Riding jeans may not deliver optimal protection when compared with leather, but as a casual riding option denim models like the Shift Torque Jeans are a favorite choice.
Leather pants ain’t for everyone. While the most effective legwear in terms of rider protection, leather britches have always made me apprehensive – too ‘80s rock star and mountain man rendezvous re-enactor for my taste. Leather riding wear has its place, to be sure, and I do source it on occasion, but leg protection for the majority of my rides take a more causal tone, like the Shift Racing Torque Jeans.
The Shift Torque Jean delivers casual looks with motorcycle riding features. The 14-ounce denim construction feels heavier and more resilient than your typical blue jeans. The extra rider-friendly protection comes via Kevlar sewn into strategic locations, the front knee to mid shin as well and the seat and rear thighs. I’m a fan of riding jeans, like the Torque, because they seem a practical compromise of comfort and safety. Of course, that could all change with a real-world test of their abrasion resistance… But it’s a gamble we take.
Overall fit feels good, though a little trim in the waist and the ‘crotchal’ region, as one Mr. Ron Burgundy refers to it. Not everyone will appreciate the fit, though we found it plenty comfortable with a straight loose cut in the leg. The cuffs easily fall over calf-high riding boots, though we most often paired the jeans with the Shift Racing Street Kicker Shoes (which we’ve also reviewed). The legs are long too, accommodating a bent-knee sporty riding position without exposing the ankles.
The Torques provide stylish denim threads, with special Kevlar inserts at key areas for improved abrasion resistance.
These jeans are definitely not waterproof, which we’ve been dumb enough to test out. Sans rain gear riders will get drenched down to their drawers. While this may nix the Torque for riders in some climes, they’re right up the alley for dry areas like the Southwest, particularly in the summer months where they offer a much cooler (literal not figurative) riding experience than, say, black leather.
The Torque is a five-pocket design, a pair in the back and front, with the right front holding an inset coin pocket. The Torques feature a button-down enclosure for the right rear pocket and easy snap in the aforementioned coin pocket. The rear button enclosure we appreciated, as it offers an escape-proof pocket for the rider’s wallet. The front snap was another matter, as every time we inserted our hand in the snug-fitting front the snap scraped against the cleft of our lower palm. Boocoo irritating. One other dig on the Torque, our test pair ripped a small seam by the front zipper. Easy to mend, but the rip came after only one riding season of use.
As far as styling goes, I feel tragically unhip making assessments (I buy $15 Wranglers at Wal-Mart…). The Torque jeans border on the flashy side, at least as far as man jeans are concerned, what with them newfangled pocket buttons and all. That said, I don’t feel silly wearing them. My main squeeze even said they looked good on me – for whatever that’s worth.
The Shift Torque retail for $99.95, maybe a little higher than average for standard riding denim but far from unreasonable. Sizes range from 28 through 40 through the waist and are available in two colors, dark indigo and light indigo. If you’re looking for an easy option in purpose built riding pants, consider the Shift Torque.