Riding denims are always a comfortable and convenient option in Indian weather, and I've been using a pair of denims for almost all purposes, except track riding, and they have seen me through some light off-road work as well, without any incident, except for a few minor scrapes on the fabric, but no injury whatsoever. The collaboration between Royal Enfield and Levi's has offered a range of jeans, jackets and casual wear which can double up as motorcycle riding gear. We've been using the Royal Enfield X Levi's Pro motorcycle jeans for sometime now, to see what they offer, and if they are as good as they seem like.
Design and Features
At first glance, the Royal Enfield X Levi's X 511s could be mistaken for a regular pair of denims, except for a few subtle differences. The colour of the 511s are dark blue, not your regular faded denims, but there are some telltale signs that these aren't your regular pair of jeans. Visually, there are reflective patches on the bottom sideseam, the leather patch at the back has the Royal Enfield logo along with the traditional "two horse" Levi's patch. The waist button also has the RE logo to indicate that this is very much a "RE" collaboration as much as a pair of Levi's.
Comfort and Fit
The RE X Levi's 511s offer a fit similar to your regular pair of Levi's, but yes, they 'feel' different. Part of that is due to the textile and construction, as well as the slightly different fit. I, for one, am not used to wearing tapered, slim fit denims, and although the 511s look good as far as fit goes, you can't wear them over your full-length adventure boots, if you intend to go off-road riding in them. Yes, you can certainly tuck the denims inside your boots if that's comfortable for you. With my regular daily and touring leather riding boots, the legs of the denims slid over the top quite easily, so yes, you can very easily wear them to work, or for that social do.
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Safety and Features
The Royal Enfield X Levi's 511s are made with Cordura and are said to be four times more durable and tougher than regular cotton denim. But that shouldn't be the only protection while riding. The material may be abrasion resistant, but the 512s also feature knee and hip armour pockets. Of course, do keep in mind that the armour has to be purchased separately. I've used all kinds of armour, ranging from CE-approved and CE-certified Level 2 armours to D30 soft armour, which in my opinion, offer the best comfort. The 511s also offer hip pockets for armour, and you shouldn't ignore that area, as many riders do. In case of a fall, it isn't just the knees that are vulnerable! Other pockets are your regular five-pocket Levi's jeans apart from a "special" pocket on the right thigh to store your cellphone or other handy bits, while on the ride.
The RE X Levi's 511 Pro motorcycle jeans is priced at ₹ 6,999, and is available online on the Royal Enfield digital store. You can also go to a Royal Enfield physical brand store to check out actual colours, and fit if you please. For me, the sizing and fit is perfect, and I mostly wear Levi's as my regular denims, and the 511s proved to be of similar fit. Yes, motorcycle jeans offer a far more comfortable experience, particularly in the Indian summer, and you can use them on an everyday basis, while going to work, or meeting up with friends or running errands.
Having said that, motorcycle denims do not offer the same level of protection as proper textile riding pants with superior abrasion resistant material, if you're going touring, or in case of an unfortunate high-speed spill. At that price, the Royal Enfield X Levi's 511 Pro offers superb value, and is still a lot more affordable than my regular favourite denims which I've been using for several years now. But do keep in mind, the armour is absolutely necessary, for both knees and hip pockets, and will set you back by anything between ₹ 1,500 - 4,000, depending on quality and brand.
(Photography: Prashant Chaudhary)