TL;DR - I love the 2022 version but Rapha has changed the fit so I’m looking for recommendations for an alternative.
On a whim I got a pair of the outgoing version of the Rapha Technical Trousers in a closeout sale at the end of last year and absolutely fell in love with them. Way too expensive to buy full price, but I figured I’d watch sales and pick up a few more pairs in various colours over the next couple years. Just ordered my second pair in a recent sale and I really don’t like the updated version (slim fit has become straight leg, inseam lengths are now either too short or too long for me, pocket configuration changed, etc.) This pair is going back and I’m looking for something else.
Product page for mine is already archived but here’s the Road.cc Review
Look like normal chinos and make perfect office trousers or weekend casuals.
Loads of stretch for cycling (we’re talking 15 minute city-centre commutes here, so trying to avoid changing clothes)
Cotton-free synthetic material blend means they breathe when sweaty and dry in minutes when wet.
Take up about 1/2 the size of a pair of jeans in a suitcase and make brilliant travel trousers (also can be washed and dried overnight using a hotel sink because synthetic)
Slim-fit but still cyclist-leg friendly (clearly the Rapha update means slim is going out of style so I guess it makes me Officially Old for wanting to stick with slim but I’m doing it anyway.)
What’s nice but I don’t have to have:
Zip pockets mean no dropping keys/change while cycling (new ones switched to top-loading jeans-style pockets which would also work)
Hi-viz and reflective accents
I’ve done a bit of searching and have also noticed some targeted ads getting served up to me. Here’s what I’ve found so far. Would be curious to hear if anyone has experience with any of these or any to add to the list?
TeeShoppen - from a targeted ad. Seems to tick the right boxes but the great prices and sheer amount of options on the website make me suspect low quality.
Lululemon - These seem pretty promising. Would guess Lululemon are trying to serve similarly active customers too.
One Mile Navy Ones - They seem to be taking a clear and direct swipe at the Rapha trousers. Seem to tick most of the boxes. Fairly expensive. IME a maker with a really limited product catalogue like this usually makes good stuff.
And here are some I’ve already ruled out, just in case other readers of this post are on their own searches with different requirements:
Spoke - another targeted ad but seem really focused on quality. Another clear swipe at Rapha. Love the customisation but these are also mostly cotton.
Vulpine - interesting but cotton-rich and very expensive
Hackett - Close-ish but I’d rather have belt loops than an elasticated waist
I use to destroy pant and jean crotches. This hasnt happened in the 2-3 years i’ve owned these pants.
No padding but… they’re made for active lifestyle while looking quite decent. Oh and they have a rewards program and their customer service warrantied me a new pair of pants for a mistake i made. They just sent me another pair!
(Cleaning with bleach products + accidental splash = sad panda)
These are fantastic tips and some great options here. I still need to sort through and see how many have UK distribution, but given it’s a US-centric forum I expect this thread is turning into a great database for more readers than just me.
Once I get a chance I’ll try to report back on UK availability of suggestions so far. Keep 'em coming in the meantime!
Circling back to this. Just placed an order with Teeshoppen and another for some Prana Brion Slim trousers. Choices came down mostly to UK availability, inseam length (several don’t offer shorter than 32), and sale offers. Will report back once products arrive and I work out if/what I’m keeping.
Cost per pair is under half of what I’d pay for Lululemon or similar so I’m trying there first, but may end up with one of the more premium brands in the end if I’m not happy with this round.
Also stumbled across this thread on Reddit and it seems like there’s a fair bit of crossover between our required feature set and the ‘one bag living’ trend: Reddit - Dive into anything
Certain kinds of golf trousers also seem to be fairly similar but I didn’t have the patience to go down that rabbit hole right now.
Teeshoppen went back - way too slim fitting. Might have tried straight fit but they didn’t have stock.
Prana Brion Slim went back and I ordered Prana Brion Standard instead.
Prana Brion Standard was closer but a bit too wide in the lower leg and too narrow in the upper leg. Perfect fit for rock climbers (for whom these trousers were designed.)
I think I’m about to end up on a work contract where these kind of pants would be really helpful (lots of travel, business casual). Perhaps a good enough reason to go spend the money on a couple pairs of Lululemon. We’ve got a shop here in the city so I’ll try to stop in.
Lululemon shop in town didn’t stock all the variations I wanted to try so I ended up doing a massive credit card order to try on and return. I’m keeping the ABC Slim Fit Pants in 31w 30l. Compared to the good Rapha trousers in 30/30 they are a tiny bit smaller in the waist and slimmer through the lower legs, but about the same in the thighs. Fabric slightly heavier but very similar quality. They are also maybe 1/2 to 1 inch shorter, to the point I considered re-ordering to try on a pair of 31/32 but I felt that would probably be too long (and it seems shorter is in style these days anyway). They do have reflective piping on the seams if you roll up the cuffs.
Huge amount of fit variety from Lululemon. They’ve got 3 different inseam lengths, waists in 1 inch increments, slim and regular fit, and both ‘trouser’ (chino) and ‘pants’ (jeans) style. And as far as I can tell they have every permutation of those options, which is kind of amazing.
‘Trouser’ is closer to the Rapha ones than ‘Pants’ but I went with pants this time partly because the pockets don’t have zips like Rapha so the top-loading jeans-style ones seemed more secure, and partly because I already have a more traditional pair of cotton chinos in a similar colour.
All the Lululemon options are pretty expensive at full price, coming in just under the Raphas, but they feel at least as well made. I’ll be watching the November sales to see if it’s possible to pick up more colours at a discount.