It’s a little strange that, considering how long people have been wearing jeans and riding motorcycles, the idea of riding denim is still relatively new. Nonetheless, we’re happy apparel manufacturers far and wide have developed jeans we can wear both on and off the motorcycle. In case you’re not aware of why this is important, allow us to fill you in. Your standard pair of Levis may be really comfortable, but regular denim is terrible at protecting you if you fall off your motorcycle. When denim meets asphalt, it shreds to pieces in seconds. Not to mention that it provides no impact protection to your knees or hips.
Riding denim addresses these issues by incorporating some kind of reinforcing fiber to greatly bolster the jean’s ability to withstand road rash. Built-in pockets are made to accept different levels of armor to protect your knees and hips from impact with the ground. The tradeoff is a slightly heavier garment with a little less airflow, but overall riding jeans are a more comfortable alternative than dedicated technical riding pants.
Below are our picks for some of the best motorcycle riding jeans on the market today.
Universal style and brazen protective capability make the Covert jean a uniquely versatile riding pant. With motorcycle specific features that include an abrasion-resistant fiber lining made with Kevlar and knee armor pockets, the Covert Jeans are as comfortable on the bike as they are on a Saturday night out on the town. For the fashion-forward rider who doesn’t want to sacrifice good looks with real-world protective precautions, the Covert jean is worth a look.
People know Aerostich for its world-famous Roadcrafter coverall suit. But did you know Aerostich makes jeans, too? These are the Protekt jeans, and while the name might be spelled a little weird, the overall fit, finish, and quality are top notch. We even wrote a review of the Protekt jeans. But if you want the elevator pitch for them here it is, straight from Aerostich:
Clean, simple, old school straight leg blue jeans…with a great trick: TF3 Impact armor-holding pockets at the knees (sold separately), accessed via a hidden zipper. Armor is removed or replaced in seconds, easily, while wearing the pants. All the rest is classic denim jean spec., with fit and cut similar to Levi’s 501s.
Specifically, these are carefully sewn of unwashed dark blue 100% cotton 14 oz denim fabric, which is a bit heavier-duty than the more common 10-12 oz denim, but it still shrinks-to-a-custom-fit after a wash or two, which makes these pants extra comfortable and wear a lot longer.
For protektion there are three generous hidden areas of abrasion resistant Breathable-Waterproof HT 500D Nylon (…as used in many Aerostich suits) located at the seat and knees. For ‘commando’ comfort this extra-abrasion-resistant fabric is backed by soft 100% cotton.
As you’d expect there are five traditional pockets, five belt loops and a reliable metal fly zipper, too. But as you wouldn’t expect, the hidden seat-protective breathable-waterproof abrasion layer means you can sit on a freshly rain-wetted saddle and not get a wet butt. Nice!
The optional knee armor is positioned in the correct location when riding, and when you’re off the bike it’s comfortably flexible and easily removable.
Stitching is double and triple wherever needed, and a crotch gusset provides extra ease and comfort that’s great when mounting up and also as you move around in the saddle.
The Alpinestars Copper v2 Jeans take the previous v1 and expands upon it. Looking just like your favorite pair of casual jeans yet packing a serious punch in the protection department, the Copper v2 uses Kevlar-reinforced stretch denim to give a comfortable fit while still offering abrasion resistance. The regular fit jeans also includes Bio Flex knee armor to protect against impact. Its slim profile means your jeans aren’t overtly bulky when off the motorcycle. Little details like triple stitching instead of metal rivets help keep the jeans from splitting while also preventing tank scratches. Lastly, a reflective coating on the underside of the hem helps other motorists see you in dark conditions. The Copper v2 Jeans are perfect for urban commuters, long-haul cruisers, and any two-wheeled enthusiast that prefers a more casual appearance.
Klim has got an excellent reputation for its off-road apparel, but did you know the company makes riding jeans, too? With the K Fifty 1 riding jeans you get heavy-duty Cordura denim construction that combines nylon and cotton for a comfortable yet durable finish. It has a stonewashed finish and a YKK fly zipper to keep things closed. For abrasion protection, the Fifty 1 jeans feature Kevlar-reinforced panels and integrated D30 hip and knee armor to protect against impact damage. These have five pockets like normal jeans with belt loops along the waist to fine-tune the fit. There’s even a sweat-wicking comfort liner to help keep the rider comfortable.
These stonewashed denim jeans come with aramid internal reinforcement to better resist road rash. The fit of the denim fabric skews towards the slim side and is integrated with reflective inserts and a special adjustable Pro-Armor protector at the knee (soft protectors are CE certified according to standard EN 1621.1). The Strokeville jeans are made to accommodate under-foot straps and feature practical Pro-Shape pockets at the hips for additional padding.
Street & Steel might not be a familiar name to some, but the Oakland jeans are a solid offering in the riding denim category with a very affordable price to boot. The traditional design blends denim with elastane to give some stretch for a comfortable fit. Aramid reinforcements throughout the seat, hips, and knees provide a huge amount of protection against road rash, while CE knee armor mitigates impact damage. The five-pocket design splits the difference between a boot cut and a straight cut, so keep that in mind before deciding.
Women need riding jeans just as much as men, and the Speed and Strength Street Savvy Moto Pants provide a slim-straight fit casual look but offer protection riders need on the street. Built with a cotton-poly blend, the Savvy Moto pants protect the knees with removable Vault C.E.-approved knee armor. Aramid fiber thread is weaved into the seat and knee areas to make the jeans more resistant to abrasion from the ground. The side zip opening from the hem to the knee expands to allow riders to pull their jeans over tall boots.
The Bull-it SR6 jeans have a vintage style and feature 12.5 oz. dark blue denim with a light faded wash and 100% cotton outer. It comes with a traditional five-pocket design with an additional coin pocket. A black leather belt patch with embroidered Bull-it logo helps you stand out, as does the Covec sew-in label in the rear right-hand pocket. Further touches include brushed metal matt finish buttons and front pocket rivets. For durability, the side and rear seam construction is triple stitched, with the genuine YKK locking front zipper making sure things stay closed. Inside, you’ll find your own little microclimate, as the airflow felt by using the Bull-it Covec structure and cool mesh liner will keep you warm when it’s cold and cool in the summer. The Covec thermal barrier inside also limits heat transfer from sliding along the road. There are knee and hip armor pockets built-in for the optional CE 1621 approved protectors. Finally, the finish is water repellent so you don’t have to worry about light splashes.
Fly Racing began as a manufacturer of motorcycle handlebars and helmets. Since then, the brand has quickly developed into one of the fastest-growing powersports apparel brands in the market. With the women’s Fortress jeans, we have a pair of jeans cut specifically for a woman’s shape. Made from heavyweight 12-ounce Kevlar-reinforced denim with over 70% coverage, these jeans will stand up to abrasion. Impacts are absorbed with CE Level 1 knee armor. There are also pockets for detachable hip armor (sold separately). Plaid pockets add to the interior trim detail, as does the key chain attachment in the front pocket.
Rev’It! makes some of the best apparel on the market, no matter your gender, and the Moto Women’s jeans are no exception. Cut specifically for a woman’s body, these jeans are constructed from 12.5oz Cordura denim and look like they belong both on the bike and off. Elastic ribbing stretches in key areas allow the rider to move freely no matter what kind of motorcycle they’re riding. CE level 1 knee protection is included, and optional hip pads are sold separately. 3M Scotchlite reflection is used to add a little more visibility to you when riding at night.
All jeans are basically the same, right? Wrong. When it comes to motorcycle jeans, there are a few details to pay attention to. First of all, make sure you’re getting dedicated riding jeans. If you’re not sure, then just pick up a set. Dedicated riding jeans are typically substantially thicker and heavier than regular denim. This is because riding denim is reinforced with some sort of material (usually Kevlar but not always) to give abrasion resistance in a crash. As we mentioned at the top of this article, regular denim will disintegrate in a flash once it makes contact with asphalt. Riding denim usually also has knee armor to mitigate impact damage between your knee and the ground. Some also have hip protectors, and if they don’t, it’s usually available as an option. Lastly, pay attention to the cut of the jeans as they may not fit over your riding boots. If you typically wear your boots over your pants this may not matter.
Washing motorcycle jeans is a lot like washing regular jeans. In this case, be sure to remove any internal padding or armor first. Then zip or button everything that can be zipped or buttoned. Turn the jeans inside out, stick it in the wash, and set the temperature to low. Once finished let the jeans line dry. Don’t dry clean or use bleach. It’s also important to keep the Kevlar layers away from direct UV sunlight, as it can degrade the Kevlar over time.
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