These days, just about every major brand has their take on motorcycle jeans. As the number of options on offer goes up, the marketplace becomes increasingly difficult to navigate – but luckily that is where we come in, cutting through the bullshit with Katana-like efficiency. This is the world of motorcycle jeans brought to heel.
Most biker jeans can be placed into one of three categories: casualwear with armour pockets, single-layer protective jeans, and lined protective jeans. As of now-ish, manufacturers selling into the EU will no longer be able to market that first category as “motorbike jeans” per se (check out our CE certification article here), however, there will always be a market for these among the more casual (read: reckless) riders, or those mucking about in fields and so on.
Single-layer protective motorbike jeans are about the closest to a high street pair of jeans as you’ll get – the key difference is that they not only feature pockets for armour and modern high-strength stitching techniques, but the fabric itself is abrasion resistant. This is achieved by subbing some of the cotton fibres in the weave for nylon, aramid or UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene), creating a fabric that feels pretty indistinguishable from standard denim, but with dramatically increase abrasion resistance. Cordura Denim is a popular off-the-peg fabric using military grade nylon, offers 4x more abrasion resistance (in 13.75oz weight) than 100% cotton denim fabric and comfortably meets CE test requirements. Higher-end products often use aramid fibres (e.g. DuPont Kevlar), or the market leading UHMWPE brand, Dyneema. Dyneema is incredibly low bulk but offers an equivalent abrasion resistance of 15x the strength of carbon steel, so it is a pretty solid bet for anyone looking to make a tough pair of trousers.
Lined jeans are essentially a standard pair of jeans, but with additional layers of a protective fabric – often an aramid (Kevlar) type – in various positions to provide protection where it is most needed. Aramid fabric is not as lightweight as one woven from Dyneema, but Kevlar’s association with flak jackets should tell you all you need to know about its toughness (please note, aramid lined jeans are *not* bulletproof). The double-layered design of lined jeans does mean that the outer will probably only handle one crash before needing repair or replacement. They are also a little more insulating than a casual pair, but when riding at speed this is actually quite welcome. Creating a pair of lined jeans also comes at significantly lower manufacturing cost, so they tend to be a little easier on the wallet too.