Simple smart and robust tailored slacks that work well for cycling but lack features, and at a price

N.Bidlake All-Rounder suit trousers are nicely made and fit comfortable on the bike, but, er, that's it. We'd like a few more bike-specific features.

There are some things in life that are sent to test you, that exercise your moral belief and to question your very existence. When we were sent these N.Bidlake All-Rounder suit trousers to examine their fibres and ponder whether their existence involves being on a bicycle, it raised many questions and an eyebrow.

N.Bidlake are new to the cycling scene and have brought to the market an interesting choice of product, a pair of suit trousers. But they are coming at it from the other way, these are first and foremost tailored trousers rather than cycling trousers that are tailored.

To make it clearer, let's see what the somewhat hefty $160 price tag gets us.

The fabric is a wool and polyester mix, not 100% wool as you would expect in a suit trouser of this price. The synthetic fibres give the fabric some elasticity and allow it to stretch and return to its shape. They also help the material to dry faster after a soaking that if it were 100% wool and seem to make the fabric a bit more rugged and wear resistant. (That said, I remember deforming the knees of my hired tuxedo at a wedding after just one epic knee slide across the dance floor and I guess this poly mix would do the same, if one was to do something similar. And epic.)

The cut is slim with a straight leg and a low waistband that keeps out of the way of your gut when bent over the bars. But the rear isn't raised and if you have a skinny bum, you could be showing it off while out on a ride. My pert bottom was kept out of sight so not really an issue for me.

The aperture at the leg bottoms was slim enough not to flap into your chainring. It doesn't need to be rolled up or tucked away as is usual for something designed for cycling.

The slim, straight cut of the legs has enough give in the material to allow your thighs to expand when entering a Strava section on your way to work.

The trousers look good, not just for suit trousers but they actually looked pretty cool, complementing a slim physique.

However, I can't help thinking about my old chemistry teacher who was a bit zany and would wear Hi Tec Silver Shadows with his grey suit. That looked daft. But I digress; plus that was 20 years ago, and then some.

The wool poly mix fabric is thin. It's much thinner than, say, the denim of a pair of jeans. Although we are only talking maybe a millimetre, you do feel this right at your saddle interface i.e. your bottom. On a thinly padded race saddle, your cheeks really feel the terrain you are rolling over on hard, narrow tyres.

The cut of the trousers is well designed to work in the saddle and feels very comfortable, but I think cycling trousers need to be more than just trousers that work well on a bike. There are too many useful features from other urban cycling trousers missing for these to get a high rating.

For example, the pockets are shallow making anything that is in them rise up uncomfortably to the crease at the top of your legs. The low waistband doesn't have a silicone gripper at the back to keep your shirt tucked in. There are no reflective panels or seams or any safety conscious design features. The button waist closure has no overlap so comfort is compromised there. There are no extra hidden pockets or carabiners to clip your keys on, no logos stamped on to the outside, no seamless gusset or articulated knee joints or abrasion resistant patches. These are simply suit trousers that have a cut that works well on a bike.

Using these trousers I kept thinking that N.Bidlake has not done much more than more than find a product that feels comfortable on a bike, and labelled it 'for cycling'.

I feel that they could have made this into a great product with a few sympathetic tweaks for cyclists and justified that hefty price tag.


Simple smart and robust tailored slacks that work well for cycling but lack features, and at a price.

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road.cc test report

Make and model: N.Bidlake All-rounder Trouser

Size tested: 32

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?

This is a tailored trouser with a bit of toughness, designed for adventure, not an outdoor pant with a tailored cut.

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

Engineered to be durable, repel water, dirt, and oil without looking technical, made with a wool/polyester mix.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

These trousers have actually surprised me in how robust they are.

Rate the product for performance:

They offer good movement and dry quickly and very little chafing.

Rate the product for durability:

After a few months of riding with these they still look like new, no loose threads, no bobbling, no shiny rubbing marks from the saddle and no holes from failed dismounts.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Nice slim cut, comfortable to ride in even in the rain.

Rate the product for value:

If Marks and Spencer had the same cut of trousers they would be a fraction of the price.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

They are tough and they are very smart looking.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Cost and lack of features.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? If I really needed super tough suit trousers.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? To tough guys in suits.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

Add some bike features to these trousers and they would be a top performing pair of strides.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 179  Weight: 75

I usually ride: Condor pista  My best bike is: Condor Pista fixed. Look KG241, Jean Thomann vintage

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, bare back



jacknorell [1061 posts] 5 years ago

How does this get a 7 out of 10 when you basically state it's not actually a pair of trousers for cycling?

Bit generous that, for £100 I expect things to work very well indeed, be sturdy, and look good.

TR McGowran [15 posts] 5 years ago

I have worn these for a couple of hundred miles and they still look like new, no bobbling, no shiny patches from saddle rub, no bust zips, no holes, in fact they have out performed the majority of trousers I have ever tested and this is why they got 7 put of 10. If you read the entire review I hope you will see my reasoning.

jacknorell [1061 posts] 5 years ago

Actually, you're saying the fabric is thin, has no wear patches, no seamless gusset.

No mention of how many miles you put on the trousers, nor that they stood up perfectly well to your use.

If you'd stated they still look like new after hundreds of miles, I'd better understand your rating.

That is, in the actual write-up. In the grading section you do expand on it, but the body copy leads one to believe the opposite.

Your comment does make them sound OK.

Didonc [14 posts] 5 years ago

The cut of the trousers is well designed to work in the saddle and feels very comfortable, but I think cycling trousers need to be more than just trousers that work well on a bike…. There are no extra hidden pockets or carabiners to clip your keys on, no logos stamped on to the outside, no seamless gusset or articulated knee joints

Sorry, but this is ridiculous.

Like many cyclists (I'd even venture the majority, if the definition is more about a mode of transport than a lifestyle symbol), I don't always want to look like 'a cyclist' when I step away from the bike. I cycle to client meetings, and need to look presentable. I'd rather they asked 'oh, so you cycled here?' than 'would you like to get changed?'. I'm endlessly mystified by the quantity of potentially excellent, subtle cycling clothing which falls at the last hurdle when the designers get cold feet. 'Shit, guys - we don't have enough features - let's strap some on, or no-one will buy this stuff'. And so you end up with carabiners, and logos stamped on the outside, and the whole myth of 'technical clothing' with bogus 'features' is perpetuated.

Logos stamped on the outside? What does that even mean? Is this a sort of brand whoredom?

If I were the manufacturer, on reading this review, I'd be thinking of more features to strap onto the next iteration, which is a pity. These trousers are actually pretty good, hence the score, but this isn't reflected in the tone of the article which seems to be rather mocking, albeit gently so.

A better focus might have been the idea of the 'for cycling' label - insofar as this justifies a ludicrous price hike. I've all but given up on cycling clothing for this reason; I buy most of my riding stuff from Uniqlo now. Trousers are £40. I'd pay more for a bit of stretch, a higher back band, quicker drying and a bit more wear resistance in the seat, but actually that's about all I want - and it's not £60 more, to arrive at the £100 tag here. However as long as there's a perception that we're all desperate for 'features' at any cost, this subtler middle-market, which might actually suit more riders, won't be addressed.

Dr_Lex [502 posts] 5 years ago

Like Didonc, I feel that there is a market for reasonably-priced smart trousers with minimal cycling-related features - some stretch, gusset, DWR coating, washable & perhaps an internal button & loop on the cuff of the right leg. What you have here looks to be a pair of travel trousers with a coating - not hugely different to buying M&S for around £30 and washing in NikWax. At this price, I'd rather head to Rapha and buy British*.

(*yes, I know that the manufacture is overseas)

nathan@N.Bidlake [1 post] 5 years ago

Didonc - Thank you for your reply. We purposely strip away all the things that, in our opinion are not necessary, focusing on the stuff that is. We believe all clothing can perform through smart tailoring, the correct technical fabrics and durable construction. We don't want our clothing to say anything, we simply require it work very well on our daily urban adventures by bike.

As for our price points, there is in fact a huge price jump when using beuatifuly engineered technical fabrics. Our markup is way below the clothing industry standards, but we are not going to compromise when it comes to materials.

We hope you give us a try in the future

Kadenz [112 posts] 5 years ago

Two features I'm glad they don't have is logos and reflective strips, as those features make trousers unsuitable for work (at least for me).

I'm sick of having to unpick the unsightly reflective belt loops on Swerve's otherwise excellent jeans.

There are other and far better ways of employing reflectives while cycling, such as hi-viz waistcoats and jackets and reflective strips on mudguards.

WolfieSmith [1400 posts] 5 years ago

This isn't personal to N. Bidlake but can anyone ever make a pair of trousers that don't leave you looking like a mod? I hate the skinny jean look. Maybe you could make boot cut with a Velcro patch on the out side so you can fold over the bottom of the trouser leg so it stays.

I'm still looking for suit trousers that are boot cut in general. After 15 years flares are coming back again - and this time they're going main stream! You read it here first.  36