In this follow up to my Why Summer Jackets Are Better Than Sunblock article I will talk about summer pant styles for riding. Riding pants are just as useful as a jacket for riding in the summer; they offer more protection than jeans, they have the same benefits of protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun and they provide the same cooling effect as the jacket helping air circulate over the skin.
One other benefit of riding pants is the additional comfortable layers of material that are placed between your bottom and the seat. I know for me it allows me to ride much longer distances before experiencing an uncomfortable seat and constantly needing to stop and stretch. The materials used in a lot of riding pants are very good at moving moisture away from the skin helping to avoid the dreaded wet butt scenario.
So what are my pants options? There are multiple options, sub options, and variations on those. I am going to concentrate on just three styles of pants for summer riding.
On-bike comfort is excellent, despite the addition of Kevlar to the weave, movement is not restricted.
There are several brands out there, Deth Killers, ICON, Draggin jeans and several others. These are a nice options but tend to be heavier denim with the Kevlar lining stitched or otherwise attached to the inside. They are not very good at directing air flow, they don't wick moisture away and denim has a tendency to bunch uncomfortably. Denim generally holds moisture close to the skin keeping you wet and has a tendency to cause chafing. They do offer better crash protection than your old Levi's and some can be fitted with armor. Variations of these protective jeans have vents or other cooling features but may not be as comfortable or incognito off of the bike.
Regular Fit Mesh Riding Pants:
These pants fit the same sizes as jeans, they have a traditional fit cut and are designed to wear over performance layers, think compression shorts or products like Heat Out so you can ride in a large temperature range. Some of these pants come with thermal liners or waterproof liners that also help make them very versatile. They are usually too tight to go over jeans without buying a significantly larger size than you normally wear. This style of pant is extremely versatile but not the best to ride to a destination where you are going to spend a lot of time off of the motorcycle. You will generally have to take other pants to wear at your destination and it's not always easy to change to your undies in public.
Whether it's mesh or some other material allowing for warm weather use these are exactly what they say they are. They go "over" your other pants, shorts, skivvies, whatever you want. They are easy to take on and off which allows you to change when you reach your destination by simply sliding them off, or in some cases unzipping the entire side of the pants, to easily remove them. Most over pants and regular fit pants have armor built in. Over pants generally are purchased based on your normal waist size. They are more convenient than other pants but are a compromise depending on what you wear underneath. The denser the material you wear underneath the less effective these will be in hot weather. These do allow for a combination of wearing shorts for your destination, while having the benefit of full protection riding apparel making them a very appealing option.