So in mid January 2021 I convinced my father and my brother to come for a 3-day ride with me into the cooler parts of Western Australia; it’s south west. It was an occasion to bond (and argue) and also a good opportunity for me to shakedown some of my gear (My plan is to do a lot more overnight trips with me and my motorcycle over the coming year). In preparation I took a pair of Saint UNBREAKABLE 4450 Skinny Stretch Jeans off the rack along with some Ghost D30 leg armour.
Am I a safety minimalist?
I am not usually one of those overly protected riders who dress up like a battle ready samurai, covered from head to foot in pads and braces and multiple layers of advanced fabrics. I like to be comfortable. And look cool.
I’m a minimalist in most aspects of my life and I have generally carried this concept over to my riding gear. A pair of decent denim jeans, ankle covering shoes and a “thick-ish” jacket are usually the extent that I would go to in order to stave off the ouchies. Yes, I can feel the veins popping in the wise old uncle types out there who want to throttle me and tell me what a foolish lad I am for not wearing “proper” riding gear and I acknowledge your sage wisdom. I’ve even had a few crashes that have left me scraped, bleeding and broken (including a trashed knee) but I take the position that “well, I just won’t do that silly thing again” so why buy expensive protective gear that’s gonna make me feel hot and bothered! Go on - type that witty, facetious rebuke to me, saw the barrel off, but don’t blast me with it just yet. I may have changed? Or not?
Hot. Damn Hot!
Anyway, it’s summer here in Fremantle WA and it was 42+ degrees Celsius in mid-jan when we planned this trip. My mother refused to let Dad come along because she thought it would be too hot for the old goat (he’s 75 years old to be fair). “Nah”, I declared, “It’ll be way cooler down south!” Spoiler alert: It bloody wasn’t!
We hit the trail from my parents house in Landsdale at about 10am on Sunday the 17th and it was already 36 degrees.
What the hell is DYNEEMA?
The Saint UNBREAKABLE Skinny Stretch 4450’s are made using DYNEEMA denim which is a mix of chemically engineered DYNEEMA fibres and regular denim. The claim is that the 25% of DYNEEMA fibres to 68% cotton (5% nylon and 2% elastin) makes a stronger pair of single layer jeans than Aramid (Kevlar) and multi-layered options. DYNEEMA is a relatively new technology compared to Aramid (first developed in the 60’s) and boasts being 30% lighter than nylon and polyester and 15 times stronger than steel!
The crux of the Saint selling point is that the 4450’s are like wearing a normal pair of jeans that offer protection for up to 70 metres of slide along the bitumen.
So the legitimacy of the “UNBREAKABLE” in Saint’s jeans aside, I do want to comment on the “single layer” advantage of these pants. At AU$500 a pair, they are not cheap. Not when one can buy a pair of DriRider Kevlar lined jeans for $150 or $300+ for a pair of Draggin jeans. These jeans offer double layered protection often with Aramid. So is the single layer of all-over protection worth the extra hundreds? Read on...
I did find the Saint’s very comfortable to wear and they were compatible to wearing a regular pair of jeans. I felt good wearing them. By that I mean, the stretch fit around my legs felt quite hugging and my manhood was held gently but firmly in respectful embrace… Ahhhhh. The 4450’s do have internal mesh pockets for the D30 armour, but I did not feel that these extra layers (without the armour fitted) made me feel like I was wearing anything special. I wore these jeans in the shop in Fremantle for two days before the ride including to the pub for a beer or two and it did not look or feel like I was wearing motorcycle pants. I actually look forward to wearing them now outside or riding.
Perth - Dwellingup - Waroona - Bridgetown
On day one we rode out via the South West Highway, which is the old inland road to the South West. We deviated further inland to Dwellingup and cut through the beautiful state forest en route to Warrona and then Bridgetown. Some fantastic swooping and tree lines roads allowed us to twist the throttle up to “fun” occasionally and practice our lines through the corners. All the while, however, the temperature kept rising. We averaged temperatures of about 36 degrees throughout the day.
When riding, the 4450’s were as comfortable at my “normal” jeans. I was riding my Triumph American (pictured above) so as a cruiser I was in a pretty cozy sitting position. That said, I didn’t find them placing undue pressure on my knees, crotch, waist etc, which to be honest, I was fully expecting (especially with the Ghost D30 Armour fitted). The stretch in this particular fabric is quite impressive when you consider how strong it claims to be.
On the first day it was, as I said, quite hot. And at one point I adjusted my position in the saddle and discovered a thing of joy. Now, my body has always taken the default position, cruiser or not, that my knees stay reasonably close in to the tank - I’m like a frilly collar puritan type I guess. But you know how you’ve seen those badass bikie types riding their sleds with that cavalier “here’s my junk-the fuck you gonna do about it” man-spread going on? Turns out it’s to cool your balls not just catch bugs! When i opened my knees and let that sweet air hit my sweaty-nethers I became a changed man forever. From now on when you see me comin, you’ll see more of me.
Bridgetown to Augusta and Margs
After an overnight stay in Bridgetown, we started Monday the 18th on Brockman highway. This single lane route to Nannup was one of the highlights of the ride for me. It was virtually empty at 9am in the morning and wove a winding track up and down hills out of the high country. It was bliss. If you ever get the chance to enjoy this country side, please do.
Our destination was Margaret River via Augusta where we wanted to visit a special plaque that had meaning for the three of us.
I gotta tell you: Augusta is listed as the third coldest place in Western Australia with an annual maximum mean temperature of 19 degrees. On this day the town was baking at 34 degrees. I’ve never been there when it’s been so hot.
We rode out to the Leeuwin Lighthouse and took a walk around the old settlement. I had a chance here to appraise the jeans as we walked.
During the heat of the day I could feel these jeans. They were not overly heavy, but the fabric was slightly more substantial than say my pair of Natural Selection Selvedge Denims. So single layer or not, I felt I was going to be warmer in these than a “regular” pair of quality jeans. That being said, because they were a slim fit, I felt snut moving about in them because there was less chafing than a looser fitting pant.
My brother and father wandered up to the lighthouse and off to the left was a memorial dedicated to the N-Class Destroyers that saw service in the Australian Navy in WW2. There is also a commemorative cairn to the death of 10 HMAS Nizam sailors who tragically lost their lives by being swept overboard near the Cape on February 11, 1945. But we had come to see one plaque in particular. The main wall of the memorial shows the names of men who served and have since passed away on the N class vessels: Five Destroyers - Napier, Nizam, Nestor, Norman and Nepal. In the centre of the wall was one name in particular - Jack Stillman who served on the Napier. My grandfather.
Size and Fit
I wore a pair of 32 waist, 34 leg 4450’s and I definitely appreciated the extra length. I found this covered my boots well even when I was riding. I find that some of my jeans without the extra length end up sneaking up my when I ride, exposing my legs almost up to my calf’s. I am 6”1, 80kgs. If you don’t want or need the extra length you can roll the cuff which is the style these days. You have my permission.
A few warnings - not negatives - to buyers of the 4450 Saint UNBREAKABLE Jeans:
- The cuff is quite small. This is advantageous because it provides excellent coverage of your boot (combined with the longer length) but at the end of the day when you’re a hot sweaty mess it was like a minor trauma contorting my almost 50 year old torso down to surgically peel the ends of my jeans off my ankles. I can see some of my more hefty brothers out there risking psychological anguish with this in these particular model of jeans (Wandering about in dazed confusion with their pants around their knees begging strangers to help them 😂). If this is you, get a boot cut 😉.
- I purchased the new black colour. I am a denim traditionalist in as much as I like to wear good quality denim as long as possible between washes (because it helps them age with more character). However, because of the amount of perspiration and kamikaze bugs I encountered on this trip (an unusual amount of insects on the crotch for some reason 🤔), I washed them after 5 days of wearing them . I was surprised with how much they faded after one wash. I am not necessarily worried about this as I think faded black jeans look better. I admit to not following the recommendation to turn them inside out to wash so heed the warnings on the labels and wash and wear these jeans as recommended. Or don’t. Meh 😕
Wearing with D30 Armour
The 4450’s have light weight mesh pockets inside on the hips and knees to accomodate Ghost D30 armour. At the last minute I fitted these for this trip and I am glad I did. I’ve already admitted to being a poster boy for the “Meh” Brigade when it comes to safety gear but I totally get this stuff now. Once fitted, the Ghost D30 Knee and Hip pads just disappear. I honestly had to feel around to be sure they were even there and pointing in the right direction sometimes. Compared to the CAT1 armour my father was wearing, I wasn’t signalling that I was up for any high speed para-rolls or a 20 yard touchdown.
I’m a believer now
It’s worth mentioning that on this ride I was also wearing a Saint Aramid lined jacket (a discontinued line) fitted with D30 jacket armour from Ghost. This was the most protected I have ever been on my motorcycle. Which brings me to my final confession. I felt safer. As safe as you can when you are hurtling face (and crotch) first into oncoming traffic at 110kph. Avoiding accidents though foolish behaviour and negligence was still my responsibility but there was an element of comfort that I found in having smart layers of defence between me and the road. The mild discomfort (heat mostly) I felt from slightly more layers than I usually would wear was more than offset with that feeling of reduced consequences should the unthinkable happen.
I think it’s worth having the right gear and wearing it up to the extent that you can afford. At $500 a pair, the Saint UNBREAKABLE 4450’s are not necessarily within everyone’s reach. This being said, I see justification for their purchase from riders who want that extra bit of comfort and can see themselves wearing them year round on occasions outside of motorcycle riding. Untimely, riding a motorcycle is an activity synonymous with risk and we must all, as riders, mitigate the cost with the reward. So you do you.