Protective gear is a massive part of motorcycle riding and enjoyment. The wrong gear will leave you shivering on your motorbike, too hot, or worse, at risk of injury. The right gear means you’ll be able to focus on the road and help increase your enjoyment for every minute you spend on two wheels. To help you get the right motorcycling gear so each ride out is as fun as it can be, we’ve done the hard work and created some tips and helpful advice for you.
OK, I know you’re going to say “because it’s the law and I want to be safe on the road.” But how you ride and where you ride should inform the kind of gear you start looking at. That’s true for jackets, gloves, helmets and trousers; in fact your entire outfit for each time you get on your motorbike. Everyday commuting is going to call for all-weather protective gear. Casual riding might have you looking for protective gear that can double as street wear. One piece suits are perfect for track days.
Great gear should protect you if the worst happens but also make your ride more relaxed. The best gear protects you from weather, noise, debris and rider fatigue so short trips and longer journeys are easy, comfortable and fun.
Whichever the riding situation you are buying gear for there are a few things that you’ll need to take into account. Protective qualities of the fabrics used, industry and safety standards that need to be met, how well it all fits (ill-fitting gear won’t keep you as safe as gear that fits like a glove – no pun intended), and of course, price are all valid concerns that you should address when choosing bike gear.
If price is an issue, you might want to consider second-hand jackets or trousers, check that they aren’t worn or in need of repair, but generally speaking, you can pick up some quality second-hand motorcycle jackets and trousers on eBay and similar pre-loved gear sites if you’re careful about what you buy. However, we’d recommend avoiding second-hand lids. Helmets are key to your safety on the road and you can’t be sure about the integrity of a second hand one – if a helmet has been in a crash it’s likely the quality has been compromised. Always get your helmet new and make sure it’s got a Sharp UK safety rating that you’re confident in.
There is a massive range of motorcycle jackets and trousers out there. If you’re looking for everyday gear, definitely choose something that is waterproof. Riding a motorbike when you’re wet soon gets very cold and then you’ll have difficulty controlling the bike. If you’re thinking of leather; cow, kangaroo, and buffalo hides are best in terms of protection against abrasion. Lamb, sheepskin and fashion leather is too thin to provide good protection.
Lining is also a factor you’ll need to think about. Non-leather fabrics benefit from protective liners and Kevlar is a firm favourite when it comes to protective gear because of its abrasion-resistant qualities.
Armour can reduce impact should you fall and in doing so, reduce injury. This should be in the places where your joints are – elbows, knees and shoulders but also down the spine area. Comfort is also a factor here, so try items on before you buy and check for European Certified Standards ratings.
When we fall our hands are the first to hit the floor. That’s evolution for you and it’s meant to protect our heads. When you’re riding, your hands are also hitting the wind before the rest of your body and likely to get cold before the rest of you. You’ll need gloves that cover the whole of your hands, keep them dry and warm in all weathers and are made of abrasion resistant fabric, preferably with armour on the finger joints as well as the knuckles. Look for gloves that are double-stitched and made from strong leathers or fabrics. Choosing gloves with armour at the base of the palm is a good call too as it’s likely this is where your hands hit the tarmac first if you do come off your bike.
Sturdy shoes are a must when you’re riding too. There are some great motorcycle boots out there, but sturdy shoes are fine too if want to hold off on that investment and focus on other pieces of kit.
Last, but in no means least, is your helmet. These come in a range of styles from full face to three-quarter and these days, modular helmets are becoming popular. It’s worth taking note that 45% of motorcycle helmet impacts happen around the face and chin according to a study by Dietmar Otte.
Helmets are built to protect you for five years. After this time you’ll need to replace yours, even if you haven’t been in an accident or accidentally bashed it on the corner of the kitchen bench. They’re designed to take all of the force from the impact of a crash so that your head doesn’t have to. That’s why you have to replace it if it’s been in an accident and we’d recommend avoiding second-hand lids like the plague.
Choose a helmet that matches the riding you do – dirt biking helmets and street riding helmets are purpose-built so they respond differently when it comes to the crunch. More expensive helmets aren’t necessarily safer; it might be the paintwork, ventilation or liner quality that pushes up the price. Always try a helmet on before you buy it and only buy it if it feels right and meets at least minimum safety standards.
Just as with any other clothes shopping, you might do; try things on before you buy them. Shop for fit, comfort and purpose so you get something that’s right for you and your riding needs. Don’t be swayed too much by fashion or cost. If you’re having trouble affording good gear, consider quality second-hand options or reduce the cost of the bike you’re buying until you’ve got the right gear. Motorbikes and the right gear might be expensive, but your life is priceless. If you want to chat about the right kit for your level of experience, give us a call.
Wearing a helmet when you ride is a legal requirement (please see above), but it is also wise to wear the right clothing when you ride a motorcycle or moped – a crash can be extremely serious, even more so if you’re not properly equipped.
Visors or goggles are a must – these will protect your eyes from insects, wind, rain and dust particles. It is advisable to wear a visor on your helmet, or goggles if you have a visor-less helmet, even if you normally wear spectacles when you ride.
Clothing should be made from leather, hard-wearing nylon or other man-made material and have additional protection for shoulders, elbows, and knees. It’s wise to look for all-weather options as riding when wet and cold is not only uncomfortable, it can make it difficult to concentrate on the road and traffic conditions.
Gloves are essential kit, as are riding boots. Riding without protection for your hands or feet can result in serious damage if you come off your bike – even at low speeds. Gloves and boots should be tough, waterproof, and supple enough to allow you to move freely and operate all the controls on your motorbike or moped.
Additional clothing, such as earplugs to reduce noise, or wearing another layer of clothing such as thin gloves and woollen socks in cold weather is also advisable.