Joe Rocket Steel Pants

MC Tested

While it's easy to croon about the comfort and casual style of Joe Rocket's Steel jeans, it's not so simple to test their ability to keep your hide intact when the pavement jumps up and bitch-slaps you. The 20 or so feet I slid were all that was needed to assess their crashworthiness-and reaffirm my position as the FNG on staff.

Like the multitude of other moto-specific jeans on the market, the Steels are constructed from sturdy denim with a secondary layer of reinforced material at chief abrasion points. In most cases, this fabric is woven from tough aramid fibers, but the fabric in the Steel jeans consists of nylon interwoven with scratchy little steel filaments that tend to turn up in the dryer's lint trap after washing. Their function, beyond marketing gimmick, is disputable.

By all accounts except a mother's, mine was a minor crash. Riding one of SoCal's tightest canyons, gravity overcame friction at the Suzuki DR-Z400SM's front contact patch and I executed a textbook low-side. As the little supermoto skated gracefully on its axle sliders, the pavement tore into the Steel jeans' heavy denim-still thick and stout after a dozen washings-and began to wear through the reinforced layer. When I came to a stop, all that remained between my knee and the road was the millimeter-thin inner cotton liner. Had the crash occurred at a speed greater than 30 mph, I almost certainly would have exceeded the garment's capabilities and sustained some nasty road rash.

As it happens, there's not a mark on my body to attest to my indiscretion. While the choice of reinforcing materials is questionable, there is no doubt that the extra fabric, legitimately bolstered or not, saved my skin. A more conventional abrasion-resistant material, such as leather, would certainly improve their protection factor. Fortunately, the Steel jeans have since been replaced by the new Rocket jeans ($119.99), which boast stretch-resistant Dupont Kevlar/Teramid reinforcements. Looks like the little Suzuki and I may have to hit Latigo Canyon again...

Joe Rocket Steel Jeans
Price: $89.99

Joe Rocket
925 Turnbull Dr.
Idaho Falls, ID 83401

Verdict 3 stars out of 5
Comfy and casual, but protection isn't up to par.

The consequences of a 30-mph bail-out. Regular denim would look worse.