IMAGES BY PEDRO VALDEZ.
Do you wear riding jeans? Until a couple weeks ago, I didn’t, and I definitely wasn’t alone.
A 2012 study of Oregon riders found that while 75% of their respondents wore protective jackets and boots, only 36% wore protective pants. The 2009 MAIDS study of nearly 1,000 crashes found that 60% of riders who crashed were only wearing denim — or worse, thin cotton.
A 2002 study of Australian riders notes that “although crash researchers have long recognized the legs as the area most at risk in motorcycle crashes, it is their legs that are least likely to be protected.”
Most of these studies don’t go into why riders don’t wear protective jeans, but my guess is that most riders either don’t realize how important it is, or they can’t find riding pants that fit their lifestyle or their bodies. Until recently, I fit into all three of those camps.
Enter Laura Smith, cofounder of Worse for Wear. A few months ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Laura on my blog, so you may have heard her story already, but if not, here’s the short version: Laura saw a gap in the market for women’s motorcycle jeans that fit well, look good and protect your butt. So, along with her husband-slash-business partner, Laura set to work building a company that makes quality, locally made motorcycle-approved denim.
And the result is a pair of well-fitting riding jeans that are possibly the best-made, highest quality jeans I’ve ever owned.
The first time I heard of Worse for Wear, they were surveying women who ride, asking them to share their measurements so Laura and her team could make jeans that actually fit actual, real women who ride. What a novel concept, right? (I wish I was joking.)
Their survey found that women riders tended to fall into one of two categories: curvy (high waist-to-hip ratio) or straight (low waist-to-hip ratio). More of the riders they surveyed fell into the curvier category, so they set to work launching a pair of jeans for those women: the Crosstown Curvy jean.
Around the time the curvy jeans launched, I reached out to Laura to ask if she would pretty please send me a pair of jeans to review. She agreed (yay!), and after she pulled up my measurements (because I had participated in the survey!), she decided to try me out with the curvy jean.
When I first pulled the Crosstown Curvy jeans out of the box, I was immediately impressed with the overall quality. The denim is thick, yet breathable, and a gorgeous deep blue. The stitching is simple and well placed, and it gives the jeans a structured, sophisticated feel. This, my friends, is a nice pair of jeans.
Sadly, my long torso just wasn’t having the curvy fit, so I had to send them back. But because Laura is awesome and generous, she sent me a prototype version of the slim fit to try (which just went on sale today!).
And the slim fit? Fits like a glove.
The Crosstown Slim jeans have just enough room to accommodate armor without being too constricting, and just enough stretch to keep the waistband from cutting into my stomach when I’m riding. The jeans come with SAS-TEC CE-Approved hip and knee armor, which fits easily in the internal mesh pockets.
The knee armor even attaches inside the pocket with velcro, and there’s enough space so you can adjust the armor to sit exactly on your kneecap. I recommend aligning the top of the armor with the top of your kneecap, so you get a bit of upper-shin protection as well.
As far as stealth goes, the knee armor is pretty obvious on me, though I haven’t noticed it in other photos (maybe I just have knobby knees?), but the hip armor might as well be nonexistent. The only clue I’m wearing it is that my hips look slightly curvier than they actually are, which I’m okay with 😉
Some of the best features about the jeans, though, aren’t as easy to see. First of all, there are no metal rivets on these jeans, anywhere. Because really, what are rivets but bits of metal waiting to get super-heated and lodged in your skin in a crash?
Also, the thread used on these jeans is military-strength, so it won’t burst open if you go down. I didn’t know it, but apparently this happens all the time with regular fashion jeans, which leaves you without any protection if you slide after hitting the asphalt.
Luckily, I haven’t had to do much riding in the heat lately, but the one time I did, the denim breathed beautifully. The warmest part of the jeans was actually the knees, around the mesh pockets, which makes sense because it’s hard to get airflow through a Level 2 knee protector.
As you can see in the photos, these pants have a pretty high waist, which not only looks foxy (in my opinion, at least), but it keeps you well-protected up to the point your jacket takes over the job. Not to mention, the high waist keeps your butt from hanging out when you’re riding 😉
Now, these jeans are definitely comfortable, but don’t expect the same feel as your average 40% polyester stretch skinny jeans. The denim is abrasion-resistant ARMALITH 2.0 denim, which includes fibers previously only used in aerospace, military and offshore industries. This is serious stuff (the website says it’s two times stronger than Kevlar!), so it does feel a bit stiff at first.
But also, I’m expecting this denim to break in well over time. It’s 57% cotton and 10% lycra, and even after just the first few wears, I can feel it softening out and conforming to my body.
Also, I love that the strength of the fabric allows these jeans to forgo the typical Kevlar lining. Not only does lining tend to make riding jeans feel bulky, but it often doesn’t cover the whole pant, leaving areas like thighs and shins exposed. I mean, it’s fair to make gear based on accident statistics, but I’d rather prepare for the unexpected, wouldn’t you?
Both the Crosstown Curvy jeans and the Crosstown Slim jeans sell for $379 USD. Competitively speaking, these are on the higher end of riding jeans, but they are also much higher quality than most pairs I’ve tried ⎯ and did I mention that they’re made-to-order?
Also, Laura has generously agreed to give you guys 10% off your order, valid through the end of the year ⎯ yes, through the holidays *hint hint* 😉 To use the coupon code, just enter RIDEWELL10 at checkout.
UPDATE: Sorry, the coupon code is now expired! But don’t let that stop you⎯ head over to the Worse for Wear website and sign up for their newsletter to get notifications about news and sales.
And if you do buy a pair, let me know what you think of them! I hope you like them as much as I do