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TWF Review: Icon Anthem Denim/Aramid Pants

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Icon Anthem Pant​

Let’s face it. Many of us just can’t be bothered with a riding pant for quick rides. Leather can be hot, uncomfortable or just not practical at times. If you’re out on a short ride, stopping to refresh with a Gatorade at the 7/11, leather pants with kneepucks will certainly garner some curious looks from strangers. Aside from the odd looks, even a textile pant over a pair of jeans can be hot or impractical.

If you ride to work, dressing up and dressing down is a whole other discussion. While most of us do not take issue with the convenience of discarding a helmet or jacket, pants are another story. Seriously, how many of us change in and out of our leathers in the stall at work?

Whether you agree or not, the vast majority of leisure sportbikers tool around town with the pant of choice: denim jeans. Why? First and foremost, they’re easy. Blue jeans are generally accepted apparel virtually anywhere. Everyone has them and everyone wears them. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that a pair of off-the-rack Levis will afford you some form of abrasion resistance. While this is not entirely false, the extent to which your 501 Blues can protect you is highly overrated.

What is denim, where does it come from?
You can thank a Bavarian immigrant named Levi Strauss, a name with which we’re all familiar. In the mid to late 1800’s the gold rush was in full swing in California. Mr. Strauss fulfilled a need for apparel that would withstand the rigors of mining. Though denim wasn’t his first choice of material, it was his last. To this day, the term “Levi’s” is synonymous with denim jeans.

So, what is this material? Denim is a cotton twill fabric made by weaving dyed yarn with yarn that is not dyed. The weave pattern results in a very durable and strong material that can vary in weight. The industry term “weight” essentially refers to the thickness of the material. The fabric weight is measured by a 29 inch wide strip, one yard long. The weight is derived from the yarn and weaving technique. The heavier the weight, the thicker the material, generally speaking.

Pros and cons
For everyday wear, denim demonstrates tremendous durability over time. You’ll find denim in everything from shirts to shoes and even furniture. It’s all cotton, so it’s comfortable off the rack. Denim is inexpensive and easily repairable. However, it’s not without drawbacks.

Cotton is generally known to be a fabric that allows your body to “breathe”. While this is true with a lot of cotton weaves, denim is not necessarily one of them; particularly jean weight denim. While a 5oz weight denim shirt might provide comfort, a shirt made from 13oz jean-weight denim would not. For this reason, denim jeans are not the most comfortable in hot weather. When denim gets wet, it also becomes uncomfortable and takes a long time to dry.

Outside of everyday wear, the durability of off-the-rack jeans diminishes greatly. In an extreme situation, such as going down on a motorcycle, denim will not provide very good resistance to abrasion, alone. While the material will buy you a short amount of time before road rash develops, it simply cannot adequately protect alone.

So, how can we still wear jeans AND protect our behinds at the same time? The answer is simple. You take a fabric developed well over 100 years ago and weave it with a fabric developed 40 years ago: Kevlar ®.

What is Kevlar ®, where does it come from?
This amazing material, invented in 1965, is manufactured by DuPont. Ounce for ounce, it is 5 times stronger than steel! (source) Fibers of KEVLAR® are composed of long molecular chains produced from poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide. This molecule has an excellent resistance to high temperatures and flames. Offering strength under heat, Kevlar® protects against thermal hazards up to 800 degrees F.

The strength of Kevlar® and the dynamic thermal properties of the material make it a natural choice for many applications. The high-tensile strength has made Kevlar® the standard in bullet-resistant vests for over 25 years. You can kind Kevlar® in everything from ropes to boats; and, of course, motorcycle gear.

The lightweight and flexible properties make it ideal for gear. It’s unobtrusive, unrestrictive and promises to protect you better than no Kevlar® at all.

What can Kevlar® do for ME?
The last thing you want to worry about if you have to bail from your bike, is whether your gear is going to live up to its claim. Kevlar® is one material that will protect your rear in more ways than one. Whether strategically sewn with other materials, or woven into another fabric, Kevlar® has proven itself for decades.

Abrasion equals friction and sliding across the pavement creates plenty of friction. Friction equals heat, and that all adds up to a bad afternoon. While Kevlar® is going to transfer heat to your skin, it is a self extinguishing fabric. That is, should it catch fire it won’t burn long. Aside from that, the molecular strength promises to keep the material in one piece as you practice your Olympic louge technique minus the louge.

Kevlar® is the registered name for the material manufactured by DuPont. For licensing reasons, you may see these fabrics referred to as "Aramid".

So, let’s put these two together
Now that you’re an expert on denim and Kevlar® or Aramid, let’s apply our knowledge. Better yet, let’s let someone else do it for us.

One of the current products offerings from Icon,, is the Anthem Pant. This riding pant is specifically designed for the casual rider who wants protection but would still like to wear jeans. Style-wise, these aren’t your Father’s jeans.

With integrated Aramid panels in the knee and hip areas, “articulated” knees for enhanced flexibility, and a comfortable loose fit, these jeans will protect while maintaining your coolness factor even after you jettison your ride.

Icon has sewn on pockets, to the postier, that are extra deep. You can rest assured your wallet won’t pop out in the twisties. They also provide a second layer of denim/protection.

Our testing
One of the first things that we all really liked about our Anthem test duds was the comfort. Right off the rack, these jeans fit like a glove. The “loose fit” design makes for something comfortable enough; you could wear it all day. Now, when we say loose fit you’re probably envisioning a gangsta rapper wearing some ghetto blaster jeans that has a crotch sagging to the knees. We’re here to tell you, that’s not what these jeans are about. It’s more of a relaxed fit than loose, not Country Thunder Wrangler tight, but not baggy enough where you should be sporting gang colors… just right. Unless you’ve got a 36” waist and you’re 5’4” tall, you’ll be fine.

It’s because of this; sitting on your bike is about as comfortable as a pair of jeans can be. They don’t bind or bunch up, articulation is unrestricted; that is bending at the hips and knees do not result in a loss of circulation. In fact the knees have a separate panel designed to allow free movement, and they work great. Off the bike, the extra fabric bunched up at the knee feels a little odd if you brush up against something, but otherwise it’s virtually unnoticeable.

The denim and Aramid construction make for a jean that is also very stretchable. To our surprise, the jeans give quite a bit, particularly the Aramid panels. These panels are found around the hip and knee areas. Most of our staffers were happy to see that the stretchable Aramid hip panels would conform to their burgeoning waistlines as the White Castle burgers catch up with us in our old age. The inside waistline also has a comfortable lining, unlike a pair of everyday jeans.

You might think a heavyweight denim pant would be hot to wear in the summer, well it is. Then again, unless you’re wearing shorts anything is going to be warm in July. The good news is the knee openings provide for some ventilation and the loose fit doesn’t make it feel like shrink wrap on your skin. And as with any denim jean, don’t get them wet or you’re in for a long ride to dryness unless you’re carving canyons in the Mohave.

Icon has some strategically placed advertisements, er we mean patches, on several locations on the jeans. They’re subtle and don’t take away from the overall style, in fact they might make you feel younger and more hip. The jeans have a worn or almost used look to them, and it’s intentional; after all that’s the style today. We’re betting the stunting crowd is going to order these in lots of a dozen.

The upper thigh features some horizontal streaks to further the worn look. There is probably some industry term for this, but it’s not important. They serve no functional purpose other than to let the opposite sex know you don’t buy your gear at Wal-Mart.

One of the more appreciated features concerns the rear pockets. Most of us at TWF don’t like to ride with things in our pockets as they tend to become objects that unceremoniously become embedded in your skin during a wreck. However, should you choose to do so, you’ll be pleased to note that your wallet or keys won’t be in the way. More importantly they won’t be ejected as you perform the knee dragging cheek shift around the twisties. The pockets are extra deep; a full 12 inches at their deepest point.

Above the left rear cheek pocket is an exposed panel boasting “Aramid Reinforced”. Once more, Aramid is synonymous with Kevlar® to the average person. This panel is the only exposed evidence of this amazing fabric in the pant.

You can get the Anthem in any color you like, provided it’s either blue or black. The black comes sans patches.

Overall, we liked the style. They are more than your average pair of jeans, and we actually liked the “Hey these aren’t Daddy’s Levi’s” message they broadcast.

The Anthem pants are constructed with 14 ounce denim. This isn’t the thickest denim on the market; Wrangler makes a “premium” denim pant with a 15 ounce weight and there are others. That noted, a heavier weight does not a riding pant make. There are other comfort and safety features that go into the engineering of a riding pant. For one, it must be sewn to withstand the impact of a fall.

On the Anthem pant, the outside seam features triple thread construction, which makes it less likely to come apart under stress. Of course, the pants won’t help YOU from falling apart under the stress of going down, but we digress…

The belt loops are extra wide and long to accommodate any belt you have in your closet. The extra size also means they’re sewn on well enough you could hang them on a hook and the hook will pull out of the wall before the belt loops give way.

Several points on the jeans are sewn with a red reinforcement stitching. For instance the knee opening has reinforced sewing on the ends of the opening. The thought is if it were caught on something, the reinforced stitching would prevent the pant from tearing.

These jeans are made overseas, but the quality control seems to be up to par with other riding apparel from what we could tell. For a street price of around $100 it would be nice to see a Made in U.S.A. label, but if you’re looking for gear with that distinction, good luck. Our Anthem pants withstood the rigors of our staffers without complaining, and we even got them wet.

When you’ve worn them long enough even the dog won’t go near your Anthem pants, just toss them in the washer in cold water. We allowed ours to air dry to reduce the risk of them shrinking from the heat in the dryer. Other than a being a little stiff from the hard water, they were comfortable after a short period of time working out the stiffness.

Okay, so it can’t ALL be good?
There was not much to dislike about our test jeans, really! They’re not marketed as a replacement to expensive riding gear, and we certainly didn’t expect that. There were a few items we wondered about, however.

First off, the way the knee is engineered for easy movement, it appears to leave a large area exposed with what looks and feels like neoprene. That is, when the knee is bent, there is no denim on the tip of your knee. Upon further inspection (turning the pant inside out) you see the Aramid panels as evidenced by trademark yellow color. It’s not abundantly obvious from the outside of the jean. It’s worth mentioning if you saw them on the rack and wondered why there is (seemingly) little protection in the knee area.

We said it once, we’ll say it again: These pants are a tad on the warm side. The scorching heat and humidity of the southeastern U.S. did not have mercy on us. Are they hotter than any other pant you’d wear? Not really. Denim just isn’t the best material for breathability, but if you wanted ventilation you probably would have no interest in riding gear in the first place.

Let’s briefly talk about sizing. The Anthem pant is made from waist size 28-44, which means there should be a size for everyone. If you’re smaller than a 28, you probably ride a pocketbike, in which case leg protection isn’t your only concern. What we didn’t see was an inseam measurement. Therefore if you’re 6’ tall and skinny with a 34” waist, the knee protection might not match up with your knees in the riding position. The same goes if you’re short any, um, portly; there may be more pant than you need.

The only other thing we would have liked to see was more Aramid panels. Or, maybe the option to insert padding with more of the Aramid fabric. We’re not really sure why, and we have no scientific basis for this request other than it’s nice to know that it’s there. We suspect, though widely abundant, integrating more Aramid fabric into the pant would price it out of reach of the target demographic. And, of course, there already are Aramid panels in the most important areas anyway. I guess that’s why we leave these things to the experts.

Putting it all into perspective
For the occasional quick jaunt around town this pant answers the need for the blue jean lover in you. Engineered by riders for riders, the Anthem pant is way more than a pair of jeans. Icon calls them an “engineered riding pant”, and we agree. The stunting crowd is going to love these pants as well.

The Anthem jeans are not the first Aramid reinforced denim pant on the market, and certainly won’t be the last. For style and function we give these jeans a thumbs up. While these jeans have a street price of around $100, we still think they’re a good addition to your cache of riding apparel. Heck, you could even sport these around town when you’re not riding the bike. Leather riding jackets seem to all the rage in Hollywood after all.

The Anthem pants are comfortable, stylish and affordable riding gear. If you’ve not taken a look at Icon gear in the past, you should look at these pants. We see no reason why they can’t go up against any other better-known Kevlar® or Aramid reinforced britches. We know we’re going wear ours until they wear out!

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