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Motorcycle Jeans Project

post #1 of 94
Thread Starter 
All right, I need a reco... was going to post this in the I have a Jean thread but I want some traffic to it since I thought it could actually be developed into a real project.

I want to get a pair of straight-leg-ish fit jeans kind of like the way my Uniqlo selvage fit, which I will then sew Kevlar, Cordura ballistic nylon, or similar abrasion resistant fabric inside, maybe along with some thin rubber/foam knee/shin/hip armor (Astrosorb/Hiprotec) for use while riding motorcycles. They need to be a little looser than my usual cut so there's room for the extra fabric and armor pockets. They also need to be 36+" inseam so they don't ride way up and expose my socks and let wind in, and so I can cuff them if I want to be a greaser or enter a Fonzie lookalike contest.

I'm trying to decide between a really heavy denim that I can sew minimal reinforcement into, or a lighter weight that won't be so warm in hot weather that I can sew a little more reinforcement into. In either case it's important that they be duty enough to hold everything together in the event of a crash. Probably a medium weight would be best.

I will have to rinse them before sewing stuff in to get any shrinkage out of the way, so it doesn't matter if they are raw, but I do want them to be dark indigo (no distressing).

Finally, I'd obviously like to spend as little as possible while getting quality stuff, so high end J-repro stuff is probably mostly out of the question.

Appreciate any recs people may have.

P.s., to anyone who runs a shop or denim label, there is a real market for these. If you could make them look almost indistinguishable from normal jeans yet have decent protection, you could sell them to a LOT of motorcyclists for a fair bit of money ($150+). I'm positive there would be enough market to do runs bigger than the 5EPxSF run - motorcyclists are always looking for a pair of pants they can ride in and still look presentable at work, and a lot of them work in a jeans-tolerant industry. And marketing them would be very easy since so many motorcyclists are online and there are tons of forums full of people looking for products. If anyone is interested in developing these with me I have a decent amount of knowledge about motorcycle armor and clothing.
post #2 of 94
Honestly, don't you think the armor requirement pretty much makes it impossible to wear these to work (or anywhere non-biker, really)? Even subtle armor is pretty obvious, and if it's so subtle as to not be obvious, won't it be so subtle as to kill you?
post #3 of 94
Thread Starter 
No.

Sorry, hit submit early.

No, there are a few considerations here. First, armor technology has gotten much better and armor that can protect your kneecap from being shattered doesn't have to be big and clunky anymore. There are a couple ways around that. Armor has to stay where it is supposed to be in order to do its job.

One way would be to surround the knee area (which should not be too loose anyway) most of the way around with Astrosorb or similar foam/rubbery armor, which feels squishy until you strike it at which point it hardens up. This way the knee could be a little looser but the fact that there is foam in there might be obvious to an observer, though that could be mitigated by cutting the foam to be flexible etc etc.

Another way would be to incorporate a lycra/Under Armour type fabric "knee sock" area that would be sewn into the jeans and would hold a conventional piece of knee-shaped armor directly to your knee but away from the outer fabric of the jeans. Thus when walking or sitting it might look like you had big knees or something, but it wouldn't be super obvious most of the time. I have this type of armor in my Revit riding pants, albeit sewn in pockets to the liner, and it pretty much looks like a kneecap. If they didn't have all the rubberized stuff and elastic on them you might just think they were cargo pants. If the armor could stay with your knee, the outer fabric of the pants could be looser and it would be even less obvious.

Any way you do it, people can also take the armor out when they get to work if they want to. If you design the product so that isn't too difficult, I can imagine a lot of people just doing that. Put the pads in your locker or stuff them in your helmet along with your gloves, and go about your day. Some people would wear the jeans without armor all the time, which would be fine as well (not for me, but whatever floats your kneecap particles I guess).
post #4 of 94
I'm going to have to agree that any usable amount of armor would destroy the lines and inconspicuousness of the jean. Leather, or better yet the carbon kevlar, would provide good abrasion-resistance without being overly stiff or bulky. I believe you would really need to compromise overall protection potential for style, in this case.

There is definitely a market for these. I originally planned on a set of Ironheart's for their durability and breathability, and seriously considered sewing in my own kevlar layers where it counts. Funds killed that project. I then got into a minor wreck on a gravel road and reconsidered only wearing jeans for riding. Since there were no fashionable ways of getting around it, I bought a pair of leather chaps to toss on top of my clothing and stick in my trunk when I ungear (as much as I HATE the modern biker connotation that goes along with black leather and chaps....).

If a reasonably-priced pair of reinforced STYLISH jeans emerged, I can't say I'd be able to withhold from buying them.
post #5 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludeykrus View Post
Leather, or better yet the carbon kevlar, would provide good abrasion-resistance without being overly stiff or bulky.

To assume kevlar would be superior to leather is just not true. There`s a good reason all serious riders of sportsbikes still use leather!
post #6 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by crush View Post
To assume kevlar would be superior to leather is just not true. There`s a good reason all serious riders of sportsbikes still use leather!

There's also a reason why high-friction areas on serious modern protective gear are layered with carbon-kevlar and other composites! That being said, I currently only wear leather (and I'm very 'serious' ;-) )....although I'm looking for some light armor for my spine, knees, elbows, and shoulders hopefully.

They both have pros and cons that need to be considered in this application. J is right, this is a fairly neglected market segment. What do we have?

Ironhearts, which are just heavier denim. Better than normal jeans, but won't save your bacon in a decent spill. Woven fabric is woven fabric. It would stand up to relatively mild abrasion before asphalt would surely eat through.

Draggin' Jeans, which are decent 14.5oz denim reinforced with kevlar in high-friction areas (knees, ass). Good denim, good idea, but a bad wash and cut. Excellent abrasion resistance, but almost no impact resistance.

There's another company that makes jeans with leather layered underneath, but I can't find that post and don't remember the name. They are pretty expensive, though, and were only available in Europe IIRC. Once again, great idea, just not practical/available.

What would be ideal? Personally, I think stylish yet functional jeans would be best, with a strong lean towards style. A slimmer cut jean in raw denim with good protection. I think the biggest question would be just how intrusive can the extra protective features be before they defeat the point of being stylish? Methods of attaching the protective layers, types of materials used.....these can strongly influence the look of the jean.

EDIT - I totally neglected to read J's updated post.
I am very interested in a thin yet effective padding to help with impact. You are right, the best bet would be formed pads at the joints using fairly modern materials. The cheaper PVC foams in most armor I've seen works great, but is just too bulky. One could get by with bulkier pads if they were removable, like you say, so pad pockets would be a great feature.
post #7 of 94
j-

If you don't care about stretching, then APC Rescues would fit the bill. Denimbar has them. If you do, then you're looking at Iron Hearts from Kiya, or the Samurai 710xx from BiG. Post pictures, as you're automatically at the head of the 'Toughest Jeans in America' list.
post #8 of 94
Thread Starter 
BTW Draggin Jeans makes basically Kevlar long underwear that you can wear under whatever. So for right now if you want, you can use those under whatever you want. Add some Forcefield "Knee Tubes" and armored shorts and you have about as much protection as you can expect without wearing full leather and still mostly look like you're wearing just jeans.

P.s. Motoport/Cycleport Kevlar is approved as a material for road racing. Depending on the Kevlar fabric and the construction of the garment it can be as protective as decent leather and far better than the crap leather that most gear is made of.
post #9 of 94
That's a great idea. I would honestly be okay with jeans that just offered sliding protection. Armor is nice but I'd imagine it's quite hard to make a decent pair of riding jeans with any type of substancial armor.
post #10 of 94
would it be possible instead to wear armor on the outside of the jeans, and take them off when arriving at work/intended destination?
post #11 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by j View Post
BTW Draggin Jeans makes basically Kevlar long underwear that you can wear under whatever. So for right now if you want, you can use those under whatever you want. Add some Forcefield "Knee Tubes" and armored shorts and you have about as much protection as you can expect without wearing full leather and still mostly look like you're wearing just jeans.

Those Forcefield shorts look very interesting. I was going to opt for the Bohn Adventure shorts/pants under my Draggin' Jeans but now you've given me another alternative.

I have three pairs of Draggin Jeans but they are not exactly SF-worthy.
post #12 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by stickonatree View Post
would it be possible instead to wear armor on the outside of the jeans, and take them off when arriving at work/intended destination?
Never thought about it, but it could work. Sometimes I use strap-on shin/knee protectors intended for dirtbike racing, but I usually wear them under my pants.

I'd be interested in a more stylish version of the draggin jeans.
J's inner knee sock thing is interesting too.

I'd want lightweight rather than heavyweight jeans. When the temp is below 70 or so, I usually wear a pair of windpants or waterproof pants, either of which adds some abrasion resistance, but also some insulation. It's the hot days that I need more protection. Usually on the hottest days I'll wear lightweight cordura chinos from Patagonia. But jeans would be great. I'd even be in favor of a blend of cotton, nylon, maybe kevlar (Polo made some w/ like 5% kevlar a few years ago).
post #13 of 94
Thread Starter 
There are a couple of products you guys might consider until this project happens (or doesn't). BMW makes the Summer 2 Pants which are Dynatec polyamide (Nylon) and look like cargo pants, and can be zipped off to be shorts for hiking or whatever:



http://www.bmw-riders-gear.com/BMWRA...&pl=0&h=1&em=1

They also make the City pants which are 50/50 cotton/nylon and look more motorcycle-y but not that bad if you don't mind the cargo pant look:



http://www.bmw-riders-gear.com/BMWRA...1=&bplo=&bphi=

BMW had a pair of nearly jeans-looking cotton/nylon or kevlar pants that were similar to the City but less zippery, but I can't find them anymore. They may still be available.

There are a whole bunch more "moto jeans" reviewed here: (links on the right side to others)

http://www.webbikeworld.com/motorcyc...e-squad-jeans/

ADVRider.com has a bunch of threads on moto jeans as well. I just still haven't seen a pair I'd want to wear, or that you could sell to the cruiser/rocker/chopper/cafe guys as easily as a pair of real old school selvage looking jeans.
post #14 of 94
I don't ride and I might never ride, but I really like those pants. I don't know, if I could wear those normally, I'm not sure why I'd ever want to wear jeans on a bike.
post #15 of 94
Thread Starter 
Which one, the second pair? They actually do look pretty decent.
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