Sometimes you really need to be in Lycra or baggies.  For long road work or fast XC in varied temps and as part of a layering system, lycra is unbeatable, either in normal weights or thermal versions.  And for real trail rides, baggies make a ton of sense and can allow for body armor, etc.

But.

Other times both of those options might be a bit extreme.  For instance, tripping around town or bikepacking or touring.  All of these things could be done in lycra or bags, but options are good.  And here are a couple for ya.


Compass – Knickers make the man.

knickers cut

This manly man is NOT wearing Compass Knickers…but he wishes he was.

I love knickers.  I have several pair, from wool Ibex El Fito 3/4 bibs for cool to cold weather (So Cal style cold) to some from Zoic for more general use.   But these Compass Knickers are a bit unique.  Let’s see what they have to say about them.

“Now we can be more confident when entering restaurants or shops, knowing that our cycling clothes do not stretch the boundaries of good taste by being too tight and revealing. Yet on the bike, these knickers are slick with the wind, and do not billow like many “casual” cycling shorts; they simply disappear.

Hand-made in Seattle, WA from a synthetic woven fabric with a little stretch, they don’t constrict your pedaling, no matter how fast you are going. The fabric wicks moisture, so it is comfortable even in very hot weather. The cuffs below the knees are elastic and adjustable. The waist is both elastic and features a belt, so you can dial in your fit.

They don’t have a pad, so you also can wear them off the bike. We’ve found them perfect for back-country hiking as well. On the bike, simply wear your normal cycling shorts underneath them. They also pack so small that you could just stuff them in your jersey pocket and only wear them when you arrive at your destination. (They fit over your cycling shoes, so they are easy to put on.)

The Compass knickers are available in even sizes between 28? and 40?.

Made in USA”

compass knickers club ride vibe shirtNow if you are not familiar with Compass, they are all into that randonneur deal.  I have to concede that I look at this faction of cycling like I see people that love Priuses and Poetry Readings, but they actually do ride some hellacious distances and have a lot of fun doing it, so Chapeau! At least they are not riding recumbents, the pocket protectors of cycling.

Looking at the ad copy for the Compass Knickers, I have to admit that I really do not have any issues feeling comfortable in Lycra. I guess modesty is not my strong suit, but I just don’t get all the fuss.  But what what others around us might feel is likely to be less socially challenging if we are wearing something other than stretchy black underwear to lunch.

When I first got the Compass Knickers, I was packing for a road trip to a media launch, so it would be a 8 hour drive to get there.  I tried them on and found them to be a snuggish fit, but light wearing and surprisingly comfy.  I not only wore them for the road trip time, I practically lived in them at the press camp unless I was riding.  Huge win.

Since then I have worn them for shorter rides (not more than 2 hours) and tons of off-bike times.  I really, really like them.  On the bike they never bind or pinch or ride up or ride down.  Pedaling is easy, even though they fit quite close on the thigh.  The fabric is very light, so forget about fall/winter in these, but they breath well in hot temps and dry fast.

Off the bike they have enough pockets to be useful, and the slash/hip right side pocket keeps things out of the way if you do pedal with something in there.  Keep it zipped though, as well as all the pockets, as things tend to spill out when you sit down. I do wish the main front pockets had slightly larger openings though as it is pretty snug getting my hands in there, and if I am wearing gloves, about impossible.

They are cut slightly higher in the back at the waist, so they do not ride down at all.  There are bungy adjusters at the cuffs, although I have not found a need for them yet.  They do pack up very small, and I can’t get them to wrinkle no matter how much I stuff them when stored.

compass knickers club ride vibe shirtcompass knickers compass knickers

compass knickers compass knickers compass knickers

Other than the pocket openings, I can’t think of anything I do not like about them and they are made right here is the U S of A.  They retail for $129.00 and I bought these with my own money off the site just like you would.  I plan on wearing these on an upcoming three day cycling road tour.  Then, just hanging out in them until the snows come when these will get packed away till next year.  That’s when I switch to wool knickers. 🙂


Club Ride Vibe Shirt – CR, the king of casual bike wear

Club ride Vibe shirtUnless you are going to shop for used dress shirts at the local Goodwill, and yes that does work well as a dirtbag approach (not that there is anything wrong with that), then Club Ride has to be the king of casual yet functional clothing and the Vibe shirt here is one of my faves.  It does not make you look like you stepped out of a Line Dancing class like some of the more western look ones, and it is cut very much like a normal dress shirt, yet with some nice features.

There are vents at the armpit areas and a front zipped pocket as well as one rear zipped pocket.  All pockets are meshy backed and there is a media port in the rear pocket.  There is also a small eyeglass wipey sewn into the bottom hem in the front.  Cool.

The fabric is light to wear and great for summer, although I wore it on less strenuous rides, sweat wise.  Still, it seems to dry quickly and opening the snap front allows air to get in there easily. The cut is a bit snug across the shoulders, something I only noticed when I was on something with a longer reach, like drop bars.  I could have gone with an XL and likely alleviated this, but the LG was really a good fit otherwise.  I was told that some stretch will be worked into the fabric for next year to make this better (also there will be additional sun blocking protection), but for now, size up if you are broad of shoulder.  I am 6’2″ and 185lbs, with a decent but not lumberjack build, if that helps any.

Club ride Vibe shirt

Kickin’ it in So Cal in the Vibe, where old abandoned roads beckon and power line towers grow out of your helmets.

Club ride Vibe shirtClub ride Vibe shirtClub ride Vibe shirt

Club ride Vibe shirt Club ride Vibe shirtClub ride Vibe shirt

I wear this more off the bike than on, so I am very pleased with it.  When the fit gets tweaked a bit, I will have nothing bad at all to say about it and even for this year, it is a nice piece of kit to have, priced from $79.95 retail.

Club Ride Vibe shirt

Out on a S24O in the Vibe and some Zoic Knickers.


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Note: The products shown here were either purchased at retail or provided at no cost to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.