by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
Very comfortable and good-looking jeans with a Kevlar bonus!
Denim jeans have been popular with motorcycle riders since, well, since the beginning of time, and with good reason.
First of all, no doubt about it -- they're really comfortable.
They also flow a lot more air than any leather or textile pants I can think of. And jeans look like "normal" clothing, so they can be worn both on and off the bike.
The only issue has been the question about protection. Your basic pair of mall-rat cotton jeans gives you about as much protection as...well, maybe a good suntan.
So I could never recommend a pair of Levi's or Wrangler jeans for riding -- much less whatever this week's fashion jeans are in, like True Religion or Rock & Republic or...whatever.
Oh, wait -- those were in last week, no?
Alright, so I'm over-obviously facetious here, and since my recommendations certainly haven't stopped anyone from wearing them anyway, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
But those in the know know this: if you're going to wear jeans, at least wear a pair that was designed specifically for motorcycling. And while you're at it, make sure they include something like Kevlar for abrasion resistance?
Motorcycle jeans have come a long way since your basic one-for-all-and-all-for-one styled '50's Levi's. There are way many more choices out there today than there were even in 2005 -- when I wrote our first Diamond Gusset jeans review. In fact, there are now so many interesting choices that even I am becoming a believer!
These Diamond Gusset "Defender" jeans tipped the scales. I will now (secretly) admit to wearing them on a regular basis. Raise the right hand: I hereby state that the Diamond Gusset Defender jeans are the most comfortable jeans I've ever worn for motorcycling.
They come within a denim's seed (if there was such a thing) of being the most comfortable pair of jeans I own, period. Street or bike.
And they look good, too. That's a bonus, right?
I have no idea how they did it, and I'll guess that the diamond-shaped gusset that gives Diamond Gusset their name has something to do with the comfort factor. Or maybe it's the way the cotton is treated -- it's heavy, but soft at the same time.
And by the way, said gusset is now less obvious than on earlier versions, because it uses smaller, softer, hidden stitches on blind seams. As any male will tell you, it's important to have space and comfort in the...nether regions.
I almost always -- scratch that -- I always have problems finding jeans that fit, for some reason. And double that for dress pants.
I can never seem to find the perfect waist/length combo that will do the job and look good at the same time (although part of the problem is that probably the only people who actually look good in jeans are 26W 32L models).
So I was Mr. Skeptical when these came in the door. But there's an interesting two-part secret involved:
Secret #1: Although Diamond Gusset doesn't technically make custom sizes, they do make just about every size combination you can possibly think of...and more.
Their "off-the-shelf" sizes include the very rare odd-sized waists, like 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, etc. Just try to find a pair of 37W 31L jeans at your local Kohl's -- you'll be scratching through piles o' denim until your fingers bleed and you'll still come up empty. But Diamond Gusset has 'em.
Secret #2: Besides the fact that Diamond Gusset jeans are available in a jazillion size combinations, they paw through every pair in stock to give each one a final "real" measurement. Then they match the actual measurements to your request to find the perfect fit. Call it a semi-custom fit?
Why go through the trouble? Well, everyone knows that pants sizing isn't always as standardized as it should be. I've purchased many a pair of street pants, going by the label without trying them on, only to find they didn't fit. Or I'll pick a pair off the shelf that is supposed to fit, only to find I need a different size to actually fit.
What's that all about? It's the magic of tolerancing. Sometimes the fabric sections are cut just a tad too narrow (or wide), or the sewing is slightly off, or incorrect tolerances cause something called "tolerance stacking" (which has an entire statistical science behind it). The bottom line is that the chances that any two pair that are supposed to have the same size will actually end up the same size are...slim to none.
So Diamond Gusset measures each pair after it leaves assembly to match the actual dimensions with your request and you, like me, should get a pair that fits exactly as you expected. The procedure is described on their "Getting a Correct Fit & Custom Sizing" page.
Again, I was skeptical to the point of not really caring to order a pair of jeans online, but Diamond Gusset came through and matched me up with a perfect pair that fits exactly the way I like.
The last time we posted the Diamond Gusset jeans review it was 2005 (was it really that long ago?), and you could get them in any color and style you'd like, as long as that color was blue and that style was basic.
Check out their selection today and you'll find everything from Stonewashed Carpenter Jean Shorts to Husky Boy's to All-Terrain Pants to Slim Boot Legs to Big Boy's (waists up to 60") to women's...the list goes on.
Colors range from tan to camouflage to ink black like the Defender jeans shown here. Don't be scared -- the jeans in our photos look a bit like stonewashed gray but they're not. They're black as coal, but that particular color happens to be very difficult to photograph, so we over-exposed the photos to bring out the details.
The Diamond Gusset Defender jeans are available in either black or classic blue. The black jeans shown here have a contrasting lighter gray stitching (which looks almost white in these over-exposed photos).
All of the stitches on this pair are perfectly lined up with no stray ends. The seams are folded under and the seam along the outside of the leg is "blind"; that is, the material is folded on the inside, which I assume gives better resistance against blow-out on the outside, in case of a crash.
The denim appears to have a very subtle pattern, which I'm assuming is a result of the weave in the fabric used by Diamond Gusset for the Defender jeans.
The internal Kevlar lining is sewn tightly to the seat and knees with multiple rows of stitching, but only a single row appears across the back of the pants at the bottom of the seat.
The knees give the pants that carpenter jeans look, but what looks like an extra section of denim sewn over the top is actually the doubled rows of stitches holding the Kevlar to the inside. The Kevlar is soft and feels about the same texture and thickness as the jeans.
The addition of Kevlar is assumed to offer a level of abrasion resistance that pure cotton could never hope to achieve, but I also wear my Bohn armored undies underneath.
I've taken to immediately removing the armor that comes in most pants and wearing the Bohn undies all the time, because 1) They're comfortable; 2) They fit and 3) The armor stays put.
The combination of the Bohn armor and the Kevlar lining in the Defender jeans should -- I hope -- do a decent job of protecting me if needed.
Not all Diamond Gusset jeans are made for motorcycling these days; other sports need jeans too. But the Defender jeans are made for riding, and they have a couple of extra features to prove it.
A hook-and-loop ankle closure was added to the leg cuffs, as you can see in the photo above. This helps the legs fit snugly over a pair of riding boots and prevents the legs-flapping-in-the-wind syndrome.
Also, these are classic five-pocket jeans; the fifth is the change or stopwatch pocket that is on the left side, rather than the right.
Actually, I'm wrong -- the Defender jeans are actually six-pocket jeans, if you count the narrow cell phone pocket on the right thigh.
This pocket and the stitching on the front gives the Defender jeans a look reminiscent of carpenter jeans, but the cell phone pocket has a small strip of hook-and-loop to keep it closed. Diamond Gusset told us they're going to make the pocket a bit larger than the approximately 95 mm wide by 100 mm deep (at the shallowest point) dimensions seen on the jeans in these photos.
Finally, they added a very handy metal (not sure if it's aluminum or stainless steel) loop above the right pocket, that can be used to hold a key ring or a carabiner holding my latest LED toy, the cool little Fenix E01 flashlight. The loop can also be used to attach an ID card holder, as I've discovered.
My favorite pair of motorcycle jeans just got better -- albeit more expensive -- with the addition of Kevlar. The Diamond Gusset diamond gusset used in the crotch and the fabric used to make these pants helps to make them very comfortable.
The semi-custom sizing is a definite advantage, because the pants can also be sized to fit your favorite set of armored under-protection. Diamond Gusset Defender jeans are made in the U.S.A. and have a 90-day warranty, along with free shipping to U.S. addresses.
From "G.R." (November 2012): "I was happy to find your review of the Diamond Gusset Jeans. I've owned three pairs of the Defenders and I agree that they're comfortable and well made. What I didn't know was the bit about finding a better cut for a more "custom" fit.
My last pair was baggier than the previous two and I'd assumed they had changed the styling so I I haven't been buying them for a while. Thanks for letting me know that I can ask for a tighter-fitting pair.
I use the cell phone pocket to clip my pocket knife down on the thigh, away from the regular pocket area - a safer place for it should I crash. Next to the knife I slip my garage door opener remote.
The hook-and-loop fastener is a nice touch for this small leg pocket and it keeps everything securely inside. It's so handy to be able to reach down and hit the remote button when returning from a ride. I don't even have to stop the bike.
The "D" ring is great for attaching the extra keys one doesn't want hanging from the bike's ignition switch. All this plus the hook & loop at the boot end, a generous change pocket, Kevlar, and a chance for a tighter fit? I'm back in black!"
From "S.P." (April 2012): "I just received my jeans and even though mine have to be exchanged for another size they are great jeans. I had made a request for expedited shipping and they got them to me in 2 days! No other company has ever changed their shipping to accommodate my needs. Great company! I highly recommend them. I canít wait for my husband to get home to try his."
From "T.H." (September 2011): "Fit, quality, customer service all superior. Kevlar isn't the least bit abrasive, or even noticeable, really. I decided to try these after my motorcycle pants proved TDH for summer riding, and I'm thoroughly pleased. I've started wearing Shift Enforcer Knee and Shin Guards (review) under these for an extra margin of safety, but I'll definitely be buying more jeans from this (American) company, the owner of which is also a rider."
From "T.C." (10/09): "When I started riding again in March, I had a new found revelation regarding personal protection. Now that I'm older and hopefully wiser, I figured I'd like to maximize my chances in a spill.
Reading about the Diamond Gusset jeans in your earlier review brought me to (their) website and the Defender jeans. Whipping out the tape measure gave me the size to order, and talking to the nice lady on the other end of the line suggested I order the leg length a few inches longer. Good advice!
Got the jeans in a timely manner and proceeded to put some miles on them. Great fit, the most comfortable ever both on and off the bike, and a perceived bump up in protection. Hope to never find out! Liked the so much I ordered another pair. Nice that they remembered my previous order.
Now my (girlfriend) wants a pair, but they don't list the Defenders in women's sizes. Hmmm, missed opportunity? Now if they would only incorporate some armor... "
Editor's Reply: Try the Bohn Cool-Air Bodyguard Adventure Pants armored under-garment (review). I wear them under almost every pair of pants (e.g., textile, leather, jeans, etc.). They fit better than any built-in armor would and they're "transportable" between pants.
From "R.D." (9/09): "A few years ago I bought some Brosh Kevlar Velcro attached knee pads for knee protection. The Kevlar is yellow in color just like these jeans have. I went down and actually road tested 1 at a very slow speed on a paved road. Luckily I was only going about 5 mph because the road went thru my cotton jeans and the extra Kevlar protection pad LIKE THEY WERE BUTTER !! My left knee got chewed up but thank goodness it wasn't worse as it would have been at higher speeds. Far as I'm concerned using Kevlar for abrasion protection is a bad joke !"
Editor's Note: I don't know what Brosh uses, but with any clothing that says "Kevlar", it's important to ensure that it's genuine DuPont Kevlar. Kevlar is used extensively in motorcycle clothing to help prevent abrasion. But it's not a miracle fabric. More on Kevlar here.
From "G.M." (9/09): "Your review raises a question I have wondered about for quite some time: What does Kevlar material feel like inside the pants and against your skin?
Since you use the Bohn armor, I guess the Kevlar doesn't really contact your skin. As I mentioned in my Cortech Jeans review feedback, I found the stitching on the top of the knee armor pocket in the Cortech jeans very abrasive, and down right annoying when I walked, to the point had my wife stitch in T shirt material to cover that seam which was stitched in a heavy duty abrasion resistant thread.
As we walk, the material in the knees of our pants rises and falls over our knees, something none of us think about until there is something in the knee area to make the process abrasive. How do the Diamond Gussets feel in the knee area without your Bohn armor? I have always been reluctant to try Kevlar lined jeans due to this issue, and would appreciate your input.
Thanks as always for providing a great service to those of us who ride."
Rick's Reply: Actually, the material feels very comfortable to me; I notice no difference between these and "normal" jeans. Diamond Gusset has flat-stitched the Kevlar inside the pants, which I think is important, because the edges of the Kevlar could otherwise chafe.
The material itself feels very soft to me, just like the outside fabric used in the Defender jeans. I can and have worn these as regular old street jeans.
Now it's possible that someone with sensitive skin may find the extra seams problematic, but for me, the pants are just like a pair of Levi's.
Anyone else have some feedback on this they would like to share?
From "M.S." (9/09): "I cannot say enough good things about Diamond Gusset Jeans, I own about 15 pairs of their jeans. They are the most comfortable pants I have ever owned, originally I bought a pair for M/C riding but now I use them as my every day work pants. Next will be a pair of the Defender jeans."