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trousers. what a drag. . .

Words by Simon Bradley pictures as credited

Draggin' Jeans are an excellent fit, comfortable as anything and look good too.  Yes, it's a cliche using them on a Harley, but have you ever tried photographing jeans when you're wearing them? The opportunity came and I took it, OK?We've all, I'm sure, nodded sagely and tutted under our breaths at the sight of someone riding a bike without what we consider to be enough protective clothing. Of course, your definition of enough may not be the same as mine. And those of us over a certain age will also be able to remember spending our formative biking years - supposedly the most dangerous - tearing around in jeans, paddock jackets and basketball boots. And we lived to tell the tale. As well as picking up a fascinating variety of scars, of course.

Now I'm absolutely not about to suggest that it's OK to ride wearing inadequate clothing. I've seen the greasy smear on the road that someone left when they fell off and I've collected enough gravel rash when I have been wearing the right gear to take that approach. But at the same time, there are huge disadvantages to conventional bike gear. Apart from the hassle of getting full kit on and off, it looks kind of strange when you pop down to the shops in full leathers. And though there are compromises like one piece "step in" suits they aren't exactly pretty. There's no denying that style is important, and a fluorescent babygro, albeit an armoured one, sometimes just doesn't do the job. Finally, as we swelter in an unusually warm summer, there's the simple factor of heat. Leathers, and bike clothing generally, is bloody hot, frankly.

No, what we need is a combination of the jeans and lightweight stuff we used to hoon around in but with the protection of proper bike clothing. Happily some folks in Australia had the same idea, because they combined a traditional pair of jeans with that staple of modern protective clothing, Kevlar. The result was Draggin' Jeans.

The concept, though rather more sophisticated in execution, is very simple. Take a pair of denim jeans and put a kevlar liner in to protect the bits that normally get worn through. Make it strong enough so that it doesn't all fall apart and off you go. It took them a little longer than that to get it right, but when they did the results were outstanding.

During the years since they started doing this properly (1999), they have refined and improved the product until today, when you get a pair of jeans that fit brilliantly and look great plus will stop you from becoming that aforementioned greasy smear when it all goes wrong.

Over the last six months I've been using a pair of Draggin' Dry's. It's their apostrophe, not mine. Anyway, Draggin' Dry's are one of their latest developments. Waterproof (they say showerproof or water resistant, but they're a damn' sight better than that), crashproof jeans. How cool is that? Very cool, I'd say. I've not tested their crash protection, happily (touching wood as he types) but I've probably done 2000 miles in them and all I can say is that they do exactly what it says on the packet. They really are waterproof, for a start. It's a very strange feeling riding in the rain in jeans and not getting that horrible cold wet feeling. They are clearly designed with biking in mind Only in Australia...the test rider is wearing shorts. Still, no worries, right? (Picture courtesy of Draggin' Jeans)as there are no rivets or zippers exposed to scratch paint or hook up on the road if the worst comes to the worst. They are as comfortable as my favourite jeans, not least because since trying them on the first time they became my favourite jeans... They are warm when you need them to be. I started wearing them in February and they were just right. Yet the breathable nature of Kevlar and denim means that they manage the neat trick of staying (relatively) cool in summer as well. And they fit properly. To be specific, I'm a fairly normal shape and they fit me better than any pair of jeans - regular or designer label - that I've ever had. Bar none. When you get them you buy to fit your waist. They are cut very long (are Aussies all 7' tall?) and you should budget for getting them adjusted. No big deal, just expect it. Unless you are particularly long in the leg, of course...

Draggin jeans have made some pretty dramatic claims about the strength and durability of these trousers. Some might say that they've exaggerated slightly. Well, all I can say is that they were prepared to get themselves dragged down the strip on their backsides at 90mph to demonstrate their faith in their claims. Look at the pictures and see for yourself.

Look at the bigger version and see the bits of denim getting ripped off. But the kevlar (and, more importantly, the skin beneath) is still intact. (Picture courtesy of Draggin' Jeans)As more and more of us find ourselves working in a less formal environment where suits are an exception rather than the norm, being able to ride to work and not have to get changed is a huge bonus. Jeans a little too casual? Fair enough - Draggin' do a range of Chinos as well. Smart enough to pass muster in most 'smart casual' offices and still just as protective. Though you'll need some waterproofs just in case it rains. Draggin' even do, wait for it, shorts. But Kevlar lined shorts with zip on legs - ride to the beach, party, race, wherever, unzip the legs and enjoy having shorts on all day. The zip the legs back on and off you go. Yes, you still need to deal with your boots and so on but it's one less item to worry about and it's a neat idea. The trouser range is completed with cargo pants and the obligatory camouflage trousers, all lined with Kevlar and as protective as you like.

Draggin' make jackets too, for the full denim effect. Again with Kevlar inside them and designed specifically for bikers. We've not tested them yet, but have no doubt that they will be equally effective. You can, if you really want to, get a camouflage jacket to match your trousers. Presumably you'll be wanting a pre 2002 bike so you can turn the lights off and render yourself even more invisible to motorists than you already are. But at least it will give you a chance to justify buying the kit in the first place...

Same jeans, same bloke, same backside. Note a marked lack of blood...which is a Good Thing. (Picture courtesy of Draggin' Jeans)Some of you may feel that, while having Kevlar to stop you wearing your soft pink bits away is a good thing, it doesn't really make up for the lack of armour you'd get in proper bike gear. And that's a fair point, but one that the folks at Draggin' have already considered. They supply (though not exclusively) Knox armour which velcroes into their jeans and jackets. Jackets generally have a back protector pocket as well.

There has to be a downside, you'd think, but to be honest I haven't found one yet. There's no problem with looking after the stuff - just chuck it in the washing machine and tumble dry like any other jeans. Even the waterproof ones are good for twenty washes or so before needing reproofing. They genuinely are comfortable and excellent at keeping your temperature within reasonable limits, they are waterproof and they look good, plus they might just save your life. If there is a downside at all it's the cost. At around £100 for a pair of jeans they are on the steep side. But how much would a pair of Calvin Kleins and a decent pair of Goretex bike trousers cost you? Put it like that and they seem quite reasonable, don't they?

The long and short of it? A brilliant product, worth every penny. Try a pair on and I can almost guarantee you'll have them. Wear them once or twice and you'll marvel at how you got by without them. Oh, and that picture at the top? That's how my pair look after six months use and several soakings. Plus several washes as well...


PS If you're interested in getting a pair you can find your nearest UK stockist here.

PPS If you're not based in the UK then this may tell you what you need to know.

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