Years ago, when I got my first set of custom-made racing leathers, the first time I put them on I thought something was terribly wrong. The arms were too long, the seat hung down like a full diaper, I could barely stand up straight––they just didn’t fit. The tailor listened patiently to me freaking out and then told me to sit on my bike. Ahh! I see! The suit was designed to fit right on the bike, not walking around the pits. And so it goes with good street-riding gear, too, including Aerostich’s AD1 pants.
Aerostich’s original riding pants, the Dariens, are cut like jeans and feel like jeans off the bike. On some bikes, though, like those with forward-leaning riding positions, they were just a wee bit off for me, like when I hopped off my GL1800 and onto my Bonneville. On the smaller bike with the lower handlebar, the front of the Dariens bunched at the waist, and the crotch hung too low to easily swing my leg over the seat without hiking the pants up first.
The AD1 pants were designed to address some of these issues. The “rise”––the vertical distance from the crotch to the top of the waistband––of the Darien pants is the same front and back; viewed from the side, the waistband intersects a line drawn through the leg seam at a 90-degree angle. The waistband itself is a straight piece of fabric. On the AD1 the rise is lower in the front than the back, and the waistband is a curved piece of fabric that assumes a conical shape when it’s sewn onto the pants. The way Aerostich puts it is the Dariens fit like Levi’s 501 jeans, and the AD1s like khaki Dockers.
On the bike, the difference is noticeable. The AD1s bunch less in front on the lean-forward Bonneville. The lower rise makes the crotch ride a little higher, too, so swinging a leg over the seat is easier than with the Dariens.
There are other differences between the Dariens and the AD1s. Like the Dariens, the AD1s have hook-and-loop adjustment strips on the cuffs to seal out wind and rain. But the AD1 cuffs are radial so they taper down at the ankle for a snugger fit; the Dariens are more straight-cut. There’s an inner gusset behind the AD1 fly to address the leakage problem some riders have with Dariens. The knees bend around a larger radius for less binding; I really noticed this difference on longer rides.
The AD1s have a vertical zippered cargo pocket on the front of the right thigh and a horizontal-opening pocket on the left, as well as hook-and-loop-secured front pockets where you’d expect them on jeans. The full-length side zippers have inner and outer weather flaps, and open up far enough to put the pants on without taking off your boots.
The knee pads attach to vertical hook-and-loop strips inside the pants that let you move the pads up and down several inches to position them where they need to be in case of a crash. There’s also hook-and-loop inside the hips for optional hip pads.
My old Darien pants have many thousands of miles on them and are as comfortable as old jeans, so they’re not headed for retirement just yet. But the AD1s get the nod just as often now that I’m spending more time on my Bonneville; the thigh pockets, the canted rise and the tapered cuffs are just so damned useful.
The AD1s I tested are made of HT600 denier nylon backed with Gore-Tex; there’s also an AD1 light made of 200 denier. AD1s come with an Aerostich zippered money belt in case you fill up all those other pockets and don’t have anywhere for your wallet.
They come in basic black in waist sizes 30-44 regular or long for $307; custom sizing is available at additional charge.
For more information, contact Aerostich at (800) 222-1994 or visit aerostich.com.
(This is a web exclusive gear review from Rider magazine.)