Skip to main content

What it's Like to Crash a Motorcycle

“Damn it. John Burns thinks I’m a dick.”
That was one of the predominant thoughts going through my head as I slid down a Florida highway at 60 mph back in March.
It’s weird how the mind works. Time slows in a crash. Every tiny image burns into memory, so your brain can replay it over and over and over at night for the next who knows how many weeks.
In the moments before I crashed, I was riding the Harley-Davidson Street Rod along County Road 34 in central Florida. I’m not sure which county. The accident report simply records it as “County Code 61,” but the internet can’t agree on which county that is. Maybe I was in Indian River County; maybe I was in Suwannee County; maybe I was in Flagler County; I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t matter; I was somewhere. The road passing through that somewhere was long and straight – not the sort of place where one usually crashes – and the weather was perfect.

“My God, I am so happy,” I was thinking. “I am so incredibly lucky to be here – to live t…

Gear review: Force Riders Kevlar jeans

I find myself often struggling to find reviews for gear –– especially gear that isn't ridiculously expensive. So, for the benefit of whatever person arrives here via Google search, I've decided to make note of the items I've used or am using. Starting with the Force Riders Kevlar jeans I bought way back when I first started training.

The old adage comes to mind here: You get what you pay for. 

I found these jeans advertised on eBay, offered brand new for considerably less than what other brands were being offered used. So, I wasn't expecting much. I figured anything that offered even a modicum more protection than my Gap jeans would be a step up.

And that's pretty much the best I can say for them: they are better protection than fashion blue jeans. Maybe. Since I've (thankfully) not taken a tumble in them I can't even say that's true. To be honest, I don't think I'd trust that "Kevlar" lining. Methinks it may be a little more dyed cotton than bulletproof material.

But an extra layer is an extra layer. I felt most comfortable with these jeans in the winter, when they were a part of a three-layer system: Lycra base layer, jeans, and waterproof over trousers. However, riding out to Tyntesfield the other day, wearing just the jeans and feeling the engine's heat on my shins, I found myself trying hard not to think of the damage that would be done to my legs were I to crash at at anything other than very low speed.

The jeans come with knee and hip armour, which is kept in place by little mesh pockets. In the hip pockets, this mesh started to rip on the very first wearing. Each time I take the hip armour out, for the sake of washing the jeans, the mesh rips a little more. And the hip armour itself is not exactly confidence building –– just a half-centimetre-thick bit of padding that one might find on a child's backpack.

The knee armour is a little more substantial but not so much that I would be willing to drop to my knees from a standing position. Also, the knee pads slip around a lot in their mesh pocket. I find that I am always adjusting them as I ride. I seriously wonder what, if any, good they would be if I came off the bike. The only reason I bother to put them in is that they provide a nice bit of padding between my knees and the tank.

As I said, I wouldn't trust the Kevlar lining much more than I'd trust a pair of long underwear. Additionally, I find it annoying that the Kevlar lining is only partial, covering the butt and knees, but not anything below the knees and not the crotch. The crotch, yo. That's a really important spot. You don't want road rash there.

Lastly, the quality of the denim is sub par. This is the sort of stuff you get at Walmart/Asda with pocket money. And it is about as fashionable as your granddad. No, that's not true. My 89-year-old grandfather has more style than to be caught wearing these things.

Overall, I chalk this up to learning experience. I have learned, again, that really cheap things are very rarely good things. I bought a pair of £30 Kevlar jeans and, surprise surprise, they didn't live up to the expectations I might have for a pair of £200 Kevlar jeans. I am actively searching for a better alternative.

Comments

  1. Nice review. It is refreshing to have such a clear and concise review. You definitely did not pull any punches.

    For me, kevlar jeans are nice but nothing beats ACTUAL motorcycle pants. I have a pair of Joe Rocket and they are comfortable, waterproof and have protection. The only problem is they are bulky.

    To be fair, it is nice to jump off your bike, stow your jacket and be able to walk into a coffee shop not looking like the Michelin man. Jeans offer this option.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd agree with David here. If I'm going out for a ride I'll go for my Spyke 2-piece every time. But it's nice to be able to ride to work and not have to change when I get to the office.

    Having had a pair of these since the end of last summer, I've been very satisfied with them. I'd agree the hip-pockets are rather flimsy (although I've not had them actually tear yet, unlike Chris). I can't really comment on the quality of the denim as I am one of those people that get their jeans from ASDA and I'd agree the quality's comparable.

    While I've (thankfully) not had the opportunity to directly test the Kevlar panels, I'd say there's coverage in all of areas you'd need if you came off. Bear in mind that Kevlar's there for abrasion resistance, not impact and, if I was sliding down the road on my groin, I'd be more concerned about the fact that my legs had snapped off!

    My only niggle with them in nearly a year has been a tiny hole on the inside of my left calf. This is below the Kevlar panel and, after some inspection, turned out to be caused by a sharp edge on the shin-panel of my left boot having worn through from the inside of the jeans.

    All in all, Chris, a good review. I'm looking forward to reading some more of your stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you tried their "skinny jeans" version? Wondering if they look like grandma pants. Any feedback would be appreciated! Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Saying you just don't trust Kevlar (despite its proven protective qualities, in the right circumstances) is not really reviewing the product. Refreshing indeed to have a review based on lack of faith!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Following from "Anonymous"10July2015,I reckon the area covered by the Dupont Kevlar looks similar to some of the much more expensive jeans. The thickness of the denim is also comparable. May the Force be with you.

    Australia

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for your review.
    Does anyone know where could i buy kevlar fabric i can sew myself into my regular khakis?
    I commute in a motorcycle and i struggle with overpants. Kevlar inside my uniform pants would be exactly what i need.

    Have a safe ride!

    ReplyDelete
  7. It isn't dyed cotton and kevlar woven for abrasion resistance doesn't look anything like kevlar woven for a bulletproof application. And why on earth would you want kevlar in the crotch? No one ever in the history of mankind has gotten road rash there. Its just not a place you will slide. You need it on the butt, knees and thighs. Anywhere else and it just makes you sweat more without actually offering any more real protection.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ride review: Harley-Davidson XL 883 L (aka Sportster SuperLow)

Yes, as a matter of fact, it is like riding a tractor.
That's the criticism so consistently levied against Harley-Davidson motorcycles: that there is something agrarian to the experience. And I can now say from personal experience that all those critics are right. But I can also say those critics are leaving out a key piece of information, which is this:
TRACTORS ARE FUCKING AWESOME!!!
It's a tractor that hurtles forward with roller-coaster intensity, a tractor that goes really fast, a tractor that makes you feel like Brock Lesnar in a children's ball pit. A tractor from the Land of Bad-Ass, with which you can sow the seeds of awesomeness.
But let me back up a bit...
A few days ago, I decided to take the day off, solely for the purpose of getting a chance to ride around and finally make use of the free breakfast coupon sent to me by Thunder Road. As I was gearing up, I suddenly decided that since I was already heading west, I might as well push a few miles further and che…

Ride review: Yamaha XV950 / Star Bolt

Imitation, Charles Caleb Colton famously noted, is the sincerest form of flattery. If that's true, the flattery the Harley-Davidson Iron 883 receives from Yamaha's XV950 is enough to make one blush. Put the two bikes side by side, and the inspiration for the latter is undeniable. Yamaha claims its bike has a "new neo retro Japanese look," but that's clearly just nonsense –– lorem ipsom that was used instead of "totally looks like a Harley-Davidson Iron 883."
Certainly the XV950 –– known as the Star Bolt in the United States –– isn't the first example of a Japanese OEM adhering faithfully to the styling cues of America's best-known motorcycle manufacturer. The orthodox members of the Church of Jesus Harley Latter-day Davidson write these bikes off as "wannabes," and tend to be pretty dismissive of anyone who would dare consider purchasing one. But I'm going to commit blasphemy here and tell you that the XV950 is unquestionably the …

Ride review: Triumph Bonneville

"OK," I said. "I want one." "Well, you know, maybe you should ask your wife first." "She loves Triumphs," I said. "Still, Chris. You should give it a think. Go home, discuss it with your wife, give yourself a chance to think clearly. After all, this is one of Triumph's most popular models; there's plenty of stock available."
The voice of reason in that conversation was Drew, the salesman at Bevan Motorcycles. He was doing his best to talk some sense into me after my test ride of the 2014 Triumph Bonneville. I was wild-eyed and yammering like a teenage boy who has touched boobies for the first time. This, my friends, is what the Bonneville does to you. It is an instantly rideable, instantly enjoyable, instantly lovable motorcycle that surprises you in just how good a simple motorcycle can be.

The Bonneville, of course, is a storied machine that's been around in one form or another for 55 years. It is a classic. Partially b…