So the British summer looks finally to be on it's way, you're going to be using your scooter more than ever (all season riders aside of course), but you want to enjoy it rather than scootering being a chore. The big question here therefore is, what to wear?
Nobody wants to fall of their scooter, but anyone with half a brain knows that if the worst does happen it is likely to hurt. However, if you've ever watched motorcycle racing you'll be aware that by wearing some good quality protective clothing then surviving a 150+mph spill with little more than a few bruises is possible. Of course none of us want to dress up like Valentino Rossi (or Barry Sheene for the older readers) just to get to work, so what to do?
In recent years you've probably become aware of armoured jeans slowly flooding the market, and some of these can offer a great compromise between being smart and comfortable while commuting, and also offering protection if required.
So what do you need to know?
Firstly, all such jeans will boast of being 'lined' to offer the rider protection. Some will boast a 'Kevlar' lining, a name that many will recognise. However, Kevlar is simply a brand name of just one para-aramid synthetic fibre. There are of course many other para-aramids out there and a lining manufactured from such fibres boasts many qualities, having a good resistance to abrasion being the big one as far as we are concerned.
So after making sure that the jeans you're looking at have a para-aramid lining, you next to look at how much of the jeans are lined. The best ones are fully lined - as you'd imagine. The cheapest ones will have as little lining in them as possible, to save money. At the very least you need to make sure that they have the vital areas covered; bum, thighs and knees. However, my advice is don't scrimp on a few quid and go for a fully lined pair.
Oh and make sure the jeans are stitched using para-aramid thread too, to make sure they don't fall apart when under stress and strain. To give you an idea of strength, if you try and break an ordinary piece of cotton by wrapping it around your fingers and pulling it, it will snap within seconds. I tried with a piece of para-aramid thread that Hood use to stitch their jeans together and was in danger of it cutting into my finger like a cheese wire!
Next on you list is jeans that either come with, or can at least accommodate knee and hip armour. While the lining might save you in a slide, the armour will soften the initial blow when you land.
So which ones to get? If you want to fly the flag, then I can recommend Hood Jeans which are made here in the UK (Suffolk to be precise). Available directly from Hood, they offer various designs and for each one a bespoke service regarding inside leg measurement (essential to make sure the lining and armour covers the vital areas successfully). Hood jeans can also accommodate D30 armour (a British design) which is very soft and therefore comfortable to wear. I've had Hood jeans for a number of years now, and while some of their styles may not be the most up to date, I can't argue with their comfort and longevity.
Another brand I've been wearing are Bull-It. This is a British company that while they are manufactured abroad, use a Covec lining which is designed and produced in the UK. Bull-It also accommodate body armour, the styling is bang up to date, and again are comfortable to wear for hours on end. Their sizing has improved in recent years, but I would recommend trying before you buy to check the fit.
Prices start at around £120 per pair for a good pair of lined motorcycle jeans and while all this information might sound a lot, a good pair of jeans should last you a while, look smart and most of all prove comfortable for regular use both on your scooter and socially when you arrive at the other end. In my experience, certainly a viable option to heaver, waterproof, motorcycle trousers when the weather allows. And even when it looks like rain, you can always add some light over trousers and still remain protected and cool!