The availability of women's-specific kit might have improved in the last few years but there's still quite a sizable lower body shaped hole when it comes to trousers. There are a few options out there, mainly from the mountain bike brands like Troy Lee Designs. The Lilium pants are a slim and lightweight option with a comfortable stretch material and good ventilation. It's tapered leg and well-designed pockets make it practical on the bike and presentable off it too.
Tailored fit and stretch material is practical and comfortable on the bike
Neat look off the bike
Excellent sizing information
Not water repellent
Not suited to wet and cold conditions
Can't take on and off quickly
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Female-fit trousers for cycling do exist. It’s just to find them you tend to need to look away from the usual road, commuter and lifestyle cycling brands to the MTB world when riding pants have become increasingly popular in the last few years.
Troy Lee Designs was first made famous in the MTB world by the legend John Tomac in 1996. Most of the TLD range is focused on the enduro and downhill world of mountain biking with construction and colorways to match. But within the three men’s and two women’s styles there is also a good choice for those whose riding is a little more tarmac orientated. I’ve been wearing the Women’s Lilium pants to see how they shape up against the best bicycle commuter pants.
TLD Lilium: construction
The Lilum pants are made from a lightweight four-way stretch material which is certified by bluesign (an industry standard for sustainable textiles). The material provides sun protection (UPF 30+) but has no water-repellent properties or treatment. There are small perforations for ventilation high on the inside of the thighs and behind each of the knees.
The waist has a zip and press-stud fastening and two broad Velcro tabs for adjustment. There are three zipped pockets on the thighs, one on each leg at the front and another on the rear of the right.
As well as all black, the Lilium is also available in copper (deep orange) and orchid (lilac) colors.
Overall the Lilium pants have quite a slim fit, tapering to a narrow ankle. The trousers are panelled with darts at the knees which gives them quite a tailored look and a good shape on the bike without any obvious areas that are overly baggy or stretched.
As well as the neat style, the slim legs means there isn’t any material flapping around in the wind or into your bike. It does mean that you can’t get them on or off quickly and, as there’s no additional ankle fastening / zips, you can’t pull them over your feet without taking off your shoes.
There are five sizes which range from a 27.5” / 70cm to a 35.5” / 90cm waist. The size and fit detail that TLD provide is really useful; the measurement charts include waist, hip and thigh circumferences (as well as leg length and ankle circumference) and the pants fitted exactly as I expected from this. As well as the obvious size choice, these measurements will also help determine whether the fit of the trousers is going to be right for you, a refreshing antidote to the scourge of online clothes purchasing.
TLD Lilium: the ride
The most striking feature of the Lilium pants is how lightweight and slim-fitting they are, a long way off some of the other riding pants on offer. Despite the fit, the four-way stretch material and well-placed seams allow for plenty of movement and I didn’t notice any untoward restriction either when riding flexed over in the drops or more dynamically off-road. I've even gone as far as going to my yoga class wearing these.
The combination of the lightweight material and ventilation perforations make the trousers a good option in warmer conditions when you want just a bit of coverage to keep the chill off or for a little more modesty. On the flip side, they’re less suited to inclement weather as quickly-wet through in the rain and don’t offer that much insulation. They do dry quickly though if you do get splashed.
The pockets are a good size (plenty big enough to swallow a smartphone) and well-placed to access when you’re riding and off the bike too. As the pockets are on the thighs, larger items like gloves or bike spares can feel a bit bulky on your legs.
Whilst the Lilium Pants aren’t designed to be worn in the office or pub, they’re subtle enough for you to do so. I’ve worn them a fair amount as a lightweight pair of outdoor trousers. The main limitation to this is the keen-eyed might be able to see your flesh through the small vent holes in inside thighs and back of knees if you’ve not got cycling shorts on underneath.
TLD Lilium: value and conclusion
The Troy Lee Designs Lilium pants are an excellent option for those who want a little more coverage for modesty or keep the chill off on the bike. They have a nicely tailored slim fit with a subtle stretch to the material which is really practical on the bike and presentable off it too. On the downside, they’re not that suited to cold and wet weather and not designed for putting on in a rush.
At $/£130 the TLD Lilium pants are quite an investment, comparable to trousers from cycling lifestyle brands such as Rapha Technical Trousers and Rapha Explore Pants that we’ve recently reviewed in a men’s fit. If you’re a woman and want a pair of trousers that’s actually designed to fit a body shape somewhere like yours, it might just be a price you’re willing to pay.
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