MC Tested: Pagnol M1 Jacket and M3 Pants

Timeless leather style and protection for the modern street rider.

Pagnol leather motorcycle gear review
LA-Based Pagnol delivers with modern, genre-busting leather moto gear.Photo: Seth Richards

When it comes to riding gear, there’s still nothing more protective or classic than leather. But if you’re looking for complementary jackets and pants, options are generally limited to racing suits or urban riding gear that’s fashionable but light on protection.

Pagnol M1 and M3 leather
Even with armor, the M1 and M3 cut a slim profile.Photo: Seth Richards

While race-styled gear is highly-functional on the motorcycle and offers a high level of protection, its single-mindedness comes at a cost off the bike, where the race fit invites unwelcome comparisons to a Power Ranger and the embarrassment of walking around with a baggy ass and half-cocked knees and elbows.

Unfortunately, ditching the racer look with its typically excessive branding for something more stylish off the bike, usually means sacrificing protection.

Enter the M1 jacket and M3 pants from Los Angeles based company, Pagnol. The company is still relatively young so it doesn't have the name recognition of established brands, but it does have the high-end quality and prices you'd associate with the likes of Dainese and Alpinestars. The M1 jacket costs $625 and the M3 pants costs $475, though purchasing them together directly from Pagnol saves 15%. Armor is sold separately.

For the price, you get great design philosophy, quality materials, and good execution.

In terms of design, the M1 jacket and M3 pants are original yet timeless. A lot of the style-conscious leather gear out there is derived from heritage patterns—café racer jackets, belted Trialmasters, or chopper jackets straight out of The Wild One. The Pagnol aesthetic nods to tradition but embraces modern principles at the same time. The result is gear that looks explicitly meant for motorcycling while transcending a clichéd look associated with a particular style of riding. It looks equally appropriate on a one-off custom, a race-rep sportbike, a café racer, or a power cruiser.

Classic Yamaha RD400 two-stroker
Classic bike. Classic style.Photo: Seth Richards

Both the M1 jacket and M3 pants use 1.2mm tumble aged cowhide, compared to 1mm leather frequently used in many fashion-forward products like the Dainese Street Darker jacket or Alpinestars Oscar Monty jacket, both of which sit at a similar price point. The leather is incredibly soft and supple and has a beautiful matte finish. And that smell!

Pagnol black leather motorcycle gear
No more billboard-like branding: embossed logos on the sleeves are all you get.Photo: Seth Richards

The M1 jacket has a slim, modern fit, but isn’t so tight that an extra layer won’t fit underneath. Schoeller Kevlar stretch panels in the underarms aid mobility on the bike and are small enough that they don’t compromise style. The sleeves are slightly long to accommodate the reach to the bars, and aren’t cut to be excessively bent. No more walking around like you’re pumped from doing too many bicep curls at the gym.

Cuffs are fairly wide so gloves can be worn tucked in. Wearing full gauntlet gloves over the top means adjusting them to their broadest position, but it still requires a little effort to stuff in the sleeves.

Pagnol snaps and zippers
Brass zippers and snaps secure cuffs.Photo: Seth Richards

In terms of protection, the M1 accommodates back, shoulder, and elbow armor. Pagnol recommends using CE Level 1 SAS-TEC or D 30 armor to maintain the jacket’s svelte lines. The back protector fits in a zippered pocket while elbow and shoulder armor pockets are closed with hook and loop fasteners. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the hook and loop fasteners. I find that if they aren’t perfectly mated, they irritate my skin. And since they aren’t as secure as zippers, they require the occasional re-adjustment.

As far as ventilation goes, the M1 has perforation behind the zipper and inside the chest pockets and a generous amount on the undersides of the sleeves, which are effective but perhaps inadequate for temperatures above 75-80°. If you get too sweaty, the mesh rayon lining is not removable for washing, which is typical for many jackets we’d compare it to.

Leather accordion stretch panels
Accordion stretch panels at back and arms on the M1 aid in mobility on the bike.Photo: Seth Richards

Stitching is perfectly straight, brass hardware is hearty, and in addition to chest pockets, the M1 has two zippered hand pockets and two inside zippered pockets large enough to hold a cell phone or wallet.

The M3 pants are equally well finished and include pockets for knee, hip, and tailbone armor. Pagnol describes them as a “moto pant/jean hybrid,” which is a good description of them aesthetically. They have a slim fit, belt loops, and back and hip pockets (with zippers) similar to jeans. Accordion stretch panels above the knees and seams down the front of the thigh (instead of down the hip, the area which usually takes the brunt of a fall) clearly mark them as motorcycle attire.

For those of us not named George Michael, wearing leather pants is a little bold. That they are immediately recognizable as motorcycle pants is a good thing.

1977 Yamaha RD400
Accordion stretch panels at knee on the M3 help, but Kevlar stretch panels behind the knees would be hugely beneficial. Cleverly, brass rivets at hip and back pockets are flat, unlike the protruding rivets on your denim.Photo: Seth Richards

However, the M3s should not be compared with more technical riding pants. The lack of any stretch panels behind the knees or at the crotch limits their versatility. On a bike with an upright seating position, it’s not as much of an issue, but on sportbikes requiring a more severe bend in the knees, the leather uncomfortably folds up behind the knees, constricting movement and eventually producing fatigue.

Also, the lack of a stretch panel in the crotch is prohibitive if you’re used to hanging off and sticking your knee out in corners. Again, if you’re not on a sportbike, these complaints will be largely diminished. Still, discreet stretch panels like the ones featured in the underarms of the M3, would make them a more versatile product, and more comfortable for everyone.

In response to my complaint about discomfort behind the knees, Pagnol sent me back-of-knee stretch panels free of charge, in addition to instructions for a tailor to modify the garment. This is a telling example of the excellent customer service inherent to Pagnol’s direct online sales model (select gear is available through other retailers such as Union Garage in NYC).

Riding a Yamaha RD400
Ready to roll on a classic Yamaha RD400. The smell of high-quality leather: only matched by the smell of two-stroke exhaust fumes!Photo: Seth Richards

The M3s do not have any perforation, nor a removable lining, so sweat at your own risk. The back of the waistband is extended to prevent your tuchus from hanging out while tucked over, and works well combined with the M1’s lowered back hem. However, providing a 360° zipper or other system to securely attach the two together would increase the level of protection in case of a get-off.

Again, they aren’t intended to be technical riding apparel, but the people who purchase leather jackets and pants are likely doing so because they want the added protection that leather provides. Why not add some simple features to improve protection that much more?

It’s always going to be a compromise, but Pagnol does a good job of balancing protection and style. Beautiful craftsmanship, competitive pricing, excellent customer service, and some innovative thinking is quickly establishing them as a brand to watch. Pagnol’s current moto line includes a one-piece race suit, a pair of gloves, a women’s jacket, a second men’s jacket model, and a light-weight version of the M1 to appeal to non-riders.

Rather than having endorsements from notable racers (though that would be cool too) custom builders like Walt Siegl grace the pages of their website and social media accounts. The products themselves and the brand’s identity are clearly meant to appeal to a younger crowd attracted to small-batch craftsmanship and classic design, but the more experienced among us should also take a look. It’s great to see a new brand enter the space with its own unique vision and commitment to quality. Let’s hope for more good things to come in the future.

Pagnol M1 Jacket and M3 Pants
Price: M1: $625, M3: $475
Grade: B+
Verdict: A US-based company making gear with beautiful craftsmanship, style, and a good level of protection is a recipe for success. A couple comfort and protection improvements would take it to the next level.