Which Type of Motorcycle Denim is Best?
But which type are the best?
BrandThere are a lot of brands selling motorcycle jeans nowadays and – as usual – you’ll pay through the nose for the “bigger” names though if you do your research you’ll often find a less well-known brand is just as good (but often cheaper) than the big guys. The big guys have to pay for all their whiz-bang advertising somehow!
Your classic Levis/Wranglers/Faberges etc won’t protect you much in a spill. Even the old-school heavy denim (that seems to have gone the way of the Dodo) won’t stand up to a slide along bitumen, and today’s poor excuse that is marketed as “denim” is even worse. Good thick leather riding pants are very protective but totally impractical (and bloody hot). So, how to choose riding jeans? There’s a few different types, so we’ll have a quick look at those.
Para-aramidThe first riding ‘jeans’ invented were actually denim lined with para-aramid (usually referred to as Kevlar(TM), which is actually the DuPont Brand name for para-aramid. These internal panels meant that in the event of a fall, the denim would wear away during contact with the road but the para-aramid lining would protect the rider from sloughing off their skin. The only real downside for this type of pants was that the para-aramid lining coupled with the denim made them extremely hot and heavy. That’s why jeans such as those from Johnny Reb have the para-aramid lining in only the parts of the jeans that would be in contact with the bitumen when sliding, such as the bum and knees, so that the rest of the jeans are cooler. Over the years however, the technology has developed and there has been some success with denim and para-aramid being woven together into a ‘single’ fabric, such as Oxford’s Armourlite(TM). This has made the jeans easier and lighter to wear, but not quite as safe as the heavier, lined versions. As with all things in life there are pros and cons to each and the final decision will come down to individual preference (and the climate you live in).
Cordura is another fabric designed for heavy use that has traditionally been used because of its resistance to abrasion, tearing and scuffs. It’s nylon based and was used as a tyre liner in military vehicles for many years. Despite para-aramid being the ‘go to’ lining or fabric when considering a motorcycle jean, many tests have claimed that Cordura actually has more abrasion-resistance than para-aramid and that the elasticity that the nylon-based Cordura provides actually makes the fabric far more ‘useful’ when involved in a fall from a bike. Here in Queensland however, we find it can be very hot, and is not really suitable for the old-school biker riding to work/lunch/a party/rally etc. We’ll leave it to the “Adventure” riders.
Whichever jeans you decide to ride with, they won’t protect you from impacts with hard surfaces. For added safety, most riding pants will include armour for hips and knees and some even have shin armour. Armour is removable, so again it’s a personal choice which you use. I know a lady who didn’t wear her knee armour until she had a run-in with a kangaroo one evening and smashed her knees; she now won’t ride without it. Armour is usually rated CE level 1 or 2. Level 2 is the best impact protection.The technology is changing rapidly, armour is becoming more flexible and comfortable to wear (and less visible), so hopefully more of us will be willing to wear it. The hospital Emergency Departments will be grateful I’m sure…
Well I hope this info has been of some help, but basically I can’t tell you what to wear; it really is a personal choice. Do your research and then go with whatever suits your circumstances (and budget). Don’t be told by the know-it-alls what you should and shouldn’t wear; you are not an idiot and can make these decisions for yourself.