I’ve been riding motorcycles for more than five years, and during that time, two concurrent, seemingly-contradictory facts have come to light. First, from helmets and sunglasses to jackets and gloves to boots — and even belts — I’m crazy-particular about how I gear up to ride. I take into account not only the weather but also the occasion and the particular bike I’m saddling up, and I choose nearly every item with care.
Second, and this is where things get weird, I’ve never really given a damn about what would seem to be a pretty critical part of the getup: my pants. Designated motorcycle pants always just seemed kinda silly and unnecessary (and don’t even get me started on chaps). If a simple pair of jeans was good enough for the Fonz, I always thought, it’s good enough for me.
But last time I checked, the Fonz never rode 500 miles from NYC to D.C. and back in late December.
So when the time came for me to make such a trip, I knew I needed more than a thin layer of denim between my legs and the bitter 80-mph winds on I-95. As such, a couple of days before hitting the road, I stopped by my local Dainese store and grudgingly began trying on “adventure”-oriented motorcycle pants. In the end, I followed the shop guys’s recommendation, opting for the Dainese D-Explorer 2 Gore-Tex Pant.
By the conclusion of my own little adventure, I was pretty freakin’ stoked I had. It turns out the company behind my favorite pair of leather moto gloves also makes some pretty fantastic all-weather moto pants too. While I haven’t yet been able to challenge the promotional copy stating they are “the ideal choice for every season,” it’s easy to see why the brand makes such a claim: these pants are specifically designed to be not only super-durable and comfortable, but also versatile as hell.
In the spring, you can unzip, unsnap and pull out the inner lining for a lighter-weight pant that still provides plenty of security thanks to the composite knee protectors, which are also removable. In summer, you can double down by unzipping the spacious thigh panels, which roll up and tuck away for easy redeployment if temperatures drop. In the fall, you can zip and snap the liner — made of Dainese’s stretchy, breathable, movement-friendly Trixior fabric — back in, but leave the thigh panels open. And in winter, you can do as I did (most of the time) and wear them with every heat-preserving, weather-fighting feature fully engaged.
I should note that I did get pretty lucky with the weather; it never turned insanely cold on the ride. However, when night fell on the highway and things became a bit frosty, I found myself worrying more about my hands and feet; my legs were perfectly cozy. I was also fortunate not to run into any wind or snow, but given that these pants boast Duratex and QuickDry fabrics and a Gore-Tex membrane, I’m confident they would have shed rain much, much better than the totally-not-waterproof jeans I’ve been wearing every time I’ve been caught in a drizzle or downpour.
And here’s the key takeaway: while I have not yet comprehensively tested these pants, they’ve already accomplished what the best outdoor gear does. Just as a gorgeous swallowtail snowboard leaves you wanting to chase fresh powder or a high-travel mountain bike makes you crave big rocks and sadistic drops, these pants have me daydreaming of gnarlier quests. I want to go for longer rides, brave rain or sleet or snow, even hop on a crazy enduro bike and tackle off-road trails. (For that last endeavor, I might have to pick up the matching jacket.)
In other words, this gear helped me make a real mental leap. A month ago, I couldn’t give a crap about “motorcycle pants.” Today, these motorcycle pants — which I’m actually wearing as I write this piece, you know, for inspiration — have me envisioning new ways, times and places to ride. Even Henry Winkler had to move past the Fonz at some point.
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