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Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire plugs back in with some help from Silicon Valley

FOUR YEARS LATER, LIVE AT LAST?


It’s been four years since we last heard any news on the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, but that’s all about to change by 2019.

It was a typically beautiful day in the beachside town of Santa Monica. The sun was shining, the temperature mild and the popular Third Street Promenade was packed with shoppers. It was the quintessential SoCal postcard day, and it seems like it was just yesterday—only it was four years ago.

That was the day that EBA was invited to ride the new Harley-Davidson LiveWire at the Milwaukee brand’s roll-out tour of their very talked-about, new motorcycle. Only it wasn’t. Well, the motorcycle was all new, but there wasn’t much talking about it. Other than enjoying the mad rush of a very torquey, less-than-quiet motor, the biggest takeaway from the experience was that Harley had no intention of actually discussing much about the bike. In fact, in persistently avoiding any tech questions, the Harley rep would only insist that the purpose of the ride day was merely to facilitate a “listening tour.”

In short, Harley’s LiveWire project sauntered up to the pool, made a big splash after a quick dive, then quietly receded back to its private cabana never to be heard or seen from again. Until now.


Although no one knows what guise the planned 2019 LiveWire will have, the 2014 version cut a stylish line on the city streets.

THE RE-RELEASE

Although the basis for the e-moto world’s newfound basis of anticipation over the LiveWire actually going live was based solely on words spoken from company CEO Matthew Levatich in a conference call to investors, it was at least the first time we’ve heard anything definitive about the stylish bike from the historical house of the V-twin.

“You’ve heard us talk about Project LiveWire,” said Levatich. “LiveWire is an exhilarating, no-excuse electric Harley-Davidson. Over 12,000 riders told us so through the demo rides we provided around the world, and it’s an active project we’re preparing to bring to market within 18 months.”

“Other than enjoying the mad rush of a very torquey, less-than-quiet motor, the biggest takeaway from the experience was that Harley had no intention of actually discussing much about the bike.”

And that, my friends, is the most that we know about Harley-Davidson’s planned re-entry into the modern world of battery-powered transportation. Still, if they really mean it, this could be a very bold step by the Motor Company to leap free from the sales doldrums it has endured of late as the classic Harley customer ages out, leaving a consumer base of kids who are not the least bit enamored with 600-pound, chromed-out touring bikes.


Four years ago the streets of Santa Monica were as crowded with shoppers as they were with a parade of pre-production Harley-Davidson LiveWires.

Around the same time that Harley went live with the LiveWire news, word also leaked that they have also filed a trademark application for the naming of the LiveWire powerplant, “HD Revelation,” which is a take on the Evolution motors used on their big bikes.

THE TECH WE KNEW

For a bike that, as we later found, had no real production timeline, the 2014 LiveWire we rode was impressive with a definite ready for primetime finish. Although the bike was modeled with a dedicated seat cowl that prohibited passenger seating, the café bike styling was immediately appealing.


Unlike the popular look of traditional Harleys with their exposed V-twin motors, the LiveWire’s powerplant was masked by plastic shrouds.

Having owned two Harley Sportsters in my day, I had firsthand experience with traditional Harley traits of poor braking performance and saggy suspension, so I was heartened not only by the LiveWire’s braking performance, but the adjustable Showa suspension with an inverted fork was a welcome upgrade.

At the time, the LiveWire prototype ran on a lithium-ion battery motor that produced 75 horsepower and 52 pound-feet of torque at its peak.  The shrouded motor was mounted longitudinally in a cast perimeter frame and used a final belt drive.

AND THEN CAME ALTA

Just a few weeks after Levatich announced the revival of the LiveWire came the surprising news that Harley had also made an equity investment in Alta Motors, who, like fellow NorCal e-moto-maker Zero Motorcycles, has been attempting to catch some lasting interest in battery-powered motorcycles. Harley’s partnership with Alta mirrors the acquisition of Oregon e-moto-maker Brammo by big-brand Polaris who are also behind the successful relaunch of the Indian marque.


Counter to the modern display module, the prototype bikes were still outfitted with the age-old switchgear and lever assemblies from an old Harley Sportster parts bin.

Once again, the breaking news was left to Levatich to release: “Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders in part by aggressively investing in electric vehicle (EV) technology. Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV, and their objectives align closely with ours. We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles.”

Levatich continued, “We intend to be the world leader in the electrification of motorcycles and, at the same time, remain true to our gas and oil roots by continuing to produce a broad portfolio of motorcycles that appeal to all types of riders around the world.”

Alta was no doubt more than pleased to be on the receiving end of Harley cash, as, like Harley, their evolution in the e-moto market has been defined by a somewhat fits-and-starts history.

“Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress,” said Alta Motors Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder Marc Fenigstein. “We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future. It’s incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.”

DIRT-BOUND HARLEYS?

Although little is known just what the Harley/Alta partnership might produce in terms of shared product, old-time dirt bike stalwarts will recall that over four decades ago, in addition to their flat-track racing success, the Milwaukee factory won desert racing acclaim with their 100cc Baja two-stroke dirt bike. In 1975 early Harley factory rider Bruce Ogilvie made big news when he rode a prototype 250cc Harley-Davidson to win the Baja 500.

“Harley’s partnership with Alta mirrors the acquisition of Oregon e-moto-maker Brammo by big-brand Polaris who are also behind the successful relaunch of the Indian marque.”

A few years later, Harley would return to the same Italian-sourced engine builder (Aermacchi) to build the engines for some 250 and 370cc motocross bikes. These bikes enjoyed a very limited factory-backed racing effort and production run before Milwaukee abandoned the off-road world in 1979 once and for all.

THE RED SAND

Based out of San Jose, California, Alta has been on track to release a production bike to the public for some time. Although they have gone through a variety of iterations, their current model, the Red Shift MXR, is said to feature a 50-horsepower powerplant with 42 pound-feet of torque with a rolling weight of 259 pounds. This bike, they claim, is now capable of running with a 350cc four-stroke motor, whereas the previous MX model was always compared to a 250cc powerplant. Alta adds that the recharge time has been reduced to just 1.5 hours on a 220-volt system.


With KTM never making any serious inroads with the Freeride e-moto, Alta has been the forefront of pushing battery-powered off-road bikes. The $12,000 MXR is their latest edition

In addition to the motocross bike, Alta also produces Supermoto and off-road/enduro versions. The MX bike made a famously splashy debut in 2016 when former pro rider Josh Hill competed aboard a prototype at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm race. Notably, the company has refused our sister zine Motocross Action to test a bike in a non-Alta-controlled environment.

The aluminum-framed, California-made bike is spec’d with high-end WP suspension and Brembo brakes, and the MXR should have a retail price of $11,995. www.harley-davidson.com

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Could Gingers become extinct due to climate change ?

Scientists believe the gene that causes red hair could die out if temperatures continue to Rise according to genetic scientists Redheads are becoming rarer and could be extinct in 100 years’ time.

Polar bears and Emperor penguins aren’t the only species under threat due to climate change.

Scientists believe the gene that causes red hair is an evolutionary response to cloudy skies and allows inhabitants to get as much Vitamin D as possible.

But if predictions of rising temperatures and blazing sunshine across the British Isles turn out to be correct, flaming red heads could cease to exist within centuries.

While only 1% to 2% of the world’s population are ginger, in the north of the UK, where the weather tends to be more gloomy, this number is much higher.

In Scotland 650,000 (about 13% of the population) have red hair and, according to a study carried out last year, 40% of those living in Edinburgh are thought to carry the red hair/blue eye gene.

In the North and West of the UK, 29% of the population are believed to have the gene.

Red hair is caused by a mutation in the MC1R gene. It’s also a recessive trait, so it takes both parents passing on a mutated version of the MC1R gene to produce a redheaded child. Because it’s a recessive trait, red hair can easily skip a generation. It can then reappear after skipping one or more generations if both parents, no matter their hair color, carry the red hair gene.

“I think the reason for light skin and red hair is that we do not get enough sun and we have to get all the Vitamin D we can.

“If the climate is changing and it is to become more cloudy or less cloudy then this will affect the gene.

“If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, then yes, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.”

Another leading scientist, who asked not to be named because of the theoretical nature of the work, said: “I think the regressive gene is slowly dying out. Red hair and blue eyes are not adapted to a warm climate.

“It is just a theory but the recessive gene may likely be lost. The recessive gene could be in danger.”

Vagina Flavored Beer!

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Would you drink this?

Most booze lovers would be quite open to trying different craft beers – and there are many to choose from these days.

But even the most adventurous of beer drinkers might have a hard time getting their head around this one, made from bacteria harvested from vaginas.

Although this sounds like a joke, rest assured it is not…in fact, this company is not the first company to try and market a food product that had the essence of vagina! However, we believe this is the first time we have ever come across anything that we were asked to eat or drink that includes the woman’s “juice” as an active ingredient in the product!

The name of the beer is The Order of Yoni. Wojtek Mann, the founder of the company explains that the word “yoni” means “vagina” in the Sanskrit language and the logo/artwork associated with the beer is also the symbol of a Hindu Goddess.

As you can imagine things only get weirder when you learn more about a vagina flavored beer.

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The creators behind ‘Bottled Instinct’ decided that they wanted to capture the essence of a woman (‘her charm, her sensuality, her passion… her taste, feel her smell… her voice’) and turn it into a drink.

The Order of Yoni’s website reads: “The secret of the beer lies in her vagina.

“Using hi-tech of microbiology, we isolate, examine and prepare lactic acid bacteria from vagina of a unique woman.

“The bacteria, lactobacillus, transfer woman’s features, allure, grace, glamour, and her instincts into beers and other products, turning them into dance with lovely goddess.”

Rolls-Royce to switch to ‘full electric’ cars by 2040

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Global interest in climate change – its effects on the environment and society more broadly – is probably at an all time high. Countries around the world, are increasingly acknowledging the shift that’s needed from a fossil fuel-driven economy to one that is sustainable, green and attempts to mitigate climate change.
  Rolls-Royce expects to be producing solely electric cars by 2040, as the British marque pledges to ditch the internal combustion engine that is synonymous with its ultra-luxury vehicles. The brand, which currently only offers 12-cylinder petrol engines in its cars, will be “full electric” by 2040 to comply with changes in international rules, chief executive Torsten Müller-Ӧtvӧs told the Financial Times. The UK and France have both promised to ban cars that run without electric power by 2040, but the Rolls-Royce boss believes other markets — such as the US or Middle East — will also follow suit by then. “When you see what happens in Saudi, when you see what happens in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, they are all looking into alternative energy. “Electrification will also happen in these countries, sooner or later.” He added: “We will definitely offer 12-cylinder engines as long as we can, as long as it is legally allowed to offer them.” The company aims to introduce its first electric vehicle within the next 10 years, but will phase out its existing engines over several decades. Carmakers all over the world are working on electric vehicles to meet ever-tightening emissions regulations, particularly in Europe and China.
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British motor brand calls time on the petrol engine
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 For Rolls-Royce, the push towards battery power is driven more by “legal requirements in the markets worldwide” than environmental concerns, Mr Müller-Ӧtvӧs said. “These cars aren’t used extensively, nobody is driving long, long distances, and so the mileage on a Rolls-Royce is lower than the average car would carry . . . But electrification is the future, full stop. You need to prepare yourself for that.” Rolls-Royce, which is owned by BMW, has previously shown a design for a 2040s car that was fully electric and autonomously driven. “Electrification actually fits extremely well with Rolls-Royce because it’s silent, it’s powerful, it’s torquey, so in that sense it’s a very good fit,” he said. While the transition from petrol and diesel-driven cars to battery vehicles is expected to take decades, several governments have set timelines for when they want older vehicles without electric power to be phased out. The UK government will ban the sale of non-electric cars by 2040, as well as some hybrid cars. France will also ban all non-electric cars by then and Germany has indicated it would be open to similar moves. China wants to have a fifth of its new cars powered electrically by 2025 and will require companies operating in the market to sell a proportion of electric vehicles. Mr Müller-Ӧtvӧs was speaking as Rolls-Royce unveiled its first sports utility vehicle, the £210,000 Cullinan, named after the largest diamond ever discovered. He added that the vehicle launch was a “seminal moment” for the brand which would also increase its appeal among female drivers.

BMW unveils “extremely fast” concept electric motorcycle

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  • BMW Motorrad Concept Link’ uses electric battery packs, and even features a reverse gear
  • Has a touchscreen dashboard, and can be paired with a new smart motorcycles jacket that can change settings on the bike with a swipe on its sleeve
  • Can integrate with online calenders to automatically set destinations, and project directions onto windscreen

BMW has super-charged the race towards zero-emission biking by unveiling its latest concept electric motorcycle.

The BMW Motorrad Concept Link uses radical electric battery packs stored in its base, features a reverse gear to make parking easier, and a seat that adjusts itself to suit each rider’s bottom.

Its touchscreen dashboard can even be connected to the rider’s online calendar so it always knows where it needs to go every time it is started.

BMW claims the concept is “extremely fast” though designers have not yet revealed stats to back up the claim.

concept electric motorcycle

Concept electric motorcycle could kickstart new era of biking

The German automotive superpower hopes the concept could kickstart a new era of motorcycle design.

BMW Motorrad’s Alexander Buckan said: “The technical realities of electric drive – such as the flat energy packs in the underfloor and the compact drive on the rear wheel – allowed us to create a highly distinctive design which shapes a new segment.

“The resulting expressive power of the vehicle is absolutely new for BMW Motorrad and breaks with all conventional viewing patterns.”

BMW says the concept blends fast acceleration and easy handling.

Due to its low overall height, getting on is easy too, from the side or even from the back.

A reverse gear ensures that it is easy to manoeuvre, making it ideal to park in tight city spaces.

Electric concept motorcycle

Electric motorcycle projects data onto windshield

Instead of a classic instrument cluster, speed, navigation and battery information is projected onto the windshield directly in the rider’s field of vision.

Secondary information is displayed on a panel below the handlebars.

Programmable, touch-enabled buttons on the handlebars allow the rider to access functions without having to loosen grip.

The concept is the latest in a series of vehicles designed by BMW to showcase the future of transport.

So If Cars Have Shoulder Seat Belts, Why Not Airplanes?

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When the “fasten seat belt” sign flashes on in airplanes, with its familiar accompanying ding, it’s often met with passengers’ equal parts annoyance and resignation, when it’s acknowledged at all. Like, “What? Again? Really? Do I have to …?”

The answer, of course, is yes. You really have to. As mom would say, “it’s for your own good.”

“I think it’s the old, ‘It’s not going to happen to me,’ syndrome,” Richard McSpadden, the executive director of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association‘s Air Safety Institute, says of the typical flyer’s attitude toward buckling up. “Aviation accidents are so rare that people say, ‘What are the odds it’s going to happen to me?’ And I would agree with them that the odds are extremely low.

“But I would then add that even though the odds are low, the consequences of something happening can be pretty significant, even if it’s just a bump in turbulence. If you’re not strapped in right, your head could hit the top of that airplane. That can result in a serious injury [see Now That’s Interesting, below]. And it’s so effortless to strap a seat belt around you.” (That’s true for average-size people anyway.)

A simple lap belt — or even other restraints, like shoulder harnesses — may not be enough to save a life if an airliner drops from the sky from 35,000 feet (10,668 meters), or undergoes a catastrophic mid-air failure. A seat belt wasn’t enough in the tragic death of Jennifer Riordan, who reportedly was wearing her seat belt when a part from a failed engine in a Southwest Airline 737 blew out the window next to her seat on April 17, 2018. She was nearly sucked out of the airplane when the air in the pressurized cabin rushed out of the window.

The rare accidents like that, though, or the more conventional plane-hits-ground type, are not the only reasons for seat belts on airplanes. They’re designed to protect you from the airplane during flight, too.

The Case for Seat Belts

“The reason you must wear a seat belt, flight crew included,” Heather Poole, an American Airlines flight attendant and author, told The Telegraph in 2015, “is because you don’t want the plane coming down on you. People think they’re lifted up in the air during turbulence. The truth is the plane drops. It comes down hard and it comes down fast and that’s how passengers get injured — by getting hit on the head by an airplane.”

It’s simple physics, Newton’s first law of motion: A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it.

Think of it this way: If you’re not wearing a seat belt on an airplane that drops suddenly — which often happens with turbulence — you’re the one at rest. You’ll stay at rest as the plane, very literally, drops out from under you. If you’re strapped in, the seat belt serves as an outside force acting on you, taking you with the plane as it drops and saving you from bonking your head on that overhead bin above you.

“It allows you to stay in place and ride along with the airplane,” McSpadden says. “It’s just that added safety margin that if something unexpected happens, you’re still going to stay with the airplane.”

Are Shoulder Harnesses Better?

A little reasoning might suggest that if a lap belt is good while flying, a shoulder harness — like those in cars and those in smaller so-called general aviation planes — would be even better. Indeed, shoulder belts or harnesses might help, McFadden and others say.

But they would be costly to install, and trickier to get to work correctly on bigger commercial planes, experts say. They’d probably be uncomfortable on longer flights. And wearing shoulder harnesses might meet a lot of resistance from the flying public, too.

“The answer would be, yes, it certainly would help, because it would prevent the movement of the upper torso aggressively in terms of some kind of sudden impact,” McSpadden says. “How you can do that is another question entirely.”

Some wonder whether shoulder belts are needed on commercial airlines, considering lap belts — when they’re used — seem to do the trick. “Clearly for the vertical deceleration [typical] of an airplane crash, the lap belt seems to be the most important restraint,” David King, a trauma surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Time after the July 2013 wreck of Asiana Airlines flight 214 in San Francisco killed three people. (Noted in the official National Transportation Safety Board report of that accident: “The two ejected passengers (one of whom was later rolled over by two firefighting vehicles) were not wearing their seatbelts and would likely have remained in the cabin and survived if they had been wearing them.”)

In smaller aircraft, though, shoulder harnesses — which are required for all seats in all small airplanes manufactured since Dec. 12, 1986 — work and work well. Used with lap belts, shoulder harnesses in smaller planes have been shown to reduce serious injuries from accidents by 88 percent and fatalities by 20 percent, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Ironically, the safety record of commercial airlines may be the overwhelming reason that shoulder harnesses have not been required of large passenger planes. In 2017, no one was killed in a commercial jet airliner incident anywhere in the world, making it the safest year ever for big passenger planes. In its Civil Aviation Safety Review for 2017, which examined accidents on large passenger aircraft, the Dutch aviation consulting firm To70 estimated that there were “0.08 fatal accidents per million flights [in 2017]. That is a rate of one fatal accident for every 12 million flights.”

With a safety record like that, it’s hard to argue that shoulder harnesses would lower the risk of flying enough to offset the costs, the effort and the resistance such a major change would generate.

Lap belts, though? They help. They help a lot. So when flying, it’s probably best to buckle up and stay that way. For your own good.

Your Grandpa’s Jeans: A Primer on Raw and Selvedge Denim.

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While denim jeans have been a clothing staple for men since the 19th century, the jeans you’re probably wearing right now are a lot different from the denim jeans that your grandpa or even your dad wore.

Before the 1950s, most denim jeans were crafted from raw and selvedge denim that was made in the United States. But in the subsequent decades, as denim went from workwear to an everyday style staple, the way jeans were produced changed dramatically. With the implementation of cost cutting technologies and the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to developing countries, the quality of your average pair was greatly reduced. Changes in consumer expectations altered the denim landscape as well; guys wanted to pick up pre-washed, pre-faded, pre-broken-in, and even pre-“ripped” jeans that “looked” like they’d been worn for years.

But about a decade ago, the pendulum began to swing back again. Men started pushing back against the low-quality, cookie-cutter, pre-faded jean monopoly. They wanted a quality pair of denim jeans and to break them in naturally. They wanted to pull on the kind of American-made dungarees their grandpas wore.

To give us the scoop on raw and selvedge denim, we talked to Josey Orr (fast fact: Josey was named after the protagonist in The Outlaw Josey Wales), co-founder of Dyer and Jenkins, an L.A.-based company that’s producing raw and selvedge denim right here in the United States.

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I just hit up Josey for the inside dope on denim because he’s a cool young dude who makes awesome jeans, has an awesome beard, and knows his stuff.

To first understand raw and selvedge denim jeans, it helps to know what those terms even mean.

What is Raw Denim?

If you’re reading this in the email, click here to watch our video intro to raw and selvedge denim. 

Most denim jeans you buy today have been pre-washed to soften up the fabric, reduce shrinkage, and prevent indigo dye from rubbing off. Raw denim (sometimes called “dry denim”) jeans are simply jeans made from denim that hasn’t gone through this pre-wash process.

Because the fabric hasn’t been pre-washed, raw denim jeans are pretty stiff when you put them on the first time. It takes a few weeks of regular wear to break-in and loosen up a pair. The indigo dye in the fabric can rub off as well. We’ll talk more about this when we go over the pros and cons of raw denim below.

Raw denim (all denim actually) comes in two types: sanforized or unsanforized. Sanforized denim has undergone a chemical treatment that prevents shrinkage after you wash your jeans. Most mass-produced jeans are sanforized, and many raw and selvedge denim jeans are too. Unsanforized denim hasn’t been treated with that shrink-preventing chemical, so when you do end up washing or soaking your jeans, they’ll shrink by 5%-10%.

What is Selvedge Denim?

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To understand what “selvedge” means, you need to understand a bit of history on fabric production.

Before the 1950s, most fabrics — including denim — were made on shuttle looms. Shuttle looms produce tightly woven strips (typically one yard wide) of heavy fabric. The edges on these strips of fabric come finished with tightly woven bands running down each side that prevent fraying, raveling, or curling. Because the edges come out of the loom finished, denim produced on shuttle looms are referred to as having a “self-edge,” hence the name “selvedge” denim.

During the 1950s, the demand for denim jeans increased dramatically. To reduce costs, denim companies began using denim created on projectile looms. Projectile looms can create wider swaths of fabric and much more fabric overall at a much cheaper price than shuttle looms. However, the edge of the denim that comes out of a projectile loom isn’t finished, leaving the denim susceptible to fraying and unraveling. Josey pointed out that contrary to what you may hear from denim-heads, denim produced on a projectile loom doesn’t necessarily equate to a poorer quality fabric. You can find plenty of quality jean brands from denim made on projectile looms.

Most jeans on the market today are made from non-selvedge denim. The pros of this have been the increased availability of affordable jeans; I recently needed a pair of jeans in a pinch while on a trip and was able to score a pair of Wrangler’s at Walmart for just $14. But consumers have been missing out on the tradition and small quality details of classic selvedge denim without even knowing it.

selvedge vs non-selvedge jeans denim

Thanks to the “heritage movement” in menswear, selvedge denim jeans have slowly been making a comeback during the past ten years or so. Several small, independent jeans companies have sprouted up (like Dyer and Jenkins) selling selvedge denim jeans. Even some of the Big Boys (Levis, Lee’s) in the jean industry have gotten back to their roots by selling special edition selvedge versions of their jeans.

The problem with this selvedge denim revival has been finding the selvedge fabric to make the jeans, because there are so few factories in the world using shuttle looms. For a while, Japan held a near monopoly on the production of selvedge denim because that’s where most of the remaining shuttle looms are; the Japanese love everything post-WWII Americana, and they’ve been sporting 1950s-inspired selvedge denim jeans for a long time now.

Japan remains the world’s top producer of high-end selvedge denim.

But there are a few companies in the U.S. producing denim on old shuttle looms as well. The most prominent selvedge denim mill is Cone Cotton Mill’s White Oak factory in North Carolina. White Oak sources the cotton for their denim from cotton grown in the U.S., so their denim is 100% grown and woven in the USA.

Don’t Confuse Selvedge with Raw

A common misconception is that all selvedge denim jeans are raw denim jeans and vice versa. Remember, selvedge refers to the edge on the denim and raw refers to a lack of pre-washing on the fabric.

While most selvedge jeans on the market are also made with raw denim, you can find jeans that are made from selvedge fabric but have been pre-washed, too. You can also find raw denim jeans that were made in a projectile loom, and thus don’t have a selvedge edge.

Make sure to keep this distinction in mind when you start shopping for selvedge or raw jeans.

The Pros and Cons of Selvedge and Raw Denim

The Cons

Upfront costs are typically very high. There are varying price levels for raw and selvedge denim, generally ranging from $50 to $300. The lower-priced selvedge and raw denim jeans (like the kinds you find at Gap) are usually manufactured in developing countries. However, there are a few brands that make their jeans in China and still charge $200+ for a pair.

If you want to buy a quality pair of jeans made in the U.S.A, from denim manufactured domestically, look to spend at least $90-$120.

Always keep in mind that higher prices don’t necessarily equate to higher quality. Higher priced selvedge and raw denim brands usually make their jeans from the same White Oak denim factory fabric as the more affordable brands. While the higher sticker price might reflect stylistic details that lower priced denim brands ignore, the high price of most designer denim jeans is often an attempt by brands to artificially create a high value in the mind of the consumer. Remember, price does not equal value!

They take a while to break in. Unlike most mass-market jeans that are oh-so-soft when you first put them on, when you initially don a pair of selvedge/raw denim jeans, they’re going to be super stiff. Depending on the weight of the fabric, it may feel like you’re wearing two plaster casts on your legs. Give it some time, wear them every day, and your jeans will soon start to soften up.

Sizing can be tricky. This is based on my personal experience. Most major jean brands use “vanity sizing” on their jeans. Which means while you may have a 34” waist, the sizing label on the pant will say 32” to make you feel better about yourself. Most selvedge jean brands don’t use vanity sizes (grandpa wouldn’t approve), so you can’t use the size of your Old Navy pants to gauge what size you should buy in selvedge and raw denim. You’ll need to actually measure yourself.

They’re mostly available online. If you live in a big city, you can probably find a brick and mortar store that you can visit to try on a pair of selvedge and raw denim jeans. Because of the tricky sizing with selvedge denim, being able to physically try on a pair just makes things easier.

If you’re like me and live in a smaller city, your only option for buying raw and selvedge denim is online. This, of course, makes finding the best fitting pair of jeans a pain. I’d recommend buying two different sizes of the same jean so you can find the pair that fits just right, and send the other back; make sure the company offers free exchanges and returns.

Indigo can rub off. Because raw denim hasn’t been pre-washed, there’s a lot of indigo dye in the fabric that can easily rub off on whatever it comes into contact with, like seat cushions, car seats, and your shoes. Hey, you’ve always wanted to leave your mark, right?

After a few weeks of wear and a washing, the indigo bleeding stops. And even if you do experience an occasional indigo rub off, removing the stain isn’t all that difficult.

The Pros

They’re durable. Because of the selvedge edge and the often heavy weight of raw denim, selvedge and raw denim jeans can hold up for a long time, even with near daily wear. A quality pair of raw/selvedge jeans, properly taken care of, can last anywhere from a few years to a decade. And if they do rip or wear out, they can always be patched up and repaired and put back into service!

Better value. While raw and selvedge jeans can have a high upfront cost, because of their durability, the long-term cost-per-use can actually make raw and selvedge denim a value buy. Instead of replacing a pair of mass-produced globocorp jeans every year, your raw and selvedge jeans will likely last you for a long time.

They’re (usually) made in the USA. If you like to shop American-made, then raw and selvedge denim is for you. While Japan is still the leader in producing quality selvedge denim, the U.S. is quickly catching up.

While most raw and selvedge denim jeans available in the U.S. are made domestically, there are some brands that do make theirs in third-world country sweatshops, so always check the label.

They look great. Raw denim is dark denim and dark denim is probably one of the most versatile pieces of clothing you can own. Raw denim jeans look much sharper than a faded pair of Wranglers, and not only can you wear them with a t-shirt and a pair of Converse shoes, you can also pair them with a dress shirt and a sport coat for a night on the town.

They’re personalizable. While mass-produced jeans come with faux fading and distressing that is the same for every single pair, with raw denim, you create the fading and stressing based on your body type and how you actually wear them. There are different types of wear patterns that may appear in your raw denim such as honeycombs on the back of the knee or “whiskers” on your thighs. Each pair is uniquely yours.

whiskers fading on raw selvedge denim

honeycomb fading on raw selvedge jeans

How to Fit Yourself for Your First Pair of Selvedge Denim Jeans

Because you’ll likely be buying your raw and selvedge denim jeans online, it’s important you get the measurements right.

Measure yourself. There a few key measurements you’ll need for getting a proper fit on jeans. The most important are the waist and inseam, but you’ll also want to measure the front rise, back rise, thigh, and leg opening. Josey breaks it all down for us in the video below. Also, take a gander at the diagram from Real Men Real Style.

If you’re reading this in an email, click here to watch video on how to measure for raw denim jeans.

jeans measurements how to measure yourself diagram

Remember, unsanforized denim hasn’t been treated to prevent shrinking, so when you wash or soak your jeans for the first time, they’ll shrink by 5%-10%. When purchasing jeans made with unsanforized denim, you’ll need to buy jeans a few sizes larger than you normally would and soak the jeans before you put them on so they shrink to the appropriate size.

Decide on fit. Most raw and selvedge denim jeans come in two fits: slim and regular fit. What each brand considers “slim” and “regular” will differ, which is why it’s so important to double-check their respective sizing guides.

  • Slim fit. Slim fit jeans have narrow thigh openings and are designed to hug your body (avoid this fit if you have thighs bigger than your head). If a brand doesn’t offer a slim fit, but you want a closer-fitting style, just buy your jeans a size down. Raw denim stretches a bit (about an inch at the waist) so you shouldn’t have a problem with fitting into a smaller pair of jeans.
  • Regular fit. Your traditional blue jean fit, giving you more room in the thigh and the crotch than you get with a slim fit. If a brand doesn’t distinguish between slim and regular fit, and you want a regular fit, make sure to buy your jeans “true to size.”

How to Break In Your Selvedge Denim Jeans

“Just wear them all the time.”

That’s the answer Josey gave me when I asked him.

There’s a lot of selvedge/raw denim old wives’ tales floating on the internet about breaking in your jeans. Some folks say you need to wear them in the ocean and then roll around in the sand to break them in (preferably while reenacting the love scene from the film From Here to Eternity, I gather) or that you need to soak them in starch so you can get some really “sick fades” — high contrast lines/fading in your jeans. There are indeed things you can do to create “sick fades” in your jeans, but in my opinion that’s too pretentious for a pair of workwear. Just wear your raw denim jeans regularly and let nature take its course.

The only exception you should make for pre-soaking a new pair of jeans is if they’re unsanforized. Soak unsanforized jeans before you start wearing them so they shrink to the appropriate size.

How to Wash and Care for Your Selvedge and Raw Denim

soaking washing raw denim jeans in bathtub

Another one of the old wives’ tales out there is that you should never (and I mean NEVER dammit!) wash your jeans. Or if you do wash them, you should wait at least a year. And if your jeans get smelly, just put them in the freezer to kill the bacteria. Or something.

The reason people tell you not to wash your jeans is so you can achieve those wicked sweet fades in the fabric.

But all of that no-wash advice is bogus and will just leave you smelling like a hobo.

What you want to do is to strike a balance between distressing the jeans and washing out the fabric’s indigo and your fades-in-the-making too quickly, and them smelling like swamp crotch. To achieve this balance, wash them every two months. Remember, denim jeans are workwear. Do you think 19th century miners were holding off on washing their jeans just so they could get fades? No, and neither should you.

While washing your jeans every 2 months might seem too frequent to a raw denim purist, it probably seems too infrequent compared with how often you’re used to washing your regular jeans. But you honestly don’t have to wash your jeans all that often. If they’ve started smelling before the 2 months is up, then giving them a wash early is a-okay.

There are a bunch of ways to wash your raw denim jeans. The easiest is to simply turn them inside out and wash them in cold water in the washing machine using Woolite. The first few times you wash your jeans, you’ll probably want to wash them by themselves to avoid the indigo bleeding onto your other clothes.

Here’s the method Josey recommends for washing your raw denim:

  • Fill up a bathtub with lukewarm water
  • Add a teaspoon of detergent
  • Let jeans soak for 45 minutes
  • Give them a bit of a scrub to remove any dirt and grime
  • Rinse off with cold water
  • Hang them outside to dry (if it’s raining outside, line dry them inside — just don’t use the dryer)

Here’s a video lesson on washing your raw denim:

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