Review: Levi's 511 Slim Fit Commuter Jeans and Tee
Levi's jeans need little introduction. Seriously, if you haven't heard of them, where have you been?! What you might not be aware of, is that as well as being the makers of probably the best-known denim range in the world, they also produce jeans especially for cyclists.
The Levi's Commuter range was actually one of the first mainstream denim/chino brand ranges to introduce cycling specific features. The idea behind the range is that subtle adaptations and innovations make their products more comfortable for that commute across town, without compromising the classic looks. Of course, with Levi's keeping to their superb reputation for quality and style as well, these are jeans that promise to stand the test of time, and continue to look great however many times you ride to the pub in them.
The Levi's 511 Slim fit Commuter Jeans look like a regular pair of indigo denims at a glance; a set of well-made and well-fitted ones, at that. The 'Commuter' is in the detail though, and I was very impressed by the attention that has gone into the design of these, to make them 'cycling specific'.
Starting at the waistband, Levi's have made the back of the jeans a little higher cut than most, which helps to avoid the uncomfortable and rather unsightly gap that can appear between tee and jeans when riding a bike. The waistband also has an integrated U-Lock storage belt, which is a neat innovation to help to spread the load of a lock and avoid you ripping the pockets of your jeans, by trying to stash a heavy piece of metal in there. Chilly back and bike security - sorted.
Moving further down, you get pockets that are purposefully, yet subtly reinforced; to ensure they're a bit more durable when rubbing on a saddle for many hours during their life. The fabric itself is also designed to stand the test of time, and has an EcoRepel finish that protects the material (and your legs) from grit, grime and occasional road spray.
Moving past the knee, where you get a nice bit of articulation, you get to the lower cuffs. These (like many cycling specific trousers) have a hidden reflective strip, which is exposed when you roll up the cuff, to keep it away from the chainrings. Of course, being Levi's quality, this is 3M Scotchlite reflective tape - no expense spared.
The 511's not only look great then, both on and off the bike; they also have a lot of very functional cyclist-friendly features. Their dark colour and contoured legs not only suit a cyclist's physique, but also hide security and visibility aids, and will help to keep off the inevitable road muck that you encounter whilst riding. They are, quite predictably, very comfortable too; the 2 percent elastane content gives a notable little stretch to the fabric, and the fit means they really move with your body.
These are 140 years of Levi's heritage, style and quality; blended together with some very modern nods to safety and practicality. They are a cyclist's pair of denims through and through, and will certainly last longer than a pair of bib shorts!
Levi's Commuter Drop Hem Tee
To complete the Levi's look, I've also been trying out the Commuter Drop Hem Tee: a soft cotton t-shirt that again has a subtle cycling-focussed design.
Although my medium was a little on the roomy side for me, it's a great colour and the bold reflective stripe across the front should provide a bit of added visibility, at least when you're out of the saddle.
It has a great pre-washed look, which ties in well with the strong dark denim of the jeans; the subtle drop hem also helps to combined with the higher back of the jeans, to keep your lower back covered.
A great tee, which looks good both on and off the bike; matching up very well with the impressive 511 Commuter jeans to complete the casual commuter look.
Very cool kit from the classic American brand.