Right off the bat I have a confession to make: Alpinestars has discontinued the Hellcat denim jeans being reviewed here. That said, the Hellcat is still available new via online retailers. It’s also become one of my favorite pieces of riding apparel, so I feel compelled to tell you why. If you’re the type to wait and buy closeout items of discontinued stock, then this review is for you.
I’d been wearing the Alpinestars Hellcat denim jeans so much that I thought for sure I’d already written about them. When it turns out that I hadn’t, well, corrective action had to be taken. The Hellcats had become such a part of my routine riding wardrobe I had simply forgotten about them. If that’s not an endorsement for a “go-to” article of riding gear, I don’t know what is. You see, there’s a reason I’ve worn these jeans so much: they’re comfortable. Look at any street test I’ve been in lately and the odds are very high the riding jeans you see me wearing are the Hellcats.
When I wrote about the Alpinestars SP-1 riding shoe I mentioned how, by definition, a shoe offers less protection than a boot. Sometimes, we’re willing to sacrifice some protection in the name of comfort. Similarly, when it comes to riding in comfort, jeans have long been the predominant piece of riding gear for many, despite the fact that regular denim has been shown to tear apart almost instantly upon contact with pavement.
Enter the Hellcat. While not as protective as leather riding pants, the Hellcat features Kevlar lining that resists tearing far better than normal denim, and you don’t look like a weirdo once you get to your destination. Kevlar is featured in the usual areas you’d find the stuff: the butt, knees, and hip. In addition, however, Alpinestars also lines the side of the leg with Kevlar as well. Basically, all the common areas you’d expect to get road rash below the waist, the Hellcat has covered with Kevlar.
As far as impact protection goes, the Hellcat comes with removable hip padding and CE-certified knee padding, also removable. The former is set in place via Velcro, while the latter sits in a mesh-lined pocket in both knees. Personally, I eventually removed the knee padding as it felt uncomfortable while riding in a sporty position due to it never fully conforming to the shape of my bent knee. Your mileage may vary, so try it for yourself. The hip padding was never a concern though, and the only time I remember it’s there is when I go to tuck in my shirt before a ride.
From a style perspective, the Hellcat is tailored with a straight cut; not too baggy, but not too tight like some European jeans (including some within Alpinestars’ own catalog). Alpinestars says sizing runs parallel to the waist size of your normal pair of non-moto jeans. In my particular case a size 32 jean was ordered, which features a 31.5-inch inseam. That’s normally too long for me, though the extra coverage provided by the longer inseam comes in handy as it covers more of your leg and your riding shoe/boot in the riding position. The Hellcat also features a zippered cuff at the bottom of each pant leg with a Velcro enclosure to help wrap around most riding shoes or boots.
Fit and finish on the Hellcat is also impressive, with the A-Star logo etched into the rivets, the key pocket lined with leather, and the Kevlar kept in place with denim-colored stitching to draw as little attention to them as possible, helping to make the jean look like a standard pair of denim.
Perhaps the feature that sells the Hellcat to me is its comfort. Despite the hip pads and the added Kevlar throughout, these jeans feel only slightly heavier than my pair of regular denim, which is more than I can say about other Kevlar-lined riding jeans out there. Because of its lightness, the Hellcats are even comfortable during hot weather rides and have even kept my legs warm (enough) for moderately chilly rides. There’s also an accordion stretch panel just below the rear belt loops for coverage in the sporty riding position.
My complaints are rather limited other than the awkward knee padding, but that boils down to personal preference. Otherwise, the Hellcat is a solid riding jean I’d recommend to anyone. Granted I haven’t taken a tumble with the jeans, so the ultimate test of the Hellcat’s quality will have to wait for another (hopefully very long!) time.
Available in waist sizes 28-40, different online retailers are selling them anywhere from $184 on up to $279. A web search for the Alpinestars Hellcat jeans will point you in the right direction should you want to grab a pair for yourself.