Which came first, blue jeans or the motorcycle? The timelines of these two iconic products are closer than you might think. The first steam-powered motorcycle, the Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede, came to be in 1867 in Paris, France, while in 1868 an American, Sylvester H. Roper, developed a twin-cylinder steam velocipede, and there were others working on similar ideas. Blue jeans were invented by Jacob W. Davis in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co. in 1871, and patented in 1873. No one knows who first wore jeans while riding a motorcycle, but if you plan to follow the tradition today, there are far better and safer options available than that old pair of Levi’s. Here are six pairs of motorcycle jeans that are ready for the road.
1. First up are Drayko Renegade Jeans, a high-rise jean with a wide leg for comfort and a semi-boot cut to fit well over your favorite pair of motorcycle boots. Made of a blend of 98-percent cotton and 2-percent Elastane to allow the material to stretch a bit for added comfort, they feature a lining made of a combination of Kevlar and Dyneema, forming a material that is claimed to be stronger than woven or knitted Kevlar alternatives. The Drayko lining is also claimed to be the first casual brand to pass stringent European CE tests, while being breathable and non-allergenic. The Renegade jeans feature this lining across the seat and also across the knees and down to mid-shin. Available in Indigo or Black. Price: $169.95. Women’s cuts and sizes are also available.
2. Accelerator Jeans from Joe Rocket are made from 12-ounce denim, and the seat, hip and knee panels are reinforced with Aramid panels on the inside for added protection. Featuring interior pockets for optional knee armor, the jeans feature a ride-friendly cut, and there are stretch panels and reflective strips above the knees and below the waist at the rear. There are seven pockets total, including smaller zippered pockets in front of standard hand pockets. The pair of 32s we ordered fit true to size, and come in at a 33.5-inch length. Unlike some other riding jeans that fit higher on the waist, these have a “normal” or lower rise, closer to a pair of Levi’s 559s. Available in a light blue denim wash in regular and short sizes. Price: $99.99.
3. The folks at DRAGGIN (formerly Draggin’ Jeans by Fast Company) sent us a pair of their Classic Draggin’ jeans to try out. Made from 14.5-ounce denim, the jeans feature a protective liner made of 13.5-ounce DuPont Kevlar fiber, with the lining running from hip to hip across the seat and also across the knees and down to mid-shin. The pair of 32 x 32s we ordered fit true to size, with a fairly trim, classic jean fit. Not too tight (they make a Slim Fit if skinny jeans are what you’re looking for) and not too loose (though a Relaxed Fit is also available), the Classic fit might be thought of as close to a pair of old standard Levi’s 501s, but safer. The jeans are available in Antique, Blue and Black, and are made in the U.S.A. Price: $119.95. Women’s cuts and sizes are also available.
4. Diamond Gusset Defender motorcycle jeans have been a favorite around here for a couple of years, ever since editor Backus got a pair back in 2014. The Defender jeans wear just like your favorite pair of Levi’s, but it’s what’s inside that’s different. The seat, hips and knees are lined with Dupont Kevlar, along with the company’s trademark Diamond crotch gusset for extra comfort, and there are Velcro closures at the ankles to keep them from flapping in the breeze. The pair of 34 x 33s we ordered years ago fit comfortably and have worn well. They feature a fairly high rise in the back, making them comfortable on the bike. Available in blue and black. Made in the U.S.A. Price: $124.95. Women’s and big men’s sizes are also available.
5. Tough. It’s the one word we’d use to describe all Aerostich gear, and the Aerostich PROTEKT jeans are nothing if not tough. Made from 14-ounce denim with a cut similar to Levi’s 501s, these jeans use three-layer construction. The entire seat area, from side-seam to side-seam, is lined with abrasion-resistant, breathable and waterproof HT 500 Cordura nylon, the same protective material used in the seats and knees of Aerostich’s famous Roadcrafter suits. On top of that is a soft, 100-percent cotton lining for comfort. The knees feature the same Cordura lining, along with another cool trick: Optional armor can be replaced or removed via a hidden zipper at the outside of each knee without removing the pants. The pair of 32 x 34s we tried fit true to size. Made in the U.S.A. of unwashed denim, they start to break in after a few washings. Available in blue and black. Price: starting at $117. Similar khaki pants are also available.
6. Way back in 1998, Hood Motorcycle Jeans debuted the K7 jean as the world’s first “seamless” motorcycle jean, with no visible lining seams running across the legs of the jeans either above or below the knees. The K7 jeans feature a lining made of K-tech Para-aramid that extends from the waistband down to the shins, wrapping all the way around from the front zipper to the seat and down the insides of both legs. Designed and made in the U.K., the jeans are also available with two different levels of removable hip and knee armor for an additional charge. Available in blue and black, the blue pair of 34 x 33 K7s we ordered fit nicely, with a fairly high rise at the back of the jeans and a straight leg. Hood will alter the jeans you order to any requested leg length, men’s 28-36, free of charge. Price: Starting at £122.99 ($158.93 at press time). Price includes shipping and all taxes and duties. Women’s cuts and sizes are also available. MC