= My strategy during economic booms has been to buy the best I could afford: durable, made in the USA (union-made, not prison-made), and with various authentic green credentials. I want these businesses to succeed, and when I have dollars I will vote with them.
During leaner times I prefer to do without than to support businesses that use sweatshops, child labor, forced labor, and trash the ecosystem. I can't do without clothes, of course, but there are thrift shops. There's also this thing called mending.
=v= I like gussetted pants for biking. My current favorite is Swrve.
I bought some Chi Pants a long time ago, back when everyone was wearing pleated-front khakis. These were made very well -- in fact, I still have them, even though they're seriously unfashionable at this point. Chi resorted to cheaper, sweatshoppy labor in San Francisco's pre-dot-com garment district, and I unwittingly bought some of these. Same brand, same patterns, but they fell apart in a few years. (Yes, the older ones have outlasted them.)
I work on trees, and through that I discovered Arborwear pants. These, too, have suffered offshoring and a reduction in quality.
Mostly I've bought "outdoorsy"-themed ones at discount prices because they quickly go out of style. (This means I'm generally out of style.) I have one pair of Kavu pants, marketed for rock-climbing, that wear like iron. Unfortunately, it weighs like iron, too.