When I wake up in the mornin' light,
I pull on my jeans and I feel all right.
I pull my blue jeans on, I pull my old blue jeans on,
I pull my blue jeans on, I pull my old blue jeans on.
So sang Dave Dundas in the old song about our favourite item of clothing. There’s a bit in it about motorbike riding too, so it’s an appropriate song to start this article on motorbike jeans. When I pull my jeans on to go riding, the jeans I pull on are always Draggin Jeans. And yes, that's me on the bike in the photo on the left, with my new Draggin Jeans. I’ve been wearing Draggin jeans for many years; ever since I decided that normal jeans were dangerous attire for riding a bike (click here for the story behind that), and almost as long as the brand has been in existence. I like Draggin jeans for the same reason I like Oggy Knobbs; they have the name in quality in their product field, and they are Australian owned and made. But perhaps the main attraction was that famous ad – that was impressive! They are a progressive company too, always seeking to expand their range to better suit the requirements of their customers. Their latest development is something very special; it is the C-Evo jean. The C-Evo comes with more protection, not only from increased use of the protective lining, but also from fitting armour to the hips and knees. The result has seen them become the first CE-approved riding jean in the world. That’s quite an achievement, and one that deserves to have us take a closer look at their products in general, and the new jeans in particular.
WHO ARE THEY?
Draggin Jeans is an Australian company with a head office situated in Port Melbourne, Victoria. It is a family-owned and operated business, with the founder of the company, Grant Mackintosh, still heading it up as CEO and his daughter, Fiona, being general manager. They’ve been operating since 1997. Draggin Jeans say they are, “The world leader in casual motorcycle fashion that looks like street wear yet offers a level of personal safety that is unsurpassed in the category.” Their range of products currently includes 8 styles of men’s jean, 5 styles of women’s jean, 9 coloured camouflage cargo pants, 4 jackets, and full-length reinforced Kevlar undergarments. So, as they say, “Draggin Jeans has a product for every rider.” You hear of people “putting their arse on the line” for a product they believe in, well Grant put his arse on the road – and then got a bike to tow him along it! You’ve probably seen that iconic ad, but if you haven’t, click here to watch it. The name “Draggin” obviously comes from that very impressive advertising stunt, but I learnt that it’s also a reference to the mythological beast, the dragon, which was said to have the toughest skin of any animal. Clever! Draggin Jeans say, “Our company is, and always will be, in the business of protecting motorcyclists. We are dedicated to ensuring that the lining remains at the forefront of fibre technology and provides the safest protection possible.” That lining is a patented mix of Kevlar and Dyneema, creating what Draggin claim to be the world’s strongest fibre, and is sewn into the major crash points of all their clothing. They say that this lining is soft, breathable, flexible and non-allergenic. And now they’ve raised the level of protection even further with the introduction of the C-Evo jean.
WHAT ARE THEY?
You know the basic concept of Draggin Jeans; jeans made from tough denim, sewn together with heavy-duty stitching designed to resist tearing or bursting open, and lined at the appropriate places with friction-resisting material. Being jeans means that you can wear them as casual wear off the bike; which you can’t really do with leathers or special riding pants. And that’s the point of this type of product. There's a lot in this article about protection and safety, and you can get all that with a good pair of leathers or special riding pants. But if you prefer the more casual style of jeans, well, that’s what Draggin Jeans are all about; providing the style, casual look, and comfort of jeans with the protection needed when you’re on the road. Draggin Jeans say that their products are manufactured under the strictest quality control. They say that the patented positioning system of their lining ensures that each of the primary contact points are well covered. So they’re good things! But what we’re looking at here in particular is the new product, the C-Evo. “Introducing the safest motorcycle jean in the world.” That’s what Draggin Jeans have to say about these jeans on the booklet that comes with the jeans. (Yes, you get a “user’s manual” with these jeans!). And there is some justification for that claim. Not only are they the first riding jean to gain CE approval, they have also won the International Red Dot award for product design for 2011. What they’ve done with the C-Evo is to line the whole jean with the Kevlar / Dyneema material. So it’s not just the major crash points that are protected, it’s the whole jean, waist to ankle! To keep the jean leg in place and stop it sliding up your leg in the event of you sliding along the road, there is an ankle-strap on the bottom of the leg. This elastic strap goes under your foot or around the back of your ankle. For added comfort they’ve covered the whole of the inside of the jean with a soft breathable mesh-type lining. But taking the protection even further, they now come standard with removable CE-approved armour. The armour is made by Knox, and fits into pockets at the knees and hips. As you might guess, the name “C-Evo” comes from a combination of “CE” (for their CE approval) and the fact they are an “Evolution” of the current partially-lined jeans. So, “C-Evo”. I reckon it sums up the product pretty well! All this top-shelf protection doesn’t come cheaply though. That Kevlar and Dyneema is expensive stuff; and then there’s the price of the armour, as well as the rest of the material that goes into their construction. All up you’re looking at a retail price of just under $400. That might seem a lot of money for a pair of jeans, but they are much more than just jeans, of course. As the booklet describes, they are an item of “Motorcyclist’s Personal Protection Equipment.” So they’re in the same sort of product line, and in the same price range, as a good quality jacket. And if they do the same sort of job, well, the price is easier to justify.
Draggin Jeans aren’t the only company producing riding jeans with Kevlar lining; and most, if not all, of the other brands are cheaper. So why buy Draggins? Well, this question has been answered, to a large extent, by what I’ve written in the above sections – just re-read the first and last paragraphs under “Who They Are”. But the reasons for buying Draggin Jeans becomes more convincing the further you look into the company and the product. Draggin Jeans talk a lot about the material they use for the protective lining; claiming it is superior to that used by all other brands. They were the first people to produce this type of product, and right from the start the quality of the material has been the number one priority. Grant Mackintosh explains: “Back in the 1990’s, when Draggin Jeans was just getting started, we received a lot of offers of alternative Kevlar fabrics for use in our products. These alternatives looked sound, however the test results were very clear. None of these samples performed! This became a defining moment in the progression of our company. Should we use one of the alternatives and increase our own margins and deliver a cheaper product to riders? For me it was a no-brainer. Using any of these alternatives could lead to serious injuries. We believe that such risks cannot be justified by any amount of saving. The price differential has been overcome by our reputation and people gladly pay extra for our products.” I put the question to Grant’s daughter and General Manager, Fiona, and she said that not only were the C-Evos the first jeans to gain CE-approval, but their jeans were, “The first and only jeans to pass CE abrasion, burst and tear resistance tests.” To prove the point she supplied me with a performance graph of Draggin Jeans compared to other brands. Take a look at it below. That’s very impressive isn’t it! It shows that Draggin Jeans offer more than double the protection of the best of the competition. What is even more remarkable, is that the worst of the motorcycle jeans actually performed worse than some normal jeans! Now that’s downright scary! If you read the article on clothing that I mentioned above, you’ll see that normal jeans actually caused more injury in a walking fall than falling on bare skin! And some riding jeans are worse? As I said, that is scary! As impressive as the graph is, you might be wondering what other brands they tested. After all, any comparison is only as good as the products pitted against the subject of the comparison. So I asked. Fiona replied, “Name another motorcycle jeans brand and we have tested it.” So when the graph says, “The best of other motorcycle jean manufacturers”, they really mean it; they’ve put the best of the rest to the test! And you can see the result. Here is a short video clip showing how the jeans were tested for their CE approval. (There's also another look at that legendary first testing method). Fiona said, “There are too many cheap knock-offs.” Their press-release on the C-Evo takes this further. “Words such as Kevlar are commonly used to falsely mislead as to protective qualities, and yellow is commonly used in non protective materials so as to create the illusion of protection. The CE tests were developed to address these types of misleading practices. The CE tests are applied by scientific laboratories and strictly impose minimum safety requirements for various pieces of protective motorcycle clothing. They are independent, standardised, and repeatable. They are applied to ensure those products claiming to provide protection do just that.” And Draggin Jeans were the first – and at the time of writing, only – jeans to gain this approval.
HOW DO I LIKE THEM?
I have often thought that there is an imbalance in the level of protection of my riding gear. I wear a textile jacket with fitted armour, a good quality helmet and good quality gloves. So from the waist up I’m pretty well covered. But from the waist down, well I’ve got my usual Draggin jeans, but while they are good in terms of riding jeans, they don’t have the same level of protection as the jacket. Obviously they aren’t as thick and there isn’t any armour. So when I heard about the new C-Evos I was very interested in giving them a try. The first thing you consider when you look at a pair of jeans is, well, what they look like. Now, at my age I don’t worry too much about fashion. My concerns on sartorial excellence go about as far as remembering to do my fly up! But, as this is an item of fashion as well as an item of riding gear, appearance will be a big item to many people. The visible stitching around the knee area of the standard Draggins never bothered me at all. (Although I wouldn’t wear them to a 5-star restaurant!). But if that sort of thing is a concern for you, then you’ll be pleased to see that these jeans, of course, have no stitching around the knee because the Kevlar is the full length of the leg. The photo on the left shows the comparison between my old jeans – with the visible stitching – and the new C-Evos. (And yes, the old ones have faded a bit). So, as you can see, these are much more svelte and stylish! If you want to see style, and a sexy slinky fit, you should look at the video I’ve put a link to at the bottom of this, instead of the photo of The Old Bloke on the bike on this page! But I must say that I’ve always liked the fit of Draggin Jeans; they feel comfortable to wear. And jeans don’t always fit me well. You see, I like loose-fitting clothes. That doesn’t provide the sexy-fashion look of the people in the video, but I prefer comfort. When I buy normal jeans I usually have to try a few pair before I get some that are loose enough to be comfortable without hanging on me like a potato-sack. But Draggins have always felt good to wear. As explained earlier, the ankle strap is designed to stop the jeans from sliding up in the event of a crash. (All that beaut Kevlar can only do its job if it remains between you and the road!). According to Draggin Jeans, the ankle strap is intended to be worn under the foot for maximum protection. That would mean under the sole of your boot if you wear your jeans outside your boots. The problem with that is that I imagine the footpegs would cause the strap to wear pretty quickly. The other alternative is to wear the jeans inside your boot, which is perhaps not a good look. I sometimes wear my normal Draggins inside my boots, and when I do my wife reckons I look like a member of the Gestapo! But the C-Evos, being a lot thicker, won’t fit inside my boot anyway. But it doesn’t have to be worn under the foot; you can also loop it around the back of your ankle (or the ankle section of the boot). That obviously doesn’t hold the jean in place quite as well as it does if it’s around the bottom of your foot, but it’s enough to stop the leg sliding up too far. It’s an important safety issue, not only to prevent the jeans leg from sliding up in the case of an accident, but also to ensure the knee-armour stays in place. With the strap looped around the back of my boot I find the leg sometimes tends to ride-up a bit, resulting in the armour sitting higher on my leg than it ideally should be. Although this tendency decreased as the armour settled-in to the shape of my knee. In any case, it’s a lot safer than the normal jean, where the leg is free to slide up, potentially beyond the top of your boot, resulting in skin against road. I had a lot of difficulty fitting the armour to the legs the first time I did it. (The armour doesn’t come fitted – you have to do that). It’s the usual pocket that has a slit about a third way down, similar to the armour-pockets in the arms of jackets, but I found it quite difficult to get the armour in. The slits seem to be too far down, making it hard to squash and bend the armour enough (while stretching the pocket) to get it in. It was just as difficult to get it back out again. It did get easier to fit and remove the more I did it though, especially as the armour wore-in and became more flexible; but it’s still not as easy as I’d like it to be. Perhaps there’s a knack to it, but if there is, it’s a knack that I haven’t got! Perhaps a different system would be preferable; like a pocket with velcro closing on the top. The thing is, unlike armour in a jacket, I reckon there are times when you’d prefer to remove them. For example, if you’re doing a ride where you’ll spend a considerable time off the bike – having a long lunch and chatting or whatever – then you’d be more comfortable if you could slip the armour out while you’re stopped and then slip it back in again for the ride home. Also, there could be occasions when you might prefer to ride without the armour. I must admit I’ve removed the armour for greater comfort on some rides. By contrast, the hip armour just drops into open pockets very easily. Maybe a bit too easily; I think I’d prefer to have some kind of flap or something on the pockets to better hold the armour in place. Having armour over your knees takes a bit of getting used to, of course. It’s a different situation to having armour over your elbows because you bend your knees a lot more than you do your elbows. The armour is very flexible though, and I could bend my leg into an exaggerated sports-bike angle okay. The pads at the hips are fairly unobtrusive, although you’re aware they’re there. After you’ve worn them for a few rides the armour bends into shape and fits more comfortably. For me, the position of the hip armour isn’t quite ideal. It should be right over the top of the hip bone, but with me it’s not exactly where it should be. The reason for this is that, although I’m tall and lanky, my stomach is one size bigger than the rest of me (old-age spread!). When I was young and lean, I would’ve chosen a size smaller, which would’ve positioned the hip-pads exactly where they should be. Sitting on the bike for the first time I did feel the pressure of the armour over my knees a bit more than I expected from my initial try-out sitting on a kitchen chair and bending my legs. But it was okay. The first time I wore them on the bike was on a long group ride. Probably not the ideal way to start wearing them, but I didn’t know the ride was going to be as long as it was. I didn’t feel too bad for most of the trip, although at one stage the tendency for the armour to straighten-out the material on the front of the leg caused the material at the back of the leg to bunch up behind my knee. That caused some discomfort and it took a bit of tugging at the lower leg material to straighten it out. If I hadn’t been riding in a group I would’ve stopped, but I kept going and kept tugging and eventually got it sorted. When we reached our destination I decided to remove the armour for the return trip. I wasn’t too uncomfortable, but being the first time I’d worn them, I thought it might be pushing the comfort levels to leave it in for the return journey. Bear in mind that this was straight out-of-the-box; and it does say in the leaflet that they take about 10 hours of riding to “break in and become fully comfortable.” That, and the unfamiliarity of having the armour there, was why wearing them for the first time on a long ride was not the ideal thing to do. Having removed the armour, on the return journey they felt really good. They felt warmer and more comfortable than my old standard Draggins. The comfort lining gives them a softer feel even at that early stage. I really liked them! I will say though, that I like having the armour there. Knowing that you have the armour there to protect you is a good feeling; and balances up that level of safety above the waist and below the waist I mentioned above. As an example, the last ride I did before writing this article included one section of road that had been soaked by a heavy shower. Having that snug feeling of the armour against my knees and hips made me feel a little more comfortable in the knowledge that if something did go wrong I had good protection for my legs as well as for the rest of my body. It was winter when I got these jeans, and the extra warmth was very noticeable. I was wearing some cheap thermals underneath, but the jeans felt soft and warm. Even on colder days, where my legs would’ve started to feel cold with the old jeans, with these I felt more cold through my winter jacket (with a couple of warm layers underneath) than I did through the jeans. I liked that! Of course, all this extra protection and extra lining adds considerably to the weight of the jeans. Also the denim used is top quality stuff, so it’s quite thick and weighty to begin with. All up, they tip the scales at almost 2kg. Before getting these jeans and doing this report on them, I wouldn’t have really considered other brands of riding jeans, for the reasons I mentioned at the start. I would’ve allowed for the possibility of some other brands being good too, but I would’ve chosen Draggins. Now that I’ve had a closer look at the company, the testing they do, and awards they’ve won, I am totally convinced that Draggin Jeans are the only choice in riding jeans. They will be the only ones I’ll wear.
THE BOTTOM (no pun intended!) LINE.
Draggin Jeans have always been a top-quality product. Founder and current CEO, Grant Mackintosh, proved that when he got himself towed along the bitumen on his bum! And now they’re even better, offering the sort of protection previously only found in special riding pants. Being the first motorcycle jean to be awarded CE approval; that says all you need to know without reading all the rest of the stuff I’ve written. But all the rest of the stuff I’ve written shows just how good they are! They might not be perfect (especially if you’re an old bloke with an expanding waistline!), but they are clearly better than anything else out there. As I mentioned above, it was winter when I got these jeans, and is still winter at the time of writing this report. And they’re nice and cosy and warm. But that means they’ll probably be uncomfortably hot for middle-of-summer riding. So I expect to go back to my standard jeans for hot summer days. Although I might buy some armour to fit to those. (On standard jeans the armour on the knee is held in place by velcro strips that are glued to the inner lining). I found that most of the local bike shops didn’t stock them. A couple did have the standard Draggin jeans, but not the C-Evos. (They will order them in for you though). Larger outlets (like MCAS) had them, of course. Part of the reason is, no doubt, the price. Taking the price issue even further, the other thing I found was that some of the shops didn’t sell Draggins at all, preferring to stock the alternate – and cheaper – brands instead. So you won’t get them everywhere, but the bigger shops will have them. And you can always buy on-line. (They will exchange if you get the size wrong). The big hurdle with these is always going to be price; $400 is a lot of dosh to fork out for a pair of jeans! But that’s the problem, they aren’t just jeans! They are, as I explained earlier, an item of Motorcyclist’s Personal Protection Equipment; just like a riding-jacket, helmet, etc. They just happen to have an outer construction of denim and look like jeans. And that’s the way you have to think of them. Then, as I said before, the price doesn’t seem so bad. And even if you can’t afford the top-shelf C-Evos, the standard jeans are still good, and way ahead of other brands of this type of product.
READ THE REPORT? WATCH THE VIDEO!
Okay, you want to see a film on Draggin Jeans? Well, here is one. This film shows off their products, listing their safety features, and even showing some of the tests being carried out. (The original drag-him-on-his-bum test performed by Grant is in there again too). There are some very stylish-looking gals and guys slinking around in their very stylish-looking Draggin Jeans, each showing off their perfectly-formed tush and how good they look in their Draggins. One even gets married wearing her Draggin Jeans (well, in the video she does anyway). By the way, there are two women at the start of the video and the one with the shorter hair is Fiona Mackintosh, who, as I’ve mentioned, is Grant’s daughter and manager of the company. Grant makes an appearance too – he is the older guy towards the end of the video, (his name comes up on screen, so you can’t miss him!). Click here to watch the video.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW IF YOU BUY THEM.
If you do end up buying a pair of these jeans, like me, you might be wondering about a couple of instructions in the booklet that comes with them. Having clarified this with Draggin Jeans, I’ll pass on the info they gave me. The first confusing thing is the armour. It comes with a couple of velcro strips and instructions to glue one side of the strip to the inside of the jean leg. Yes, obviously this is for fitting to standard jeans. For the C-Evos you don’t need the velcro, and indeed it’s better to peel off the strip that’s already glued to the armour. The booklet promises that the jeans “Should remain serviceable for up to 5 years.” For someone like me who wears clothes for so long that by the time they wear out they’re nearly back in fashion again, an expected life of 5 years seems very short! I wondered if the Kevlar lining deteriorates over time. But Draggin Jeans assure me that the lining doesn’t break-down or deteriorate. So you could easily get more than 5 years out of them – especially if, like me, you don’t ride every day. The booklet also says that you should return them for inspection after an accident, or if you notice signs of wear, or, “At least annually.” Huh? Do they want them back every year to check them over? No, they don’t. Although they make the point that it’s a good idea to check all your riding gear for wear or damage at least every year. They do recommend you replace them after an accident though. A further point to watch is that Kevlar doesn’t like sunlight or bleach. (It does tell you in the booklet to keep the lining out of sunlight). Well, that’s it. It’s been a long article, but I think the product – and indeed the company – deserve it. Now, I feel like singing, so it’s back to that song again ….
You and me, we'll go motorbike ridin' in the sun
And the wind and the rain
I got money in my pocket, I got a tiger in my tank
And I'm king of the road again …..
P.S. Summer Up-date: Well, not quite summer; I'm writing this up-date in late November. But we've had a couple of hot days, with temperatures pushing towards 30 degrees, and I'm still wearing the C-Evos. I really expected them to be uncomfortably hot in those temperatures, but they're not. With the temperature nudging close to 30 they were a bit hot off the bike, especially in the sun, but on the move were okay. I think the kevlar must insulate some of the heat. That theory was given further support by another thing I noticed. In these sort of temperatures I get a bit of heat off the motor, but that seemed less than I expected for the prevailing temperatures. I think the jeans were insulating me from some of that heat too. I do expect to go back to the normal jeans for summer riding, but really, they are much better in these high temperatures than I expected!
P.S. I said at the very top of this that Draggin Jeans are Australian owned and made. Well, they are Australian owned, but not now entirely Australian made. At least some of their garments - including the C-Evos - are made in China.
Click here to go to the front page. Click your BACK button to return to the previous page.