My first "review" is on Bontrager's new Commuting Knickers. Since Trek a few years ago decided to use Keith's name for everything but their bikes, the range of parts, accessories, and clothing has increased. Its not a bad thing, people who don't ride Trek bikes can not feel weird when they ride Bontrager parts on their own rides.
I ride in knickers alot, not only in the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall, but in the Winter with a pair of wool tights under them, and early Summer when the poison ivy is in full go. They are definitely some of the most used apparel items worn.
These knickers come in two colors, black and brown (I'll show the brown when I review the jacket). Fabric is - 65%nylon, 23%polyester, and 12% elastane. The description on the web says that it also contains "bamboo charcoal finish for natural odor management". That part I don't know about, but after 3 or 4 commutes through road grime and rain, they don't smell - or I'm just immune to stank.
Here is the detail on the left leg of the knickers, it shows the security pocket, the articulation of the knee, and the reflective lines on the cuff. The knickers fit really nice in the knee. Off the bike there is a slight bend of leg, which looks weird on a hanger, but it lets the knee move freely and doesn't cause the leg to flop too much when pedaling. Both legs have the little reflective tags on the outside back of the knee, nice to let the motorists see you. I haven't used the security pocket yet, its on the left side, and when I slip off of my bike, I usually fall on my left, so putting my cell or keys in it won't be a good idea. Maybe my I.D. or some cash would be fine.
There is also reflective dots on the back pockets. Speaking of pockets, Bontrager claims it will hold a mini u-lock. I can't vouch for that, mine isn't very mini, but the insides of the back pockets have a silicon embossed logo on the inside so stuff you put in there has less of a chance of coming out when you don't want to. The front pockets are deep and there is a small snapped pocket at the top of the right pocket, I don't know what it is for, maybe pens or markers. If you are put something in one of these pockets, its going to be a long way down there. Here in the picture is also a view of the reinforced sitting area. In my non-cycling specific knickers, this is the first thing to go. I also like the raised back on these knickers, keeps the lower back warm and the skivvies hidden.
Not only do the knickers have belt loops, you can adjust the waistband by these ingenious button holes (also found in the pants of my children). Early season = let out all the way. I found that using the belt helps with keeping the knickers where I want them. You get in and out of the pants by way of a zipper and button closer. I like that fact that Bontrager is using a small toothed zipper, much more comfortable when in a bent over cycling position.
Now to fit and function. As I alluded to above, I have other pairs of knickers, just not cycling specific ones. I have two pairs of Patagonia climbing knickers, one with a similar material to the Bontragers, and one pair of a more traditional nylon fabric. The Patagonia ones have a fuller cut in the thighs, a straighter cut in the waistband, and a little baggier fit at the hem. It isn't a bad way of doing things, and it is something that I'm used to. The Bontragers on the other hand are snugger in the thighs, more like a cycling baggy short than my Patagonia ones. I don't normally wear cycling shorts (almost never) so with my normal Patagonia Silkweight Boxers
All in all, a really nice pair of knickers. Who should buy these? I think the occasional as well as the hardcore commuter will get a lot of use out of them. The early and late season mountain biker will enjoy them for the extra protection the longer length gives them. And I think the touring cyclist will love them for the looks and versatility both on and off the bike. I will probably order the brown color soon, because one pair of my Patagonia knickers are getting ready to bite the dust. They are definitely money well spent - $90 - not the cheapest, but by far not the most expensive.
Get a pair.