Knickers and bicycling go hand-in-hand. Or foot on pedal. However you want to say it. Regardless, cyclists have been wearing knickers for a long long time. First came traditional wool knickers, those kind that make you think of dear old England and some elderly chap on a bike with knickers and a tweed jacket holding a pipe between his teeth going down the road.
Lately, the knickers vibe has been resurrected with the rise to prominence of the whole urban cyclist/bike messenger subculture, who are bringing knickers back as a cool accompaniment to fixed gear bikes, track stands and Pabst beer.
Chrome Shins knickers
One of the most prominent purveyors of gear to and for this crowd is Chrome Transport, based in San Francisco, which is pretty much soaked in the whole urban cycling scene. Best known for their messenger bags, Chrome also offers a couple of pairs of knickers, including their signature Shins version that we had the chance to try out.
Knickers as made today are intended to be comfortable and cool, both literally and figuratively. They’re cut off just below the knee, to keep those pesky pants legs out of the chain as well as to create a compromise that fits that broad weather zone between shorts and full pants. The Shins knickers that Chrome has put them together are snug but stretchy, made of 91% Nylon and 9% Spandex. They feel, as Chrome describes them pretty smartly, just like a fresh pair of Dickies except a little lighter, softer and super stretchy.
These Shins knickers made by Chrome offer a typical six-pocket set-up, with nice deep pockets in the front, flat back pockets on the seat and two cargo pockets on the side with zippers and flaps. They are tightly and securely stitched with seams that look like they were sewed by angry Germans who intended for them never to come apart, meaning that they can take lots of abuse and lots of washing without wearing out or falling apart.
The Shins also feature what Chrome modestly describes as "lightly padded moisture wicking chamois seat." In reality, the chamois liner runs from the bottom of the zipper fly all the way under and up the back side past the tops of the back pockets, spreading to 9" across at its widest point. This generously sized cushion not only increases comfort in the knickers without making them feel the least bit bulky, but it also adds to their wear and duribility.
Subtance and Style
Also, I know that I’m always at least three steps behind the curve when it comes to style, but these knickers have just a bit more flare on the bottoms than I might have put into them. But it just might be what’s currently hip. Or it might be the way the material swirls around my freakishly skinny toothpick-like calves. Just a bit of observation or personal preference perhaps, but the knickers don't taper to fit closer below the knee like you might think. Again, the people at Chrome have gone to great pains to put lots of photos up on the site, so you should have a decent idea from the pix of what you're getting into with them.
On the Pricy Side, But They'll Last Forever
Other than those two observations, I have nothing but compliments about the Chrome Shins. They are on the pricy side with a list of $145. However, this is certainly an instance of getting what you pay for. The Shins knickers, made in San Francisco, USA, are comfortable as heck and rugged as a truck driver, meaning you can probably wear them for the next forty years and can still then leave them in your will for your grandkids, who'll no doubt wear them while doing track stands and drinking Pabst beer.