Imagine you are here. It is a sunny, spring day, and you decide to take the bike out for a joy ride. Today’s destination? The curviest country roads known to man. There is not a single car in sight, and you feel pure freedom (like a dog with its head out the window). Turn after turn, you become more in sync with the road, like a fighter pilot optimizing precision and speed. Everything is perfect. That is, until one of those sharp turns reveals a oncoming car in the middle of your lane, forcing you to swerve to prevent a head on collision. In the process you are thrown from your bike, sending you sliding across the course pavement.
This story may sound familiar to you. If not, hopefully it is a situation that you will never become familiar with. In the following paragraphs, we will provide you with our straight-forward guide on how to pick the right pair of jeans for you, so that you can always ride protected.
Why are motorcycle jeans even necessary?
This needs no additional explanation, but it doesn’t hurt to reemphasize the importance of safety on the bike.
4,666 two-wheeler riders were killed in traffic accidents in 2015. Although motorcycle injuries and fatalities rates have steadily improved, every year there are thousands more accidents and injuries. Protective clothing reduces the probability of minor injury in an accident by 33-50%, according to the European Commission.
The European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (EAMM) together with the EU have laid out their safety strategy for the future which will undoubtedly push the industry further towards safety-related policies, technologies, training, and of course motorcycle PPE (personal protection equipment). We will discuss the regulations on motorcycle equipment more in depth in our article on CE certification.
What exactly are motorcycle jeans?
Perhaps we should specify what we mean when we refer to 'motorcycle jeans'.
They are a part of a broader category of riding gear often referred to as PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) in the industry, unlike normal denim jeans like Levi’s or Wranglers,. The primary difference are the safety requirements and certifications required by motorcycle jeans. These safety features require motorcycle jeans manufacturers to use specific resistant materials to protect riders from impacts and abrasions in the event of a crash. We will get into specific materials and safety ratings later on in this guide
That being said, let us explore the main questions that surround motorcycle jeans and how they fit your different riding needs.
Motorcycle Pants vs. Motorcycle Jeans
As you heard earlier motorcycle jeans are a part of the broader PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) universe, which includes pants, helmets, eye protection, gloves, jackets, boots, suits, etc. Within this vast PPE universe you have motorcycle pants, which are divided into two distinct types: leather and textile. Let’s briefly take a look at the differences to give you a better idea of each.
Leather motorcycle pants
Pros: offer the highest abrasion resistance, popular for racing, low wind resistance
- Cons: rarely waterproof, limited application and seasonality, low breathbility
Textile motorcycle pants
Pros: high breathibility, usually waterproof, wearable on top of street clothes
- Cons: lower-level protection
Pros: very high protection, multiple weather features
Cons: less stylish, not as suitable for racing as leather pants
Pros: jeans are included in the textile category and are the most casual, stylish option for day-to-day use (unless you prefer the look of leather pants or non-denim textile pants).
Motorcycle jeans offer a versatile mix of the features of both leather and multi-layered textile pants. They offer similar levels of protection as textile pants and are more stylish (ok we admit we're a little biased here). And depending on the fit and if the jeans include elastic fibers, comfort is practically the same as well.
Cons: Jeans can be hot in summer. But in general, most pants, unless perforated or made of mesh will trap heat.
- Some leather or textile pants offer maximum safety levels. This is because jeans typically emphasize comfort and style, in addition to safety in your rides.
As is the case for most riders, the motorcycle is a part of their daily lives. That’s why we created a brand of jeans that works well with all your daily riding needs. Whether trekking to the office or conquering country roads, we believe you can have safety in harmony with style and comfort.
CE certification and different levels of safety
There’s a lot of talk about safety in the riding gear industry, in particular about CE certification. We dive into more depth on this in our CE certification article, but you will need to know a few general terms:
Conformité Européenne. Meaning 'European conformity'. It Is the symbol/term given to products sold within the EEA (European Economic Area) that conform to specific health, safety, and environmental protection standards. All motorcycle PPE that has the CE certified tag, has undergone industry tests to certify its safety.
Insider tip: You should check the tags to see that the whole garment is CE certified, not just the protectors. Also, make sure that it reads CE certified which means it was tested in certified testing center. CE approved or CE tested garments do not insure they were tested in certify testing centers.
AAA, AA, A, B, C
Refers to the different levels of protection given to motorcycle clothing after testing them.
While the protection level depends on your riding needs (touring, city commute, etc.) we recommend searching for at least an A level garment, as this will provide you protection against lower to mid-speed crashes. A, AA, and AAA garments all are resistant to impacts via protective armor.
- The lowest level of protection. Includes protective armor worn underneath normal clothing.
- Similar abrasion resistance to A but does not include protectors.
- The third highest level of protection. These garments are less protective than AA or AAA, but are lot more comfortable for use on a daily basis.
- Second highest level of protection, protects against a wider range of risks than the previous class.
- Highest level of protection, although may be heavier or less comfortable to use
Deciding on which motorcycle jeans or pants are for you.
In the end it all comes down to your personal needs. To help you identify exactly what your riding needs are, you should ask yourself the following questions before purchasing a pair of riding jeans or pants.
Where am I riding my bike?
Are you looking for jeans to ride cross-country in all types of weather? Are you looking for pants to take out on the race track? Or are you looking for jeans that will protect you on your daily commutes to work, and then later to the bar?
What is my budget?
This is an obvious limiting factor, as some options can cost over €400. All we can say is you get what you pay for. When it comes to your safety, this is not an area you want to cut corners on. Many brands that have lower price tags use lower quality materials, outsource manufacturing to countries with low production costs or are not CE certified. Would rather buy a motorcycle made of plastic or of carbon-fiber?
Single layered or lined?
Racered jeans are an example of lined jeans. There is a layer of premium denim that is lined with abrasion resistant aramid fibers, such as DuPont™ Kevlar®. Single layer jeans use abrasion resistant denim fabrics like Dyneema® and CORDURA®.
Some reviews say lined jeans are less breathable, but in our experience, this depends on the quality of the fabrics used (higher quality denim and elastane fabrics allow for improved breathability as they expand and contract during wear). Another common argument of single layered jeans is that they weigh less than layered jeans.
Again, pay attention to the product description where the weight should be listed., Often times single layered jeans and layered jeans have the same weight (between 10-13 oz depending on safety level).
What is the coverage?
This has a bit to do with previous question on lining. Coverage refers to the total internal area of the jeans that is lined with Kevlar. Some riders feel safer with a fully lined riding jean (e.g. lined from the butt to the shins), while some riders prefer lining in only high-risk areas (e.g. knee and butt). Fully lined jeans tend to weigh more and may be less breathable compared to partly lined pants.
Does it come with protectors or armor?
If you’re looking for an A, AA, or AAA certified riding jean, it should have specially designed pockets for insertable protective armor. But not all jeans come with protectors included in the price. So keep an eye out for this when choosing your jeans as this can result in an unexpected costs later on. There are a variety of generic and brand name protectors on the market, but two of the most reliable are SAS-TEC and D30®. These protectors have their own CE certification standards, and vary between Level 1 and Level 2 (highest level).
Are they comfortable and well designed?
Many times this something you will have to figure out by simply trying the jeans on. Do the jeans have enough stretch in the crouth and thigh areas? Do you have to remove the jeans to be able to take out the protectors? Racered jeans for example have been designed with external protector pockets to allow for easy removal and storage.
Our recommendation is to try on the pants to make sure they are comfortable. Use the zippers, take a walk (just don’t ride with them as you may not be able to return them if they aren’t a good fit!). Do not settle for less. Safety, comfort, and style is possible in one pair of pants! Speaking of fitting, let’s take a closer look out how to size your motorcycle jeans.
How to size your motorcycle jeans
Here are a few quick general rules on sizing motorcycle Jeans:
Your jeans should fit snug to the body and allow for a comfortable range of motion. Jeans and other PPE equipment that is too loose, may move during a crash and not protect you like it should.
When standing, knee protectors should rest slightly below or directly on the knee (when you sit on the bike they will rise a bit).
When seated on the bike, the jeans should cover your ankles. If you decide to roll the bottoms of the jeans up for style, you may consider purchasing a pair of boots to cover any exposed areas.
Fresh, new denim Jeans may fit a bit tighter at first, but keep in mind that premium denim adapts to the body overtime and molds to the rider’s body. The same logic applies when buying new shoes, you have to break them in a bit first.
It is important to check the size guide provided by the manufacturers. Although two jeans may have the same size on paper, subtle differences in the design, cut country of origin may result in the pants fitting bigger or smaller. Below you can see an example of our size guide for our men’s Falcon jeans
How to measure yourself for pants size
Measuring yourself is simple, you will just need a friend, a clothing measuring tape, and 3 key measurements:
Waist measurement: starting from the belly button and going around the body.
Hips measurement: starting at the widest part of the bottom of your hips and going around the body. Racered, like many other manufacturers take this measurement into account when designing our jeans
Inseam: the vertical measurement from the inside of crouch to the inside ankle bone:
Insider tip: you may want to add an extra inch (2.5cm) to the bottom of the inseam measurement as the jeans typically rise up a bit when sitting on your bike. With the above measurements, you can compare them to the manufacturers size guide and make sure you get the right fit!
When selecting the fit and size of your jeans, be sure to check whether they include elastic, stretchy fabrics and fibers (e.g. elastane). A size 32 jean, will not fit the same as a size 32 with lots of stretchy fabric. Furthermore, “slim fit” jeans may be tighter fitting, but often use stretchy elastane fibers for maximum comfort, like our men’s and women’s Falcon AA riding jeans.
Taking care of your motorcycle jeans
Similar to the sizing guides, we recommend you follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions, which can be found on the pants’ label.
Racered Jeans for example, should be machine washed and hanged to dry. Never wash with the protectors inside as this can damage or ruin them.
As a biker, you obviously don’t have the “walls” to protect you like you do with a car. But riding is a passion, the freedom, adventure and community involved in it makes you happy. So what? Motorcycle PPE (personal protection equipment) and motorcycle jeans in specific, offer you protection so you can worry less about the dangers and more about enjoying the ride.
Of the many different topics covered in this guide, here are a few take-aways for you to keep in mind when purchasing your motorcycle jeans:
Before buying a pair of riding pants, identify your riding needs. Are you competing in the Dakar rally or are you driving to the bar around the corner?
Safety is always the most important factor in choosing which jeans to purchase. To help decide you might ask yourself: would I be comfortable with my kids riding with these jeans?
The best way to see if a pant is a good fit for you is to order it and try it on! See if the company offers free shipping and returns before ordering, though.
Check for CE certification (A, AA, AAA) and quality materials (Kevlar, SAS-TEC, premium denim, YKK zippers, etc.)
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your local motorcycle store or the manufacturer of the jeans to get answers to your questions! Often the organization behind the brand reflects the quality and seriousness of the company as a whole.
Lastly, safety does not have to come at the expense of comfort and style.
As the famous Teresa Wallach so accurately put in her 1970 book, Easy Motorcycle Riding,
"You are on your own. You are not protected by two tons of steel, rubber, foam padding and safety glass. Neither are you steering two tons of guided missile toward other cars, people and property. If you are prepared to accept the responsibility of your own actions, then motorcycling can be both safe and thrilling. Riding is an art as well as a craft and no amount of explanation can take the place of experience."
If you want to learn more about our CE certified, Italian-made Jeans, you can visit our different jeans collections click here
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European Commission, Power Two Wheelers, European Commission, Directorate General for Transport, February 2018. 3.1 PTW fatalities in Europe.
European Commission, Power Two Wheelers, European Commission, Directorate General for Transport, February 2018. 7.2 Protective Clothing.
Greaser, Andy. “How to Size and Buy Motorcycle Pants.” RevZilla, 24 Aug. 2019, www.revzilla.com/common-tread/how-to-size-and-buy-motorcycle-pants.
Wallach, Theresa, and Maggie MacGowan. Easy Motorcycle Riding. Sterling Pub. Co., 1983.