We’d like to think by now that every motorcyclist understands the importance of wearing protective riding gear. Unfortunately, our everyday observations paint a different picture. While most riders wear an appropriate jacket, helmet and gloves, it seems dedicated riding pants are often overlooked. Riding a motorcycle in regular jeans is like taking a knife to a gunfight. So in the interest of rider safety here are our choices for the 10 Best Cafe Racer Pants of 2020.
What Are Protective Motorcycle Pants?
There was a time when keeping your legs safe while riding a motorcycle meant wearing leather pants. Leather still offers the best bang for buck protection which is why race suits are still made from the stuff. But wearing leather pants for your daily commute to work simply isn’t convenient. That’s why during the past decade riding gear manufacturers started using tech fabrics. By integrating tech fabrics into the design of motorcyclist pants, either through internal layers of Kevlar or by weaving special fabrics like Cordura into the denim itself, they have created pants that offer the convenience of regular streetwear and the protection that riding a motorcycle demands.
RSD Technical Denim Jeans
In our humble opinion single layer protective motorcycle pants are the only way to go. They fit just like regular jeans and won’t leave you sitting in a puddle of sweat in the peak of Summer. The RSD Technical Denim Jeans demonstrate this approach perfectly. New for 2020 these jeans are part of Roland Sands 2020 Technical Denim collection.
Using a special mix of denim, Codura and Aramid fibres RSD created a pair of riding jeans that’ll keep your skin intact should you make contact with the asphalt. Along with the jeans excellent abrasion resistance properties, RSD has created a great looking piece of riding gear. The RSD Technical Denim Jeans are styled to match your favourite pair of regular denim jeans. The classic 5 pocket design has a slim straight cut that’s dyed indigo blue. For improved comfort the jeans use a stretch fabric in the weave and there’s ample room to move in the 15-inch leg opening. For those wanting extra protection, these jeans also come with removable CE Level 1 Knox Microlock knee armour.
Features: Single layer construction / stretch fit / knee armour
Another great looking single layer pair of riding pants to hit the market in 2020 is the Knox Shield Spectra Jeans. These jeans are tough. By utilising the same type of material used in military helicopter armour, ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fibre (UHMWP), they’ve created a fabric 40% stronger than aramid fibres and with 15 times the tensile strength of steel.
Despite the impressive strength of the Knox Shield Spectra Jeans they fit and wear just like your favourite pair of Levis. Four-way stretch means there are no tight spots when you’re sitting on your bike and the material has natural water-repelling properties. The Shield Spectra jeans are finished in deep indigo and sewn together with contrasting stitching. The cut is straight tapered with a medium rise waist for classic good looks. Knox also provides Micro-lock armour in the purchase price for both the hips and knees. The hip armour installs internally while the knee armour slides into zippered external pockets. This smart feature allows you to uninstall the armour for a more inconspicuous streetwear look once you’re off the bike.
Features: AA CE rated garment / stretch comfort / knee and hip armour included
Everyone needs at least one pair of black jeans in their wardrobe and the same goes for your riding gear. Lithuanian company Pando Moto has been producing protective riding garments since 2011. Their range grows and updates each year and 2020 saw the introduction of the Steel Black 2 Jeans. Putting it simply, the Pando Moto Steel Black 2 jeans are a smart-looking, slim fit (not skinny!), charcoal black denim jean. Dig deeper though and you’ll discover an impressive list of technical and protective features.
The Pando Moto Steel Black 2 jeans feature a thick 13oz single layer denim outer that uses a 25% Dyneema blend. This is the same kind of UHMWP material found in the Knox Shield Spectra jeans which is super strong, highly heat-conductive and CE certified for proven protection. Pando includes SAS-TEC Triple flex armour for the knees and hips in the purchase price which are installed internally. For an improved fit, the knee armour can also sit in 2 different positions. Additional details include reflective cuffs for nighttime visibility, reinforced stitching throughout and a metal belt loop for carrying your keys. As with everything in Pando Moto’s range the Steel Black 2 jeans are made by hand in Europe to their strict quality control standards.
Features: Black finish and details / Armour included / Reflective details
With a history steeped in racing Dainese know a thing or two about making protective motorcycle gear. As you’d expect that knowledge has been transferred across to their range of urban riding gear.
Dainese state that their Slim Tex pants offer a balanced mix of “both protection and comfort”. They have achieved this by designing a durable, stretch denim that’s ideally suited to daily use. Woven into the jeans denim chassis are aramid fibres that aide in the prevention of abrasion injuries. Additional protection comes in the form of Dainese Pro 2.0 knee and hip armour. If you’re not into the idea of wearing armour around the office the knee armour can be inserted and removed externally. The combination of these elements has earned the Dainese Denim Slim Tex pants an A level safety certification.
The slim fit Slim Tex pants are finished in either a black or steel blue denim with contrasting stitching and minimal branding.
Another impressive use of single-layer protection in 2020 comes from UK riding gear manufacturer Bull-It. The Bull-It Tactical Jeans are available in a range of styles and colours to suit individual tastes. When purchasing the jeans you can choose from either a slim, straight or easy fit. Sizing is also very flexible with most options available in different inseam lengths. Each style is available in either blue or black denim finishes and you can choose to purchase the jeans without or without armour depending on your budget or the level of protection you’re after.
For the protection aspect of their Tactical Jeans, Bull-It teamed up with technical textile experts, Covec. Together they developed a denim that’s capable of offering abrasion resistance at up to 75kph (46.6mph) and dissipating the heat formed by road friction. The Bull-It Tactical Jeans are also cut and tear-resistant for complete peace of mind.
Features: Many styles to choose from / Available with or without armour
Riding in wet weather isn’t something all riders choose to do, but for those who aren’t afraid to tackle the elements, a decent pair of waterproof pants is essential. Unfortunately, most wet weather gear looks downright goofy. Portland-based gear manufacturer Icon doesn’t do goofy. So when they set out to create the perfect riding companion for inclement weather they made sure it looked good.
The Icon Stormhawk Pants are the lower half of their full Stormhawk offering. The over pant design is sized to allow you to wear them over a regular pair of pants and can be easily removed once you reach your destination. The pants high waist and removable suspenders keep the water out at hip level. Adjustable closures at the ankles let you secure them tightly for a comprehensive waterproof solution.
The Icon Stormhawk Pants are built using an abrasion-resistant polyester shell with a Hycor breathable membrane. Additional internal 600D polyester bolsters the pants abrasion resistance qualities while D30 hip and knee armour tackle any hard knocks head-on. Reflective highlights help you stand out in low light conditions and the pants can be secured to the Icon Stormhawk jacket to complete the look.
Features: Waterproof garment / easy fitment and removal / different fitment options
Aussie brand Saint burst onto the riding gear scene back in 2014. Since then they’ve amassed a global following thanks to their great looking, top performing gear and unwavering passion for everything 2 wheels. Saint launched their brand with the release of some of the first single-layer protective denim to hit the market and they’ve continued to improve on it ever since.
The Saint Unbreakable Model 4 Indigo jeans are Saint’s most protective riding jeans to date. Boasting a AA CE safety rating the jeans secret to protective success is a 25% Dyneema weave. Dyneema single layer denim is a lightweight alternative to liners that doesn’t sacrifice safety. At 15 times the strength of Kevlar it’s also a better barrier to have between you and the road.
Saint’s range of motorcycle jeans is easily some of the best looking gear on the market. As a result, their apparel is commonly seen on everyone from professional racers to movie stars. The Model 4 jeans are no exception. The 5 pocket style jeans feature a standard fit and a tapered leg. A high back waist and accordion stretch panel on the lower back keeps them sitting comfortably and a contrasting orange wing emblem on the rear pocket completes the look.
Features: Toughest in their range / D30 armour / modern styling
Combat pants are a great option if you’re looking for a more casual appearance with the added benefit of extra storage space. The Dainese Combat Pants offer exactly that. Designed for warmer weather conditions these motorcyclist combat pants offer the comfort and convenience you want without scrimping on safety.
The Dainese Combat Pants are constructed using a specially designed Armalith yarn. This has resulted in a soft yet impressively abrasion and tear-resistant material. The pants single layer design aides in their ability to keep you cool on warmer days and the fit is similar to regular fit jeans. Additional internal layers of Aramid fibres, rigid protectors at the knees and Pro-Shape 2.0 soft protectors on the hips combine to offer you all the protection you’d expect from Dianese.
The Dainese Combat Pants are available in either black or Olive green. And 6 storage pockets let you keep bulkier EDC items within close reach.
Features: Extra storage / ideal for warmer weather / hip & knee armour
It’s now possible to step off the bike and head straight into the office without raising any eyebrows. The Rev’It! Alpha RF Chinos are the most inconspicuous pair of riding pants you’re ever likely to own. These chino styled pants are an ideal solution for urban commuters/office workers who are tired of carrying a change of clothes to work.
Available in either a black or khaki they feature a regular fit with 2 side and 2 rear pockets. But the real clincher here is how Rev’It! has been able to integrate safety into their design. The Alpha RF Chinos are constructed from 10.5oz Cordura which has been infused with CoolMax to improve the materials ability to wick moisture. A 100% polyamide liner bolsters the chinos abrasion resistance while removable CE level 1 SeeSmart armour protects the knees and hips.
Last but not least in our 10 best cafe racer pants of 2020 list are these aggressively styled cargos by Pando Moto. The Pando Moto Mark Cargo Pants are a tactical style garment that features a tapered cut and high waistband, adjustable/elasticated ankle cuffs and ample storage space.
Finished in a stealthy black 12.5oz ‘super-stretch’ denim these pants sit at the heavier end of this list. To keep them cool in summer Pando has combined the denim with moisture-wicking, breathable COOLMAX technology. Abrasion resistance layers of DuPont Kevlar add strength to impact prone areas while removable SAS-TEC armour at the knees and hips copes with any hard knocks. All of the Mark Cargo Pants seams are strengthened thanks to the use of aramid stitching and they’re made in Europe to Pando Moto’s stringent quality standards.
Features: AA safety rating / aggressive look / 12.5oz thick