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Getting fitted for a pair of motorcycle jeans

Published on: 20 June 2018

Motorcycle riding jeans


What are they on about? Getting fitted for a pair of motorcycle jeans? Those guys at Motolegends really have lost the plot!

After all; let’s face it, you’ve bought dozens of pairs of jeans over the years, and you’ve never needed to be fitted. You’re always a 34/32. You try them on in the shop, take a look in the mirror to make sure they look good. And then you go to the counter and pay for them. It takes no more than 10 minutes, and you’re out of there. Right?

Fine, but a biking jean is a different proposition. And if it’s to work properly and do its job, a bit of care has to be taken.

The first job is to choose the right model. Lined or single-layer? Skinny, slim, straight or boy band? Raw, washed, dirty, selvedge? Perhaps a black jean. We’ve probably got a better selection of riding jeans here than anywhere in the country, so the range of options can be a bit daunting. But that’s the easy stuff.

More important is to chose a jean that’s right for your kind of riding. If you ride in town, and rarely hit the national speed limit, a single-layer jean made from a cotton/Cordura mix might suffice. They will be easy to wear and feel like a regular pair of jeans. Such a jean will give you a slide time of a couple of seconds. That’s way better than a pair of Levis, but they might not up to the job for those who often ride on motorways.

What we don’t sell are those jeans that look like biking jeans, but which offer nothing in the way of abrasion resistance. You need to ask the right questions when buying biking jeans because there are lots of jeans like this. They will often have racing-leather style accordion panels at the knees that make these jeans look as though they’re fit for purpose, but even though they might come with knee and hip armour they are simply not up to the job. Often the material is 100% cotton. The kind of jeans we’re talking about have no lining whatsoever, so from a slide-time perspective, they’re no better than a pair of Levi’s.

Motorcycle riding jeans

Not all motorcycle jeans are protective jeans. These ones cost over £300. You do get armour for impact protection. but the actual material is 100% cotton for a slide time that is barely measurable.

One of the key decisions you need to make is whether you want a Kevlar-lined jean or a single layer jean? Jeans lined with an aramid weave of some sort often work well. Some are amazingly abrasion resistant, but the tougher the jean, the less comfortable they are to wear, because to achieve a higher slide time the liner will usually need to be thicker. A level 2 lined jean, for example, will be fully lined and unbearable in warm weather. And what’s the point in wearing a pair of jeans if you can’t walk around in them?

Single-layer jeans get their strength from having an immensely strong fibre woven into the denim. Frankly, single-layer jeans are easier to wear, especially in nicer weather. They will be almost as comfortable as a pair of shop jeans. They will flow the air better than a lined pant, so are nicer to ride in. And, these days, some are amazingly strong. Rokker’s Rokkertech jeans, for example, have a ‘slide time’ of 6.3 seconds, which is about 50% better than leather. The new Spidi J&Dyneema jeans have a still impressive of around four second slide time, as do Halvarssons’ Macan jeans.

And very shortly we’ll have a single-layer jean with an amazing 11 second slide time!

Anyway, once you’ve selected the colour, style and model of jean you want, they need to be properly fitted.

The waist size is easy. Don’t go too tight. If absolutely necessary, you may even have to admit that your waist is not the same as it was at school. An overly tight jean will simply be uncomfortable on a long ride. Better to go up an inch or two, and then use a belt or, even better, braces to keep them in the right place.

The length of the leg is the next consideration, and it’s an issue because what’s right on the street won’t be right on the bike. And what’s right on the bike won’t be right on the street; it will be too long.

Motorcycle riding jeans

It’s a basic truth that the right leg length of a pant on the bike will be too long when you’re off the bike! If it’s right on the street, it will be short on the bike. It will never be right in both situations.

On most bikes, with most people, the difference is between 2” and 3”. Our preference is normally to get the leg length dead right on the bike, meaning that, off the bike, the trouser will ruffle and crease a little. It’s not a crime, but some people want their jean to look right when they’re walking around. That’s no problem for us, as long as you can live with a jean that barely covers your ankle when riding. The taller your riding boot, the less of an issue this tends to be, because with a tall boot it does not cause a problem to have a short trouser. As long as there’s a good overlap, we’re happy. With some jeans, you can overcome the issue of the differing lengths by wearing a turn-up when you get off the bike. But not all jeans look right with a turn-up.

Getting the leg length right is grist to the mill for us because, here in the shop, we have our trusty old BMW for you to sit on. And it’s not a problem for our customers, because we always shorten and hem within the cost of the jeans.

In truth, the solution to getting the right length is often a compromise that sits somewhere between the perfect length for the bike and the perfect length for the street. None of this is rocket science, but here at Motolegends we do like to get it right.

The next issue, and it tends to be a little less straightforward, is getting the armour correctly positioned. Most bike shops don’t take the time and trouble to help you get this right. And that’s because it takes a bit of time to do so. The shop wants you in and out as quickly as possible. They simply don’t want to waste time adjusting the protectors into position.

We often see the results from the customers who visit us wearing jeans they bought elsewhere. Sometimes the armour is halfway up their thighs. Sometimes it sits on the shins. As a result, many bikers give up on armour because they don’t find it comfortable.

Well armour should be comfortable, and if it’s where it’s meant to be, you shouldn’t really even notice it. Most armour is shaped to go around the knee, covering the top of the kneecap, and then extending flat down along the shin.

But, again, it won’t be in the right place both on and off the bike. Classically, it should cup the knee comfortably on the bike. But when you step off the bike, the armour will drop down a little, and the top of the armour will sit halfway down the kneecap. That’s not wrong; that’s what’s meant to happen. The armour is there to protect your knees when riding the bike, not for when you’re walking into the garage to pay for your petrol.

Here at Motolegends, when you buy a pair of jeans, we’ll always get you on the bike so that we can properly adjust the armour position. Now, as you probably know, most armour is adjustable with Velcro, so most of the time if we have to move armour it’s not a big deal. But this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes the Velcro adjustment isn’t sufficient. Resurgence’s jeans, for example, often have their Velcro strip far too high up the leg, meaning that, in about 25% of cases, we have to lower the Velcro strip inside the jean to make the armour work. Not a problem for us as we absorb the cost. But without a professional fitting, there’s a chance you’ll never get the armour in the right place.

Motorcycle riding jeans

It’s vital to get the armour in the right place when you’re on the bike, although inevitably this means the armour will sit a little low when you get off the bike. Again, we always put the armour in, and get you to sit on the bike to make sure the armour sits properly. If alterations are required, say to the position of the armour pocket, or to the Velcro strip, we’ll undertake them at our cost.

Another issue is short people. Now, unlike Randy Newman, we don’t hate short people. But if we have to take a jean with a 32” leg, and shorten it to fit somebody with a 29” leg, the armour will be in the wrong place, and the Velcro may not go high enough. Not a problem again for us. We’ll reposition the Velcro strip and shorten the leg at the same time. All part of the service.

The other issue is people with tummies who get used to wearing their pants somewhat below their natural waistline. When you do this, you’ll sometimes end up with trousers that appear way too long. When we shorten them, the armour will again often be in the wrong place, and surgery may be required. Not to the rider, but to the Velcro strips inside the jeans.

Some jeans, like the Rokker Revolutions and Rokkertechs, don’t use Velcro for their armour. They have fixed knee pockets.

Now that’s not the problem it might seem because Rokker produces these jeans in four leg lengths: 30”, 32”, 34” and 36”. That covers 90% of people.

If you get the correct leg length, there shouldn’t be a problem; the armour should sit correctly. But what we know that you may not, is that you need to get the jeans 2” longer than your street jean length to get the armour in the right place. If you think about it, this kind of makes sense. The bike length will be longer than the street length, so it’s only logical that you need a longer leg to get the armour correct.

Motorcycle riding jeans

Here at Motolegends in Guildford, we will always get you to sit on the bike in the shop so that we can work out the correct length of the jean. If the leg needs to be shortened, we do that at our cost. It normally takes a couple of days. Once ready, we'll ship them out.

But it doesn’t always work, and there’s nothing better than coming in to see us to make sure everything is in the right place. Sometimes, once we’ve got the armour in your Rokker jeans in the right place, the customer will want us to shorten the leg. Very occasionally, we will find ourselves having to unstitch and relocate the entire armour pocket. This is a time-consuming and expensive job. But again, it’s on us.

The bottom line is this. If you come and visit us in Guildford, we’ll make your jeans work. We’ll get the right waist size. We’ll find the style you like or the style that works for you. We’ll get the length right, and we’ll make sure the armour is in the correct place (when you’re on the bike).

And we’ll do all this at our cost. It might take a couple of days to get the alterations done, and when the work is complete, you can come and collect them. Or we’ll send then out to you. Again, no charge.

We like riding jeans here at Motolegends. We sell the best, we reckon. And we’ll do whatever we have to do to make them work.


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