What was once a rarity — jeans with abrasion and impact protection — is now a competitive, full segment of the motorcycle gear market. With prices running from $80 to $550+ and all sorts of jargon and exaggerate marketing claims, it can be hard to figure out which pair is right. We’re here to help. Which motorcycle jeans are right for you? Find out in this comprehensive breakdown.
Jeans and Motorcycles
Regular jeans offer zero protection in a motorcycle accident. Trust me, I know. And, motorcycle jeans like the ones listed here are still a compromise. While all offer some abrasion protection and some add impact protection, none offer anything like the safety or the all-weather ability of real leather or textile motorcycle pants. If you’re doing something dangerous on a bike — commuting, going fast, riding in the rain or off-road — we strongly recommend that you opt for a real set of motorcycle pants with CE-approved armor in the shins, knees and hips. But, there are times when something more casual is needed. Something that looks good on and off the bike. That’s where riding jeans like these come into play.
What To Look For
As with all clothing, fit is the most important factor. In fact, that should be your number one factor when choosing a pair of motorcycle jeans and it means you’ll need to try them on. Most of the jeans listed here aren’t available from brick and mortar retailers, so there may be some trial and error with orders and returns. We advise that you look for retailers with consumer-friendly return policies and good customer service.
Riding jeans need to protect you in two ways: impact and abrasion. Because these are products that sacrifice safety for style, many won’t offer impact protection due to its bulkiness, weight and price. Even the products that do, will offer that armor over limited areas of your lower body — none protect your shin. Look for armor that carries a CE-certified rating, which fits your joints while in your bike’s riding position and which doesn’t compromise comfort.
Abrasion protection is easier to provide and in jeans is handled by including abrasion-resistant materials like Kevlar in the weave or by sewing in internal panels of those same materials. Neither method is categorically superior. Traditionally, liners were safer, but made jeans with them heavy and hot; jeans with protection in the weave were less safe, but easier to wear. Advancing materials technology has changed all that. Look for jeans with abrasion protection across the widest possible area — particularly in the seat — and included in such a way that it doesn’t compromise comfort.
Deth Killers Slim Guy — $250
What’s Good: As stylish as jeans get, these also happen to provide good abrasion resistance for motorcycle riding thanks to a denim weave that’s 16 percent Kevlar.
What’s Bad: These will be too slim if you live somewhere that still thinks baggy is fashionable or if you’re not runway thin.
RideApart Recommended? Yes. These are the riding jeans we wear most often, on bike and off. That’s because they look better than anything else out there.
Deth Killers Style 105 — $250
What’s Good: The same construction as the original Slim Guys, just in a cut that mimics the classic Levi’s 501.
What’s Bad: Not quite as safe as some other options and no armor pockets are provided.
RideApart Recommended? Yes. If you’re uncomfortable in skinny jeans, then you’ll like these just fine.
Rev’It Lombard — $270
What’s Good: Like the Deth Killers, the weave itself provides the protection, here incorporating Cordura for strength and CoolMax for breathability. Knee armor is included and hip armor is optional. These fit and wear like normal jeans but have an extremely high degree of on-bike comfort and safety.
What’s Bad: The knee armor pocket isn’t adjustable, so the armor may not line up with your actual knee.
RideApart Recommended? Yes. These are the best combination of style and safety currently available.
Rev’It Nelson — $280
What’s Good: All the same comfort and safety features of the Lombards.
What’s Bad: They’re $30 more expensive than the Lombards and all that nets you is overly-fussy design features.
RideApart Recommended: No. The cheaper Lombards offer the same features in a more understated, normal-looking design.
Rev’It Carnaby — $260
What’s Good: You know the Rev’It jeans formula by now. These are styled like work pants, complete with big pockets and a very dark finish.
What’s Bad: These also take the styling just a little over the top.
RideApart Recommended: Yes, like the other jeans in the Rev’It line-up, these look good and work well.
Rev’It Campo — $280
What’s Good: Start with the Lombard and add seams which curve away from the outer edge or your leg to put them in a less vulnerable position. The Campos are also cut stylishly slim.
What’s Bad: The knee armor pocket isn’t adjustable, so the armor might not line up with your actual knee.
RideApart Recommended: Yes. These are the Rev’It Jeans we’ll probably end up wearing next.
Rev’it Women’s Madison — $200
What’s Good: That same cotton/Cordura/CoolMax denim weave as the men’s jeans, just here in a shape that will look good on women. There’s removable CE armor in the knees too.
What’s Bad: That knee armor isn’t repositionable, so there’s a chance it may not fit you.
RideApart Recommended: An emphatic yes. The best women’s motorcycle jeans you can buy.
Rev’it Women’s Broadway — $240
What’s Good: The $40 premium buys you a CE-approved, anti-abrasion synthetic layer in the seat, hips and knees. Otherwise, these appear to be the same jean as the Madison. Hip protector pockets are included, buy you need to buy the SAS-Tech protectors separately.
What’s Bad: Again, the knee armor may not fit you depending on positioning.
RideApart Recommended: Absolutely. These are a little safer than the Madisons, but know that extra layer may impact fit and comfort.
Maple Motorcycle Jeans — $493
What’s Good: If you’re into the fake lumberjack thing, these are the jeans for you. Available in either a slim or straight cut, the 13.5 ounce Selvedge denim is totally lined with a Kevlar terrycloth and Forcefield armor is provided for the hips and knees.
What’s Bad: Fit is…inconsistent and the whole fake lumberjack thing isn’t going to be for everyone; the seat is baggy in both cuts and you’ll need to cuff them over your boots.
RideApart Recommended: No. While providing good safety, they’re very heavy and hot to wear and the style just isn’t for us. The asking price is also a bit obscene for what you get.
Continue Reading: Lean Angle Jeans & More - Page 2 >>
Lean Angle Jeans — $260
What’s Good: Like the Maples, these Lean Angles incorporate a total liner, this time made from a Kevlar/Polyethelene blend that’s softer and cooler to wear. They also incorporate Forcefield knee and hip armor.
What’s Bad: From the outside, they don’t look like $260 jeans. 12.5 ounce denim is finished in unstylish washes and the bootcut fit is just unfortunate.
RideApart Recommended: No. They work great on the bike and provide excellent comfort, but they just don’t look good enough to make wearing them in lieu of real riding pants worth the compromise.
Dainese D6 Jeans — $180-$200
What’s Good: Available with either a traditional denim or part-Kevlar weave, both versions incorporate Kevlar panels inside to add abrasion resistance to impact areas.
What’s Bad: While the wash is suitably dark, the details are little over the top. They look good, but they also look like riding jeans.
RideApart Recommended: No, there are better options out there with more style and safety.
Dainese D1 Jeans — $200-$220
What’s Good: Unlike the D6s, these incorporate Kevlar into the denim weave, while also adding the Kevlar interior panels in the seat and knees. Available with or without knee armor.
What’s Bad: Look at them. Need we say more? They also don’t feel as robust as other offerings.
RideApart Recommended: No. There are better options that aren’t styled so hideously.
Dainese Montana 4D — $150
What’s Good: A simple pair of non-hideous jeans with Kevlar panels in the seat, hips and thighs. There’s pockets for armor, but you have to use Dainese’s own pads, which are CE-rated, but cover a very small area.
What’s Bad: We’re just unimpressed with Dainese’s denim offerings. Perhaps it’s the too-Euro styling or the lack of innovation and technical excellence which otherwise defines the brand.
RideApart Recommended: Yes. They don’t look bad and feature some abrasion protection.
What’s Good: Low price point adds a little abrasion protection to what are otherwise normal budget jeans.
What’s Bad: The cut is awful, avoid if you live in a city or go out in public. The added protection is also minimal, with just some cheesy Kevlar panels in the seat and knees of otherwise totally normal, thin and cheap denim.
RideApart Recommended: No. We just can’t get behind cheap grandma jeans.
Drayko Riding Jeans — $130-$180
What’s Good: Available for either men or women, the Drayko Riding Jeans use a Kevlar/Dynema liner that provides excellent abrasion resistance and nets them CE-certified protection.
What’s Bad: The style and cut are extremely poor, with huge, dorky logos on the rear pockets.
RideApart Recommended: No. Take one look at that logo and the fake “whiskering” effect.
Alpinestars Hellcat — $250
What’s Good: A basic pair of understated riding jeans with Kevlar panels in the hips, seat and knees. The included Bio Armor knee protectors feature a repositionable pocket so you can actually get them to line up with your knees.
What’s Bad: Otherwise these are just a basic pair of riding jeans. Nothing remarkable.
RideApart Recommended: Yes. They’re understated and functional and the straight cut is only a little too baggy.
Alpinestars Resist — $200
What’s Good: These are a little more traditionally-designed and basic offering than the Hellcat, with the same Kevlar panels and moveable knee armor.
What’s Bad: Can you say grandma jeans?
Rideapart Recommended: Yes, they’re functional and some people actually like jeans that don’t fit well.
Alpinestars Ablaze — $200
What’s Good: Same Kevlar liner/repositionable armor as the Hellcat and Resist.
What’s Bad: But with a light-colored wash and “comfort” fit.
RideApart Recommended: No. Since when was “casual Obama” a style icon?
Alpinestars Outcast — $170
What’s Good: The same features as other jeans in Alpinestars “Tech Denim” lineup, but the lower price point means they do without the knee armor. Fashionable dark denim in a classic jeans fit.
What’s Bad: The lower legs are a bit baggier than really necessary.
RideApart Recommended: Yes. Abrasion resistance and classic style.
Continue Reading: Alpinestars Kerry Jeans & More - Page 3 >>
Alpinestars Kerry — $200
What’s Good: Hey ladies, want a flattering pair of jeans with solid safety? The Kerry’s incorporate Kevlar panels in the seats, hips and knees for abrasion resistance and removable CE armor in the knees.
What’s Bad: Removable hip pads aren’t CE-rated.
RideApart Recommended: Yes. These are genuinely flattering to the feminine figure.
Icon Strongarm 2 — $105-$115
What’s Good: They’re cheap and they do incorporate Aramid (non-name brand Kevlar) in the knees, but not the seat.
What’s Bad: The dream of the 1990s is indeed alive in Portland. These are cut like JNCOs and the more expensive “Enforcer” model features laughably bad skull and “XX” graphics on its seat.
RideApart Recommended: No. There’s really not much protection and they’re just awful to look at.
Icon Hooligan — $120
What’s Good: This is more like it. Nicely styled and equipped with Aramid panels inside the knees complete with armor, the Hooligan is available in either black or grey. The knee armor is also easily removable through external pockets, so you can pull it out when you reach the office.
What’s Bad: Outright protection is limited. We’d like to see an all-over Kevlar weave or liner or at least Kevlar in the seat and hips.
RideApart Recommended: Yes. Just keep in mind the limited protection.
Icon Women’s Hella Denim — $85
What’s Good: Stretch denim backed up by an Aramid layer in the knees.
What’s Bad: The fit is decidedly boot cut, there’s no armor and no abrasion protection in the seat.
RideApart Recommended: No. Spend up to the Rev’Its, the protection and more stylish fit is worth it.
Ugly Bros — Price Varies
What’s Good: Ugly Bros has a full line of protective jeans, most of which are made from a part-Kevlar weave and some of which include armor.
What’s Bad: While some of the styles are nicely understated and well cut, others are truly hideous. There’s a healthy selection though.
RideApart Recommended: Depends on the product in question. One thing we’d consider is availability, returns and things like that. Without a physical store presence in the U.S., getting the right size could be a hassle.
What’s Good: Made from abrasion resistant Schoeller Dynatec fabric, the Revolutions are lined with a wind/waterproof, breathable membrane. D3O armor is included for the hips and knees.
What’s Bad: Rokker is a Swiss company and its styling appears rooted in the 1990s European techno scene. If you’re a Russian gangster or middle-aged male from East Germany with spikey blonde hair, you’ll love them. If you live in America and have eyes, you’ll assume they’re a bad joke.
RideApart Recommended: No. These have the best ingredients of any product here, but the worst when it comes to looks. Sigh.
Rokker Original — $470
What’s Good: A basic denim jean lined with the high-tech Shoeller Dynatec fabric.
What’s Bad: Again, the styling is just going be love it or hate it. No bones about it, we hate it.
RideApart Recommended: No. While the Schoeller fabric will justify the huge premium to the kind of people who really geek out on materials technology, we’d also guess those same people haven’t yet invented a time machine to travel forward from the 1990s, then take these jeans back to their rightful time in fashion.
Rokker Red Selvage — $500
What’s Good: Again, the Schoeller Dynatec liner will provide peerless abrasion resistance.
What’s Bad: You have eyes, you tell us. We’re guessing they misspelled “selvedge” because these are just regular, stonewashed denim jeans.
RideApart Recommended: Would you pay $500 to look like the modern day Axel Rose? Neither would we.
Draggin’ Jeans — Price Varies
What’s Good: The original Kevlar riding jeans are available in a variety of styles with varying degrees of protection from the anti-abrasion liner.
What’s Bad: Draggin’ has failed to keep up with the pace of advancement in a segment it invented. Competitors now offer better protection and better style — an area in which this brand has always lagged.
RideApart Recommended: No. The market has moved on.
Iron Heart 21oz — $365+
What’s Good: Ultra heavyweight denim delivers the strength and durability denim has always been rumored to be capable of without becoming unbearably stiff or thick. Iron Heart’s denim is even stronger than its weight would suggest thanks to its ultra-long Zimbabwe cotton fibers.
What’s Bad: Plan on a break-in period of 6 months or more before they become truly comfortable.
RideApart Recommended: Yes. As fashionable as Deth Killers and as safe, too.
What is your favorite brand when it comes to riding jeans? Which jeans do you advise against and which do you recommend?