Casual Protective Clothing
Every time we do a story about protective apparel here at MO, the reader feedback is always full of comments to the effect that we should crash test stuff to see how it performs under real world drop/slide conditions. Well, we finally came to the conclusion that you guys were absolutely right. So, we hired the most naive and innocent intern we could find, dragged his ass all the way out here from Kansas, listened to him preach to us about Jesus and put him to work as our new crash test dummy. Sadly, Tim "Dorothy" Busch just didn't pan out. While he made an excellent crash test dummy and avidly flung himself off his SV650 in front of L.A. traffic, every chance he got, he realized pretty fast that his opportunities for career advancement (not to mention survival) were quite limited at MO. After a month or two, Dorothy gave-up and beat a hasty retreat back to the heartland. I suppose that's what we get for hiring a college educated crash test dummy. We won't make that mistake again!
We decided to take a slightly different tack this time out, so we notified some of the local aviation schools that the next time they got a student who told them they wanted to take flying lessons but didn't want to learn how to land, they should just send them on over to MO instead. Our newly founded Eric Bass Institute of Crash Test Dummology can teach them how to low side, high side, and for those matriculating aviation students who have been referred to us for expressing an abnormal interest in crashing, we have a very special class where we give them their very own liter-class sportbike, a nice long approach to build up plenty of speed, a really hard wall to ram themselves into, and plenty of err... umm... let's just say: "MO-style moral support". We haven't heard back from any applicants as of yet, so in the meantime y'all are just going to have to make do with the usual un-crashed reviews of these enhanced-protection products. Bear with us, in a pinch, maybe we could get Tim to come back for another demonstration of his dazzling riding prowess.
Rider Gear Jeans - $79.95
Rider Gear makes their black and bad jeans out of breathable, washable, DuPont 1000 Denier Cordura. They use a double basket weave as well, which effectively doubles the protective thickness. We are told this makes them twenty times more abrasion resistant than denim and more abrasion resistance can't be a bad thing. However, abrasion resistance doesn't do a heck of a lot for you, if the interior fabric is rough enough to cheese-grate your skin, when you are sliding down the pavement. Unfortunately, the Rider Gear jeans aren't lined, so, unless you wear a cool suit or other undergarment, bare Cordura is the only thing between your hide and the road. The good news is that the Cordura in the RGs is reasonably soft and itch-free when worn against bare legs. The Rider Gear Jeans are designed in a standard jean configuration with belt loops, dual pockets front and back plus a coin pocket and zippered fly. The RGs legs are straight-cut, but roomy enough to feel comfortable in a riding position. The concept of wearing Cordura pants took a little getting used to, but ultimately, I found them to be as comfortable as blue jeans and forgot all about it. If you want the protection of Cordura, but don't want to show up for your hot date in an Aerostich jumpsuit, then you've found the answer to your prayers.
Draggin' Jeans Relaxed Fit - $99.95
Draggin' Jeans are available in four styles, which include men's and women's classic (straight leg, $79.95 price tag), big men's classic, and the new relaxed fit version that I took for a test spin. All styles are available in black or traditional indigo blue, using 14.5-ounce pre-shrunk Cone Mills denim, except for the relaxed fit, which is not presently available in black. Draggin' Jeans' approach to protection involves the use of a 100% Kevlar lining in the seat and knees.
The relaxed fit jeans provided a unique challenge in that the looser fit in the thigh and leg increases comfort, but theoretically, the material could twist around your leg in a slide, which would displace the protective Kevlar patch on the knees, so the folks at Fast Company decided to take the Tim Allen approach and just add "More Kevlar! Arrgh Arrgh Arrgh!". The Kevlar lining now completely wraps around, above, and below the entire knee area. This is good for wear-through protection, but it doesn't do much to help keep the loose fabric from rapidly shifting back-n-forth during a crash, thus creating a nasty Indian burn on your skin. Additional CE approved Draggin' Armor kneepads attach with Velcro to the Kevlar patches, allowing for total adjustability. When inserted, the knee pads were a little hardcore for my everyday needs.
However, for the right type of ride, the kneepads provide some extra confidence. As a thoughtful touch, the coin pocket is on the left for access while riding, in case your throttle hand is otherwise occupied. I liked the relaxed fit, as my personal physique is now more "relaxed" than it used to be, and the extra room also made the addition of armored kneepads possible.
Draggin' Shirt - $99.95(yellow) - $119.95(black)
While we're at it, why not throw in a shirt for good measure? The Draggin' Shirt is crafted from an open-mesh knit made of 100% Kevlar fabric. Extra long tails and Velcro wrist closures help keep the shirt in place if you go down. While it can certainly be worn alone, it also makes an excellent liner for a non-riding jacket, and an optional Draggin' Armor kit adds elbow/forearm and shoulder pads. With the armor kit, you could use the Draggin' Shirt to turn that warm yet fragile down jacket into crash-resistant biker wear. (Imagine the surprise from the Cages, as you pop right-up and shout "I'm OK!" after sliding down the interstate and filling the air with little white feathers. -Sean) The Draggin' Shirt is a great summer / warm weather alternative.
Despite being a long sleeved shirt made of thick material, the mesh design allowed me to keep cool up in the canyons. I've even worn it out to dinner and it passes as an attractive (EBass' definition of "attractive" might vary from our definition of "attractive" -Sean) garment and makes for a great conversation piece too. The Draggin' Shirt is available in natural Kevlar yellow, and black.