Let’s saddle up and look at some riding jeans that are well-rated by customers and have good on-paper features. One thing you have to remember, however, is that most customers are, thankfully, never going to crash. That’s why I put much more stock in the testimony of someone who actually crashed in a given pair of jeans over ten people who love it but have never had to rely on it to literally save their skins.
Top Pick: Street and Steel Oakland Jeans
These jeans from Oakland are appealing for one main reason – they look like regular jeans. Despite having the standard CE-rated pads and aramid weave in all the right places, you would be hard-pressed to tell that these are in fact armored pantaloons. Honestly, for me, the ability to blend in with the crowd when not riding is a huge deal.
Still, these jeans have plenty of little things that make it better for riding. The inseam is longer than usual, the material more stretchy and there’s a subtle bootcut perfect for bike boots. Overall, this is probably my top pick from this lot.
BILT Iron Workers
The BILT Iron Workers jean has what’s known as a “relaxed fit”, which means that it doesn’t sit as tightly as most riding jeans are expected to. Usually this would be a problem, but of course BILT has designed this jean to perform with that relaxed fit in mind.
This makes it easy to wear these jeans over boots, and should make for a comfortable article of clothing. You can get these in a distressed or dark color. Both look pretty good and the cut of these jeans is certainly sharp. I certainly can’t tell that these are riding jeans. They just look like a nice pair of regular jeans.
That makes sense, since the jean itself is 100% cotton. That means you get Kevlar protection only on your knees, hips, and behind. However, the price point is really compelling, and for what’s on the table I think it’s fair. So these jeans offer the minimum protections, but if you are a casual rider who doesn’t live at high speeds, they might be just what the doctor ordered.
Maxler Kevlar Jeans
These jeans from Maxler come in at a significantly higher price than the BILT Iron Workers, but they also demonstrate the adage “you get what you pay for”. In terms of looks, these jeans won’t pass as easily for regular jeans. Moreover, the stylistic choices might not appeal to everyone, with visible over-the-knee patches and lines that are more typical of a biker aesthetic.
In terms of comfort, Maxler has added quite a few features. There’s spandex added to the mix for more flexibility – a good thing, given the tight fit. Air vents for breathability should also help on hot days. Kevlar is evident at the hips and knees. One nice feature, despite the visual issues, is the fact that you can adjust the height of the knee pads. This is often a problem, as not everyone has their knees at the same height. The knee protector is CE rated, but the way it’s worded suggests that the hip protector isn’t. There’s also no explicit mention of butt protection. This jean is, however, meant for casual riding in town and not for sport bike enthusiasts. A great choice overall.
Toach Riding Denims
While these pants from Toach may be made from denim, they hardly look it. Instead they have been designed and colored to look like military-style pants. You can get them in army green, blue, camo, and just plain black. They definitely have a macho look to them and, combined with the right boots, will look quite badass.
Despite the very low asking price, the armor pads are CE approved. The jeans are mostly cotton, with some spandex blended in here and there for flexibility. The fit seems pretty tight, but not enough to cut off your circulation. It looks good, has certification, and is pretty cheap. Seems like a good deal to me.