Wearing the right clothing on your motorcycle helps to keep you safe and comfortable, so it’s vital that you’re wearing the right kit. If you’re after advice for finding the right garments, or you’re unsure as to whether your current outfit meets the requirements, then look no further. Here we’ve put together a guide of everything you need to know about helmets, jackets, boots, gloves and so on.
Why do You Need Motorcycle Clothes?
It’s not uncommon to see people riding through busy cities in just a pair of shorts, a thin t-shirt and a pair of old trainers, but this is actually incredibly ignorant and dangerous. You’re likely to be hitting at least 50mph on most rides, and if you were to come off at this speed, there’s a good chance you’ll sustain serious injuries.
Riding in the various elements can also be a battle. Wearing the wrong clothing in the rain can become extremely damp and uncomfortable, and riding in the wind without windproof layers can cause wind chill.
Fortunately, clothing and equipment has been designed to protect you from a wide range of incidents and different weather scenarios.
It may seem a hassle having to put on your gear every time you ride, but prevention is much better than having to deal with consequences.
Helmets are an essential piece of your motorcycle wardrobe. The head and brain are the most vulnerable parts of your body, and riders who experience an accident without a helmet on are at a significantly enhanced risk of suffering traumatic brain injury.
You don’t need to be spending ridiculous amounts of cash to buy the safest helmet, but you do need to make sure you get a helmet that is the correct size and shape for your head. Every person’s head is unique, so we recommend trying on various helmets at a reputable retailer to ensure you find one that feels comfortable around your whole head. Newer helmets are likely to be safer as manufacturers are constantly working with advanced technology and materials. In the UK, we have a Government backed helmet safety scheme, SHARP (Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme) that awards a rating out of 5 to helmets depending on how they perform throughout 32 impact tests.
It’s also worth noting that helmets usually have a two to five-year lifespan, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation. After this, they seem to steam up quicker and the glue used to bond layers of the EPS impact absorption material is likely to deteriorate.
The jacket’s role is to protect your ribs, organs, arms and back etc. should you encounter an unfortunate incident. Of course you want it to look good, but the jacket you decide to buy shouldn’t be solely based on its looks – safety and comfort is the priority.
Jackets are generally made from leather or textile, or sometimes both, and personal preference is likely to decide which type you go for. Both materials feature body armour/impact absorbing material that cushions your most vulnerable parts in a crash and are designed to fit snugly in high-speed wind blast but still leave your arms free to articulate fully.
It’s not essential, but some jackets contain zips around the bottom, allowing them to connect to a pair of riding trousers and form a onesie-like suit, which better keeps out the elements.
Just like jackets, trousers are generally available in either leather or textile. They fit snugly whilst allowing full leg articulation and protect your hips, shins and knees with body armour. When trying them on in the shop, try them on a bike to assess how comfortable they are.
We strongly advise against wearing denim jeans or other regular trousers – they provide nothing like the protection of a pair of proper riding pants.
Motorcycles are heavy machines that need to be supported through your feet, ankles and legs, sometimes on slippery and unpredictable surfaces, which is why riding boots are essential. They feature oil-resistant, non-slip soles to help you balance and control your bike, and they protect your lower body parts in a crash, from extreme weather conditions and from any road debris.
They also contain armour over the ankle and shin, as well as strong heel and toe boxes to lock your feet in and lower the force of impacts.
Make sure your boots fit well and are comfortable, as otherwise they’ll create an unnecessary distraction for you when riding.
Some people wear boots that haven’t been designed for motorcycle riding, and this is incredibly dangerous as they offer nowhere near as much as protection as specifically-designed boots.
It’s a natural movement to put your hands out in front of yourself should you come off your bike, so it’s crucial you protect them with high-quality gloves that cover the whole of your hands. Your gloves need to be fitted with adequate armour, protecting your knuckles and base of your palms, and should have a retention strap around the wrist to keep them on, but make sure they are comfortable – you need a strong grip and must be able to operate the controls on your bike unhampered.
For maximum protection, ensure there is an overlap between your gloves and jacket so that no skin is ever exposed.
Although they aren’t essential, other accessories to consider include:
- Earplugs – it gets noisy inside a motorcycle helmet, especially on the motorway, so consider wearing earplugs to make your ride as comfortable as possible, and to protect your long-term-hearing.
- Chain Monkey – it’s always useful to carry a few tools in your pannier just in case of an emergency. A Chain Monkey, for example, allows you to quickly and precisely set the tension of your chain whenever it becomes loose.
- Tinted Visor – this is ideal for protecting your eyes from glare and the sun. It’s difficult to wear sunglasses in a helmet (unless they are built in!), so think about purchasing a legally tinted visor that has been specifically fit your helmet. However, always carry a clear one with you if you’ll potentially be riding later in the evening, as wearing a tinted visor in the dark significantly reduces your vision and is extremely dangerous.
See more: How to stay comfortable on your bike