By STEPHEN KRCMAR
Cycling knickers can be divided into three camps: mountain bike, urban, and lycra. The first two options are more casually cut but aspire to be as functional as the latter. And some, like the new Cutter Tech Knickerbockers, are designed for the urban/commuting cyclist but hold up well on the trail, too.
Available in one color — called “not black” — the Cutter Tech Knickerbockers hover somewhere between a charcoal and a chocolate color depending how bright the light is and how many times they’ve been washed. Lightweight, the knickers are built from Polartec Power Shield Stretch fabric, and they are so stretchy and breathable that they feel like they would be a good option for rock climbing or yoga.
I’ve been commuting and mountain biking in these knicks for six weeks. So far, so good. With a 16.5-inch inseam, the knickers are long enough to cover your knees but not so long as to interfere with pedaling. And with a total of six pockets — two front, two back, two cargo — there’s plenty of stash capacity. The back pocket has a snap to secure your U-lock in place in case you run into rough roads.
The look? With an articulated cut, I would venture that many people could wear the Knickerbockers to an office setting with no troubles. If you work in a casual environment, you can go straight to a bar or art opening in these pants after work without having to change.
Then, riding back home, you’ll appreciate the articulated knees and gusseted crotch in the saddle, which offer good freedom of range for pedaling. Like most knickers, these do not have a chamois pad.
The knickers’ Polartec fabric has proven to be durable after my multi-week test. It washed up well after days of riding. (For what it’s worth, Polartec acknowledged the Knickerbockers as a nice new piece, awarding the pant with one of its 2009 Apex Awards, which are given to “designers and companies that make the most outstanding Polartec-based products,” according to a press release.)
A bonus: The Cutter Tech Knickerbockers are warranted for life. Cutter will refund or exchange the pant if there is a fabric or manufacturing defect. The official company line is this: “All Cutter gear carries a lifetime warranty. If our stuff sucks, send it back.”
Currently, Cutter Tech Knickerbockers are available only at http://www.realcyclist.com, where they retail for a pricey $149. As of this writing, they are on sale for about $105 — a manageable price for a short-pant that should last through several seasons and hundreds of miles of ride time.
–Based in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., Stephen Krcmar covers cycling and gear for publications including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Outside magazine, and Bicycling.