We’ve found good-looking, practical, safe motorcycle jackets. There’s plenty of gloves that can provide real protection in a stealthy package. There’s even boots capable of keeping your feet safe, yet won’t make you look like you’re embarking for the moon. The last area of stylish, practical, protection left, one that’s bizarrely undeserved, is the humble pair of trousers. We’re not talking about jeans like those made by Deth Killers or Iron Heart (both tougher than normal, but still a long way from ideal), but rather something capable of fending off a serious impact, high speed abrasion and offering good weather protection to boot. Can you package all those attributes into something you’d actually be able to wear around town? Enter the Kushitani EX413 Country Jeans.
Kushitani has solved the problem of the practical, good looking motorcycle pant. These jeans are lovingly constructed, waterproof, machine washable, and perhaps the only leather pants in the world that do not make you look like a leather daddy or trick or treater. At $580, the price is steep, but you’re investing in a beautiful piece of kit that will last forever. You’ll beg the EMTs not to cut them off of you.
On HFL, more than any other publication, the safety gear issue is approached with the sentiment that all the major manufacturers are doing something wrong. There’s plenty of textile or leather suits out there capable of protecting you in a serious crash, but almost nothing that any sane person would want to wear around day-to-day. Kushitani is known throughout the motorcycling world as the somewhat obscure, Japanese maker of race suits that feel like leather pajamas. With the Country Jeans, they’ve taken their Exalito washable leather and embossed a perfect denim pattern, creating a serious piece of safety gear that is also socially acceptable.
Seriously, when I met Wes two weeks ago at the Death Spray show, he couldn’t tell that the jeans were made from leather until he reached down and stroked my leg. He agrees that they’re cut well and look good, requiring no visual compromise over a nice pair of denim jeans.
I have no doubt that with the optional Forcefield knee armor inserted into the internal pockets they would be highly protective in a crash. The cut is slim but not matchstick skinny, and the waist sits just a little bit above my usual wearing waist for jeans. I’m 5’10” and 150 pounds, and size 31 (yeah, they carry odd sizes) fits perfectly. All sizes come with about a 34-inch inseam, and unhemmed cuffs. Mike at Kushitani recommended leaving them unhemmed, but I went ahead and ignored that. The outside seams will start to part if you don’t get them hemmed. Any alteration place can cut the pants to your desired length and match the thread color for a professional looking finish. When they get dirty, toss them in a washing machine. Darks only. Drip dry, or machine dry if they stretch a bit over time. Amazing.
The only competing jeans in my mind are the Kevlar-reinforced Alpinestars Axiom jeans, which for a far smaller financial commitment have been proven to provide serious protection. But, this is another case of getting what you pay for. The Axioms have ugly, G-Star-like articulated seams along the knees, logo embellishments on the rear pocket, and zippers at the cuffs if you want to wear truly enormous boots. Sean literally walks around, when he walks around, with a giant star on his ass. They’re cut slim enough, but the waist sits a little too high, and although they did choose a raw denim, the texture feels like they’re lying. In comparison to a nice pair of denim jeans like those sold by Self Edge, the Astars look like an also ran. Which, at $160, they shouldn’t.
My Kushitanis are also the lower half of what I like to call my practical rain suit–practical, because I wear it every time I ride. On top, the wildly expensive, but fully waterproof Dainese Verbier leather jacket keeps me protected, cool, and dry. It looks good enough on its own that I don’t feel conspicuous. The Kushitanis are even more stealthy, and also completely impervious to moisture. LA doesn’t get a lot of rain, but a downpour is a downpour, and we’ve had a few over the past year. The seams don’t leak, the water beads up, and I stay bone dry. No more stashing stupid plastic oversuit pieces under the seat. If you’re more worried about hot weather than rain, Kushitani even offers a perforated version.
It’s difficult to write about these jeans without it coming off like advertising copy, but they really do have to be worn to be fully appreciated. Never mind sticker shock: buy a cheaper bike. Spend the savings on gear that is functional, durable, and timeless. You have to have gear that you want to wear, or else you might not be wearing it when you need it.