I recently spoke about single and double-layered jeans and how the latter can allow each layer to do the job it was intended for. And that’s true – they can. However, the latest raft of material technology now means that single-layer jeans can do the same job but without the need for heavyweight denim outer layer and a separate protective layer acting as a liner.
The obvious benefit here is that they are cooler and potentially more comfortable, as you are wearing what is, to all intents and purposes, a pair of normal jeans, albeit with the pre-requisite knee and hip armour installed. However, unlike normal jeans, these ones won’t shred instantly if you fall off the bike and end up sliding along the road.
These single-layer jeans from Oxford are, in the first instance, impressive. They boast a CE rating of AAA – the highest possible for abrasion resistance and construction strength and this is normally achieved by leather jackets and trousers - so far so good.
They also boast Level-2 armour in the knees and the hips – all AA or AAA rated trousers should be fitted with hip armour as well as the mandatory knee protection. So on paper at least, they are as protective as they can be.
They are available in a range of cuts and finishes as well as three leg lengths for each waist size to make sure that the knee armour is in exactly the right place when you’re on the bike.
The two cuts are slim or straight; I tried both and could not get the slim design over my legs – admittedly I’m fairly chunky with large calves and thighs compared with my waist so I switched to the straight cut and these went on fine.
They were snug on the legs but the stretch component of the material means that they are not uncomfortable and in fact, this helps to keep the armour located correctly whether on or off the bike.
As a pair of jeans, they fit really nicely; the legs aren’t too long (I went for a regular leg though I’m only a 30in inside leg and these work fine) and the areas around the waist and the crotch is also a good fit – they don’t look like dad jeans, for example, which is good. Even for a dad…
Throwing a leg over the bike, that stretch ability is again welcome as it allows you to move with no issues at all. Once on, you can move around easily and they won’t gape or rub and the armour stays put all the time.
The lower legs are narrow so you’ll struggle to get them over a pair of sports boots or even touring ones, so you’ll probably need a pair of shorter, urban-style boots. This of course means a potential compromise in safety – they won’t offer as much protection as full-height boots but that might be a trade-off you’re prepared to take.
Related: Spada Rigger riding jeans review
It’s one I was satisfied with during the summer. As single layer, they are much cooler and easier to wear than thicker, multi-layer jeans and with that goes the coolness and flexibility of a pair of shorter boots.
Unless you knew what you were looking at, you’d struggle to identify them as riding jeans – the only giveaway is the slight protrusion of the armour when you’re standing up.
That stretch and comfort means that are easily all-day comfortable, whether you are on the bike or off it at a meet, visiting points of interest or in the office.
The armour is reassuring in its presence but not obtrusive and though mine have picked up a few marks from where the edge of the armour catches the tank when I grab it with my knees, there is no evidence of wear at all.
For comfort, protection and a non-biking look and feel, they are a great option; at less than £150, they’re a bargain.
All-day comfortable fit
Genuine non-biking appearance
Highest protection ratings
Lower leg too narrow for sports boots