As the technology of protective material evolves the market for riding jeans grows, especially when top manufacturers and specialists are all involved including Dainese, Draggin, Bull-It, AlpineStars, AGV, Hood, Richa, and the list goes on. In fact there are now around 120 manufacturers world-wide and some retailers are selling more riding jeans than leather trousers.
But the level of protection varies so when preparing to make a purchase not only should you consider the style, fit and colour like a regular fashion item but the impact protection and level of abrasion resistance are also key factors.
You won't regret paying that little bit extra to ensure you skin and bones are suitably protected
It's all very well looking good and having the comfort and practicality of a riding jean but if you end up sliding down the road, and it might not be the first concern to come to mind, but you won't regret paying that little bit extra to ensure you skin and bones are suitably protected and that your body retains its appropriate amount of blood. Gruesome yes but this is a serious subject.
Garments of this type are therefore tested three-fold to meet CE regulations;
CE approval is granted if the garment can last for four seconds.
Where suitable over the past 8 months I’ve been wearing a pair of Ultra Lite's made by Canadian firm, Resurgence Jeans which have Kevlar material woven into the denim. Despite being named after a packet of low-tar cigarettes, they are priced at £150 and are available in three colours, Black, Metal (which is a mid-blue) and Sports (more of a distressed looking lighter blue). There's also a ladies version available in the same colours and for the same price.
I've had a pair of riding jeans before and thankfully never did find out how good their protection and abrasion resistance were but I did find them bulky and slightly ill-fitting which essentially negated their uniqueness. The design behind the Ultralites is impressive; slim fit from waist to knee and then boot cut from there on down to ensure a suitable fit over any riding boot. Velcro stirrups prevent the jeans from riding up although I never used mine because I found them a little restrictive and not very hard wearing when walking around. The fit is pretty much as ideal, just like a standard pair of jeans, they’re not heavy, dowdy and unflattering but both stylish and light enough in weight to pass as regular clothing which of course if probably why you’d buy riding jeans in the first place. Practical for all types of bike excluding those where one-piece leathers are advised.
Resurgence use knee and hip armour from industry-leading firm Knox which are not only CE approved but also removable from their bespoke Velcro-ed pockets within the lining of the jeans. The armour is pliable and when on the bike the knee protection requires minor adjustment to sit in the correct position.
The lining is stitched in at the waist and ankles also to meet CE approval but it isn't stitched elsewhere which allows it to firstly move with your body but mainly to prevent friction burns. Equally pockets have to be stitched to the lining.
The company are expanding their range for 2015 with the introduction of part-lined jeans, a looser cut jean with turn-up called 'Selvedge', a pair of chinos and then a hoodie and a denim jacket all of which will offer abrasion and impact protection.
Stefan Barnes, Director of Resurgence’s distributor said, “Resurgence Gear is designed to offer the highest levels of protection that are free of stitch lines, with cool styling, and comfortable. This design ethos covers the full Resurgence Gear range.”
The Ultra Lite jeans have been and continue to be extremely comfortable to wear both on and off the bike. I've never felt restricted by them and find them easy to manoeuvre when riding. They are certainly highly recommended. They are fastened with a single button and zip fly and have four pockets with the two at front being deeper than a standard jean. Naturally they weigh a little more than your standard Wranglers due to the reinforced material and armour but the difference is only 14 grams (0.5 oz), barely noticeable.
In terms of sizing, I wore the same waist size as a sandard pair of Levi's so if you're ordering online then don't deviate too far from your usual size but do consider leg length because remember that when you're sitting on a bike they will ride up your leg.
Resurgence say the jeans are “water and oil repellent for over 30 washes”, surely that’s a lifetime of riding for a standard bloke!
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.
What is Kevlar?
Kevlar, or poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide to give it its full name, is the trademarked name for a para-aramid synthetic fibre which is a high strength material which is 5 times stronger than steel when compared on a strength-to-weight measure.
Do you wear riding jeans? If so which brand and what do you think of them?