In theory, I am a big believer in “All the Gear All the Time,” but in practice that’s just not the way it happens for me. Many, if not most, rides are shortish hops around town where even my trusty Aerostich is too much trouble, and let’s face it, sometimes you want to look somewhat cool even if you stopped being it a couple decades ago.
The time-honored recipe for that is leather jacket and jeans, and if Levis were good enough for Marlon Brando and the Fonz, they are good enough for me. Then again, Kevlar fabric hadn’t been invented yet in the ’50s, nor CE-approved knee protectors. At MO, we spend more time riding than sitting around in an office. Why not protect your lower body as well as your upper half if it’s no more trouble than pulling on a pair of jeans?
For me, money would be the biggest reason, but at $199.95 suggested retail (and cheaper if you shop around), these Alpinestars Ablaze jeans aren’t prohibitively expensive. Made out of prewashed 12-ounce denim which feels immediately ready-to-wear (Levis says its 501s are 12.5-oz.), my 32-inch waist Relaxed Fit Ablaze jeans were comfortable from the start and fit my off-the-rack Relaxed Body very well (when I turned up the cuffs), with even a touch of Italian flair.
Tough, abrasion-resistant Kevlar fabric panels literally cover your butt and the fronts of your knees, and they even add a bit of warmth on cool days. Excellent CE-approved knee protectors fit into mesh pockets over your knees and are easy enough to remove for your annual washing. “Relaxed Fit” means the legs are loose enough that it’s not entirely certain the pads will be between your knees and the pavement should it come down to that, but I’d say the chances are very good. Meanwhile, a pair of 7mm-thick closed-cell foam hip pads like the ones in motocross pants Velcro on to help absorb blows to that likely impact area. They actually don’t make your butt look much bigger than it is, and are located in just the right spot.
The label says the jeans are made in Tunisia, and they appear to be really well-constructed, double- and triple-stitched in all the right places. It’s funny how that little bit of padding and layer of Kevlar fabric really does make me feel a bit more secure on a bike, and when I’m off it I don’t really even notice the pads (which are also great for crawling around on the floor looking for tiny spring-loaded carburetor parts and grovelling). I give the Ablaze jeans two patellas up.
For more information, visit Alpinestars’ website.