Bull-it Tactical Icon II jeans are the lightest in the range, yet claim to offer the same high-end performance. MCN editor Richard Newland has been trying out a pair.
Bull-it Tactical Icon II jeans
Tested by Richard Newland for 3 months, 1200 miles
The trade-off between protection, comfort, style and versatility is one that rages almost every time we get on a bike. I’ve tried to get the options down to two set choices over the years: Jacket and jeans, or a textile suit. Even I can usually make a fast decision between only two options. My absolute default – even in winter when it’s dry – is riding jeans and a jacket, so having highly protective but comfortable jeans is crucial, especially as I often spend all day in them, either in the saddle or while wandering about having ridden to a destination.
I’ve tested a large number over the years, and these Bull-It Tactical Icon II jeans are definitely in my top three (Draggin and Spidi make the other two on my podium). They were superbly comfortable from the moment I put them on. Much of that is thanks to the construction and stretchy feel of the material, and the fact that they’re single-layer, meaning they’re almost indistinguishable from normal jeans in terms of weight, flexibility and comfort.
Where they differ, is that they’re certified AA rated for protection and, if you want to, they can be fitted with knee and hip armour as well. Personally, that’s one of my trade-off items, and I don’t have the armour fitted, but I have ridden with it fitted, and the armour is comfortable in the position. The supplied protectors slot into sewn-in pockets within the jeans which fasten with Velcro closures. The armour doesn’t move, sculps well, and doesn’t look cumbersome beneath the material. The armour is CE161 Level 2 at both knee and hip.
And while the jeans are single layer, there is a mesh liner to knee height on the front and the aforementioned pockets for armour, but all the extra bits are integrated without rough seams or scratchy panels – so they don’t detract from the feeling of a lightweight jean. On the bike they offer a good connection to the seat – they’re not overly sticky or slippy – and are stretchy enough to offer some give. In hot weather, they stay appreciably cool, and they’re just like a normal jeans to walk around in.
They come in sizes 30-44 for men, with different leg lengths available. In my size, they’re ever so slightly large, so try them first. A ladies’ cut is also available (Tactical Icona II) in sizes 4-16. After 1200 miles and four washes they still look new, and I really like the detailing in terms of the 5-pocket design, branded button – and the use of a proper YKK zip.
The Bull-it Tactical Icon II jeans look and feel (and perform) like a quality high-end garment, for a price that feels like exceptionally good value.
Other riding jeans to consider:
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