Your skin will always lose when it slides across blacktop. Sure, odds are 99% of the time you ride there’s no issue… But what about that one percent? Traffic is concentrated and respectful, you’re completely in tune with road conditions coming two, even three corners ahead, the deer are content to stay put in the woods. But as we all know: stuff happens. So it’s nice to have some protection between your hide and the road. This is where a pair of motorcycle-specific riding pants can really make a difference.
Of course it’s not just pants. A sturdy jacket, gloves, boots, helmet, they’re all important when it comes to increasing your chances of walking away from a wreck. But pants are often overlooked by riders. On those perfect days, when the sun is beaming down from the sky without a cloud in sight, there’s likely to be a handful of riders blasting around town in a pair of shorts. Or business slacks. Or a pair of jeans. Or yoga pants. Whatever the kids are wearing these days…
This is all to say that protecting your lower half with a pair of motorcycle pants is a good idea, regardless of how good it feels to have the breeze up your boxers. There’s denim options that retain the casual look of a regular pair of jeans, all the way up to fully armored leather product. Waterproof textile pants you can wear over your regular trousers, pants with suspenders, pants for off-road riding — there’s a myriad of choices to suit your style, body type and riding needs.
Jackets and pants fall into similar categories, though denim has a much larger presence in the trouser department than jackets. There’s textile and leather options, and combinations of the two, along with a healthy dose of denim to choose from.
Generally, denim is the least protective of the bunch, in terms of abrasion resistance at least, some options using a weight of denim the same as found in regular Levi’s.
(Denim weights refer to the mass of a square yard of fabric and relates to the thickness and durability of the material. Lightweight denim typically falls below 12 oz., middleweight is somewhere between 12 and 16 oz. while heavyweight comprises 16 oz. and above.)
Where motorcycle denim differs from the pants on the rack at JCPenny is that many products come with reinforcement material in areas of high wear in the event of a accident. Places like the knees and hips and backside. Manufacturers will install pieces of Kevlar or aramid fabric on the interior of the pants to improve abrasion resistance in the event of a crash. Some denim also comes with pockets for additional armor in the knees and at the hips. Some brands, like REV’IT!, even offer waterproof pants that make use of denim, but most will get absolutely soaked in a downpour.
Denim’s greatest claim to fame in the cosmos of motorcycle gear is that it’s casual. Many pairs of riding jeans look no different than any other pair of jeans and can easily transition from the bike to the everyday world.
AGV Sport Telluride Waterproof Textile Standard Motorcycle Pants
AGV Sport Telluride Waterproof Textile Standard Motorcycle Pants available at RidersDomain.com $149.
Then there’s textile. Here’s where you’ll find all manner of nylon, polyester, inner liners, waterproofing, venting, visibility strips, additional storage, you name it. Textile pants are versatile and affordable (when compared to most leather at least) and generally include some form of additional armor in the knees and at the hips.
Take the AGV Sport Telluride Waterproof Textile Standard Motorcycle Pants for example. These come with 600 denier polyester and additional ballistic nylon in the knee and within the lower leg for additional abrasion resistance. There’s zippered vents on both sides of the leg for air flow, accordion Spandex panels for improved flexibility and fit along with CE-approved knee pads. There’s even removable waterproof and thermal liners to help address a variety of weather conditions.
Textile pants appeal to a wide range of riders. The versatility and weather proofing are often valued by those venturing out on longer tours while the lightweight flexibility make them the choice of off-roaders as well. There’s plenty of options for weekend riders, commuters and everyone in between. Textile pants are generally where you’ll find the widest selection of overpants as well.
And finally there’s leather. This material provides the greatest degree of abrasion resistance but it’s typically going to cost more. Plus, there’s breathability issues with leather…namely that leather is notoriously bad at allowing airflow in or out. There’s lots of perforated options on the market to help remedy this, but consider this fact before throwing down any hard-earned cash. Plus, there’s some care involved with leather, such as the potential to need professional cleaning and at the very least, regular conditioning.
The Scorpion Ravin Leather Motorcycle Pants are emblematic of a typical leather option in this segment. They’re made from leather that’s between 1.2 and 1.4mm thick and has safety seams in areas generally affected in a crash to help ensure the material doesn’t split apart during a slide on the pavement. There’s CE approved armors in the hip and knees and reflective panels on the back along with exterior knee protection and stretch paneling for improved fit. There’s also a YKK zipper that allows the Scorpion Ravin jacket to attach fully to the pants, a requirement of many track day providers if riders choose to wear two-piece leather suits.
Leather is a requirement of trackday riders, and highly recommended if you plan on carving the twisties with any gusto. It’s also the choice to make if you want to optimize protection for your body in case of a crash.
Get the measuring tape out and then take an honest measurement of your waist and inseam. Pant manufacturers vary and a medium with one can be a large in another. Keep in mind also that many motorcycle pants are pre-curved and a bit longer than off-bike pants to ensure full coverage down to the ankle while in the riding position.