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John Doe Defender Mono Cargo Trousers “Legs-In” Review

John Doe Defender Mono Cargo Trousers Review Summary
Review Summary
Since these are made in the EU, they’re called ‘trousers!’ Here in the States, we simply say jeans, for crying out loud. Before discovering these John Doe Defender Mono Cargo Trousers (AKA jeans), I had never heard of John Doe. I didn’t expect to like these pants as much as I do. AAA abrasion rated, armor in the knees and hips, with a tapered leg style, AND OFFERED IN DIFFERENT LENGTHS! Most pants offered for motorcycling only have a single inseam length. Cool, comfortable, with belt loops, and protective—what more can I ask for!?
Aesthetics

Build Quality

Comfort and Fit

Protection

Features

Value

Reader Rating0 Votes

Pros
AAA CE rating
Available in varying inseam lengths
Belt Loops
Single layer fabric comfort
Flows air well
Well sewn
Level 1 armor in knees and hips
Smart adjustment knee placement
Rear pockets
Cons
Water repellent not waterproof
Knee armor could be wider
No pocket for coccyx armor
EU returns/exchanges from the USA can be a PITA

4.8
Excellent!
Buy Now

Who Is John Doe—Jane’s Brother?

I was made aware of John Doe motorcycle gear by a British friend who swears by the brand. He had tried on my KLIM Marrakesh pants and KLIM Marrakesh jacket, comparing those items’ quality and comfort to John Doe’s  brand. To date, those two KLIM items are the most comfortable pieces I own for riding.

My issue after doing the normal research of the John Doe brand is that their items aren’t very available in the USA—at least not in the San Francisco Bay Area. So I ordered a pair in my regular jean size, which is also the size of my KLIM Marrakesh pants (34/30). I was very impressed that John Doe offers different sizes in length. I find there are very few makers who offer pant lengths other than the standard 32” or LONG.

When the pants arrived, I found the waist much too small for my waistline. Since 34/30 is my regular Levi 505 size and the same as my KLIMs, I was disappointed. It was then I discovered returning merchandise to Spain (where the retailer is located) is a total pain.

John Doe is a German firm, but Chromeburner, where I got them from, is located in Spain. I ordered their next size up 36/30, and they arrived swiftly—and fit me just right. As of this writing, I’m still waiting for my refund on the previous pair.

And by the way, John has a sister named Jane—which is to say, John Doe makes women’s riding apparel too.

Key Details for John Doe Defender Mono Cargo Trousers:

  • CE certification: AAA (EN17092-2:2020)
  • Monolayer design XTM-Fiber®/stretch cotton twill blend design
  • XTM protector-ready Integrated height-adjustable knee protector pockets
  • Integrated hip protector pockets Level 1 knee and hip protectors included
  • Water-repellent and breathable
  • Multi stretch comfort
  • Cargo pockets—press stud and zipper
  • YKK zipper
  • Slim-fit/slim leg from knee to ankle

Packaging & Presentation for the John Doe Mono Cargo Trousers

In these times where manufacturers attempt to copy Apple’s packaging protocol, John Doe is no exception. This is the very first time I’ve experienced a piece of motorcycle riding gear presented in the same manner.

John Doe jeans box Unboxing

Interior presentation

I must say I was impressed. But would my first impression continue, or would I tell my Brit pal that the jeans were more flash than function?

John Doe Defender Mono Cargo Trousers Protection

I buy all of my riding gear based on protection first, and comfort/fit second. Protection is paramount to me for many reasons, but primarily due to racetrack crashes I’ve experienced in the past. No broken bones, no road rash, just simple concussions (“hey if you never crash you’re not going fast enough” is our famous team saying).

When I discovered that the jeans have a AAA CE rating, I was blown away. A single-layer fabric with that amount of abrasion resistance is quite remarkable. I needed to learn a bit more about how CE rates garments based on their testing. After trying to muscle through the actual literature, I found a simple explanation of motorcycle armor ratings online. The following is just a small snippet:

“The European Commission had 20 years of experience of how the motorcycle industry—en masse—had tried to avoid its legal obligations under the 89/686/EEC Personal Protective Equipment Directive of 1989. This is presumably why, in January 2016, it got the MEPs in the European Parliament to say that from 21 April 2018—the date of full implementation of the new PPE regulation 2016/425—all motorcycle clothing would be PPE, and must be independently tested and certified by an independent body.

“The Commission presumably looked at all the loopholes that the industry had used, and how to close them. The only item of motorcycle clothing now that will not be deemed to be protective clothing is specific, dedicated rainwear with no other purpose, and no capacity to take any form of protector. Just an outer shell that keeps the wet at bay.”

The jeans use John Doe’s XTM Level 1 CE Approved—EN 1621-1:2012 armor in the knees and hips. The material is similar to D30 and is manufactured by another German company, Speedfab. It is very flexible and has the same properties as the D30 pads I have in my other gear.

The reality to me is if the armor has the CE-approved EN 1621-1:2012 rating, it is as effective as D30. If at some point John Doe offers optional Level 2 rated armor that fits into the jeans I will purchase the armor.

Hip armor Knee armor

The hip armor is not adjustable, but the knee armor is for vertical as well as horizontal placement. I found the hip armor to be in the correct position, probably because it corresponds with the pant size.

Interior image of hip armor pockets

The hip armor resides in fabric pockets that are stitched at the top into the jean’s waistline. The material is very soft, perhaps cotton, and I could not feel them once I pulled the pants on. Very comfy. The armor is removable when washing the jeans is needed.

See also: The Evolution of Armor: An Investigation Into the Gear that Keeps You Safe

Image showing hip armor pocket

There isn’t any velcro on these pockets for the hip armor. They simply slip into the pockets and a fabric flap covers the pocket securely holding the armor in place.

I appreciate washing instructions that are large and easy to read for those of us who are farsighted.

Washing instructions #1 Washing instructions #2

The placement and attaching points of the knee armor are innovative. In my other pants, the armor is held into place with velcro on the exterior facing portion of the pad. On John Doe’s, the velcro is placed on the inside of the armor. And the very thin material that holds the armor in place has placement targets silk screened onto the fabric of each leg.

 

Jeans turned inside out Close up of knee armor target Knee armor slid out of armor pocket Knee armor showing velcro

It may not seem like a big deal where the velcro is placed on armor. But to me, it makes a very big difference. So often, when I attempt to locate armor in the correct spot for my body, I find that velcro attaches inadvertently to the fabric. So I’m often found struggling (and cussing) to remove the velcro from its unintended sticking point. UGH!

With the velcro on the interior portion of the armor, I simply fold the armor into a taco and slide it up into the armor pocket. Because the velcro is not exposed to the attachment fabric, I can easily place the armor.

Once I have it in the correct position, I simply unfold the taco and it sits where I intended it to be placed. Genius design, simple and effective. But wait there’s even more!

Folding the armor to insert into pocket

I have always had a tough time placing my armor where I find it fits. But with the John Doe target, this is what I do. I call it a trick, not a hack (because I’m old school).

I turn the jeans inside out and put them on buttoned up. Yep, it feels funny to wear my pants inside out, but so what! In college, I’ve done it drunk leaving a young lady’s house so doing it sober is no big deal.

Sit down and then place the armor onto the knee.

 

Pants inside out showing knee Placing armor on knee target Top view of armor on knee target

Once I have the correct placement I note the target spot, then when I insert the armor into the knee fabric holder I know where to place it on the target. Works great! Just be sure to turn the pants right side out before you ride.

Style, Fit, & Comfort for John Doe Defender Mono Cargo Trousers

Style

I love the style of the jeans. Since I first became a dad, I’ve worn cargo shorts. You know, the ones your kids are horrified to see you wear in public. The legs are tapered so they don’t appear like total dad jeans—maybe cool uncle jeans. In any event, I like the style.

Front of jeans Back of jeans

If you’re concerned about the style, then it’s best to look at other brands or styles of motorcycle riding jeans. Style is so subjective, so I won’t comment on that anymore, other than to say I’m personally a fan of the look.

 

Front view Rear view Left side view Right side view

Fit

Once I got the correct size, the jeans fit me well. I so appreciate the different lengths John Doe offers in their pants. I plan to wear these with both mid-length and tall motorcycle riding boots. Tucking my pants into the high boots won’t be a problem, and wearing them over my mid-length boots will work just fine, too.

On an upcoming trip, I don’t plan to take any other jeans to wear when I go out to dinner off the bike. They fit well and are unobtrusive from a nonbiker standpoint. They fit me just like my Levi’s 505s, and that means they’re a great fit.

Comfort

Sitting on the bike, these jeans are damn comfortable. As comfortable as my Levi’s 505s or 501s, and equally as comfortable as my KLIM Marrakesh pants. The armor never feels intrusive or aggravating when I’m seated or walking. Standing on the pegs while off-road is also comfortable.

Because I wear my armor to fit the most when I’m seated, I do feel the top edge of the armor on my knees when I walk. It is not irritating at all—I can just feel it’s there. Not much more to say except I can wear them all day riding and at night when I’m heading out to get some chow.

Pockets

There are plenty. Two front hand pockets, two rear covered rear pockets, one watch pocket, and one zippered left side pocket. I like to know how wide and deep pockets are, so I’ve included the measurements here.

Left front pocket depth Left front pocket width

 

Left front zippered pocket width Left front zipped pocket depth

Dual rear-covered pockets held in place by snaps:

Rear pockets

Rear pocket width Rear pocket depth

 

Pocket watch width Pocket Watch depth

I always carry a pocket knife with me. I finally found one that I don’t feel will open if I fall, since it fits the watch pocket well. It’s unlikely it could open inadvertently, given the clearance needed to do so.

Knife in watch pocket

Knife contained in watch pocket

Labels and Materials for the John Doe Defender Mono Cargo Trousers

Here are the labels and cards included with the jeans:

 

CE rating label Fabric content label Date of production label

 

Pant size card Armor card Monolayer card

Final Verdict on the John Doe Defender Mono Cargo Trousers

I’m sure it’s pretty obvious by this point that I’m quite taken by the John Doe Defenders. Man, they are comfortable, as comfy as my Levi’s jeans. They flow air just like non-riding jeans and fit just like my beloved Levi’s. The fact that they are AAA CE rated for abrasion—including Level 1 armor—for a little over 200 bucks is incredible.

I’m having a hard time trying to find fault in these pants. There are always people who can find fault in anything so I’ll leave that expertise to others. Once I wear these out I’ll gladly buy another pair.

Specs

  • Manufacturer Ride John Doe
  • Price (when tested) $218.92 – $249.90
  • Review Date August 2022
  • Sizes:
    • Waist: 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38
    • Length: 30, 32, 34, 36
  • Colors: Black (as tested), Olive, Camo

Important Links / Where to Buy

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