Now that you’ve got a helmet sorted out, you are probably going to be thinking about the rest of your biking gear, after all, what good is a helmet if you leave the rest of your body vulnerable?

A helmet should be considered a bare minimum but to be adequately protected while out on your bike you should also wear a motorcycle jacket, suitable trousers, gloves and boots. With a wide range of styles and materials in every price range, there is no excuse not to be protected. The next few pages will offer a better understanding of what types of gear are out there and get you started in picking your own protective clothing.

Motorcycle jackets and trousers are frequently bought together so that their styling matches and the protection that each offers is equal, for this reason they will both be covered on this page.

 

Materials

Motorcycle jackets and trousers are both made of chiefly the same kind of materials, and there is a vast array of materials to choose from. The most common types will be covered here.

 

Leather

The most popular material used in motorcycling gear and for good reason. Even budget leather motorcycling jackets and trousers offer decent protection from abrasions and come in a wide range of different styles, as you’ll see below.

Motorcycling leather gear is very different from “fashion” leather jackets and trousers in that they are they are designed primarily with the wearer’s protection in mind so they are made with much thicker hide, typically 1.1mm to 3mm, and come with padding to prevent road abrasion and dissipate heat.

While leather offers many advantages in terms style, protection and value, there are some drawbacks worth noting: Leather is quite heavy and new jackets will restrict your mobility due to their thickness, they also breathe poorly and thus will be uncomfortable on hot summer days unless they feature venting or perforation.

 

Textile

The second most popular choice of material. There are many different textiles but the most popular ones you will find are made from synthetics such as ballistic nylon and polyester. These materials offer the best of both worlds when it comes to protection and weight, and are significantly more breathable than leather, making them well suited for summer riding.

Textiles can however be draughty in winter unless they come with an insulating lining, and cheap textiles offer significantly less protection than equivalently priced leather, with thin material and single stitching prone to coming apart in an accident.

 

Denim

Though a less popular choice these days when it comes to jackets, “motorcycling denim” still has many fans due to its durability, breathability and choice of colours and styles. Motorcycling denim differs from normal denim because it is much thicker and often incorporates abrasion resistant materials such as Kevlar.

As for trousers, most casual jeans are not recommended for use on a motorcycle for the same reason as fashion orientated leather jackets and trousers: They offer very little protection against impacts and abrasion. For those who insist on taking to the roads in denim jeans however, there are options that specifically cater to motorcyclists, such as kevlar jeans.

Denim should only really be reserved for summer riding: is not waterproof and so when combined with its high permeability can make winter riding a cold, wet and miserable experience.

 

Styles

There are many styles to choose from, which one you choose should depend on the type of bike you ride and how you intend to use it:

Traditional motorcycle suits are made of leather and are styled to have a basic, retro appearance with buttoned lapels, few pockets and little in the way of decoration. They usually fit snugly around the form and offer decent protection from abrasions, but little in the way of impact protection.

Sport motorcycle jackets and trousers are modernly styled garments available in either leather or textile and in just about any colour, pattern and material. They are usually form fitting and often include built in armour, foam padding, thick fabrics and knee sliders, offering a high level of protection from abrasion and impacts.

Racing suits are a more specialised version of sport jackets and are usually made of either cow or kangaroo leather, fit very close to the body and are often decorated with badges and graphics. These jackets also often include zips at the base of the jacket so they can be zipped to a matching pair of racing trousers to form a full race suit.

One piece racing suits are essentially the same as two piece racing suits except that the jacket and trousers are connected with reinforced stitching and therefore do not come apart, offering enhanced protection. One piece racing suits are almost exclusively used on the track because they are impractical to use everyday due to their awkwardness to put on and take off.

Classic motorcycle jackets are about form over function. They are like traditional leather motorcycle jackets but more elaborately designed with zips, buckles, buttons and other accessories. They offer much the same protection as traditional jackets.

 

 

Choosing your gear

After you have chosen a material, colour and style, there are a few more points you should consider before you take the plunge and purchase your jacket and trousers:

Size

Jackets

Purchasing a properly sized jacket may seem obvious, but it is amazingly easy to get wrong. A jacket that is fitted with armour inserts for example must be fit properly or you may find the plates digging into your back, causing irritation and reducing their ability to protect you.

To get the best fit, you should find your chest and sleeve sizes and buy based on those. To find your chest size, pull out the measuring tape and have a friend measure all the way around your chest at its fullest.

To find your sleeve size, measure from the end of your shoulder to the base of your thumb. Alternatively, you can just find a jacket that fits you well and measure the sleeve length. You can then consult your chosen gear manufacturer’s size chart to get a perfect fit!

Trousers

It’s a fact that well fitted trousers can mean the difference between walking away from a crash and having to be taken away on a stretcher. Ill fitting trousers will not work as they are designed to, with padding and armour plating moving around as you ride if they’re too loose and the trouser bottoms riding up if they are too tight. Getting the right fit is critical, but thankfully finding the right pair of biking trousers is easier than with a jacket.

Generally, you will want to purchase the same size around the waist as ones you would normally wear. Bear in mind that the type of trousers that you buy will affect the fit. Leather racing trousers tend to fit quite snugly against the skin and will be cut into a “racing crouch”, meaning that they are designed to be used on a supersport bike which has a crouched stance. These sorts of trousers, however well they fit will be uncomfortable after a while if you ride a bike with a straight up riding position.

Ventilation

Consider when you are planning on using your bike the most. If you only plan on using your bike during the summer, then you should consider either a textile or well ventilated leather jacket. If you plan on using your bike throughout the whole year, excessive ventilation will prove too cold and compromise water-resistance during the winter, so be sure to keep a balance.

Pockets

Motorcycles are not usually equipped with storage space for small items like mobile phones and as such, the amount of pockets and their closing mechanism should play a part in your decision.

 

Reflective materials

It’s a well established fact that motorcyclists aren’t as easy to see on the road as cars so it’s important to make yourself stick out at least to some degree. Reflective patches and piping on your jacket and trousers will help keep you visible and are incorporated quite stylishly into today’s modern motorcycle gear.

 

The next few pages will be about items of gear that are often forgotten, but are needed to protect the delicate extremities of the body: the hands and feet.

Gearing up – Motorcycle Gloves >