The thing you need to know about me is that I’m extremely picky about my jeans. I’m not some pretentious denim nerd who requires $800 bespoke raw denim jeans made by boutique clothiers in gentrified rustbelt towns, though—far from it. I do, however, have a particular set of requirements that are pretty much only met in the mass market by Levi’s 517 Boot Cut jeans. They’re dark indigo, unwashed, stiff, fit me like a glove, and look great cuffed since, as a rockabilly/roots rock hipster douchebag, I maintain the rockabilly/roots rock hipster douchebag grooming standard of six-inch stovepipe cuffs.
Now, the 517s are great for day-to-day fits—in fact, they're the only jeans I wear—but they’re not really the best for motorcycling. For years I’ve struggled to find riding jeans that were up to my fit, finish, and style standards. Often, they're not dark enough, not stiff enough, don't cuff well, don't wear well, are covered in tacky deco, or look like either mom jeans or something out of Cyberpunk 2077. I’ve gotten close once or twice, but never found that sweet spot where form and function meet until I tried Rokker’s Original Rokker Raw jeans.
A cross between relaxed fit and boot cut styles, The Original Rokker Raw's outer shell is raw, 13-ounce, 100% cotton, selvage denim dyed a deep, nearly black indigo. They're fully lined—waist to ankle—in an abrasion-resistant, water and wind-repellent schoeller-dynatec liner that, along with insertable armor, gives them a CE level: A rating. Additional safety is provided by a pair of included D3O knee protectors and there are interior pockets for the optional hip armor. A feature I really like is that the knee armor doesn't fit into discrete pockets. Instead, it fastens to the inside of the lining with super aggressive Velcro fasteners. This allows you to adjust the armor to suit your build and riding position rather than relying on the designers' opinions of where your knees are located.
Other features include the usual five pockets—two hip, two rear, one watch pocket—and are trimmed in both white and gold stitching. A solid button fastens them at the waist, and a stout (but surprisingly short) zipper keeps everything tucked away.
The denim is sturdy, stiff, and holds up to washing remarkably well. The seams are solidly stitched, and there are no pesky rivets or other farkles to scratch your tank. They have just enough stretch and fit loose enough to give you a wide range of movement and they don't ride up too much when you're in the saddle. They even cuff great, although thanks to the full liner you can only get about a three-inch cuff out of them.
Like anything, though, there are some downsides to these jeans. For starters, they're hilariously heavy. With only the knee armor installed, the Rokker Original Raw jeans weigh in at a chonky 4.5 pounds. That's before you add in your wallet, phone, keys, pocket change, knife, belt, wallet chain, optional hip armor, cool rocks, pet frog, slingshot, and everything else you stuff in your pockets during a ride. They're also hot. Like, hot hot. That schoeller-dynatec liner provides ample protection, but it doesn't breathe worth a damn no matter what Rokker claims on its website. I never had sweaty shins before I started wearing these things, but, well, here we are.
My only other complaint is that the hip pockets are too shallow and too narrow at the bottom for what I consider to be proper use. To be honest, though, none of that bothers me since I'm largely a form over function guy who likes to suffer to look good. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
After a solid year and hundreds of miles ridden with them, I can safely say that the Rokker Original Raw jeans are the best riding jeans I've ever worn. I don't say that lightly, either. They fit me perfectly, have the protection I need, look fantastic, and are, in my opinion, every bit as comfortable as my daily wear 517s. They have all the features you expect from expensive, high-end riding jeans and are worth every penny of their roughly $430 price tag. They're even Union-made in Portugal, which is just icing on the cake for me. If you're looking for a new pair of riding jeans, and have the means, I highly recommend picking up a pair.