How do you solve the problem of stained jeans? I'd prefer to avoid modifying the bike itself or rolling up the hem on my pants.

Of course, riding with short pants is out of question, now that the winter is coming :-)

  • Could you clarify what it is about riding fixed-gear that is leading to stained jeans?
    – onestop
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 10:23
  • Sorry. I don't have a chain cover so it's the greased chain that stains the jeans by friction.
    – Simone
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 10:26
  • I don't think this question has anything to do with fixed gear or not. My bike has a derailleur and has a chain without a cover. I will suggest an edit.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 10:49
  • I agree that this is more related to bikes without chain coverage, but I thought it was a problem more common with fixed-gear riders.
    – Simone
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 12:17
  • 2
    Related: How do I clean chain grease off my clothes? Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 16:33

12 Answers 12


Leg straps or clips (especially on the chain side) are the way to go. Not only does this keep the pant leg clean, but it prevents the cuff from chafing or hanging up on something.

You can improvise with a large rubber band, but the Velcro straps are readily available and very easy to get on/off. When not in use they can be wrapped around your seat post or some such.

(And if the straps -- you can use two per leg for really baggy pants -- don't do it you can buy "gaiters" that cover the entire ankle and lower shin.)

  • 3
    Bonus: reflective straps save your pants and make you more visible. (If it's bright and you're worried about looking dorky, short bungee cords are also a good option.)
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 21:55
  • Nice, didn't know that they exist!
    – Simone
    Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 9:47
  • These are those strap-like things on the display atop the counter at your LBS. Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 11:30
  • One thing I would advise is spring for the velcro ones, not the snap bracelet style. Another thing is make sure your pants are sufficiently long if you take this route (or your socks are sufficiently long) in case if your pants get pulled up a little bit.
    – Batman
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 0:37

What I have always done, quite successfully, is just tuck my trousers into my socks. This avoids all grease from the chain, and if the worst happened and I did get some grease on my sock this would be hidden under my trousers at work.

(And yes, I tuck both trouser legs into my socks to avoid looking too silly, even though the chain is only on one side :-)

  • This is a good method for when it is dry but when it is wet, your socks get wet
    – PhilJ
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 16:30
  • 1
    this does not work if you wear short socks, as I do.
    – anton2g
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 18:13

Not only are grease stains often permanent, but getting caught in the chain can lead to an accident.

Here are some options:

Shorter pants. Shorts or knickers will stay out of the way. In the winter, you can wear tights underneath. I love my wool tights so much that I wear them under my jeans during the day and at night as pajamas. They're expensive, though.

Metal pants clips. These are dirt-cheap, durable, and they work great. I usually only put one on my right leg, but in the winter it can be nice to have one on the left, so cold air doesn't blow in as much. I store one on my top tube, but if you're concerned about your paint job, you'll need another place. There are even some with built-in reflectors , but I haven't tried them.

Velcro straps. They seem attractive at first, with bright colors, built-in reflectors, and sometimes even LED lighting. You can even buy bulk velcro at a hardware or crafts store for not much money. However, I find they work loose as my calves flex. Also, the time I tried the LED style, they broke within minutes.

Full chain guard. This is what I saw in Sweden and The Netherlands, where riders wore business suits and full-length dresses. In the USA, most riders worry about weight too much to consider these.

Tuck in to socks. This only works if your pants & socks are long enough. As you ride it can still work loose. If you're not wearing socks today, obviously this won't work. But it's nice in that it doesn't require any extra equipment.

Roll up pants. Again, nice because it doesn't require special equipment, and even works on no-sock or short-sock days. I find I have to roll my pants up really, really far to keep them out of the chain, and they unroll as I ride. Meanwhile, cold air hits my delicate ankles.

  • I've never had any real difficulty keeping the Velcro straps up. I suppose maybe it would be a problem on relatively thin dress pants, but not on jeans or sweats or whatnot where there is some texture to the fabric. Now, leg warmers -- they won't stay up worth a damn. Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 17:51
  • You left out gaiters. Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 17:52
  • The veclro straps don't slip down for me, but they do open up and fall off. I haven't tried gaiters.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 18:31
  • If the Velcro straps open it's because of poor quality Velcro. I've got some I've had for 20 years, and I'd have lost them years ago if they popped open with particular ease. They generally take some effort to remove, especially if they've been on for several hours. Commented Sep 30, 2011 at 19:08

It sounds like maybe one approach you have taken is to bicycle in shorts and carry your pants as cargo. Even without a changing area it shouldn't be a big deal to slip on a pair of pants between the bike rack and the office. If your concern is winter cold, maybe you can get a pair of cycling tights pants, perhaps with thermal insulation, over which you can slip your dress slacks.

  • This is the most reasonable solution. If you don't want grease on your nice pants, don't wear nice pants while biking. Use shorts in summer and full length tights in colder weather. As for not having a changing area, the handicapped stall of the bathroom is usually sufficiently sized for changing your pants.
    – Kibbee
    Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 17:46

You can use a belt drive to avoid the problem completly.

It needs no grease at all!

I do not own one yet, but heard only the best of it and want to test it soon. No, I am not working for or in the company.

Actually, it sounds it's not a real option for you, as you would have to open the frame to mount the belt. But I think this belt drive is so promising to be mentioned in this context.

  • Belt drives have a decent amount of other issues - see: sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ba-n.html#belt
    – Batman
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 0:38
  • hi batman: the guys from carbon drive systems claim to have solved most of the problems related to typical belt drives. they use carbon fibers to strengthen the belt to prevent stretching. this reduces the need of high tension, which had been killing the bearings. so some of the drawbacks are gone. But I speak theoretically, as I do not own a bike with belt drive yet. But I think it's a very interesting alternative for a city bike.
    – user375251
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 8:38

Okay, all these answers involve modifying the bike or your clothing, or purchasing unique equipment; which is not what I was willing to do. I was looking for a quick instant fix, and in reading these responses I came up with one. I grabbed my odd sock bag, [ the one I keep for sox that come out of the dryer without a mate ] picked a particularly worn item, cut it where there was a hole, forming an open ended tube which I slipped over the area of my pants where the grease stains occur. The sock was long enough so I doubled it over the vulnerable surface. When I reached my destination I slipped it down off the cuff of my pants and hid it just below my calf, and hopped off the bike. I forgot it was there and almost forgot to put it back on for the return trip. I was concerned that the grease would soak through. It actually held so tight against my leg that it did not even get any grease on it!


What I think is the simplest (and one I do myself) is to just roll up your trouser legs. You can see an example of what I mean in this picture http://www.terrybicycles.com/core/media/media.nl?id=5180&c=1243446&h=5020f1edd4fce298758b. The advantages of this method are that your trouser legs won't get greased, it allows your legs to be cooler because they are working so hard, and if your trouser legs do get greased it is on the inside of the leg and once unrolled will never be seen again. I usually roll mine up a few times to hold them in place and roll them pretty high. I do both legs so that neither of them can get caught in my water bottle holder. Ever since I started doing this, I have not once gotten grease on the outside of my trouser legs.

  • I asked for a different solution than this because, for "social" reason, I'd prefer not to arrive @office dressed up as described
    – Simone
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 18:50
  • 1
    Sorry I somehow glossed over that remark in the question. I guess this solution would benefit other's reading this with a similar question. As for you, you could still roll up your trouser legs and just unroll them as you get to the office.
    – anton2g
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 19:37

Another alternative is using a "wax" chain lubricant. If you do some reading, you'll see that people have strong opinions about chain lubrication (do a search here for "wax"). I can see the reasoning behind most of the opinions, but I've personally had good luck with straight paraffin wax. Other alternatives include wax suspended in solution (e.g. White Lightening, Finish Line), or wax mixed with additives. The bottom line is that these wax-based lubricants are meant to harden and flake off with time, so they don't leave a chainring stain on your pants or leg.

Previously, I used straight paraffin wax (similar to this technique, but with no beeswax), but I've just started using a chain lubrication method involving graphite and wax. This approach seems quite good so far (only a few hundred miles). If you do go with a chain wax, you'll definitely want to step up the frequency of reapplying in wet weather.


I miss the solution I used most of my life, the enclosed bike chain. Specially fixed gear/single gear bikes as well as internal hub gear bikes are suitable for that solution. Best if done already by the manufacturer of the bikes but after sales covers do exist.

My current bike is a recumbent with a half chain cover (for a normal bike) and tubes for those parts the clothing is most likely to touch. Not the perfect solution, just one tiny spot that is not covered and just there the trousers can caught around the end of the cover or can reach around that end to the chain itself. So now I use a mix of all the options mentioned here, just because I can not alter the bike (now at least) but I find it a poor second to what I am used to on my sit up bikes.


How do you solve the problem of stained jeans? I'd prefer to avoid modifying the bike itself or rolling up the hem on my pants.


Here's what I usually do, and completely solves the problem of stained clothing.

-- "Change clothes at work." Both "to and from".--

Simple. Cycling clothes on the commute and work clothes at work. The cycling clothes may or may not get greasy and there is no reason to care about it. However, the separated work clothes remain perfectly acceptable for the work environment.

Obviously, this may or may not work for everyone; but, I just change clothes. (Changing clothes simply requires a restroom stall or perhaps a company shower area for maybe 8 minutes at most.)

As others posted, pants rolled, in the sock, or strapped to the leg may work...or maybe not...

No need to roll up trousers, stuff socks, wear gaiters, pant-clips, full-chain-guard, etc....none necessary if you just change clothes....

BTW - My current commute is up and over one big hill, and 2 smaller ones along the way. If it were all flat and easy, I'd just use trouser cuffs and ride in street clothes.


As a long-haired individual, I have a hair tie with me at all times. When I ride with a looser pair of pants, I just put the tie around the bottom of my pant leg. Done.

It also helps that I have a city/commuter/urban/hybrid bike that has a plastic piece outside the front gear set: http://archive.raleighusa.com/archive/2011-hybrid/detour-45-11/

Otherwise, get a cruiser or something similar that has the chain entirely covered by a metal or plastic piece.


I had the same problem and I invented a product called the Leg Shield that works extremely well. Its a large strap that covers your lower right pant leg. When you wear it you won't get grease on your pants or get your pants caught in the chain. Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006J0PHAI

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