Whether you are traveling on scenic routes or stick to urban rides: Motorcycle clothing is an important part of responsible riding. The increased risk of accidents and the rider having little protection between themselves, the road, and other objects, make it indispensable to protect yourself from impacts, cuts and road-rash. Here are the basics on what to look for in safety gear for motorcycle riders.
Motorcycle helmets protect one of your most vital body parts. In comparison to many other organs, damage to the brain can negatively influence the functionality of our entire body or prove fatal. The protective abilities of a motorcycle helmet should therefore always be of the highest quality possible.
Many motorcycle accidents impact the face and chin area. Never choose an open face helmet since it offers no protection to your face. Modular and full-face helmets cover the front with a chin bar and visor and offer better protection. With modular helmets, the chin bar and visor can be flipped up for more variety.
Buy new helmets every 5 years and after the helmet has been in an impact of any kind. Invisible damage and time lessen the helmet’s effectiveness. That’s why it isn’t smart to buy used helmets where you cannot guarantee its age and condition.
Many authorities test helmets and give out certificates to the models that met the required safety and quality standards. Look for a helmet with one of the following markings:
- DOT-rating (issued by the US Department of Transportation)
- SNELL-rating (issued by the private non-profit Snell Memorial Foundation)
- ECE-rating (issued by the Economic Commission for Europe)
- SHARP-rating (issued by the UK Department for Transportation)
The most important parts of the helmet are its padding and the hard shell.
The padding that lessens impact force is typically made from expanded polystyrene foam (EPS). The material is effective in absorbing and redistributing the force of an impact to reduce the negative effect on the wearer.
To protect from impacts and penetrations, the shell is made from polycarbonate, glass fiber or Kevlar. Which one is the right choice depends on your budget and preference.:
- Kevlar is tough and light but expensive.
- Glass fiber lasts long and is easy to clean but heavy.
- Polycarbonate is light, but paint, adhesives (like stickers) or cleaning fluids can damage it.
Since they protect some of your most fragile yet important body parts, who are in vulnerable positions while riding a bike, you should invest in proper motorcycle gloves. They feature:
- abrasion-resistant materials
- armor and padding around knuckles, fingers, and palm
There are different gloves for different purposes, for example:
- Gauntlets: Reach halfway up your arm and offer additional stabilization & protection for your wrist.
- Summer Gloves: Are made of lighter materials with ventilation.
- Winter Gloves: Are thicker and better insulated but lack dexterity.
- Off-Road Gloves: Focus more on tight control rather than abrasion-resistance.
The right fit is essential. Make sure the armor covers the necessary spots and the gloves don’t reduce your flexibility.
Motorcycle clothing, a combination between jacket and pants or a motorcycle suit, protect your skin and vulnerable body parts. Its important features:
- abrasion-resistant textiles protect you from road-rash
- armor and padding protect your knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, and back
Motorcycle suits are lighter and less insulated but can be worn over street clothes. Alternatively, there are casual motorcycle clothes with street clothes designs and subtle protective padding.
Fabrics and Materials
Most motorcycle clothing is made from leather or synthetic fabrics with similar features. They are durable, abrasion-resistant and protect from cuts and penetration. They are water and windproof by themselves or were proofed additionally.
The inner lining is made from GoreTex or similar breathable materials. The textile was created to absorb sweat and heat and transport them away from the skin, so the rider keeps warm and dry.
To ensure that you are visible in darkness and rain, the motorcycle clothing should include light colored parts and reflective panels. Alternatively, you can wear retroreflective vests or harnesses over your darker motorcycle clothing or backpacks.
Comfort and Fit
Motorcycle clothing should be tight but not restrictive. Loose fits get pulled on and allow the airflow to enter. The clothing typically has fasteners for manual adjustments around the wrists, ankles, and hips.
Motorcycle clothing is designed to be comfortable in a sitting and riding position. It does not bare skin or restrict arm movement and breathing when leaning forward.
The clothing is supposed to protect you from rain, wind, and UV-rays. It is important that it insulates well and keeps the air flow from causing hypothermia. Zippers with additional covers make motorcycle jackets effectively wind resistant.
You can combine a motorcycle jacket with thermal undershirts in the winter, or invest in jackets with battery powered heating. In the summer, jackets with vents or perforation in less vulnerable spots cool you down.
Eye and face protection
A good helmet has a face shield that protects from flying particles and rain. It can be tinted to make driving in the sun more comfortable. The visor must at least transmit 50 % of light to ensure a good visibility. Darker shields are illegal in some countries.
If you use an open-face helmet, buy motorcycle goggles. But be aware that much of your face remains unprotected still.
Goggles and visors have safety certificates. BS 4110 and ECE 22-05 stickers signify it is a high-quality visor.
Make sure your visor allows good visibility. Replace it when it gets scratched and clean it with non-solvent cleaners like warm soapy water.
While we don’t always have control over whether an accident is going to happen, we can provide the best protection in case of a crash. Motorcycle clothing lessens impact force and hinders sharp objects from injuring us. The right motorcycle gear makes the difference between life and death. Additionally, it provides comfort and better control during long and short rides under any kind of weather influences.