In a bid to beat the heat and/or relative discomfort of wearing leather to protect your legs, armoured jeans can often be the preferred choice.
While traditionalists still baulk at the idea of convenience and comfort over safety, protective technology has evolved. And that evolution is perhaps most evident through Bull-It who created their own material called Covec, designed a range of jeans and had it approved to CE Approved Level 2 standard. This means its impact abrasion resistance is almost 8 seconds…equal to a set of race leathers.
There are plenty of alternatives in the armoured denim market such as Draggin’, Hood, RST and Sartso but I’ve been wearing a pair of Bull-It Carbon VoloCE jeans for the past 3 months - these are the most abrasive resistant from the three-tier range (Laser4, +7 and VoloCE).
It can often be the actual material that causes injury
Bull-It was founded by ex-Speedway racer Keith Bloxsome in 2011 and he explained to Bike Social that the initial impact isn’t the only part of an accident that causes injury, "It can often be the actual material that causes injury because of the heat transfer of the material melting the skin through friction. Then you have an issue with the material now being attached to the wound.”
Not a pleasant thought but the VoloCE’s do give you a measure of reassurance thanks to the thickness of the layered material and their weight - noticeably heavier than your regular pair of Wranglers. Even so, the jeans are still designed to be warm in winter yet cool in summer thanks to their mesh lining, and it’s in this lining that the removable protective armour sit. These are made from Covec – a liquid crystal polymer fibre which feels like hard memory foam i.e. it’s flexible but returns to its original shape within a second. Two hip protectors and two knee protectors have their own Velcro fastened internal pockets but, like all removable armour, require adjusting into suitable positions once you’re on the bike. Not great for a speedy getaway and can feel a little clumsy.
The VoloCE range is made up of two colours; Indy & Carbon which in non-marketing language translates to Blue and Black. They’re water repellent, a fact which was tested when caught in a sudden downpour, and they lived up to their expectation.
To stamp out any annoying flapping the Bull-It jeans come equipped with under-boot Velcro stirrup’s which are thankfully adjustable, although take my advice and keep them loose - you'll find out why when you arrive at a red light and have to put your foot down. If you don’t chose to use them then they will Velcro themselves to the inner lining which will at least prevent them from entangling around your pegs, gear lever or rear brake.
I’m normally a 34” waist and at 6ft, I’d wear a long leg (34”) so naturally I’d ordered a 34”x34". The waist band was a little tight but all other areas including leg length were more than comfortable and accurate. The fastening is a standard button and Y-zip fly and the jeans have a traditional five-pocket design. The front two pockets are very deep, handy for keeping your change from spilling all over the road but narrow enough to prevent gloved-hand access.
Overall, they make your legs look bulky but despite their apparent weight and bulk they do keep your legs cool in warmer temperatures and vice versa. Gladly, I didn’t get to test the abrasion claims but if it’s good enough to be CE Approved to level 2, then it’s good enough for me to place my faith in them.
What does CE Approved mean?
The CE marking is required for many products sold to consumers throughout the European Economic Area (28 members states of the EU plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Turkey)* and stands for ‘Conformite Europeenne’. It states that the product is assessed before being placed on the market and meets EU safety, health and environmental protection requirements.
Level 2 is the highest applicable to motorcycle personal protective equipment.
Colour range: Black and Blue (Carbon and Indy)
Size range: waist – 26” to 44”, leg length – 32”, 34”, 36”
Price: from £209.99
*correct as of July 2014