While the Spoke Bulletproofs aren't going to keep you dry if you're out in the rain for any prolonged period of time, they are a nice, smart pair of jeans with a great fit that you can comfortably ride in. I regularly chose these when having to pop out in the rain, be it on foot or on the bike. While not waterproof (they're water resistance) they will keep you a lot drier than a standard pair of jeans. The tailored fit and material mean they're smart enough to be paired with a shirt and worn to a meeting (those things when people sat in a room together and talked).
Good, tailored fit
Waist could be higher at back
Water will get through
The Spoke Bulletproofs are a tailored pair of smart denim jeans with some cycling features thrown in for those who might commute by bike to the office or ride to the pub. (Remember those things?) First off, these are a nicely tailored, well fitting pair of trousers.
When ordering them online you go through a set of questions to get the right fit. It takes less than a minute and is really easy to do. First you enter your height, weight, age (split into decades), the most common waist size in your wardrobe, a couple of questions on whether or not you ever size up and how you view slim-fit clothing, what build you are and then a couple of questions for upper body fit. In amongst the data gleaned from all those questions is enough info for over 200 variations in fit.
The result for me was a set of 30-inch-waist jeans, in build A. These turned out to be my ideal fit. They are meant to be a slim fit, which is my preference, but it's always nice to pull on a pair of jeans and feel like the fit is spot on.
Everything about the Spoke Bulletproofs looks fairly standard from the outset. A smart pair of navy blue – or are they black, I still can't decide – trousers with a zip fly and the standard pockets front and rear. But look closely and you spot a few details that come in handy when riding.
There's a 'hidden' zipped pocket on the front right with a shielded fastening to keep water out. It's a deep pocket too, plenty of room for a slim wallet. On the rear right pocket is a reflective flap and both rear pockets are buttoned lessening the chance of anything falling out.
Reflective seam runs up the inside of the leg. Turn them up for a bit more reflectivity
There's more reflective material running up the inside of the legs, inside of the two outer seams. Turn up the ankles and it's exposed, ready to bounce light back to drivers. These run all the way up the seams to the waist.
The inside of the waist features a run of blue silicone chevrons to help with grip, helping hold them up and keeping tops tucked in.
Small silicone grippers run around the waist
The top claim from Spoke is the water resistant nature of the trousers, ideal for commutes when you can't pick and chose your time between showers. Spoke have used Schoeller's 3XDRY treatment – a fluorochemical that is said to meet future environmental requirements with impurities at just 25 parts per billion. This treatment puts a water repellent finish on the outside of the fabric. It also puts a hydrophilic (water loving) coating on the inside to help wick moisture away from the skin.
Run it under the tap and water immediately beads on the surface, but leave it on there or rub the fabric together and it will work through quite quickly. That gives you a good idea of how well the coating works. As anyone will know, there are many different types of rain; how heavy it is, how hard it's falling and with wind, what speed it hits the fabric. Oh, and how long it rains for. All will affect how quickly water gets through the material.
The treatment will keep the worst off in light rain, but heavy rain will get through, and probably fairly quickly if you're unlucky enough to be caught out in it. But they're much better than a standard pair of jeans and I often chose to change into these when walking to the shops in the rain. And they're not claiming to be waterproof like Gore-Tex, so it's important to be realistic with your expectations.
Water immediately beads on the surface, but will work through eventually
With coatings like 3XDRY it's important to follow washing and general care guidelines to maintain their performance, but even then they don't last forever. The coating can be spoiled if not treated with care. Spoke advises a 30°C wash (inside out), a mid iron and no tumble dry. Schoeller on the other hand does recommend putting them in the dryer. saying heat treatment reactivates the function. Although they don't confirm, it's worth only putting them in the dryer for a short time rather than blasting them until they're bone dry.
Both say not to use fabric conditioner. Common advice for any waterproof fabric. If you follow the advice Schoeller says the 3XDRY treatment will withstand 50 washes before fading.
For riding, the Spoke Bulletproofs are better than a normal pair of jeans, although styles vary so wildly that any comparison of mine might not be work for you. The water resisting treatment kept me dry in light rain and the slim fit meant that the ankle rarely caught the chain ring, but no different to any other slim fitting pair of jeans.
The waist at the rear was just about high enough not to expose my lower back when pottering around on my race bike. But these aren't meant for riding on a race bike. A more sensible commuting bike would likely give a more upright position and mean there is definitely no issue around the waist.
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