Jeans Designed For Motorcyclists

We test five jeans to see how they might hold up in a crash

Ural with homemade device to drag jeans
Our home-brewed denim destructive testing device. Also pictured: some two-by-fours and twine.Bert Beltran

Dragging knee on track is usually a sign of experience and speed, while dragging knee on the street is often followed by a trip to the hospital. ATGATT prophets preach how normal denim does little to save your skin, but what about jeans designed for motorcycles? Moto jean tech has improved dramatically over the years, with abrasion-resistant fibers woven into denim and big jumps in the quality of impact-zone padding. So, we decided to put some of our favorite jeans to the test.

Methodology was debated—from throwing a dummy out of a van, to dragging an intern behind a bike. Pig parts were mentioned. We settled on a gallowslike two-by-four rig bolted to a Ural Gear Up sidecar that would drop and drag the jeans with constant pressure, consistently.

Because each crash is unique, we also tried to find an average of our falls, deciding on a height of 4 feet and a speed of 30 mph. We’d hit that speed, actuate the rig, then engage the clutch and let the Ural coast to a stop, which it did after about 630 feet. The distance dragged would guarantee failure, leaving us to gauge the degree of damage. Because this test was designed to make sure the jeans failed, we used the measured size of the hole worn into the jeans as our metric for comparing them—but we think the pictures speak for themselves too. Some jeans held up better than others. All the armored jeans we tested are better than nothing.

Jeans with worn out knees
Will your favorite riding jeans save your skin?Jeff Allen

The stealthy Dainese Strokeville Slims fared best, with a hole that measured only 2.66 square inches. They were followed by the well-armored Klim K Fifty 1 jeans and excellent-fitting Rokkertech Slim jeans at 2.71 square inches and 2.93 square inches, respectively. The Alpinestars Copper Out jeans and their zippered outside armor pouches weren't too far behind at 3.53 square inches, with the Rev'it Lombard 2 RF jeans rounding out the list with a whopping 10.46-square-inch hole. The knee of the Rev'it jeans tore open, while the fabric in the other jeans had worn away. This was a major factor in the size of the hole, because folding back the torn flap nearly sealed up the hole in the Lombards.