Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: Swrve Softshell Knickers

 I'd been looking for a long time for a pair of commuting knickers that offered a comfortable, stylish alternative to my team kit for daily commuting and other urban bike adventures. It should be noted that I'm definitely not anti-lycra.  For racing and training, touring, or really any long day in the saddle, it is hard to beat the comfort afforded by a pair of cycling shorts with a well made chamois.  That being said, I don't always feel comfortable wearing my racing kit into the grocery store on my way home, nor do I enjoy wearing it to meet friends for beers on any given Saturday night.

Anyhow, my hubby gave me a pair of Swrve Softshell Knickers for my birthday.  I immediately put them to the test through a chilly and wet commuting season in January and February.  Simple one word review:  Love!!

Constructed of warm and fuzzy soft shell material, these knickers have kept me toasty on some of the nippiest commute days to date (quite a few in subfreezing temps this year!).  Miraculously, I don't overheat either- the soft shell breathes very well and I stay happily thermo-regulated for the duration of my ride.  Although they aren't waterproof, they actually also perform reasonably well in the rain. Again, the softshell breathes well, so your body heat is able to evaporate light rain before it penetrates the fabric.  For most days around here, they are more than adequate protection from Seattle commuting weather.  While I have gotten wet while wearing them in a torrential dounpour, I've still managed to stay warm.  All in all, softshell is a fabulous material for bike commuting- warm, stretchy, breathable, comfortable all around.

Beyond the softshell fabric benefits, these knickers include a number of useful, smart features to maximize comfort.  First, the cut is great.  As you can see in the photo below, the pants are cut lower in the waist, to prevent your belt from digging into your tummy gut (a common cycling accessory in and of itself).  They are also cut higher in the back, to fend off any chilly air coming in from behind (and also to ensure you don't flash an unintended sideways smile).

Pockets are cut generously and smartly designed.  The rear zipper pockets are 6" wide, just the right size for a small u-lock.  The front pockets are deep, and the nifty side bonus pocket is ideal for your cell phone or mp3 player.  

Some of my other favorite features include a gusseted crotch, which does wonders to prevent chafing.  I've worn these knickers on many 20 mile days around the city, and I've been perfectly comfortable.  You can also see the bomb-proof construction techniques here- double stitched seams in most places, and a triple stitch for the crotch gusset, for added durability.  I'm told there is an additional layer of softshell fabric in the seat, to maximize the durability factor.  

The pants also feature articulated knees to make sure your pedal strokes are extra-comfortable.  Somehow Swrve managed to nail the length of these pants, too. The cuff comes within a centimeter of my big chain ring when I pedal, but never closer, so no greasy lines around the cuffs for me.  Yay!

Finally, my favorite part- the bright cheery floral fabric lining the belt and pockets.  I absolutely love this print, and it makes me smile every time I put these pants on.  A secret garden in my pants!  

My only gripe- they are big big in the waist for me.  This is a common problem for me in pants, however, probably due to the size of my substantial (and strong!) booty.  Big belt loops provide allow me to use a belt to solve the waist issue ( but not the booty issue, what fun would that be?).  Also, the belt loops are practically fused to the knicker, so no worries about blowing them out over time.

I'd order another pair in a heartbeat, especially at this price (Chad got these on closeout for $90, down from an original $145).  However, I'm very sad to report that this deep discount is due to the fact that Swrve is discontinuing their women's line for now. What a bummer- especially when options for stylish, functional women's cycling wear (manufactured responsibly in the USA, too!) are already so limited.

At any rate, ladies, if you've been pining for a great pair of commute knickers, these are for you- get 'em here before they are gone forever.


jat said...

Hi ! Thanks for your review Interested in buying a pair, and most reviews are for the male shorts. curious on your thoughts about the fit around the thighs. Not sure if I should just buy according to my waist size or size up to accommodated my ummm muscular legs.

Megbikes said...

Thanks for your comment Hajar! I also have, um, athletic legs, and I really liked the fit of the women's medium through the thighs. I think Swrve has done a great job accounting for leg size. I'm 5'3", and I normally wear an 8 or a 10. Hopefully this helpful. Cheers!

jat said...

sweet that helps!! Thanks so much. gonna get myself a pair right now.