Draggin' Jeans and Shirt

Convenient Protection

You wouldn't dream of riding out on a crisp fall morning without your leathers.

And, the thought of heading cross country dressed in anything but the finest Cordura riding suit would seem silly. But when it's 90 degrees in the shade and you want to cruise across town to the Dairy Queen, comfort often takes precedence over safety.

Enter Hickory, North Carolina-based Fast Company. Since 1996, they have offered their line of Draggin' Jeans ($79.95) as an improvement over traditional Levis or Wranglers. Originally featuring a Keprotec lining in the seat and the knees, the product offered adequate road rash protection for casual street riding. More importantly, it boasted the comfort, convenience and machine washability of blue jeans.

Since that time, Baxter's original research has been fortified by actual crashed jeans. Fast Company responded by systematically improving the product. This includes the switch to a Kevlar lining and also expanded coverage area.

Fast Company now claims four times the abrasion resistance of their original jeans, plus improved impact resistance as well as greater comfort and breathability.

A second manifestation of their foray into Kevlar is the introduction of the Draggin' Shirt ($87.95). The shirt is constructed of 100 percent raw Kevlar (thus the yellow color) with a double layer at the elbows and shoulders. Draggin' Jeans also offered a nifty advertising campaign marked by inventor Hal Baxter being dragged by a pickup truck for 100 feet.

Draggin' Jeans look innocent enough, even when 100-pound girls wear jeans ordered for fat 'ole MO Staffers. The shirt features an open knit like that practice jersey you wore in high school football. It also features an extra long tail to keep it tucked in as you stretch out over your Ducati 996. Strips of Velcro at the wrists, meanwhile, aim to keep the sleeves in place should you happen to go down.

Immediately upon receipt of the shirt and the jeans, MO dressed up for a day in the saddle and behind the desk.

From a visual standpoint, you can tell Fast Company took great care to make the jeans appear as normal as possible. They look identical to traditional jeans, except for a few horizontal stitches above and below the knees and below your butt. The butt padding, meanwhile, is practically invisible.

From a comfort standpoint, the padding in the jeans feels a little weird at first, but soon you forget it's there. It's worth note that they fit a tad tighter than Levis 501s of the same waist and in-seam. So depending on your taste, you may want to bump up an inch in the waist. To ensure the jeans stay down over your boots, you also may choose a longer in-seam.

Overall, most riders should have no problem wearing these all day like regular jeans, rendering one ready to ride at a moment's notice.

The shirt, meanwhile, fits well, but felt a tad itchy... like a rag wool sweater. Fast Company spokesperson Karla Mast was genuinely surprised by word of this, noting she had never heard a customer complaint alluding to itchiness. So maybe MOians are itch people. She did suggest that a few more trips through the laundry will render the fibers more flexible. Mast warned never to use bleach, however. It's the enemy of Kevlar, and decent roadrash-fearing people everywhere.

From a style standpoint, we think a yellow, open knit shirt looks a bit weird for stand-alone use. Maybe it could be offered in colors with some moto-inspired graphics. Those aren't our boxers: Underneath Draggin's denim exterior lies the protective power of Kevlar.

But, Fast Company said customers typically wear the shirt and jeans as stand-alone items and feel adequately stylish and protected. Considering the open knit design of the shirt, it's arguable this combination offers the best combination of abrasion resistance, convenience and ventilation of any product available for the street. A short blast down I-405, for example, revealed that wearing the Draggin' Shirt practically felt like wearing no shirt at all. We'd even suggest most riders may feel chilly on any day below 80 degrees.

Cruiser riders who choose to wear chaps may find the Draggin' Jeans the perfect compliment, since they provide coverage in the one area chaps leave exposed.

Kevlar is a bulletproof material. That's one test we won't be trying! Female riders, meanwhile, should enjoy the fact Draggin' Jeans are now available in women's sizes.

Do these products offer the protection of traditional motorcycle leathers? Absolutely not... especially considering the lack of crash armor and hip protection.

But, let's be honest with ourselves. How many times do we skip the hassle of putting on leathers and simply head out to the store or the restaurant or wherever? For short errands, the act of putting on riding clothes may take as long as the errand itself.

So, when faced with the choice of protection or convenience, the Draggin' Jeans and Draggin' Shirt offer a viable compromise.

Motorcycle Online Rating:****

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