Motorcycle pants - normal trousers or overpants?
Welcome to OVERDRIVE's no stone left unturned guide to motorcycle pants. This is one of the sections of the comprehensive guide - you will find links to the other sections as they come online, at the bottom of this page. And now let's get on with the guide.
Motorcycle pants designed for daily use typically come in two styles, overpants and regular pants. The former are designed to be worn over street clothes and allow you to change quickly into normal attire for your day, and just as quickly, put on a layer of armour for the ride home.
This sounds like a great idea. Overpants will usually have long zippers down the legs to allow you to zip them closed over boots and regular jeans or trousers. They might offer you option of the warm liner or a waterproof liner as well. But think about two things.
First, they're designed to go over regular pants and so, the fits are baggy. This isn't a bad thing on its own until you have a crash and realise that the knee armour actually needs the street trouser to fill the pant leg and keep the armour in position. So if you're buying overpants, you need to work out the chances of the armour staying in place and doing its job in a crash.
Second, in our summers, all-mesh overpants like the Joe Rocket Phoenix series feel way too hot with an underlayer of street clothing. Most mesh overpants put a double layer of mesh down to the mid-thigh so you do have the option of wearing them without an underlayer, but the bagginess then is a big concern.
This is a pair of Rev'it Airwave pants. The darker grey panels are all mesh - think of it as a really strong, nearly opaque net. On the knees is a heavy duty material as is the whole material that surrounds the mesh. There is armour in the knees and though not visible, two large retroreflective strips next to the knees. If you look carefully, the inside of the leg has a zipper that runs neatly to the crotch to allow you to wear this garment - which is an overpant by design, over your street clothes quickly. In India, we use this pair (in black) as a riding pant without street clothes - our temperatures are too hot to handle two layers even if the outer one is mesh
What I do is that I simply downsize until I find a size that fits me right. Motorcycle pants with adjustable waists (which I will discuss in the next installment on motorcycle pants) will usually allow considerable latitude in sizing as long as the inseam length is about right. Wearing tall boots all the time allows me to select a much smaller size that fits as snug as I like while enjoying all the benefits of the overpant design - convenient leg zippers, excellent ventilation from the mesh and very good protection to boot.
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