Riding jeans are not the rarity they used to be. When the idea was first developed, simply lining good old denim jeans with a layer of Kevlar was novel and counted as additional protection. Today, just about every motorcycle gear manufacturer has their own riding jeans with many offering varied levels of protection. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the riding jean reviews we’ve done in the last year or so:
- Alpinestars Tech Denim Ablaze Jeans
- Dainese D6 Denim Riding Jeans Review
- Slidersi 4.0 Riding Jeans Review
- Icon 1000 Rouser vs. Rev’It Campo
Into this market of established motorcycle riding gear manufacturers, U.K. constructor Bull-It has stepped in with a surprisingly large selection of riding jeans for men and women. With a total of 28 jeans models (and five jackets and hoodies), Bull-It is looking to make a big splash on our side of the pond. Naturally, once we’d learned of Bull-it, we asked for a pair of jeans to test. I received a pair of SR6 Carbon jeans and have put them to the test over the past few months, wearing them to a couple bike introductions and on daily rides and photo shoots. And the verdict is … Nah, not yet, you’ll have to read further for that.
Although the heart of the protection are the underlying layers, I’ll start with the most visible part of the jeans. The SR6 jeans feature 100% cotton, 12-oz. twill in black (carbon) in a traditional five-pocket design. The fabric has a water repellant finish and feels like premium jeans that are soft to the touch and do not need to be broken in. I chose the SR6 jeans because they look the most like the jeans I wear in my non-riding life. (While some of the other Bull-It models feature some cool stitching, I wanted these to be stealth riding wear.) The sizing of the jeans is spot on, giving me a similar fit to my other 34” waist, 32” inseam pants.
A significant distinction of Bull-It jeans is the use of Covec for abrasion resistance instead of Kevlar or other more common materials. According to Bull-It, Covec offers better protection than Kevlar.
“The increased density of Covec +7 offers unrivalled high-speed abrasion resistance, tested to outperform the highest reported figures seen in motorcycle jeans, with Covec +7 scoring 7.97 seconds using the most aggressive abrasion test currently available, CE EN 13595–1.” Bull-It rates the SR6 jeans with six seconds of abrasion resistance.
Bull-It’s claims are also backed up by the FIM’s (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme, the international motorcycle racing sanctioning body) recent classification of Covec as recommended protective gear for speedway racing. While I can’t attest to the abrasion resistance through personal experience, I can say that the material is more supple than that of most other riding jeans I’ve sampled. Unlike some riding jeans that merely put some Kevlar over the rider’s butt and knees, Bull-It uses Covec to cover 60% of the rider’s lower body – front and back.
In addition to the claimed six-second abrasion resistance of the SR6 (see where the six comes from), Covec offers a high melting point and low thermal conductivity, meaning that heat generated from the friction of a slide won’t burn the rider. Covec also has a high resistance to cutting. Finally, side and rear SR6 seams are triple-stitched for durability.
To increase rider comfort, Covec is built out of five layers. The innermost is coolmesh that is laminated to the Covec fabric which is then laminated to the denim. The center Covec fabric creates a “microclimate” that helps isolate heat from things like the ambient temperature and the engine on the outside while the rider stays cooler on the inside. In cold weather, the inverse occurs. Since I was testing the SR6 jeans during the heat of a SoCal summer, I can’t say anything about cold weather. However, the SR6 jeans were significantly warmer than plain denim jeans – as one would expect. In comparison to a riding suit, the SR6 jeans were cooler and the coolmesh offered some moisture wicking. These results shouldn’t be surprising when one considers the relative thickness and levels of protection of these three different garments.
Even with the increased coverage of the Covec material, the jeans feel much looser and more natural – more like plain denim – than any of the other riding jeans I own. This is likely due to the fact that the Covec floats inside of the denim rather than being completely stitched to it. A soft nylon liner also floats inside of both the Covec and the denim. When walking, the SR6 jeans are indistinguishable from regular jeans. However, if you install knee armor in the built-in pockets, your knees do look a little lumpy when you walk, but most non-riders probably won’t notice. In a riding position, the shape and protection of the armor is clearly visible. Because my thighs are slightly long compared to average, I’d like a little more height adjustment in the knee-pad location, but this is really just a nitpick. Also, the knee armor makes the pants legs a bit shorter when sitting on a bike, so you may want to go a little longer than your usual inseam length. Riders who want to use the hip pockets may also want to go up in waist size to accommodate the additional girth.
Care of the SR6 jeans is pretty easy. Turn them inside out and wash in warm water. Hang dry, do not put them in a dryer, as they may shrink. My experience wearing the Bull-It SR6 jeans for a couple months in 90-plus-degree weather has been positive, and they’ve become part of my regular riding gear. I expect that I’ll grow to appreciate them more in the coming cool months, too.
The only problem I’ve had with the SR6 jeans is a small hole that has developed in the right knee. This is most likely caused by my frequent kneeling on the side of the road while photographing test bikes. When wearing armor, I don’t feel rocks or even glass while kneeling (which is why I almost always wear armor when shooting), so I suspect the hole is my own doing.