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The Jeans Question, or GET SOME PANTS!

Should you ride your motorcycle in jeans? Well, they provide about the same amount of protection as shorts.

The pavement grabs them and rips them - after that you're sliding on bare skin. Denim rips really really easily. Testing denim is really not fun.

This guy (pictured below) was in front of one of our members on a group ride and went down at about 30 mph. His mesh gloves wore through as soon as they touched the ground (you'll notice in the Gloves article that we recommend leather gloves), and he ended up losing a circle of skin on the knee about the size of a quarter and about 1/8" to 3/16" deep. He was able to finish up the ride, but was in pretty severe pain. Once he got home he ordered a pair of riding pants with CE armor and didnt get back on his bike until they came in. Regular jeans do absolutely nothing in a crash.

Get some pants.jpg

Which pants?

First you need to ask yourself: Are they comfortable? Buy something you'll wear all the time, or they won't do any good. Get what fits well while you are seated on the bike. They will be long and feel a bit loose while standing, but should be right when you are in your normal riding position.

Pants are kind of hard to size, although they are usually adjustable at the waist. A few come in different lengths, and some have adjustable knee armor. We recommend getting them from a brick and mortar store if possible, or plan on sending them back to online stores until you get the right ones. Returns at the better stores are pretty easy, actually, but you do have to pay to send stuff back.

You have to think about what kind of pants you'll like. Do you want leather or textile? Then, do you want overpants (worn over your jeans) or regular riding pants?

Are you looking for all out protection? All out comfort? All out convenience? In order of that list you've got:

  • Leather pants: The best protection you can get and will work well in most riding conditions. The downside is that you probably won't want to put them on for the quick trip to the store or for the ride to work. Leather tends to be hotter and heavier than textile. Perforated leather may be more comfortable than regular leather in hot weather.
  • Textile riding pants: Great comfort and can be used in all riding conditions. Generally more useful for everyday riding, having more pockets/vents than leather, and walking through the mall you don't look quite as odd. Are also less of a hassle if you happen to run into a rainstorm. Like leather pants, you normally wear these over bare skin/skivvies, so it makes changing somewhere a bit more challenging.
  • Textile overpants: Can be worn over normal pants/shorts, making errands and everyday riding easy, since you can take the pants off when you get to your destination. Makes commuting really easy. Offer the possibility for layering on colder days. They generally fit on the loose side, so armor may move in the event of a fall; this is generally true of all but the tightest leather pants.

Some pants have zippers that come up high on the legs (some find these easier to use with boots on). A liner for cooler weather is sometimes an option. Don't worry about length too much; once you tuck the pants into your boots that doesn't really matter. However, since many textile pants are designed to be worn outside your boots, you may want to find a model of pants that comes in short or long sizes if you're short or long.

One thing that is vitally important is that you zip the pants and the back of your jacket together. This will help keep your skin covered should you end up sliding down the road. All zippers are not the same; most companies use a slightly different style that won't work with others'. However, most pants/jackets come with extra zippers, so you can get a seamstress/significant other/mom to sew the correct half into your jacket. It's usually easier to change the zippers in the jackets than the pants. The zipper situation doesn't need to influence your buying decision too much.

Now start shopping, and don't leave home without your pants.

Draggin Jeans

Most people that ride a lot would rather have motorcycle pants than the Kevlar-style jeans, but some like the look/feel of denim. Here are some options for them.

There are two Draggin Jeans companies; one in Australia and Fast Company, based in Hickory, NC (made in USA). According to the best information that a 30 minute search would provide, the US company is the original, and holds the US patent for the product. Both products seem to be equally well-made. It may come down to price and what you can find. One thing to check is the area of the jeans that are covered by Kevlar. Make sure that there's enough to meet your needs. Here's a picture of the Fast Company jeans. Kevlar is the yellow stuff.

Fast Company.jpg

Testimonial: I have both the Draggin Jeans and Shirt. The shirt is 100 percent knit kevlar and the jeans have the same kevlar in the seat and knees. Kevlar is one of the best materials for abrasion resistance. Since most accidents occur at about 30 mph (Hurt Report) they should provide adequate protection from abrasion. They are well made and ideal for hot weather riding. I got mine from Competition Accessories and they take returns if you don't like them.

Note: You may want to consider the fact that most Draggin Jeans don't have any armor in them. It is an option, however, so make sure of what you want. They're a good idea if you like the jeans look, but you can most likely find a pair of textile or mesh pants with better armor for the same price, or less.

Australian Draggin' Jeans

Fast Company Draggin' Jeans