Finding quality and safe riding pants is one of the greatest challenges of the everyday rider. Obviously we want a great deal of protection, and there are many options for dedicated riding pants that perform brilliantly while riding. But what if you need something to provide protection while riding, but also something that is livable while off the bike?
Commuting, short hops to bike-night, day rides with as much social interaction as riding, or even touring where you are, say, visiting a National Park and you are on and off the bike, walking as much as riding? Dedicated riding pants can be pretty cumbersome if not completely uncomfortable.
Kevlar jeans are nothing new. They’ve been around longer than we have, but if you’ve ever owned a pair, you’ll know that they really lack in the comfort department. The Kevlar is really abrasive so most manufacturers resort to adding a soft cloth lining over the Kevlar, or lining the entire pant making them even less breathable in warmer weather. And In many cases, Kevlar is only included on the knees and seat anyway. We’ve also had a pair where the abrasive Kevlar shredded the inner liner and then proceeded to slowly abrade the skin on our knee.
As a result, we’ve shied away from Kevlar jeans opting for super-thick work pants, dedicated nylon riding pants or simply forgoing leg protection and just wearing a favorite pair of blue jeans.
Enter Bolid’Ster. We were able to get our hands on a pair of their regular fit Bolid’Ster Jean’Ster pants to put them through their paces. Based on our past experiences with other riding pants we didn’t really have very high expectations. But we’ve been surprised before and thought it would be irresponsible to not give the Bolid’Ster Jean’Ster an honest try.
So, What on Earth is UHMWPE?
Bolid’Ster is a French company that manufactures protective pants made out of a single-layer denim fabric called Armalith 2.0 which has UHMWPE (Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) woven into it. This material was developed for and is used in aerospace industries and military applications.
The claim is that Armalith 2.0 is five times more abrasion-resistant, 40-percent lighter, 2.5 times stronger and lasts ten times longer against UV exposure than Kevlar. They claim to have similar performance to leather when it comes to abrasion and resistance to snagging and tearing. In fact, Armalith 2.0 is the only abrasion resistant material made from a single layer of fabric to meet the CE-13595-2 motorcycle safety standard.
But what’s really interesting is the mechanical strength of Armalith 2.0. It’s strong enough to be used in bullet proof jackets, it is used in mooring lines for offshore platforms, military armors and even spacecraft tethers. And to make the pants even stronger, Bolid’ster jeans are stitched together with the same thread they use for airbags. So, yeah, we have very little doubt that these pants are robust and up to the task.
Pulling the Jean’Ster out of the box, we were immediately impressed. Made with 57-percent cotton, 10-percent lycra, and 33-percent UHMWPE, The denim feels sturdy and robust but is also extremely soft to the touch, like really soft. Each thread of UHMWPE/Armalith is wrapped with cotton and lycra. So not only are the pants soft, they have a little bit of stretch to them. They look like any other pair of nice denim jeans with some fashion-forward fading that make them look like a favorite pair of jeans before even putting them on. Trying them on for the first time they have that classic straight-leg fit, very similar fit to a traditional pair of Levi’s 501’s.
And comfort; they are so comfortable that we could wear them like any other pair of jeans other than the leg length is a little on the long side, but remember these are motorcycle pants, so the slightly longer leg is exactly what you want. The only downside is that the width of the leg is a smidgen narrow for some of our riding boots, not so narrow that it wouldn’t work, but it just took a second to slip the pants over the top of some of our armored boots.
This may or may not be a factor depending on which boots you wear. Since these Bolid’Ster pants are likely going to be used in a less race-inspired environment, they will look totally at home with the sea of Red-Wing/Cafe Racer Urban inspired riding boots that have shown up the past few years, like the Rev’it Mohawk or Dainese Cooper boots.
As far as laundering; there are two tabs inside the pants with washing and ironing instructions. Cold water, short cycle, inside out, no tumble dryer and preferably no ironing as excessive heat can damage Armalith.
On a side note, every time I wore the pants my wife could not stop complimenting me about how good they looked, so there is that.
Out in the World
Walking around, they have a fitted (read: not baggy) cut so we didn’t know how well this would work on the bike where being able to rotate hips is kinda’ important, particularly when climbing onto the bike. If you’ve ever ridden your bike in a snug pair of jeans, jeans without much room in the seat and thigh, then you’ll know that what looks good on the street can become somewhat binding and distracting when piloting the bike.
As soon as we threw a leg over the bike, the inclusion of lycra suddenly made perfect sense. The jeans just move with you while in the saddle. We mean this as high praise, but within a few minutes of riding we pretty much forgot all about the pants. There was nothing really hindering any movements.
Rolling towards a favorite canyon, the thicker material of the pants was reassuring. They are far thicker than old fashioned Levi’s and feel about on par with the thickness of your average pair of Carhartts. But that didn’t seem to hinder their breathability in the hot weather. When it’s hot, you are hot, there is no air conditioning button on a motorcycle. But riding in temperatures nearing triple digits, the pants felt like, well, pants. Nothing distracting or anything, but when the temperatures grew cooler, the thicker base material staved off wind chill. This really makes the pants surprisingly flexible across a fairly wide temperature range.
Sure, when walking around in warm weather, they are a little bit warmer. But unlike Kevlar, it wasn’t overly noticeable, but also unlike Kevlar, the pants are so soft on the skin that there was absolutely no chaffing or rubbing even after an entire 10-hours of riding. Seriously, it felt just like a favorite pair of blue jeans!
But What About Armor?
We know what you are thinking; there isn’t any armor. Bolid’Ster will soon be offering an armored version of UHMWPE pants they’ll be calling the Ride’Ster. They’ll come in a more relaxed ergonomic fit than the Jean’Ster to accommodate armor in the hips and knees. We think it’s fantastic that an armored option is on it’s way. Whether or not you feel you need armor, we love that Bolid’Ster is giving you the choice. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a pair of these to try as well.
Aside from the absence of armor (which it’s hard to criticize that since Bolid’Ster will offer an armored option) we honestly can’t find anything wrong with Jean’Ster. They were extremely comfortable on the bike, even handling temperatures ranging from the low-50’s to the mid-’90s without causing undue discomfort (unlike Kevlar pants we’ve tried which can become unbearably hot).
There is just something timelessly cool about a black leather jacket and blue jeans on a motorcycle. The Bolid’Ster jeans allow you to dress how you like without having to forego all safety considerations, and they just work so well on and off the bike it’s easy to forget these are dedicated motorcycle pants. All of this makes the Bolid’Ster Jeans’Ster about the best riding jeans of their kind that we’ve ever tried, and we’ve tried, oh so many.
The 10% lycra helps them keep their shape, so they fit well walking around, but also move with you when you climb into the saddle of the motorcycle, and the longer leg and thicker material kept them in place without any flapping at freeway speeds.
It’s about time that the motorcycle industry has learned that so many of us who are vested in protective gear don’t want to have to dress like a power ranger or pull on a snowmobile suit every time we climb on the bike, so we really commend Bolid’Ster for making such a solid real-world product.
To learn more about the Bolid’Ster pants and their other offerings, be sure to check out their distributor’s website: http://eunique.us/.