Buying Motorcycle Trousers - A Beginner’s Guide
Dedicated motorcycle trousers should be an essential part of every riders gear list, as they offer superior performance and protection.
But what things do you need to consider when looking for the perfect pair? In this guide, we look at the key elements to think about when buying, based upon how and where they will be worn and what material is best. We’ll also throw in plenty of other tips along the way.
Let’s start by looking at the various materials available as this has the biggest bearing on how the trousers will perform in varying situations and conditions.
Arguably the most versatile material to choose from as it offers the widest range of performance variables. Textile trousers have the ability to be 100% waterproof, or at the other end of the scale, highly ventilated for use in very warm weather.
They can offer the added functionality of removable thermal liners making them usable all year round and they can be incredibly hard-wearing. Textile trousers often offer the highest level of all-around protection too and are the most common choice for commuting, touring and off-road riding.
Given the huge range of possibilities available, we have selected a number of pairs of textile trousers to suit all budgets.
Staff Picks - Textile Trousers
Although described as an entry-level trouser, the Alpha IV still offers a lot in technical terms. The styling is understated with minimal branding and features two very useful cargo pockets on the thighs. Made from a mix of Maxtex and Ballistic materials the trousers are very tough and the SinAqua breathable lining makes them 100% waterproof. These trousers are best suited for use in the colder months due to the fixed thermal liner. They come with CE level 1 knee armour and have an overall ‘A’ CE garment rating. At £79.99 they are a great entry point.
A bit of a step up in price, but that jump gets you into a pair of laminate trousers. This means instead of using a separate waterproof liner inside the trousers (drop liner), a waterproof membrane is bonded to the outer material. Laminate trousers are lighter than their drop liner equivalents, but the key difference is that they repel the water, keeping the garment drier, and you warmer. The Mondial feature a removable thermal liner and in conjunction with the zipped vents, this means they are a true all year trouser. These CE ‘A’ rated trousers are top of the line for this price point.
A perfect choice if you are heading off around the world, or indeed just off around the M25. These Adventure style trousers are feature-packed and are suitable for all year use in all conditions. What sets them apart is the innovative use of a thermal liner with a bonded waterproof membrane. With the liner in they are waterproof and warm in the winter, but with the liner removed they are perfect summer trousers with large zipped mesh ventilation panels! Protection isn’t scrimped on either with CE level 2 armour in the knees and the ability to add hip armour also. Ex Dakar Rally racer Mick Extance was involved in the design, and he knows what he’s talking about!
Women’s Specific - Maverick Ladies £149.99
A true four-season trouser, the Maverick is a great choice for commuting, touring or just general riding. They feature separate thermal and waterproof liners which make them very flexible. Wear both for top protection in winter, or ditch the thermal liner and keep the waterproof for those warmer but wetter days. They are a nice looking garment with a women’s specific cut, not the often seen approach for women’s clothing which is to ‘Shrink it and pink it'. CE level 1 armour in the knees help make this a CE ‘A’ rated garment and a popular choice.
A staple material for motorcycle clothing since the 1920’s leather offers really good abrasion resistance and comfort. When it comes to trousers they are more often the choice of the sportier rider and in fact, we don’t know of any Track Day organisers that won’t insist on the use of full leather outfits at their events. Leather does have its drawbacks of course, mainly that it’s not waterproof, so you will need to carry extra items with you. It’s also not the warmest of materials on its own and because of the nature of the material they tend to be a little more expensive. However, if you are looking for a tough, comfortable pair of trousers for use in good weather, then leather is a great choice. Vegan riders can find similarly styled trousers made from Kevlar or similar aramid materials.
Staff Picks - Leather Trousers
Predominantly designed for Street and track riding the Axis are a subtly designed trouser that offers both comfort and protection. These CE ‘AA’ rated trousers are made from cowhide with strategically placed Samtex stretch panels for enhanced flexibility. CE Level 1 armour is fitted in the knee and optional hip armour is available as an extra. The perforated panels on the thighs mean that these are best suited to riding on warmer days and a 360-degree zip allows them to be joined to the matching jacket. A great looking and performing pair of trousers at a really good price.
A slightly more sporty looking jean, the Sabre offers some track attitude without adding much in the way of logos. Made from a soft-touch matt finish cowhide and four-way stretch motion panels, they give excellent levels of comfort whilst delivering CE ‘AAA’ rated protection. Perforated panels on the thighs keep you cool & fresh and quick release knee sliders are included. A really good choice of leather trouser at this price point.
Definitely a more ‘track’ orientated pair of trousers. The Tractech Evo 4 gives the highest CE ‘AAA’ Rating for protection, but they still offer a decent level of comfort for use on the road. Again made predominantly from cowhide they will need some breaking in, however, the Samtex stretch panels will help with this. Given their sporty nature, these trousers come with knee sliders which are affixed onto velcro panels as well as CE level 2 knee and hip armour. Not only do the sliders allow you to ‘get your knee down’ they of course offer extra protection in a crash.
Women’s Specific - RST GT Ladies - £209.99
A beautiful pair of full grain drum tanned cowhide trousers, the GT’s offer the top-level CE ‘AAA’ protection rating and have CE level 2 armour in the knees and hips. These trousers feature perforated panels to keep you cool on hot days and the velcro knee section allows for the fitting of the included sliders should you wish. Leather accordion stretch panels on the knee and rear offer great flexibility. These are a really popular pair of women’s specific leather trousers.
For more casual rides it’s hard to beat the look and feel of denim jeans. Quite often you don’t want to look like you’ve just jumped off the bike, and it’s no fun walking around all day in a set of full race leathers! However traditional denim jeans are in reality next to useless as motorcycle trousers. They offer no protection in a crash as cotton-based denim will wear through in approximately half a second. They don’t contain armour and if you’ve ever been caught in a downpour you’ll know how useless and uncomfortable they are when wet.
But we as motorcyclists are very lucky that material technology can now allow us to wear protective riding jeans that look and feel just like standard everyday jeans!
Staff Picks - Riding Jeans
The first step away from traditional denim jeans, these offer abrasion resistance in the knees and seat from Kevlar® panels under the outer material. The mesh lining has pockets to add knee and hip armour as an option if required, and this lack of armour means the jeans only reach a CE Level ‘B’ rating. A much better choice for urban riding than a pair of bog-standard Levi’s
What we would consider a more ‘serious’ pair of riding jeans, the more aggressively styled X Kevlar® Tech pro offers the highest CE ‘AAA’ rating available. The Cordura denim outer is mixed with nylon threads to offer great abrasion resistance and it's backed up with Kevlar panels in the seat, knees and hips for even more protection. These are heavier weight jean, but stretch accordion panels in the knees and seat make them comfortable for long days in the saddle. A really good choice if you're looking for maximum protection.
Women’s Specific - RST x Kevlar® Metropolitan - £109.99
The same build and construction as the first pair of jeans, but with a women’s specific fit. They are lightweight and look just like normal jeans so no one will know you’ve just jumped off your motorcycle. The option to fit knee and hip armour are available if you wish to upgrade the protection. A perfect choice for urban riding in good weather.
FIT & CARE
There is always a little variance between manufacturers sizes, so you’ll find sizing charts on all of our motorcycle clothing products. We also have a no-hassle returns policy should you need to change sizes. Many of our motorcycle trousers are offered in shorter and/or longer lengths.
Textile and protective jeans normally fit as standard and you’ll find that they will largely retain their shape and feel when worn. Leather products do usually require a ‘breaking in’ period until they mould perfectly to your shape. We always recommend having a snug fit when new, as the leather will stretch as part of the breaking in process.
Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning and caring for the garments. Most riding ‘jeans’ can be machine washed, but the coatings on textile items may need special care and attention.
Whichever product you choose to suit your needs and style, you’ll never regret buying a pair of dedicated motorcycle riding trousers. Definitely a very wise investment.