Looking cool on your café racer is often at odds with wearing the safest gear possible. If waddling up to order a kale and quinoa salad in full leathers isn't your idea of impressing the locals, there are a growing number of alternatives that put comfort, style and protection in the same package – and Saint motorcycle denim leads the pack on several fronts.
Billed as the world's strongest denim, Saint's secret sauce is the use of Dyneema in the weave. Made from Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMwPE), this stronger-than-steel synthetic fiber is used in ballistic vests, helmets, Humvees, crane rope and anti-theft backpacks. In 2007 it was even the material of choice for an experimental 18-mile long satellite tether that was just 0.55 mm thin. The result is the first single-layer jeans to meet the European CE Level 1 motorcycle safety standards for impact, burst and abrasion resistance.
Saint produces a range of jeans and jackets with different levels of protection, starting with Technical Denim – a 6 percent Dyneema and cotton blend that's five times stronger than regular 14 oz denim – through to the new Unbreakable 6 CE Level 1 Denim – a 66 percent Dyneema, 34 percent cotton blend that Saint says is 200 times stronger than regular denim and has a slide time of six seconds or 75 meters (246 ft), which puts it just behind Draggin's Kevlar/Roomoto lined jeans. There's also Saint Model 1 jeans, which include removable knee and hip armor for added protection.
We're not about to put this slide time to the test, but here's a demo from Saint Co-Founder Michael Lelliott that makes the point pretty well:
What we can say with certainty is that these jeans are comfy. The single layer makes a big difference when you're on, and especially when you're off, the bike. They are significantly lighter than Kelvar-lined jeans, and they don't itch – you can wear these things all day.
Being single-layer also means you don't get as hot. The material is actually cool to the touch when you drag it on, and it's not too far behind regular denim in terms of breathability. While we're not saying they'll keep you as cool as a portable air conditioner, the jeans beat leather and Kevlar on this score.
The fabric is a little coarser than your average Levis, but they feel very similar to wear and are really well put together, with triple stitching along the outer seams and YKK zips.
My only gripe in terms of comfort is the slightly over-engineered keyring above the front pocket that tended to grate against my hip. This isn't a standard item across the range, but if you're built more-or-less like an extra out of a Unicef commercial (which according to Loz, I am) you might want to avoid it.
Saint has a comprehensive guide to finding the right size (slim fit in my case) and the jeans are machine washable, though it's recommended that you wear them for as long as possible without washing – most motorcyclists I know are happy to comply.
Not surprisingly, all this single-layer, Dyneema-infused protection comes at a price. Technical Denim jeans cost US$240, while the top of the range Unbreakable 6.0 (14 oz) jeans are priced at $600.
Product page: Saint Unbreakable