Summers in India keep getting hotter as the years pass by. Consequently, I had to do something to keep my butt and testes cool when I toured on my motorcycle under the hottest thing in our galaxy. Earlier, I used Spartan’s Cordura textile pants which are not what you’d call cool. They’re as bulky as a huge crocodile, have deep pockets that could store a year’s groceries and the pants themselves are not really Indian weather friendly. Riding in them during summers was OK but whenever I halted for a break, the air stopped flowing in and things got pretty HOT despite keeping the two air vents open at all times. In terms of protection though, they’re almost there considering the abrasion resistance that Cordura material offered. I was moderately happy with the knee guards too but hip protection was inadequate since the ‘armor’ was made out of foam.That’s when I came across Zeus’s Dark Rider (funny name :D) riding denims.
The thing with riding denims is that they’re not exactly at par with Cordura riding pants when it comes to abrasion resistance. If one crashes and slides on the road, friction would tear the denim material instantly. But, what I like about Dark Rider (I love tripping on that name :D) denims is that it comes with Kevlar (bullet proof material) linings on major impact points like my bum and knees. It is important to note here that Kevlar linings on butts don’t make them bullet proof, but they do a better job at providing abrasion resistance than regular denim material. However, whether or not the kevlar abrasion resistance is better than cordura’s abrasion resistance is a controversial topic to discuss! As per me, kevlar isn’t as strong as cordura yet, it comes pretty damn close. Another thing that’s worthwhile about these denims is that you get flexi- foam Knox armor at the knees and hips! Almost every riding pant you get today has knee armor and a foam hip armor but a hip flexi- foam armour is a rare thing in riding pants being sold in India, I feel foam armor should be replaced with Flexi-foam armors for all riding gear! If I was in power, I would’ve put a ban on foam armors and half face helmets (since levying a ban is a Fad today) 🙂
Below are some detailed FAQ’s about Zeus’s Dark Rider Denims:
- Do they fit well?
No! they don’t fit well so forget about buying these pants online. You have to buy a size larger than your regular denims else you’re bound to end up looking like a girl at an aerobics session (only from the bottom though). My waist size is 32 but gets to 33 sometimes and till date, I haven’t got any issues with any other brand of denims. But, when I tried on size 34 of Dark Rider denims, I felt like I was in a scuba diver’s pants, they were stuck to my legs but were fine at the waist. Then I tried size 36. They got extremely loose at the waist but are exact fit at the thighs and hip. I think Zeus hasn’t considered the space taken by that hip armor when they were planning the sizes of these pants, not even in the photo shoots. That’s why you don’t even see the hip armor bulging out in the images on Zeus’s website. Read the user comments on their website and they all say the same thing- buy one size larger but in my case, it was two!
- Why are they called ‘Dark rider’?
I have no clue about that at all! If they sold these riding denims in the EU nations or US, Zeus could’ve either been called evil or just plain racist 😀
- What If they’re too loose at the waist but fit well everywhere else?
That is a frustrating thing, you’ll have to keep pulling them up if you’re walking with the knee armor inside the pant. You’ll also be very, very concerned about exposing your ‘butt cleavage’ while riding in case you’re a shameful person. Just wear a belt or something! In my case though, I just hate belts and feel it shouldn’t have been designed for humans (or animals). I hate them so much that I prefer showing off my FCUK boxers inside me denims than wearing a belt. To solve this issue for the long run though, I’m currently looking for good quality suspenders that don’t cost a bomb!
- What kind of fit are they?
I’m actually confused with this point. I think they’re a mix of slim fit and loose fit, that is slim fit at the thighs and loose fit below the knees (at least for me). As a result, the hip armors could make you look like you’ve got Lipedema. I would definitely, never wear these on a date 🙂
- How good are these denims at keeping your important bits, cool?
These denims do a great job when it comes to ventilation. Continuous air flow ensures that your legs don’t sweat too much since they don’t reach higher temperatures. But, the areas that have Kevlar lining do heat up eventually since they divert a lot of the air from reaching your knees and butts, so it is good to take frequent breaks and allow muscle movement for those ‘air locked’ areas. I was testing an add on air seat known as Ride on Air which passes air below you to prevent your butt from getting heated up while you’re on a ride but the Dark Rider denims somehow made me sweat on the air seat as well!
- How easy is it to remove and insert the armors?
Removing the armors or inserting them is easy and hassle-free. If you want to wash the riding denims too often, it won’t be much of a headache WRT to armor removal and insertion.
- Can I perform Yoga wearing these Dark Rider Denims?
Of course not, unless you want to cause a lot of friction to areas below your waist or if you want to be seen as a complete maniac! You can perform squats though or even act like Valentino Rossi and let your friends take pictures of you squatting next to your bike as the denims are quite stretchable in the thigh region. Acting like Vale with a shiny visor on your LS2 could make you appear like a complete imbecile though. Jokes apart, the denim is quite elastic in nature in the thigh region so it does a good job of easing movement once you’ve passed your leg over the saddle.
- Will I have red rashes on my butt if I used them constantly for a long time?
Well, that largely depends on how sensitive your skin is. In my case though, I rode on my KTM’s saddle for two hours at a stretch with no breaks in between and yet, my cheeks weren’t abused by the denims. I did experience an increase in friction though. I’d blame the 390’s hard seat for that, just happens every time but fortunately, no red rashes.
- What if I’m on a ride and I suddenly feel like trekking into the jungle with these riding denims on?
Erm, I suggest you trek after removing the armor because you’re going to walk through uneven terrain else the knee armor will just rub continuously against the skin and irritate it. The hip armors takes a longer while to heat up and irritate the skin but they eventually do. It’s possible to take the knee armor off without taking the pants off, some respect saved there eh! But, you’ll have to lower the pants if you want the hip armors removed. There’s plenty of greenery in a jungle though, you could do it in a jiffy. 😉
- Could I wear these denims and ride to the office?
If it isn’t a rule in your office to appear at work wearing the 21st century slave uniform (formal clothing), then you could wear these riding pants and ride to work. They’d seem normal to anybody but it does feel a bit weird to be seated before a computer in pants that have knee and hip armors.
When it comes to ‘riding to office’, you’re obviously going to encounter traffic. Maneuvering your motorcycle in traffic with these pants on isn’t very different from doing it with any other riding pant on but I’m always concerned about exposing the butt cleavage (since they’re loose at the waist). A tail bag on the rear seat does save my integrity. 😀
- Do they trap odour after a long, hot ride?
I was concerned about this point but to my relief, they don’t trap odour. It is mostly the ventilation on the denims that’s working well. In case you sweat too often or are riding in humid conditions, you could always apply anti-fungal powder to your important bits and sprinkle a little inside the pants to reduce the friction between your skin and the fabric. I’ve tried that with my cordura riding pants and has been effective but fortunately, I haven’t felt the need to try it on the Dark Rider riding denims, yet.
- How effective would the armors be in a crash?
The way in which the armors are placed inside the fabric definitely influences the way it would perform in a crash and it would do that by a big margin! The knee and hip armors are CE certified KNOX armors that would do well in protecting the knees and hips during high speed slides too. But, the knee armor is inserted in a pocket on the outside of the denim, so imagine if you crashed and your knees instantly hit the road. The initial impact could be taken by the knee armor but I feel the armor could come off instantly after the initial impact since there’s only a thin fabric of denim separating it from the road. So, in case you continued to slide in such an eventuality, the knee armor may not stay in the same place, thereby exposing your knees to the road. The hip armors too are pretty small in size and dangle around in pockets situated inside the pant. Those pockets are held in place by two strings that are stitched to the pant but the strings are easily susceptible to snapping off, thereby giving the hip armor pockets more mobility to dangle around. I also noticed that the hip armors are pretty small in size, they’re a little bit larger than a standard size computer mouse. Since they dangle around, I feel they could move about in a crash and miss out on protecting the bits it is supposed to protect. The above analysis is made by me just by looking at the way the armors are fastened and imagining somebody crash at 50- 60 KMPH with their knee and palms down first followed by the force sliding them away for a few meters. But it may or may not prove me wrong, especially since there are thousands of variables present in each crash and a general logic cannot be applied to all types of crashes.
- How comfortable are they when compared to regular denims?
They come very close to regular denims but they obviously aren’t as comfortable as them because of the armor and of course, due to the Kevlar lining inside it. The knee armor and knee Kevlar lining end up being too thick together so you may feel the denim material being stretched behind your knee and that may end up annoying you if you’re a person who doesn’t prefer clothes being tight at on joints. I also noticed that the side pockets in the riding denims lack a lot of space, so I prefer keeping inside them, some loose cash and my license only.
- To tour in the future, would I choose to wear Cordura riding pants or Dark Rider Denims?
Well, its a simple choice to make right? Actually, I’d choose that depending on the weather conditions of the region I’m touring under. If I’m riding under moderate or hot and humid weather conditions, I’d prefer wearing Dark rider riding denims but if I was touring under cold, foggy, snowy conditions, then I’ll definitely consider wearing my Spartan riding pants over Riding denims.
- Are the riding denims waterproof?
No ways! They don’t even come with a rain/thermal liner like other riding pants so you’ll have to buy a waterproof liner separately if you haven’t got one.
- Are they worth 4800 INR?
As far as I remember, it is INR 4500 for smaller sizes but 4800 for anything above size 32/34 and I’ve come across this kind of size discrimination for the first time. Parents of fat babies aren’t charged extra for the delivery operation just because the baby is fat and it took more time and effort to extract it from the mother’s womb. The cost is supposed to be uniform!
Frankly speaking, I think INR 4800 is a fair price for riding denims that comes with Kevlar linings and Knox armors at the hip and knees. On the other hand though, I feel this could’ve been a much more well rounded and a well finished product, the above drawbacks could be corrected in order to give these riding denims a lot more bang for the buck! It’s a great product without any doubt, quality of the denim material too seems to be quite high and this does help stay quite cool under hot weather conditions but if Zeus made improvements to the existing product and sold it at the SAME PRICE, then it would be one of the best things to hit the stores. I know a lot of riders who hate wearing textile cordura riding pants and prefer wearing knee guards over regular denims or cargo’s, that is a good market to throw this pant out to!
- What if you’re confused between Riding denims and Cordura Riding pants when it comes to investing in one?
It is extremely important to buy riding gear that perfectly fits your requirements else you’ll end up wasting a lot of money. Cordura Riding pants I feel are the best for touring out of the two and also offer better protection for the bits that are not covered with Kevlar in the riding denims. I’ve highlighted some points about the Dark Rider’s armor positioning as well so I’m not 100% sure if it would work as efficiently as expected. In addition, if you do some research and reading on the advantages and disadvantages of Kevlar riding denims, you may notice that Kevlar denims that have Kevlar linings all the way from the hips up to the ankle have been proved to be much safer than riding denims with Kevlar linings at the hips and knees only! The science behind it is obvious too, what if you’re wearing a semi Kevlar lining denim, have a fall while riding and eventually slide on the part that does not have kevlar (calf muscles, thighs, etc.)? So Zeus should probably produce another riding denim for a slightly higher price that has Kevlar lining everywhere but I just hope if they do so, they don’t name is ‘Extra Dark Rider Denims’ :PI’ve seen riders getting annoyed with their textile riding pants including me (primarily because of humidity) in the middle of a trip and have instantly changed from riding pants to non- armored regular denims despite knowing the dangers. I’ve had days when I was forced by my butt to take off my Cordura riding pants and change into regular denim pants in a small Petrol bunk toilet even though I knew that I was putting my legs at great risk. I can now do that without hesitation though since I’ve got the Dark Rider Denims as backup. I wouldn’t question or challenge the riding denim’s ability to protect me in such instances because you know that it is way better than wearing something without armor. If you’re looking for something cool to ride in for a fairly reasonable price, then you should include these denims on your list to consider but if you can afford expensive riding pants that raises the level of comfort by a large margin, then you may want to look elsewhere.
To sum it up, if you’re keen on choosing the right pant then I’d suggest you try all kinds of pants out first and get to know which is the most comfortable out of all because sooner or later, comfort will become the most important aspect to you than price, looks or protection. Once you’ve zeroed in on a product, read as many reviews and user experiences on the product as possible and then spend your precious notes on them!