Riding Jeans with Style
Jeans are probably the most popular clothing both on and off the motorcycle. However, regular denim does not provide adequate protection for motorcyclists. This can be shown using the Cambridge impact abrasion test.
It entails dropping a sample of material from a height of 2 inches onto a 60 grit abrasion belt spinning at approximately 18 mph. Regular denim fails miserably at this test by lasting only 0.6 seconds. This is why motorcycle jeans are built differently.
There are many choices for protective riding jeans these days, yet not all of them are appealing. Some with a common Kevlar or aramid liner can be hot and uncomfortable to wear all day.
Others are so downright ugly that we would never want to be caught dead in them, not to mention wearing them off the motorcycle at the workplace. Even though it is always better to be safe than just sexy, we would like to ride in style if possible. Life is too short for ugly gear.
SA1NT is an Australian motorcycle apparel company that claims to offer riding jeans that are safe, comfortable, and fashionable. Their “Unbreakable” jeans with Dyneema® are single-layered and look like designer jeans while providing the desired level of protection for riding gear. They provided me with a pair of their High Rise Skinny Jeans at no cost for this review, and I gladly gave them a try.
What is Dyneema?
Dyneema® is a brand name for an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) made by a Dutch company, DSM. It is a high-density material with very long molecular chains that have high intermolecular bonds. In simple terms, it is “the world’s strongest fiber“ that is also very lightweight.
It is 15 times stronger than steel at the same weight and about 40% lighter than Kevlar. Dyneema has high tensile strength, abrasion resistance, cut resistance, and UV/chemical resistance. Denim with Dyneema has been a game-changer in riding jeans by making it possible to design CE-rated single-layered jeans that look like regular everyday jeans.
Dyneema sounds like an ideal fiber, but it is not heat resistant with its relatively low melting point of 277F. If your leg touches a hot exhaust pipe (sometimes 800-1200F), Dyneema may disintegrate and lose its protective strength. I talked about this potential weakness with a couple of other writers at wBW, and sure enough, I jinxed myself.
I managed to touch my calf to the exhaust pipe on the first day I rode with these jeans. When it happened, it felt just like it does wearing regular denim. It was hot, but there is no visible damage to the fabric (or my skin), and my jeans are still wearable. Nevertheless, I suggest not putting your knees or buttocks on anything hot. SA1NT also recommends not to iron or tumble dry the jeans.
Unbreakable High Rise Skinny Jeans are 25% Dyneema, 68% cotton, 5% nylon, and 2% elastane. The 12 oz denim initially felt somewhat stiff even though 2% elastane gives it some stretchiness. After two 2 hour rides and one wash, they loosened up and broke in nicely. The Dyneema content makes the denim cool to touch, but there is no difference in the fabric’s look from ordinary denim.
These jeans are very breathable without an extra layer, and I was comfortable riding in them on an 80F day. By the same token, they don’t provide much insulation against the cold. They stretch just enough to wear thin leggings underneath, but riding in them below 50F was too much for me, even with the under layer.
The denim is not waterproof or water-resistant even though Dyneema itself is hydrophobic.
SA1NT claims to use organic dyes and an eco-friendly dyeing process that requires less water than other conventional methods. Their denim is supposed to fade like ordinary denim, and the company recommends postponing the first wash “as long as possible” to develop the jeans’ individual patina. But without washing them, the almost black, very dark indigo color, which I really like, transfers a lot.
After our first photoshoot, which lasted about an hour, my hands were tinted blue like a zombie. Even after the second wash, the denim still stained the light beige upholstery of my dining room chair.
If you wear tan color gloves or light color clothes, you must be careful not to rub them against a brand new pair of SA1NT jeans. Washing the jeans may be sacrilegious for denim enthusiasts, but I think it is necessary for practical reasons.
My first impression of the jeans was that they don’t look like riding jeans at all. They are single-layered and not particularly heavy compared to regular jeans. I wear them when I am not riding my bike, and nobody thinks they are riding jeans.
Their five pockets design has no metal rivets, and the rubber-coated front button won’t scratch your tank. The front pockets are deep enough to be functional, but the coin pocket is on the waist, and I find it impossible to reach inside when wearing a thick belt.
That being said, I like how it gets hidden and gives the denim a minimalistic look. There is also no embellished stitching on the back pockets, except a small wing logo embroidery. I like the simplicity of the look, which makes them more versatile to pair with other clothing.
The high-rise waist measures 11.5 inches from the crotch and sits right on my belly button. I was never a fan of high-waisted pants before, but these jeans changed my mind, at least for riding jeans.
High-rise provides more coverage, and there is no gaping on the back when you are in a full-tuck sportbike riding position. It is nice that my shirts stay tucked in the jeans, and I don’t have to worry about my lower back peeking out when I’m riding on the freeways.
The cut is skinny from the hip through the leg. The denim has a slight stretch, but the leg is narrow enough to pinch the back of my knees when I ride my VFR. I don’t think this is an issue if you ride a cruiser or something you don’t have to bend your knees too much.
At the time of this writing, I’ve ridden about 1500 miles in them, and as the denim continues to break in, it pinches the back of my knees less and less. I’ll need more time to see if it goes away entirely. If you ride an aggressive sportbike, expect to have some discomfort as it is par for the course for the skinny jeans.
They are made in Pakistan, and the construction of the jeans is high quality. The felled seams are stitched with dark color thread, and the stitches are neat and even. Well done, SA1NT!
High Rise Skinny Jeans are available in AU size 6 to 14, which corresponds to US size 2 to 12, Denim size 24-32. I usually wear US size 1-2 and denim size 25 x 32. SA1NT recommends one size down if you are between sizes. So I chose AU 6 / US 2 / 24.
When they’re brand new, as expected, they fit me a little tight around my belly and hip but not uncomfortably tight. After they broke in, they felt snug with enough stretch to move around comfortably.
I’m unfamiliar with AU sizing, and even with US sizes, I worry about finding a good fit, because as we all know, it is often vanity sizing. Happily, SA1NT jeans are what they say they are.
The leg opening is 5.38 inches relaxed, 6 inches stretched. It is not skin-tight below the calf but slim enough to tuck in the boots with ease. The inseam comes in 31inch length only, which is relatively long for skinny jeans. Despite this extra length, I think these jeans still look good with regular shoes or boots.
When wearing them with my riding boots, I fold the hem up about 2 inches to avoid having it sit inside the boot’s tightest section for the ease of zipping up. You can also let down the hem about an inch if necessary.
My Measurements for Reference
|My regular Jeans Size||25 X 32|
SA1NT’s Unbreakable jeans were the world’s first single-layer jeans to get a certified CE-rating. Their denim woven with Dyneema in weft and warp has an impressively high tear resistance, tensile strength, and slide time of 4 seconds. That gives me peace of mind regarding abrasion protection.
The fabric passes the new EN17092 safety standard AA for impact abrasion. But as a garment, High Rise Skinny jeans are rated as Class B. The easy explanation of this discrepancy is that the proper safety certification of EN17092 includes other factors that cannot be tested on fabric, such as a seam’s strength, dimensional stability, impact energy absorption, restraint, or fit/ergonomics. (You can read more on the wording of safety rating descriptions here.)
Class B garments are as good as garments in Class A for abrasion protection, seam strength, and tear resistance, but it is rated lower because of the lack of impact protection. Yep, you guessed it; these jeans don’t come with knee or hip armor.
My biggest complaint about SA1NT’s women’s jeans is that they don’t even have pockets to insert any armor. I don’t always wear knee or hip armor, but I’d like to have the option of wearing them when I think it’s necessary. I find it odd they make men’s jeans that are equipped with armor pockets. I’d like to see a similar design with Women’s too.
$399 is very expensive, even for riding jeans. Maybe I could justify shelling out this much money because I am practically buying designer jeans and riding jeans in one. These jeans will last through many years of riding, so this durability would be another way of justifying the high purchase price.
Still, I think $399 is close to the highest price anyone would pay for riding jeans. I guess I have to watch what I eat going forward to wear them long enough to make them pay for themselves.
Comparable Motorcycle Pants
There are only a few other single-layered high waist riding jeans with UHMWPE on the market.
One is Rokker RokkerTech High Waist jeans. They come in three colors, and each of them has different fabric content. The denim weight also varies from 12 to 14 oz. Sizing is more expansive than SA1NT with the availability of different inseam lengths. They are CE-rated A or AA and come with at least knee armor and pockets for optional hip armor. They are more expensive than SA1NT jeans (€349 ~ €399 on the Rokker website), and the knee protector pockets print even without armor in them.
Shield Single Layer Spectra® Riding Jeans from Knox are another comparable high waist jeans. The denim is 14oz with 37% Spectra® which is another brand name for UHMWPE. They are CE-rated AAA and sold with knee and hip armor. They are priced slightly less at $329.99. They are available only in blue and US size 4 to 14. The jeans have metal rivets and a keyring(why??) on the belt loop.
They are good-looking jeans. I like how they fit, and once they break-in, they are comfortable to wear all day. I wore them on the bike for 1500miles and off the bike almost every day. My friends thought I was wearing a pair of regular designer jeans, and I received many compliments on the style and the color.
The denim feels cool against the skin, and the jeans are very breathable without an extra layer. I enjoy riding in them on hot days.
Despite their good looks and excellent abrasion protection, $399 is very expensive. Yet, you are getting two pairs of jeans in one that will last many riding seasons. And did I mention I’m wearing them almost every day?
My biggest gripe about SA1NT jeans is the lack of impact protection. I don’t always wear knee and hip armor but want the option of wearing them. I hope SA1NT releases women’s jeans with armor pockets soon.
- Very stylish.
- No rivets & Rubber covered front button.
- Single-layer denim breathes well and is comfortable.
- They break in like regular jeans.
- The high waist provides more coverage and no gap on the back.
- Great abrasion protection.
- No pockets for knee or hip protectors.
- Not water repellent or waterproof.
- Indigo dye bleeds.
- It pinches the back of your knees when you ride a sportbike.
- $399 is expensive.
- Manufacturer: SA1NT
- Price: $399
- Made in: Pakistan
- Sizes: AU Size 6-16/ US Size 2-12
- Colors: Indigo / Black
- Safety Designations: EN17092-5:2020: Class B
- Review Date: February 2021