Shift Havoc Hybrid Motorcycle Riding Pants Review

[This Shift Havoc Hybrid Motorcycle Riding Pants Review was originally published in the May 2008 issue of Rider magazine]

A pair of riding pants suitable for touring can be hard to find, especially if I want something that will still look good and feel comfortable after 10 days on the road. Some people like leather, others prefer man-made material–and then there is a combination of both. I appreciate the leather for the look and abrasion resistance, and the textile aspect for the wearability. These Havoc Hybrid motorcycle pants I have been wearing are about 75 percent cowhide, 25 percent nylon and polyester. With a 100 percent polyester lining.

There is 1.2mm leather everywhere that might touch the pavement in case of a get-off, with 600-denier fabric on the inner thighs and lower legs, covering parts of me which are not likely to suffer rash in a slide down the road. The knees have removable armor, as well as accordion stretch panels which make the big knee-bend quite comfortable. There is also a stretch panel at the back, just above my butt, easing the pull when I lean my torso forward. On a long day the Havocs never made me suffer with any binding, and became quite natural.

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The design is essentially street, with a little veneer of off-roading to give it the tough look. The cuffs fit over my boots, not inside. I put my boots on after the pants, but each lower leg has a 10-inch zipper allowing the pants to be pulled on over the biggest footwear.

Making sure that the pants don’t fall down, “tunnel” adjustments are at the waist, one on each side. I put on a pair of suspenders, not because I needed them but just because I think that looks cool. For carrying stuff, two zippered pockets are built in, one on each hip, and a small zippered “cargo” pocket is on the left thigh. These are good for a wallet, a handkerchief, keys–that sort of lightweight stuff.

The areas right behind the knees are “ventilated” to a minor degree, with a breathable stretch fabric and slightly perforated leather. Ninety-degree days were quite tolerable, and I imagine that this winter I will pull on a pair of silk long-johns to keep going when Jack Frost is nipping at me.

The only drawback to these pants is that I can’t just throw them in thewashing machine, but I found cleanliness in sponging off the lining with soapy water and then letting it air-dry. The pants don’t pretend to be waterproof, but that is why rainsuits were invented.

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Protection is not lightweight, and my W40 (40-inch waist) size came in at 4 pounds. I’m all in favor of this “hybrid construction” in the Havoc pants, which offer good protection and reasonable style. And comes in any color you want as long as it’s black for $199.95.

For more information contact Shift Racing, 18400 Sutter Boulevard, Morgan Hill, California 95037; (888) SHIFT.IT (744-3848); www.shiftracing.com

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