Thunderbolt Sportswear Original Jeans - Mark II review

Technical fabric makes for versatile, high dollar pants

BikeRadar score3.5/5

One of the most beautiful aspects of riding a bike is the versatility. You can suit up in a cycling kit and go ride or hop on a bike in casual duds and spin downtown. For riders who want civilian looks with some technical prowess, the list of gear that pulls double duty is getting longer, such as with Thunderbolt Sportswear's Original Jeans - Mark II.

Plenty of stretch made pedaling a non-binding affair
Plenty of stretch made pedaling a non-binding affair

Since 2010, Thunderbolt Sportswear has been crafting performance clothing in Portland, Oregon. In addition to the jeans on test here, it also produces shirts, hoodies and socks.

Thunderbolt Sportswear features

  • Breathable, quick drying, wind and water resistant, with full four-way stretch
  • Schoeller Dryskin soft shell with NanoSphere treatment
  • Double woven blend of nylon, polyester and Spandex 
  • Manufactured in accordance with the Bluesign sustainable textile production standard
  • Right rear pocket, the size of a passport, has a hidden zipper
  • Reinforced 'no-stretch' waistband
  • Straight leg fit – not baggy, not skinny
  • 13 waist sizes in three lengths available
  • Designed and sewn in Portland, Oregon, USA

The material defines

The first thing I noticed, and the most obvious trait while wearing the Thunderbolt jeans is the material. They're made of Schoeller Dryskin, the Swiss soft shell fabric that's usually found in high-end mountaineering and skiing apparel. 

From the rear, the jeans look is apparent
From the rear, the jeans look is apparent

The Schoeller material combines a bunch of desirable traits in one package: four-way stretch, abrasion resistance, wicking and breathability. Additionally, these jeans have Schoeller's NanoSphere treatment, which uses lotus leaves claimed to provide durability and to repel water, dirt, grease and stains. The basic gist of NanoSphere is that everything just slides off the jeans rather than sitting and penetrating.

Trim fit

Thunderbolt markets the Original Jeans Mark II as having a "straight leg fit – not baggy, not skinny." That's about as true as it gets. The jeans fit my gangly, long build well. The four-way stretch keeps them moving unhindered.

The fit is trim though not snug
The fit is trim though not snug

More of technical pant

As highlighted by Thunderbolt Sportswear's site, these are ideal for more than just riding to work or downtown. The Schoeller material is seriously tough, which makes it fine for almost any activity. Combine that with the freedom of movement and there's little these pants would back away from.

On the bike

They actually ride quite well. Despite not having a gusseted crotch, pedaling was easy, with no seams announcing themselves or annoying us. Furthering the ease of riding was the seriously stretchy Schoeller material.

The water and dirt resistance claims have also held up. After numerous days on and off the bike, without washing, they show practically no signs of wear or use. Wrinkles from being stuffed in a bag straightened out quickly, and while the fit has loosened ever so slightly, they've broken in to be super comfortable.

The Mark II jeans look the part with contrasting stitching and a single button closure
The Mark II jeans look the part with contrasting stitching and a single button closure

Our only nit-picks are small, non-functional things of note. First off is the "jeans" moniker. Possibly from 10 or more feet back they might be taken for denim jeans due to the stitching, but up close, the Schoeller material is noticeably much more slick and shiny than denim.

Also, while taking photos for this review I noticed a couple errant stitches and a bit of loose fabric at the top of the left front pocket. As mentioned, neither issue degraded the use or fit, but it's worth noting as these pants are $200, which is a far cry from inexpensive.

No matter, the Thunderbolt Sportswear Original Jeans - Mark II are an excellent option for well-heeled urban riders and commuters who prefer to ride their bikes without shouting to the world that they're a cyclist.

Russell Eich

Tech Writer, US
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 39
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

Related Articles

Back to top