We all want to protect our noggin’ and ride with helmets. Some of us even have different helmets for different type of rides. We also understand the need for a good pair of gloves; after all, palms are one of the most damage prone areas in case of a fall. The need for a riding jacket is well recognized too. However, riding pants are an oft-neglected part of a rider’s gear. Somehow, a pair of the old jeans we wear seems adequate protection for our hips and legs. After all, don’t all ads and movies show the cool guy wearing his torn jeans and looking like a million bucks on his smashing ride!
Well, here are some thoughts to establish why riding pants should be an essential part of one’s motorcycling wardrobe:
- Knees are typically a high impact zone, and usually in a fall, these are the first point of contact, bearing the brunt of the impact.
- In a low side, which is the most common type of crash, a rider experiences a slide and a roll (like we would see in typical Moto-GP crashes) which subjects the gear to massive amounts of friction caused by the gear rubbing against asphalt / ground. The resulting abrasion will tear gear to shreds!
Our regular jeans are just that – regular jeans! While a decently strong fabric, denim is not designed to protect against a motorcycle crash, it has neither impact absorption properties, nor does the denim have the ability to resist abrasion for any length of time. All of us have fallen of cycles when we were growing up and know how a knee gets scraped when we hit the ground, sometimes even tearing through the pants we were wearing. Now imagine what would happen in the event of a crash at speeds 5-10x the speed of the cycle ride. Not a pretty sight…
So, what can one do to avoid a potential injury off of a motorcycle? Well, there are more than a few options at our disposal here. Riding pants, just like riding jackets, come in various avatars to cater to different tastes and uses. Let’s make a quick list of the available options.
- Riding Denims. What, say that again please? Didn’t we just establish that jeans are as useless in a crash scenario as an empty petrol tank in the middle of a journey! Well yes, but take heart, not all denims are equal ☺. For folks who love their jeans and would rather not show up dressed as Darth Vader on a hot date, the good folks have designed riding denims. Now riding denims are different from regular jeans, in that, riding denims are usually made from a heavier version of denim (sometimes denim cordura) to be more abrasion resistant and also sometimes have a Kevlar lining (yes, the same stuff that’s used in bulletproof vests) to provide more resistance against abrasion. These denims will also incorporate pockets for riding armor at the knees and hips, which help in absorbing energy from impact, acting as a first line of defence in case of a fall. A good example of riding denims is the Bikeratti Moto Denim, which keep you looking suave both on and off the bike. Do take note however, that riding denims are usually reserved for in-city riding, as they are usually not rated to withstand high-speed spills.
- Mesh and Textile pants. No, we are not referring to the cotton pants you wear to your Sunday brunch party. The textile we are talking about is heavy duty like cordura. Things are about to get technical, so pay attention. Cordura is a synthetic fabric, made out of nylon, typically for use in tough applications, one of them being motorcycling. Cordura fabrics can come in many forms and the classic cordura is typically used in motorcycling gear. Textile pants will usually have some amount of cordura (or equivalent) fabric used in their construction. You might see the manufacturer specify 500D or 600D cordura in the details of the specific product. This refers to the weight of the thread used in the fabric, which is measured in Denier. In simple words, 500D thread will weigh 500 grams per 9000 meters of length. Similarly, 600D thread will weight 600 grams per 9000 meters of length. As a rule of thumb, the higher the Denier count, the heavier but also the more abrasion resistant the fabric. Other fabrics that we may find in textile pants include superfabric, mesh etc. Now, given that most textile pants will be constructed from heavy fabric, these pants will also tend to retain heat making it uncomfortable on long rides. To offset the heat, the manufacturers also incorporate mesh or knit fabrics in the non-impact areas of the pants, to let the air circulate and dissipate heat. Textile pants will always come with good quality knee and hip armour to protect against impacts being transferred to the body. One of our most popular textile pants are the Rynox Advento Pants, which boast of a good fit, immense protection from a spill and are pocket friendly too! These pants are ideally used while touring through varying climates. We also have to boast a bit about the Aspida Protues Pants, for those who like that air flow to kill the heat, not to forget the protection that it offers, while being made of quality materials.
- Leather pants. Now we are talking! The cool ones wear leather. End of story.
Haha! Leather pants are for high speeds and hard spills. Highest abrasion protection is why people wear these. But leather is heavy and doesn’t vent, so can get very hot in our tropical climate. If one must wear leather, we recommend having perforated leather gear for our weather. Perforated leather doesn’t sacrifice much in terms of strength while providing ventilation through the minute holes in the leather. Best leather is full grain leather, and the leather used for pants is usually sourced from cattle. If a product doesn’t specify full grain, but 100% genuine leather, steer clear. 100% genuine leather is the generic term used for the leftover leather, which doesn’t have the same level of tensile strength as full grain leather and therefore does little to provide abrasion resistance. Good quality leather pants are usually more expensive than Denims or Textile pants and therefore are a bit of an investment.
So, should you buy riding pants? Short answer is that any serious motorcycle rider should have at least one trustworthy pair of riding pants. Do the Cost Benefit Analysis yourself and you will know the answer. As to what kind you should invest in, we think it depends on your budget and the kind of riding you do. Most folks do well to invest in a good pair of mesh-textile or full textile pants, which serve the purpose of long riding at moderate and semi-high speeds. If your pocket permits, go ahead and buy a second pair in the form of riding denim for those days when you are trundling about in the city or headed for a date. Track day regulars will already have one or more pair of leather pants in their wardrobe.
You must be wondering if you could get away wearing knee guards..? Are they as good as pants? Don’t they do the same thing without the extra weight?
Our answer – NO! Knee guards do provide protection to some extent, however since they are always strapped on, they are pretty susceptible to moving on an impact. Knee guards don’t come with hip armor. Also, knee guards don’t protect you from the elements like the rain or the wind.
Remember – Pants is something everyone upgrades to; Knee Guards are something everyone upgrades from!
There is a multitude of choices available in this genus of products and we would love to help you determine the right pair of riding pants for style of riding and dressing, within your budget. To chat with us, all you need to do is to send us a message or give us a call!
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