Can riding jeans be your favorite jeans?
Everyone has a favorite pair of jeans. To help soften the Monday blues, I tend to wear mine at the beginning of the week. Inevitably, that leaves my least favorite trousers—my riding jeans—for the end of the week. Of course, the ill-fitting denim and bulging knee armor only dampen my spirits as I sprint to the week’s finish line. For that reason, when I got my hands on a pair of Pando Moto’s Steel Black 9, I saw it as an opportunity to reframe my perspective on riding jeans—and reclaim my TGIF.
The first thing I noticed when unboxing the Steel Black 9 riding jeans was the sturdy construction and hefty weave. The 13-ounce denim features a protective layer of Dyneema fabric that lends rigidity and mimics the feel and texture of selvedge denim. Conversely, my current riding jeans consist of a cotton/elastic blend that feels more like wearing a pair of loose jeggings so the Steel Black 9’s advanced materials and craftsmanship were a welcome change.
I regularly visit the local tailor for shortening and tapering my pant legs but the slim-cut Pando Moto jeans fit my frame directly out-of-the-box. The Steel Black 9’s nearly-black indigo color was also appropriate for professional settings as well as after-work happy hours. In addition to the superior fit and finish, the low-profile CE-approved KNOX knee armor (included) and hip armor (sold separately) are practically imperceptible. In the span of a week, I wore the jeans to the workplace, a cafe, and a restaurant and no one could tell that I was donning riding gear.
Pando Moto claims that the Dyneema fabric is 15 times stronger than steel. The abrasion-resistant material weaves throughout the Steel Black 9—not just select panels at the seat and knees—providing a comprehensive barrier against road rash. Along with the protective properties, the Dyneema layer features high-heat conductivity, repelling environmental and engine heat off the rider’s legs.
Under the protective lining, the Steel Black 9 also touts 2-position knee armor pockets, allowing users to customize the position of the provided level 1 armor. Two inner pockets at the waist increase the protective coverage, but customers must purchase hip armor separately. Luckily, I never tested the abrasion resistance or impact response of the riding jeans but the Dyneema material and CE armor certainly added a sense of confidence to my ride.
On the bike, the Steel Black 9 felt like a second skin. Unlike my other riding jeans, that bunch or pinch at the knees, hips, and crotch, the Pando Moto’s jeans didn’t obstruct my movements in the saddle. Compared to the swishing inner-lining of other riding jeans I’ve worn, the armor pockets in the Steel Black 9 were completely unnoticeable. The comfort and fit of the pants allowed me to focus on more important things like gravel-strewn corners or rush hour traffic.
Over time, I learned that rolling up the jeans exposed the sizable section of my shin. While cuffing the Steel Black 9s provides more visibility for the rider due to the reflective strip integrated into the outseam, the sacrifice in protection wasn’t worth such a marginal gain. I eventually learned to roll down the pants before throwing a leg over the bike and to roll them up after I dropped the kickstand.
I’ve thoroughly gushed over the Steel Black 9 thus far, but I can cite a few marks against the riding jeans. First, the lack of velcro in the armor pockets was initially perplexing. While the knee armor stayed in place on-the-hanger and on the body, the hip armor required some rearranging every time I slid on the pants. During the ride, the hip armor snugly wrapped my sides but the minor annoyance of repositioning the protection with each wear was worth noting.
Additionally, the lack of ventilation was apparent with the Steel Black 9. Though the Dyneema fabric repels heat from external sources, it trapped in body heat. While running errands, I walked a little over a mile and moisture began collecting around my knee area. With that said, you shouldn’t encounter any overheating issues if you stick to riding and avoid extensive strolls in the Steel Black 9.
The Bottom Line
At €319.00 ($348 USD), Pando Moto’s Steel Black 9 is definitely at the higher end of the riding jeans market. However, the unparalleled fit, stylish cut, protective properties, and quality construction more than justify the price tag. If you’re looking for a new pair of riding jeans—or a new pair of jeans in general—check out Pando Moto’s range of motorcycle gear.
All I know is that I’m looking forward to slotting the Steel Black 9 into my weekly jeans rotation—in the Monday slot.