We know the following statement will polarize most motorcycle riders: Nobody but you is critiquing your riding costume. Well, we'll hedge a bit there. If you're riding in a leather vest with no shirt underneath and no helmet, everyone is critiquing your fashion and common sense. Mostly, though, what you wear to ride should be about three-fourths focused on safety. The other quarter? Comfort. Because the safest clothing in the world is worthless if it's so uncomfortable that you choose not to wear it.
Now, we know how all that sounds — hence the polarization. Saying you shouldn't care about style screams right in the face of all that marketing jargon and your fellow riders at coffee stops constantly kibitzing about what they wear or you wear, how well it performs or doesn't and, of course, if it looks cool. See? Polarization. Of course, you and your posse care about looks. Duh! It's just that while you're on the bike, you should quit that thinking entirely and focus on riding.
Here's what matters, however, when it comes to the particular topic of riding pants, the focus of this roundup, but also, this info applies to jackets, too.
Best Overall Motorcycle PantsRamble Motorcycle Pant 2.0 Read More
Best Budget Motorcycle PantsREV'IT! Davis Jeans Read More
Best Adventure Motorcycle PantsREV'IT! Component H2O Pants Read More
Most Protective Motorcycle PantsDainese Combat Pants dainese Read More
Best Motorcycle Pants for Street RidingREV'IT! Lewis Selvedge Jeans Write a Review Read More
What to Look for in Motorcycle Pants
How much body armor and protection do the pants have?
The U.S. doesn't have a common standard for moto body armor, but the European Union does: CE Level Armor. Because most brands sold here also sell their goods across the pond, we in the U.S. and our Canadian friends benefit from those standards. As for the ratings, there are two sets to be aware of.
AAA, AA, and A ratings rate the overall garment, and when it comes to pants, slide protection. As you might guess, the more "A's," the higher the standard and the more Michelin Man you're getting. What's the difference? All products that meet CE standards are tested for wear and abrasion, as well as keeping body armor in place in the event of a crash. (Manufacturers and the EU use special machines that simulate slides and impacts.) you will mostly find AAA only in racing apparel, which is the least comfortable stuff to wear for your coffee ride, but the most protective. AA and A-rated clothing are more for street or adventure riding and, as a general rule, will feel less restrictive.
You'll also see Level 1 and Level 2 ratings for body armor, which refers to how many kilonewtons of force the armor transmits to your body. Level 1 can allow up to 18 kN, and no single value can exceed 24 kN; Level 2 protectors reduce that to below 9 kN, and no single value can exceed 12 kN.
If all this math is numbing, we'll translate: a single kN equals 225 pounds. That means even Level 2 armor should average "only" transmitting 2,023 pounds of force to your body in the event of a crash. (Ouch.) The Level 1 stuff would send through 4,046 pounds. That should be sobering when you think about rolling with no armor at all.
How comfortable are the pants?
Remember that 3/4 vs. 1/4 idea above, where we said you should focus on protection but also comfort? Well, comfort truly does matter, particularly thinking about the trade-offs of breathability, pliability (how much a pant or jacket allows or restricts movement), waterproofing, active vents you can open and shut and for all of the above, also, versatility.
Some moto clothing is so benign, you could remove the armor and happily wear it as "normal" garb, which makes that spend a little less painful. It's nice to know you're buying riding jeans that can save your ass and also make your ass look like it's encased in denim, not some super high-tech material nobody sane would wear on the street.
What type of riding do you plan to do?
One additional thought here: Just like there's no such thing as the "one-bike-quiver," there's no single pant or jacket that will be ideal for every riding condition and every style of riding. Sorry folks: Motorcycling isn't different than bicycling or skiing, etc. The weather and terrain dictate your comfort and safety, which always means the deeper you get, the more options you will need in your arsenal.
Can you wear street pants under motorcycle pants?
We add this question because it's a common concern. The answer is: it depends. If the moto pants are already armored and rated for slide protection, sure. But if you're wearing two pairs of pants, you'll likely be hot unless it's freezing cold outside. But if the moto pants are just rain pants without armor or slide protection, you already know the answer.
Free choice exists, but like the dude riding in the leather vest and nothing else, your Levi's 501s aren't doing a whole lot to protect you from serious harm, which is why even when we list jeans in this guide, they're rated for riding, not for struttin'.
How We Tested
Our tester devoted hundreds of hours and thousands of miles to testing five of the picks in this guide. Pants were tested on everything from daily trips to grueling road trips and in weather conditions ranging from hot and sweaty to cold and damp. We primarily looked for pants offering comfort, ventilation and style. And we prioritized picks offering safety and armor, even if we couldn't simulate a slide in testing for obvious reasons. Additional choices in this guide were picked in consultation with industry experts.
Our Best Picks
Aether Ramble Motorcycle Pant 2.0
Our tester found that there are only a few occasions when these trousers would be inappropriate. And that's life in general, not just riding. Maybe a ho-down? Perhaps you wouldn't surf in them? Few other trousers in this run-through provide quite the scope of application and versatility of the Ramble—or the exceptional comfort our tester found during months of testing in conditions ranging from pelting rain to two-track fire roads to daily commuting. These have become our tester's go-to for most rides because they are comfy and protective. If it's sure to rain, sure to be cold, or sure to be hot as blazes, there are alternatives on this list. But our tester has not found a pant that is as good a generalist as the Ramble.
But why are they so dang comfy? That starts with the triple-layer Schoeller material that's super stretchy for riding, so it doesn't bind and even offers a bit of added grip on your seat—ADV riders will appreciate that, especially for tech fire-road rips. The material is highly abrasion resistant yet still breathes reasonably well while offering a measure of wind-fighting and dries fast if you get it wet. If it's a full-on broiler outside, you'd want active venting. But otherwise, the Ramble is ideal year-round, with enough heft to offer protection but a look that doesn't even whisper "motorcycle."
Ah, but that's the magical part! Since the Ramble hides its bona fides behind four zippered pockets (two slits on the front and two more on the rear) that are deep and handy when you're riding but evaporate into a clean silhouette when you're not. Plus, not only does Aether add D3O EVO XT CE Level A knee and hip pads—they make them adjustable and removable as well. Adjustable? Yep. You can move them up from their default position at the knee so they hit the bend just right. If you've ever worn moto pants where that armor can't be altered, you'll spend the whole ride cursing the padding digging in at your thigh or biting into your shin. That will never be an issue with these Aether slacks.
One extra note here: All Aether apparel features a lifetime warranty.
REV'IT! Davis Jeans
If you're the "workwear" type—and really, who isn't? — you must check out the REV'IT! Davis TF. They have an almost cozy, soft feel to the 14-ounce CORDURA stretch twill that feels like cotton but provides a CE AA level of slide protection. And the stretch part is legit—there's "give" to this slack, so it moves better with you. While the cut is a little boxier than slim-legged jeans, these still fit close to the leg, so they're not flapping in the breeze while you ride, making them a lot more long-mile comfortable; plus, they're just roomy enough so that they don't bind in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You also get a few less apparent extras, like extra deep pockets, so your keys or wallet doesn't leak out while you're seated, zipper slots at the knees to let the breeze in, and a reflective coating at the cuff that, if you turn that up, makes you more visible to drivers when you're riding at night.
REV'IT! includes their SEESMART CE-level 1 hip and knee protectors with the Davis TF, which, much like D30 armor, remains pliable as you move but becomes rigid upon impact. Here, too, REV'IT! goes a bit farther, with the knee armor extending down the shin to intersect with a taller riding boot and meet a pair of riding high tops, so you'd have decent protection for the front of your leg either way.
Other Good Options
REV'IT Component H20
Our tester used these on the coldest, sloppiest days, slogging through iced-over mud puddles, cruising Interstates, running out the clock in December for hot mugs of coffee and praying for the sun to poke out. Our tester thought the Component proved ideal, especially because they come with a removable insulated liner for added warmth and will zip to some of REV'IT! 's jackets to prevent updraft at your spine. If it's warmer, open a pair of zippers at the thigh for active venting—but these only let through air, not splashing or rain, which is extra clever.
But it's not just about water; REV'IT! 's Component H20 pants provide several different kinds of protection and utility. If you're touring, particularly for a mix of on- and off-road, they make the cut for their versatility, protection from the elements, and construction designed for both seated and standing riding positions.
Plus, while REV'IT! includes knee and hip armor that's rated to CE level 1, they also designed these pants to work with their Scram knee protector sock, a clever twist on the usual knee armor that instead fits under the pant and is adjustable and breathable and covers both the knee and the shin and gets a CE level 2 rating.
Meanwhile, a lot of what our tester liked about the Component H20:
It's built with a cowhide layer on the inner knee designed to provide tank grip when squeezing your knees to the bike while standing and riding technical off-road terrain. And, yep, during testing, it worked great. Too many "ADV" pants are made of a slippery material that prevents the grip you need to control the bike by driving your knees toward a turn or to counterbalance it. While you won't want to tour in full leathers, this is REV'IT! applying the right material for the correct application.
Like ski pants, the Component H20 gets a gator that fits over the boot top to prevent water from soaking your feet when fording streams or churning through deeper puddles. If you ski, you've used a system just like this, and our tester found it to be easy, with hook-and-loop fasteners that allow easy closure and a zippered cuff on top of that.
Gripper tape and a ratcheting closure at the waist prevent these slacks from sliding down as you stand to ride (never a good look), and there's grip tape at the exterior of the butt as well so that you stay planted on your seat even in the wet. Deep side pockets are roomy enough for a phone but also fully weather sealed, and, of course, the pants are also entirely waterproof.
Because boot diameter is very variable, REV'IT! cut these with wider leg openings, but also provide dual-position snap closures to eliminate any gaping between pant and boot.
By the way, even with all of these features and a not-insignificant 750D Ripstop Cordura hide that makes these pants fairly burly, they're still remarkably comfortable, thanks to a fair bit of stretch and excellent knee and hip articulation.
Dainese Combat Pants
Usually, the highest (AAA-rated) clothing for moto is made of leather, making you look like a Marvel extra who wandered off the set. Dainese flips that script with what looks like traditional cargo pants, right down to the cotton feel of the fabric—which is woven with Armalith yarn, which isn't too different from the Dyneema Sa1nt uses for its jeans. The fit's different here, however, with a looser cargo cut, but like those jeans, the idea is the same—exceedingly high resistance to abrasion during a slide.
Dainese adds CE level 1 knee and hip protectors, and the knee pads continue down the shin bone for added safety. They're also vented for better airflow. Remove the armor, and these roll like any cargo pants, albeit pretty heavy-duty ones that are better for cooler weather than a full summer scorcher. The utility is unquestionable, however, complete with both slotted pockets that close with snaps at the upper thigh and lower cargo pockets that Dainese made sure are extra large, zippered, and ideal for a phone and then some, plus, they included additional rear flap pockets, too, that also snap shut.
We added the Lewis this year because we wanted an extra protective jean that still wears like an ordinary pant. The Lewis fits that bill, with AA ratings for protection and sliding, which is less common for moto jeans than you'd hope. Plus, that protection slides up or down at the knee, so you can ensure it hits you right at the sweet spot of the knee bend. REV'IT! nails fit, too, with a narrow cut to the calf, so there's less bulk sliding into a boot and a sharp street look. Stealth smarts include seams that don't overlap, so you're not being bitten into at that soft spot you sit on or rubbed the wrong way at your hips.
REV'IT! gifts the Lewis with deeper pockets, too, since you want those contents to stay put whether you're standing to absorb a pothole or cruising seated.
During testing, our tester especially liked the give the pants offered with just a wee bit of stretch. And on a hot day ripping around a friend's trails, Coolmax helped combat sweat buildup.
Sa1nt Unbreakable Jeans
Sa1nt's one of our favorite denim makers for riding because they don't cut corners. For instance, they knit with Dyneema, a material that's 15 times stronger than steel, and unlike other materials some brands use, Dyneema doesn't impact that coveted "jeans" feel. This matters: Even though these earn a CE AA rating, they fit and feel exactly like any denim you'd wear for any application, and that means you WILL choose these dungarees for any ride, probably over your more technical trousers, and that's okay—because at least it means you're not ripping around in a pair of dungarees that aren't designed to save your epidermis during a slide.
Our tester owns this pair of jeans. He rode for six-straight days and over 1,000 miles in a pair of Sa1nt jeans. They came through a lot better for wear than our tester did, with a bit of mud and a glorious patina that has them looking even better than when he first ordered them.
They also have adjustable knee pockets to perfectly position Level 1 D30 Ghost armor at the just-right bend in your knee and pockets for that armor at the hips, too. (Sold separately.)
Hold the REV'IT! Eclipse at eye level, and you can literally see right through them. On a hot day, you might be tempted to ride in shorts… don't. Wear these instead. They offer a CE A rating and come with REV'IT! 's Seesmart CE Level 1 knee and hip armor, and you can adjust the knee armor up or down.
Our tester sampled the Eclipse on a super sweaty day riding a particularly hot-engined bike, He appreciated the extra cooling while crawling in traffic and also that REV'IT! made the seat of these trousers out of fairly beefy Polyester 600D (the kind of hide that protects your carry-aboard luggage), so you're not playing slip-n’-slide on the seat of your moto, and also if that slide happens on the street, your backside and hips would still be protected.
Our tester found that the front pockets feature extra beefy zippers you can operate with a gloved hand, and the rear pockets have hook-and-loop fasteners for added security. REV'IT! adds a reflective strip at the back of each ankle for higher vis while riding at night.
Dainese Storm 2 Pants
Remember that question at the top about whether you can wear pants under your moto pants? Here's your answer, with a twist. You need rain pants to carry, always, because you'll get deluged eventually. These pants fold up into a compact package that would stuff readily into a backpack or tank bag, but are totally waterproof and have a highly visible stripe on the sides that'll ensure safety if you're forced to ride through the rain and need to stand out amid all that slop.
The downside is they are not armored or rated for slides, etc. So the pants you need to wear underneath them? They're the other ones on this list that aren't rated to protect you against Noah's flood like these will but do have CE-level armor and slide ratings.