Gear: Kushitani EX413 Country Jeans

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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.

  • http://www.muthalovin.com the_doctor

    I need a pair of these, if only to get Wes to stroke my leg.

    • FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

      It’s a true story. I edited that bit out, but he edited it back in. The people have to know.

      • always_go_big

        yeah, but he left out one word – repeatedly

  • Ben NYC

    $600!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Devin

      Sticker shock.

      • Robert M

        Roadcrafter is $500.
        Klim goes up near $900.
        Skingrafts, priceless.

    • http://mansgottado.tumblr.com/ Andy Gregory

      Before armor.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    “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.” Awkward.

  • Jeremy

    Draggin jeans claims to sell the “First CE approved motorcycle jean in the World” – might be worth checking out. They look normal but have weird straps at the bottom:
    http://www.dragginjeans.net/product/c-evo%20for%20men

    (they are cheaper too – ~$350 US)

    • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

      Oooh. Eighties stirrup jeans have finally returned.

    • aristurtle

      You know, it always bugged me how the “motorcycling reinforced jeans” always just put Kevlar behind the knees and ass and nowhere else. Why hasn’t anyone done this before?

  • Brad

    I’ve been looking at these for a while, besides the money factor,they only have 31″ in stock. Lucky you.

  • mikedard

    To sign in as a member on their website you have to give them a credit card number, I did that thinking they’d believe I was serious. I’ve been checking their website and emailing them to notify me when my size comes in. They never have responded it’s been years! I checked in and finally they have my size! But not in Blue, after a day I think I’ll take the black… I go back they’re out of my size. Please tell them to start acting like a real company, who cares about their customers!!!!!!!

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    What happens with the leather when you put these in the freezer to kill any stank?

    • FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

      Not necessary. Just hose ‘em down regularly. The shot with them draped over a washing machine is there for a reason.

      Not sure if troll…

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    In the summer, I wear mesh Kushitani pants that I bought a decade ago. Other than my SIDI boots, these pants are the only motorcycle clothes that have been “primary use” for 10 years and show very little wear. And “mesh” is an understatement — the material looks and feels more like some hi-tech chain mail. And the integrated hard-capped kneepads even have thick straps to keep them tightly in place (like old-school Rectors for skateboarding).

  • Kirill

    Holy balls that’s expensive. I’ll stick with overpants.

  • Jay B

    Just as I’m shopping to step my gear game up. Excellent timing.
    Kind of a bummer you’d be hard pressed to try a pair on before pulling the trigger and playing the return game though.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Eh, I order stuff over the internet, try it on, and return it if it doesn’t fit, swapping it for the right size, all the time. So long as you’re buying from a reputable retailer or, in this case, the importer itself, that should be fine. Check with them first.

      • Gene

        Well, you’re lucky enough to be a normal shape. There’s too much stuff that isn’t cut to fit me, no matter the size.

  • BigRooster

    Im all for stealth looking gear but I dont think leather pants made to look like denim will fill that need. Are they wicked hot?

    For me these provide no help. I have rare occasion to wear such pants. Cant go to work in leather pants – actually, cant really go anywhere without fear of mocking. Anyway, overpants are a better solution for me. In cold weather it’s easy, just pull them over whatever I am wearing. In summer, it’s a little trickier, but I use the same overpants with just shorts under them, vented of course. Harder to to do when commuting to work in the the Summer. I have to wear “sensible trousers” to work so it can get schweaty in Aug. However once arrived, easy off and easily stashed in a top case or backpack, same with my jacket but I have a few of those for seasonality. None fit in my backpack with armor, pants, and boots though – so usually have an ugly ass top case when riding to work. My goal is to NOT look like I rode a motorcycle when I arrive someplace, especially work – so leather pants, no matter how good, wont work. (…and I cant wear the same pants every day)

    • Sean Smith

      Aerostich. That suit was designed for guys like you.

      • Devin

        Egh, I think Aerostich is more for tourers than commuters. A one piece suit just seems cumbersome if you want to go to somewhere after work like going to dinner, a movie or shopping at the mall before going home.

        • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

          Do you carry your helmet into the restaurant and leave it with coat check when you are having dinner? I lock mine to my motorcycle. I’d do the same with an Aerostitch suit if I had one.

          • Ben

            I used to lockmy helmet to the bike…
            Then some one pee’d in it.

          • aristurtle

            On my bike the helmet lock is an inch away from one of the mufflers because I guess Kawasaki had the new guy on the engineering team design it.

            (or, more likely, they originally planned on a 2-in-1 exhaust and changed that at the last minute, but I prefer my version)

            • Devin

              My Kawasaki 1992 has the same thing. They have bad helmet locks for at least 20 years.

              I usualy lock our helmets in my topcase. Locking two suits to the bike seems cumbersome, and leaves it free to “tampering”.

              • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

                My god, the helmet locks are SO BAD. Its almost like they made them terrible on purpose.

      • mcfaite

        I’ve got Darien overpants (in grey, so they reflect a little more sun) and they are incredibly convenient. But they have a serious pant-load aesthetic.

  • resonance

    any reviews on the zylo jeans from ther website? much cheaper but also textile

  • Archer

    Kushitani makes great, great gear. No doubt about that. But, buying it from the US domestic website is like wrangling an invite to Wednesday dinner at the Imperial Palace.

  • contender

    Argh. I had just settled on getting a ‘stich with my tax returns. Probably still should, but this is tempting. Plus, doesn’t Kushitani have a shop in Venice, on Lincoln? I could ostensibly try some on prior to buying, which I can’t do with a Roadcrafter.

    • robotribe

      That’s where I bought mine (and the perf’ed versions…they cost less in 2007). Nice folks. Be warned: they run “honest” in their sizing. Expect 1-2″ bigger than what those liar jeans from the mall tell you.

      • Ryan

        Do you mean that we should purchase 1-2in larger than mall jeans?

        • robotribe

          In my opinion, yes. The perforated ones I have are a size 31, but give more, I think, because of the perforation. The solid versions are soft, but being leather, don’t stretch. I had to go to size 32 with those. Typically, I wear a size 30 jean.

          The waist on these is higher (“normal”?) than the typical/common “low-rise” jeans; they sit closer to your true waist height.

          If you can get past the price (they were $200 less when I bought mine), they will be the last pair of riding pants you’ll ever need. I HIGHLY recommend the perforated versions. I’m from SoCal and an currently in Orlando and believe me, the perforation works. Best of all, it’s still leather. I will never go back to textile pants of any kind.

  • jonoabq

    I’ve been looking at these for years, if they they were as hassle free as Revzilla I’d probably have them. You know, lots of them in stock, different sizes to choose from, someone who answers a phone call during normal business hours.

    • mikedard

      Totally agree!! Maybe they’ll have my size in stock before I get to old to ride.

    • Anthony

      Working on it :-)

  • Dylan

    I feel like if I bought these I would be way to worried about scrapping a $600 pair of jeans to wear them. I know that by this logic I should feel this way about my helmet and jacket too but every time I’ve been down now I’ve destroyed a pair of jeans and not the jacket/helmet. I think (for me at least) the money would be better spent towards an Aerostich suit that would cover my lower and upper body

    • noone1569

      Tell me you’re not continuing wearing a helmet after it has impacted the ground. . .

      • The other Joe

        Doesn’t sound like it impacted to me.

      • Dylan

        Definitely not. The only time my head has hit the ground I bought a new helmet.

  • oldblue

    Sorry, but if I was to pay as much for a pair of leather jeans as I could pay for a used bike (or two…) I think I’d want them to be anything BUT stealth.

    In fact I think I’d want them to have a giant flashing Kushitani sign somehow built into them.

    And a coffee machine.

    And possibly a golden yo-yo in the pocket.

    Good grief.

    • Scott-jay

      Indeed.
      Life-style bling may be peacock feathers; but stealth bling kinda pockets the feathers.

  • Dave Pifer

    “Good grief.”

    Hahaha, I love it!

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    How hot are these things when wearing them daily, off the bike? Shwetty balls?

    • robotribe

      They’re hot, but no more than I found to be with the heavier weight kevlar jeans. If you want the benefit of these but with REAL ventilation, go with the perforated versions. Same deal: washable leather, lined, but with very effective ventilation.

  • robotribe

    One thing that I don’t think has mentioned yet, is the added benefit these have with keeping your junk from smashing into the tank. The leather keeps you more easily planted where you want to be on the saddle vs. the sliding action I used to hate with jeans or kevlar-lined pants.

    Crotch control.

  • Brad W.

    Can you get built in armor with them, or just the t-pro pants?

  • nymoto

    Forget the armor – I am buying these because I think they have a blow job machine built in!!!! The price doesn’t lie!

  • Chris

    I’d love to see pics of them being worn in a better lit location.

    • FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

      Are you LA area?

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      I would like to see more pics as well.

      And no I don’t live in the LA area. I live in the Australia area.

  • Zach

    I guess that Gore-tex pro shell didn’t catch on with Dainese, eh? Nothing with that in their current lineup.

  • M

    yer shit ain’t agreein’: “There’s even boots capable…”

    i normally don’t do the whole grammar police thing (although simple errors like this in major publications always bother the shit out of me), but since this is your lead paragraph, you may want to change that to “there are” or “they’re”.

    you can get away with the prior “there’s” up there because the object is “plenty”, which could be singular or plural. just to differentiate.

    • FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

      blame Wes for that one

  • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

    Awe-some!

    I had put Iron Hearts at the top of my jeans purchase list… but these are up there now. I would have to go for the perforated though, wonder how much different they look…

    Looks like they fit a bit tight for my liking, but then I guess loose pants kind of defeat the purpose of armour, eh?