The image of a motorcycle invokes both the machine and the rider. The idea of bikers is one of the most firmly established American mythos after the cowboy.
It’s no wonder, given the distinct clothing and accessories used by these groups. Rought and tumble people wearing modern forms of armor to reduce the risk of injury associated with their activities.
Many also care about the origins of these pieces, putting stock in brands and tradition. Wearing the right label and sporting the proper look can be every bit as important as the protection offered. When it comes to motorcycle riding gear, you want to invest in longevity too.
Read on to learn how to select the right level of protection that will also fit your inner biker image.
Tips and Gear
This guide will go through the pieces of clothing and gear needed to be safe and look your best. It’s broken down into sections to make it easy to decide where to prioritize.
Remember, the bottom line remains that riding a motorcycle makes you a biker. That said, if it comes to the look you want over a price point, being more protected always wins.
1. Essential Motorcycle Riding Gear
These are the big five. The pieces you need before you get on a bike if you want to return in one piece. Essential motorcycle gear covers the basics of protection and the core kit most see.
For a limited budget, go big here and pick up other pieces as you can.
The single most identifiable piece of gear. This forms the core of your look and the basics of protecting yourself from everyday riding.
The jacket isn’t nearly as important as the other essentials in the case of a crash, but if you ride well and encounter no problems, you still don’t want wind and dust to pick you apart at 80+ out on the highway.
Jackets come in a variety of styles and, importantly, temperature tolerances. Materials range from nylon with ballistic mesh to different thicknesses of leather or leather/mesh combo.
For the summer you want something that breathes Look for perforated or wicking linings. For the colder months, a durable shell is ideal to keep out wind and rain.
Remember you can always stack under-clothing to bring up your temp if needed.
Like the jacket, pants offer protection from the elements in a day to day wear. They prevent loss of skin and flesh in the event of an accident.
Styles of motorcycle pants also offer different levels of protection. Leather continues to be a staple as it is easy to work with and plentiful. More advanced tech includes mesh and kevlar panels on top of leather or other materials.
With the panels working to do the majority of the damage reduction, the core material is less important.
If you intend on picking up knee and leg armor later, make sure you aren’t overdoing the armor paneling as this can restrict movement severely.
Speaking of mobility, gloves need to offer plenty of it. The first order of business for a glove is to reduce vibrations. After that, reducing abrasion comes into play.
Modern glove designs also offer reinforcement in the palms that assist sliding.
Why do you want your hand to slide? If you take a tumble you will be moving forward. Instinct says to protect the body with the arms.
The arms sliding will keep the body sliding, which keeps the force evenly across the body. A glove that provides a hard stop is a good way to snap your wrist.
Extra armor paneling in the wrist and knuckles help to prevent sprains and breaks. Some gloves also link the pinky and ring finger to limit injury to that outside of the hand.
The more armor you pick up on a glove, the more weight it will have. Lighter gloves decrease strain on the forearm after a long ride.
Boots have to do double duty for riding. They need to keep your feet stationary for the ride and protected from a fall. It also helps if they are something you can walk around in.
You can take off your gloves and helmet and leave them in a bag, swapping out your boots is another thing entirely.
Boots need to be sturdy in the heel, go over the ankle, and steel or reinforced toe helps. You don’t need to snap your toes on a tight corner or spill. Wearing reinforced footwear is a good idea in general.
Fortunately, motorcycle boosts have gone into vogue for everyday wear. This means you will find many styles and colors. Just make sure it is an actual boot and not a made-to-look.
You need the protection over the style.
Helmets, love em or leave em, do a lot of work. They keep your head on your neck in the even to a major wipeout and they keep bugs out of your teeth every day.
Full face helmets work better than three-quarter helmets. Stats show that most of the damage bikers take is in the face. If it weren’t a terrible idea for your overall image, a goalie mask actually does more work to keep you safe than a skull cap does.
Helmets need to have an internal cushion and crumple zone to keep the shockwave from a blow from transferring.
Modern helmets come with some nice upsells such as speakers and Bluetooth. The sound muffling capability helps stop tinnitus from heavy CC engines and wind. The muffling can restrict your situational awareness, so keep vigilant and use mirrors.
Expect to replace a helmet every five years. This keeps the seals and adhesives fresh.
As you can see, proper motorcycle gear takes a pounding even under ideal conditions.
While the basic kit protects from the elements and general riding pressures, armor only comes into lay in the event of a wreck.
In the event of an accident, wearing armor in key places reduced recovery by two months.
Armor pieces fit into zipped pockets, affixed with Velcroe, or strapped on. They can be made of hardened leather, foam and plastic, and even metal alloys.
Elbow pads and shoulder armor diffuse impact force on joints. The purpose is to be flexible and not to rigidly deflect blows.
The benefit of flexibility extends to comfort while adding little bulk.
Knee armor is a different story. While these pieces are also flexible and used to displace force, they also have rigid components.
Knee armor can extend to the upper thigh and all the way down to the ankle, depending on the piece.
Hardshell knee pieces are built with friction in mind. They give you a chance to recover from a slide without losing a leg to friction.
BAck armor protects the spine. Snapping your spine is bad. Even if every other piece of gear keeps your limbs from taking damage, that won’t matter if you can’t move.
Independent spine plates offer a combination of rigid and flexible protection. Most extend below the tailbone.
Unlike the other pieces of gear, these aren’t essential motorcycle gear. You could ride your whole life without any of these and be perfectly fine.
Mostly these offer quality of life adjustments and provide a place to swap up styles.
For when you want to show your biker pride but not near your bike, consider the wide selection of biker themed prints available at Frankymouse.com.
A full body suit can replace a jacket and pants. Some even bring in knee, elbow, and spine protection.
Suits may be flexible two-pieces or rigid head-to-toe onsies.
For a weekend or sports rider, a suit brings in everything you need to protect against the elements in an easy to store and adorn package.
Generally speaking, they aren’t too stylish if you don’t happen to be at a race or event.
Full face helmets have limited the use of goggles in modern riding. In places where helmet laws are not total, they still see use.
For those riding with glasses, goggles do wonders to help secure protection frames to the face where they might slide in a helmet.
Even with a helmet, earplugs are a good choice to keep sound isolated.
Sound canceling headphones and earbuds are the latest rage. Rather than wiping out all sound, these work to select out the bike noise from traffic.
This gives better overall situation awareness and protects hearing.
15. Compression Gear
Underclothing does more than you might think. Not necessarily needed in stylish options, unless you go for the stipping down and walking around like a lumberjack post-shift.
Compression underclothing brings in benefits such as warmth in the winter and water wicking in the summer. The increased circulation limits muscle fatigue and stiffness after a long ride.
If you choose gear for greater crash protection or higher style points earlier, compression gear helps seal up the gaps. Nothing stops a breeze and high winds from penetrating quite like a skin-tight body suit.
Motorcycle riding gear looks great and offers many benefits. Remember that your look works when your gear works. After all, motorcycle riders wore what they did for protection before it became a style.