Brooks saddle? Got it. Carradice saddlebag? Of course. Trouser clips? Nope, I’ve got something better. The StaySharp Commuter Cuff from Exposed Seam is an old idea redone. Trouser clips, for those who are too young to know, were circles of metal that went around your calves to keep your pants out of your chain and chain ring while riding. Well, while riding with long pants at least. Yes, people do ride with long pants on; I commute a lot for work and there’s no way I’m changing into lycra to ride 10k or less. Usually, I roll up the right leg of my jeans for the ride, but with the Commuter Cuff, I don’t have to.
The Commuter Cuff is the trouser clip reinvented. Rather than a simple circlet of metal that is easily misplaced, the Commuter Cuff is a trapezoid of Cordura® fabric, which is a very tough, light weight, and water proof material. The cuff has a velcro strip on it so that it can be secured around your leg and it has a reflective strip on the back for night riding. It’s available in a range of colours to match or complement your bike – I tried the “Alert” orange cuff which gives a bit of daytime contrast to match the night time reflectivity. Commuter Cuffs are sold singly and are meant to be worn on the right leg, though you can easily wear it on the left.
The Commuter Cuff is designed to firstly keep your right pant leg away from the chain ring, and secondly to keep your laces out of your chain and chain ring. The cuff is designed to be worn low on your ankle around your pants, and the flared bottom of the Commuter Cuff extends over your shoe laces to keep them out of the way too. While I’ve never gotten my pant legs stuck in the chain (though I have gotten them greasy on many occasions), I have had my laces caught up and chewed, almost throwing me off the bike. The Commuter Cuff, therefore, does what the simple trouser clip doesn’t; it’s designed as an all round lower leg cycling solution.
It sort of works. I say “sort of” because it really depends on your pant and shoe combination. If you wear shoes that have low laces, which many sneakers do, or your laces are long, resulting in long loops when tied, then the lace protection offered by the Commuter Cuff is nullified -it simply doesn’t work. Of course, it still keeps your pants out of way of the chain ring, but your laces are free to cause problems. If you wear dress shoes, which tend to have higher laces and smaller loops, or you wear boots, then the Commuter Cuff offers perfect lace protection. [Interestingly, the Shimano Click ‘R shoes I reviewed earlier this year, and which I wear on all of my commutes, have an elastic loop on the tongue that you can tuck the laces under and keep them safe].
To get the perfect lace protection, you have to wear the Commuter Cuff very low on your ankle. This means that if you’re wearing pants with a large foot hole, like boot-cut jeans, the fabric may balloon out above the cuff and rub against the chain. This happened to my favourite jeans; they didn’t get caught, but they did get marked. I tried two solutions here: firstly, I wore the Commuter Cuff higher on my leg, which solved the pant leg problem, but exposed the laces, and secondly, I performed some pant origami and folded the jean leg around my calf and secured it with the Commuter Cuff. Folding the pants around was uncomfortable and tended to come undone, at least with the jeans. Wearing a pair of slacks, which were of much lighter material, was much more comfortable; the Commuter Cuff is perfect for using while wearing a business suit.
So I had mixed results with the Commuter Cuff. With my normal work wear of jeans and sneakers (well, the sneaker-like Click ‘R shoes), it didn’t work the way it was advertised, but it worked well enough to be effective. Your mileage may vary and it’s worth a try. The Commuter Cuffs is not expensive, it’s very well made, and it looks a lot better than rolling up your pant leg. If you ride between buildings in a business suit or business casual, throw one of these on and protect your pants and laces.
The Commuter Cuff is available from Australian distributers, Joad Sportz Supplies and their stockists for $19.