Levi 501’s, Biker Jeans
When was the last time you wore khakis out riding on your bike? Or perhaps a pair of suit pants? For that matter those black tuxedo pants with the silk stripe up the leg that your sister made you rent when she married that jerk? Oh, — NEVER? I thought so. If my calculations are correct, after a lengthy scientific study, 97.85% of bikers prefer jeans. This analysis is skewed, partially due to a tiny percentage of drunken naked bikers, swimsuit and flip flop wearing bikers and actual tuxedo pant wearing bikers found in the southern region of Florida and parts of west Texas and northern California. So why do so many of us wear jeans? Is it because they are cool? Is it because they are tough? Is it because they are relatively cheap? Is it because they are readily available in most stores? Is it because they are safe and protect against road rash? Well, YES as a matter of fact, they are all those things and so much more. Although there are a lot of choices out there when I say “jeans”. All colors, all prices, all sizes. But ladies and gentleman, I’m talkin’ BLUE JEANS here. Good old fashioned American denim blue jeans. Here is where I get to interject my God given right to be selective in the jeans that I think men should wear when riding a motorcycle. Levis. Period, end of story. And while you’re reading this, specifically 501 Levi’s – button fly baby, no imitations.
As with all my tales, there is a rhyme to my reason. Here is my 501 back-story. When I was twelve, I went to work on a construction crew. I guess my parents agreed as I would gain not only college savings but collect some calluses and maybe some street smarts along the way. I fetched coffee, hauled lumber, pulled nails, stacked shingles and wound extension cords at the end of each day. I did not have much in the way of skill or muscle but I was anxious to earn both. I copied everything my co-workers did. Laced my boots around my ankles, wore Dickeys pocket T-shirts, slung my shiny 22 ounce framing hammer low like a Colt six shooter and, of course, quickly learned the cool jeans to wear on the job were Levi 501 button fly. Wore them then, wear them now. I’ve never wore another type of jean in all my life. 38 years later I still button up and button down at the urinal. It’s funny how things stick with you sometimes. I’m not knocking Wranglers, or Dickies, or Carhart, all of which I’ve seen on construction workers as well as bikers over the years. I may have even sported an odd brand here or there in my day, but always returned to old faithful, Levi blue, plain and simple, no frills. One thing is for certain, I can’t say I’ve ever wore a pair of jeans with sequins, rhinestones, pleats, buttoned flappy pockets or embroidery. Nothing worse than a grown man in girl’s jeans. Pull up on the big Harley, cut the engine, pop the helmet off and get off the bike exposing embroidery on your ass cheeks… FAIL!!! You know, the fleur-de-lis design, or worse yet, a crucifix or a flower.
But my main pet peeve is buttons on jean pockets with flaps. You know, like teenage girls wear. I hope you are not the guy who has buttons on the pockets of his jeans. Unless of course you are 17 years old and have a Bieber haircut. Then it’s OK. Although, in my humble opinion, you are simply a teenage douche!! Men should not have designs of ANY type on their jeans. Preferably a button fly on their 501’s, and that’s it. Maybe a YKK zipper on a 505 model (notwithstanding the fact that YKK stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha and was founded in 1934 in Japan / the target of a separate rant). Buttons on flappy pockets scream mid life crisis and are only bested on the ‘fail’ scale by a hairpiece or a ‘defiance’ T-shirt with wings embroidered across your back! Sorry, my bully pulpit.
You will notice when wearing new jeans, they tend to be a bit stiff and relax over time, wear, washes and miles. Like your bike itself, you settle into your jeans. Maybe they settle into you. Blue jeans were first invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873. Originally designed for use by miners and cow punchers. In my opinion, if motorcycles had been invented by then bikers would have been included in the “invented for” list. Jeans, a shortened phrase meaning Blue Jeans are typically sewn together using denim material. An FYI here: Denim is a sturdy woven cotton textile that is made in a weaving process wherein denim cords are woven together with the “weft” passing under two or more “warp” threads. This twill weaving produces the familiar diagonal ribbing of denim that distinguishes it from other woven cotton fabrics. It is also commonly associated with only the warp threads being dyed blue and the weft threads remain plain white. As a result of this warp faced twill weaving, only the one side of the twill weaving shows the blue warp color and the threads and the other side (inside the jeans) shows the white. Also, the core of the warp threads remains white, creating the denim’s fading characteristics. Now you know! Needless to say Mr. Levi and I have history, habit perhaps. Nonetheless, I am as comfortable in them as I am astride my ’52 pan. Rhinestones on flappy pockets, not so much. Bully pulpit indeed. –Irish
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