Stylish, comfortable gear can make the difference between leaving your bike in the shed and gambling against the rain clouds for a better ride to work. Such is the case with these pants. Heavy 11.5-ounce cotton twill feels sturdy, and a para-aramid liner backs up the design with real protection. We like the removable CE Level 2 Smooth Ways armor in the hips and knees, as well as the dapper quilting over the thigh. Functional touches like strategic suede panels and the waterproof YKK zipper are nice too—though the latter may be overkill, because unsealed pockets don't do much to keep water out.
Accordion panels above the knee and below the rear waist give the pants excellent articulation too. The straight-leg cut offers a wide-enough opening to cover most riding boots but can easily be stuffed into tall uppers if you prefer. Combined, the result is a pair of riding pants that feel great on the bike and off, handsome, well-constructed, and featuring legitimate protection, all without looking like they hail from the year 3000.
Our complaints are minor and hinge on the Velcro closure for the knee armor. More often than not, it pulls open in a good tuck. The pads stay put well enough, though. Fuel sells the Sergeant pants in black or waxed cotton for 315 euro, but the Sahara color seen here is the cheapest of the bunch, setting you back 275 euro—or about $325. Cheap money for a piece of kit that makes you want to ride all that much more.