When You Wear Jeans for Riding

Ask What Gear to Wear and Risk Starting a War

People get crazy over some subjects and within the riding community riding gear is one of those subjects.

There are generally two camps I’ve observed. One camp who says racing leathers all the time and the other camp who will go full-squid (no protective gear) all the time. These two camps are also the most vocal and energetic about their positions. But there is another camp too. The silent majority, like myself who wear what’s affordable and just try to be as reasonably (subjective to disposable income) protected as we can while riding.

A lot of the silent majority tend to be daily commuters. They’re the people who don’t get amped up about jacket brands, wheelies and tire warmers. The other two camps while they may not readily admit it, probably fall more into track riders and weekend warriors, or my term, ‘fair-weather riders’.

If you go online asking what you should wear, you probably will encounter someone in one of the first two camp. After all these are the people who probably didn’t ride in today. They are the most ready and available to share their immense knowledge on every social network. You’ll probably get a wild range of advice. People will get heated, people will accuse each other of being more squidly than another, and engage in internet pissing contests.

Without Engaging in Warfare, Let’s Do a Common Sense Check

Here is my logic and your thought process is jacked if you disagree.

Wearing shorts is better than naked.

Wearing regular denim jeans is better than shorts.

Wearing reinforced denim jeans is better than regular denim jeans.

Wearing leather chaps is better than reinforced denim jeans.

Wearing leather pants is better than leather chaps.

Wearing Full Protective Fiber, like Kevlar, Spectra or Pekev, is better than leather (this may start a war, the proof and more proof).

What You Really Need to Take From This…

Wear the best reasonable option you can afford, because anything is better than nothing. If a pair of denim jeans gives you .5 seconds longer before your skin is touching pavement then that is .5 seconds less damage your skin is taking. Not everyone can afford or wants to wear full leathers to work every day. The thought of full leathers on my commute in near 100 degrees temps, here in Texas, would make me consider giving up riding. It’s just not practical even if it was affordable. I’d be dead in 15 minutes of heat exhaustion but at least I’d make a pretty corpse without all that road rash.

As new materials emerge, like Spectra, we probably will see more people wearing full protective gear all season. Materials like Spectra are solving the problem of breathability, waterproofing, and protection, in ways leather simply cannot. As these modern materials make their way to the mainstream, costs will come down and the masses will have their chance at some great gear, until then stay safe. When better gear is available in your price range I would suggest you consider the upgrade.


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