Motorbike trousers: A buyer’s guide

Why invest in motorbike trousers and how can you choose the best pair?

Investing in motorbike clothing is one of the many expensive aspects of riding a motorcycle; whether you ride as a hobby, for commuting, instead of a car or for racing, your body always requires protection. Most riders will consider their head and upper body when selecting motorcycle clothing, but less often, their legs.

Although there is no legal requirement for wearing motorbike trousers, we consider them just as important as other clothing for riding.

Contents:

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Why wear motorbike trousers at all?

Legally there is no requirement for a motorbike rider, or their passenger, to wear any special kind of trousers, protective or otherwise, when they are riding a bike. There is no red tape restricting you from saving money and pulling on a regular pair of jeans or trousers when you next go out for a ride. However, wearing protective trousers is about more than adhering to legalities. Motorcycling always comes with a certain level of risk and it’s far more productive to try and prevent injuries before they occur. As a very important part of the body, legs are highly vulnerable on a motorcycle and motorbike trousers can help to protect them directly (through protective material), and indirectly (through keeping you dry and insulated) whilst riding.

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What is the most vulnerable part of the leg?

The whole leg is susceptible to injuries. The knee and hip areas are the most delicate parts of the leg, and require the most protection, followed by skin and your muscles. Shins are also particularly vulnerable in cold weather when muscle cramps are likely to occur.

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What are the most common leg injuries?

The first may be a burn. All riders and passengers are susceptible to burns, caused by coming into contact with their own bike’s exhaust, the exhaust of another bike or any other vehicle on the road. But more importantly, wearing motorbike trousers will protect you from other leg injuries caused by a minor/major accident. Firstly, injuries can damage your skin through road rash (skidding across the road after a fall) which is painful, may induce scarring and leave you susceptible to infection whilst the injury is healing. Secondly, soft tissue damage in the form of muscle strains or tears, which could become irreversible and in extreme circumstances, lead to paralysis – are common. Finally, and often considered the most debilitating are fractured or broken bones – particularly broken knees, feet and/or hips.

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What are the three main motorbike trouser options?

  1. Leather trousers: Traditionally, leather biker trousers have been the leg cover of choice for most motorcyclists, particularly racers, as they offer abrasion, tear, cut and burst resistance, overall the highest level of protection out of all three materials. They are tough, highly protective and durable, although the quality of the leather varies between brands, price and trouser styles. There are many leather motorbike trouser brands but those available from Two Wheel Centre include; Alpinestars, RST, Spada and Weise.
  2. Textile trousers:rst-raptor-ii-textile-trouers-sand-1 Textile trousers are often chosen for their fantastic waterproof and water-resistant qualities which are extremely useful in winter months. They are also tough, durable and lighter weight than leathers. They come in a variety of styles and designs, lighter colours are favourable in the summer as they absorb less heat. We sell textile trousers from the following brands; Alpinestars, Buffalo, RST, Spada and Weise.
  3. Kevlar Jeans: The most fashionable of all three options, these are protective and offered in a variety of styles to suit a variety of body shapes. Most options come in either indigo blue or black, and are designed distinctively for a biker with features such as stretch denim, double stitching, without rivets on the back and boot cut ankles to fit over boots. We stock these trousers from two popular brands; Draggin and Hornee.

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What are the key factors outside of your control that should be considered before buying motorbike trousers?

Now you understand the three main categories of motorbike trousers, how can you choose which are best suited for you. First, we look at environmental factors:

  • Weather: Although there is some unpredictability in UK weather, seasons are largely unchangeable and coincide with different weather patterns which need to be accounted for when choosing motorbike trousers. There are certain precautions you can and should take at certain times of year when there is a likelihood of rain and warmer or colder temperatures.
    1. Cold weather: A lower core temperature for riding may affect decision-making and emotional responses such as anxiety, aggressiveness or detachment (Woods, 1986), therefore staying warm is imperative for your safety on a bike. Keeping your extremities, feet and hands, warm is important but if your core is cold blood flow to them will be restricted, so they should be considered after the rest of your body. Your body and legs can be kept heated through insulation, protecting against wind and staying dry.
    2. Warm weather:In warmer weather many riders are tempted to wear less protective clothing, it’s heavy weight and dark colour can make it very unappealing. Leaving skin uncovered solves this problem but leaves you vulnerable to sunburn, dehydration and a higher risk of injury in the case of an accident. Finding lighter weight clothes, such as jeans instead of leathers and lighter coloured clothes, again jeans or textile trousers instead of leathers, are a much safer option than going bare.
  • Moisture or wet riding: This relates to weather, but also perspiration. Water conducts heat faster than air, if your clothes are wet you will become cold much more quickly as the heat is drawn away from your body. The best way to avoid this is through wearing waterproof or water-resistant clothing such as textile trousers. Leather trousers are generally not suitable in wet weather as they absorb water.

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What features of motorbike trousers should be considered when buying a pair?

Now we’ve looked at the types of trousers, and environmental factors that will affect your decision overall the trousers should offer the motorcyclist the best protection they can afford without interrupting their ability to operate the bike safely. This is affected by the riding purpose; sports, touring, countryside cruising etc., in addition to many other technical, practical and style features that can be considered and chosen from, so once you understand the individual parts, it’s a good idea to opt for the trousers that best, collectively, meet your needs:

  • Material: The material of motorbike trousers is one of their most important features as this will offer protection during an accident. All materials are tough, durable and offer abrasion protection, in addition to padding at vulnerable areas such as knees (or if not built in, they have a pocket for inserting the protection). However, some material’s are more suited to particular times of year; textile trousers are generally more appropriate in winter and jeans in the summer.
  • Waist connections: Many trousers feature a zip on the back of the waist that connects them to a top or jacket. The benefit to these connections is twofold; they prevent wind entry to the lower back ensuring minimal body heat is lost during a ride, and they offer protection to the lower back by closing the gap between trousers and a jacket.
  • Weather protection: This is covered in more detail above, but generally refers to the qualities of the material, and whether they are suited for warmer, colder or wet weathers. Generally speaking leather trousers are best when it’s cooler but dry, jeans when it’s warmer, and textile when it’s wet.
  • Seams and zips: Seams may be double or triple stitched. The more stitching levels the trouser has, the stronger the seam, the more hard-wearing the trouser and the more protection they can offer. Zips are similar in terms of strength; YKK® are generally accepted as the strongest and highest quality.
  • Protection and armour: As mentioned above, knees and hips are particularly vulnerable when a motorcyclist is involved in an accident. Many trousers will offer attached knee protection as standard, either inside or outside the trouser, as well as hip padding. Knee or knee and shin guards can be worn under trousers and many others will integrate knee pockets into the trouser design so that knee armour such as this pair from Knox® or hip armour such as this can be inserted or removed as required by the rider.
  • Price: Motorbike trousers are usually priced between £100 and £400. Typically, higher quality motorbike trousers are sold at a higher price, due to the additional protective features they include. For example, the Draggin® Jeans style offers a CE level 2 protective material that isn’t provided in other Draggin® Jean styles. Of course, as a buyer it is important for you to calculate your own budget and use this as a guide. The prices for trousers vary across materials and ranges and all are usually determined by the level of protection, style and brand.
  • Sizing: Depending on the brand and type, motorbike trousers are generally offered in sizes to suit both male and female body shapes. Generally speaking, men’s sizes go between 28″ and 40″ whereas women’s are created in sizes 8 to 18. There are some exceptions, and brands such as Draggin® Jeans and RST textile trousers offer shorter and longer leg lengths – as well as larger sizes, i.e. 20 – 24 in women’s.
  • Comfort: When riding you are often sitting in one position for a long period of time and any factor that adds additional stress and discomfort to that should be avoided. The fit of clothing is one factor – if trousers are too tight, they may cut off circulation and be a distraction – this can be checked by looking over your body after taking trousers off to see if any marks are left. Other factors generally include the fit of the trouser; both in the waist and leg length, whether the material can stretch and the fitting of the style.
  • Style:draggin-jeans-kevlar-jeans-next-gen-blue-mens The style of a trouser can vary depending on the material, brand and type of trouser. Aussie brand Draggin® offer a variety of styles, including classic straight leg jeans and more comfortable, wider leg options. Hornee jeans offer a chino style and Alpinestars’ leathers are more sporty in appearance. We suggest browsing through options to see which best suits your taste.
  • Brand: Brands can often be an excuse for companies to charge a higher price, but they can also be a mark of quality. The higher end of leathers, for example, includes Alpinestars leather trousers who have built a trusted reputation on their knowledge gained through a long-standing history of racing.

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For the full-range of motorbike trousers available here at Two Wheel Centre please see our Motorcycle trousers page.

Laura McLoughlin

Laura is a seasoned blogger and excited to put her writing skills to the test at Two Wheel. She’s ridden a scooter in South Korea and India and is keen to test her mettle with a full license one day. When not dreaming of her next big travel adventure she’s usually out running or snapping away on her DSLR.

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