Epic Answers to Your Questions: Motorcycle Gear FAQ Blueprint
Motorcycle gear: a topic that is, to this day, misunderstood and full of nonsensical myths. You will hear all kinds of metaphorical red herrings, fallacies and falsehoods to reason the non wearing of motorcycle gear, and, what’s worst, some people will go the extra length to convince others of their misinformed crap. Let’s call a spade a spade, shall we?
- Dude, body armor ain’t going to protect you when you impact the rear of a truck at 80 miles per hour, so why bother with wearing motorcycle armor?
- Hey bro, did you know how helmets impair your vision and that riding helmetless is actually safer than wearing a DOT-approved or ECE-approved full-face helmet?
- I wear Carhartt jeans because they look good when I’m riding my cruiser bike and because all the guys at my MC club wear them, so jeans must be good for riding motorcycles.
The above-listed three pathetic excuses to not wear proper motorcycle gear are more common than you’d think and people have gotten injured by following regurgitated folklore and old wives’ tales. Body armor will protect your body in many crashing scenarios; a full-face DOT-approved helmet is heaps and bounds (to the infinity and beyond) safer than riding helmetless; and Carhartt (or any other regular denim jeans) isn’t going to protect your skin in a get-off at most riding speeds. With the advent of the internet, it’s impressive how much misinformation is still going around in circles and hasn’t been put to rest for once and for all.
Let’s talk real motorcycle gear
There’s so much motorcycle gear around to be had that you, as a rider looking to protect himself/herself, may very well be flooded with so many questions on motorcycle gear that you’ve decided to postpone your gear-hunting spree to some other distant time in the not-so-near future. But, then, you’d be doing yourself a massive disfavor: the time to wear motorcycle gear is now and always.
Yes, we love our motorcycle gear and, yes, we are going to answer some of the most-common and most-misinformed questions that abound in the minds of good-meaning riders.
Table of Contents
OK, first things first. This Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) guide that you’re reading is the biggest internet guide on motorcycle gear; ergo, we’re giving you a table of contents so that you can maneuver yourself around the many questions (and answers of ours) that make up this guide. Here it is:
- What is motorcycle gear? I thought MC gear was a code name for stuff like bandanas, leather caps and tassels
- Can you give me examples of what’s motorcycle gear?
- How about examples of what is not motorcycle gear?
- I understand, but could you also mention examples of dubious motorcycle gear?
- Can you briefly list the product categories of motorcycle gear?
- What is ATGATT?
- Does ATGATT mean that I have to wear motorcycle gear that makes me look like a yellow Power Ranger?
- Is there a way to know if a given motorcycle-gear product is any good?
- Dude, I just got a headache from reading all that on CE directives and standards, do I really need to memorize it all?
- Any subjective tips to know if whatever gear I’m looking at is any good?
- Leather or textile?
- Serious question: is motorcycle gear only for girls and beta males?
- But I’ve heard that wearing motorcycle gear is done so as to mask one’s own deficient riding skills?
- But I heard this guy in my local HOG chapter say that helmets are bad
- But, but, but he says that helmets break necks and that they impair one’s field of vision
- But, but, I told the anti-helmet guy what you’ve said and he then resorted to the paltry excuse of helmets not letting you feel freedom
- Is good motorcycle gear expensive?
- Can I just wear some motorcycle gear like an armored leather jacket and a helmet?
- Should I wear a full-face helmet or a half-helmet?
- Should I make it a priority to choose my motorcycle gear based on how it matches the color or theme of my motorcycle?
- Should I buy the same motorcycle gear as my riding buddies?
- But I’ve been riding for 30 (dog) years and I’ve never crashed because I’m (as I believe) a good rider, so surely I’m at a low risk of going down, right?
- Meh, I’m a rebel, so I’m wearing a half helmet regardless of what you say (it’s my freedom and it’s my choice and blah-blah-blah)
- But I thought you were done discussing the stupidity of wearing half helmets?
- Will I be OK buying made-in-Asia motorcycle gear?
- My cool-looking motorcycle jacket comes with no armor and with no pockets for armor, what should I do?
- The armor in my jacket and pants is dangling, what should I do? Should I double it up?
- What is the difference between CE Level 1 armor vs. Level 2 armor?
- How much impact energy is required to break ribs or vertebrae?
- Is there motorcycle gear for women?
- Is road rash really that bad? I’ve scraped my knees in the past riding a bicycle and I was fine
- I ride with my wife/girlfriend as a passenger, should she wear as much gear as I do?
- It’s summer, what kind of gear can I wear that’s comfortable?
- What are some good brands of motorcycle gear that I can trust?
- Which brands should I avoid?
- I bought a Cordura jacket but the tag says the jacket is made of polyester and there’s no mention of Cordura anywhere, what’s going on?
- OK, I’m convinced to wear motorcycle gear but I will only do so with the most-convenient gear possible, can you help me?
- Is counterfeit or fake motorcycle gear safe to buy and wear?
- So, what’s the best motorcycle gear?
We told you it’d be a long guide!
You may click on any of the linked questions on this table of contents to go straight onto the question itself. We will be continuously updating this FAQ guide for your benefit as a motorcycle rider, so we suggest that you bookmark this guide for future reference and check it out from time to time.
Let’s kick it!
What is motorcycle gear? I thought MC gear was a code name for stuff like bandanas, leather caps and tassels
Simply put, motorcycle gear is safety clothing and apparel designed to provide protection to a motorcycle rider in the event of a crash and/or against hazards inherent to riding motorcycles such as inclement weather or wind noise. Don’t read any deeper into it; the aforementioned definition of motorcycle gear is more than enough.
Can you give me examples of what’s motorcycle gear?
- Full-face helmet: protects against impacts to the head and against wind, rain and road debris hitting the face. It also helps with making the motorcycle-riding experience more pleasant. A full-face helmet covers all of the head’s anatomy and has a clear visor (i.e. eye port) at the front to see through.
- Armored leather jacket: protects against abrasion (via the jacket’s leather) and against impacts to the upper body (via the jacket’s armor). An armored leather jacket also protects against the cold, wind, cuts and road debris.
- Ankle-reinforced tall leather boots: protects against abrasion (via the boots’ leather) and against ankle dislocation in the case of a fall. It also protects against the rest of hazards mentioned for an armored leather jacket too.
How about examples of what is not motorcycle gear?
Not a problem.
- Work boots or engineering boots: these boots are not designed for motorcycle protection and provide no protection at any common-riding speeds.
- Wallet chains: this is fashionwear and it can quickly become a weapon against you in the case of a tumble.
I understand, but could you also mention examples of dubious motorcycle gear?
That’s an easy one.
- Motorcycle chaps: at best, motorcycle chaps offer slim protection (no pun intended) in a crash and, at worst, motorcycle chaps give a false sense of security as a rider confides his/her lower-leg protection to motorcycle chaps only (instead of wearing additional lower-leg gear). To their credit, motorcycle chaps do offer protection against the cold and against road debris, but there are far-better options out there for such a job.
- Motocross gloves: these are not appropriate for riding on-road despite their recent popularity among the younger crowd of street riders. Motocross gloves are motorcycle gear for motocross riders but offer no abrasion protection when riding on asphalt (i.e. street riding). For reference, see the next photograph of a motorcycle rider who crashed with motocross gloves that failed miserably.
Can you briefly list the product categories of motorcycle gear?
This is an orienting list of what motorcycle-gear categories you will find in order to group gear products presently available for your ease of purchasing them, wearing them or learning about them.
- Motorcycle helmets: protect a rider’s head. Can protect all of the head including the face (i.e. full-face helmets) or only a portion of the head (i.e. three-quarter helmets or half-helmets).
- Motorcycle jackets: protect the upper body of a rider, including his/her arms. Usually made of leather or a textile material like nylon.
- Motorcycle pants or jeans: protect the lower body of a rider. Can be made of leather, textile and/or aramid-fiber materials (e.g. Cordura or Kevlar).
- Motorcycle gloves: protect the hands and wrists of a rider. Leather is favored as the main material of a glove’s chassis. Motorcycle gloves can be short-cuffed (i.e. only protecting hands) or full-gauntlet (i.e. protecting hands, wrists and forearms).
- Motorcycle boots: protect the feet and lower legs of a rider. Leather or synthetics like microfiber are the best materials to use on a boot’s chassis. Ankle protection and shin protection are essential to good motorcycle boots.
- Body armor: protects a rider’s bones and joints as it is meant to absorb impacts sustained during a motorcycle crash. Body armor can be fitted to motorcycle jackets and pants, or it can be directly strapped to the limbs and upper torso. Motorcycle-specific body armor is mainly fabricated to protect the knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, buttocks, back and chest.
- Rain gear: protects a rider from rain and inclement weather. Motorcycle gear can already have rain protection incorporated into the garment, or it can be purchased additionally to wear over a rider’s apparel (e.g. waterproof liners).
- Other gear: includes airbags (which are still new to consumers), high-visibility clothing (e.g. vests), eye protection and neck protection, and other miscellaneous gear that is not covered by the above categories.
What is ATGATT?
ATGATT is an acronym that stands for “All The Gear, All The Time”. You may also see this term being spelled as AGATT (“All Gear, All The Time”).
What ATGATT essentially conveys is a rider’s attitude to taking full responsibility for any harmful consequences derived from riding a motorcycle and thus minimizing such consequences (and its causes) by wearing appropriate motorcycle gear that protects all of the rider’s body. Such responsible riders do not get carried away with stupid myths nor do they care for the Hollywood-glamorized wannabe-tough attitude of not wearing a motorcycle helmet. Neither will an ATGATT rider ever wear questionable motorcycle gear like leather chaps or half-helmets.
ATGATT may be a somewhat-polarizing riding philosophy not shared by all motorcycle riders, but it sure is the only passive strategy to minimize the very-latent-and-present risk of death or disability that comes with the territory of riding a motorcycle. The following photograph illustrates the pure definition of ATGATT, which is just as applicable for males as it is for females (the girl in the photograph took off her gloves and full-face helmet for the shot):
Does ATGATT mean that I have to wear motorcycle gear that makes me look like a yellow Power Ranger?
Not at all. ATGATT implies that you’re wearing appropriate motorcycle gear on all of your body. This can range from a one-piece suit for the upper and lower body to an armored textile jacket and Cordura-made overpants for these same body parts.
It’s a myth that one has to look like a Power Ranger or astronaut if wanting to wear protective motorcycle gear. It’s also a myth that (good) motorcycle gear is uncomfortable to ride with.
Is there a way to know if a given motorcycle-gear product is any good?
Unfortunately, there’s no objective way to know if what you’re buying is going to do its job of protecting you or not. You can get a good feel of its protective qualities when inspecting the item and by learning to read the specifications and materials advertised in the gear’s marketing literature, but it’s very easy to buy sub-par motorcycle gear that will evaporate when you happen to need it.
Just as unfortunately, directives have been passed in the European Union (in the form of standards) to try to standardize the meaning to the compounded word “protective motorcycle gear” (or “personal protective equipment” for motorcycle riders), but these directives are not mandatory and are thus only applicable if a motorcycle-gear company wants to submit their gear for testing. I think I don’t need to tell you how many companies jumped in joy upon hearing the news and rushed to CE-approved facilities to get their motorcycle gear tested.
In any case, below are the European standards for motorcycle gear that are of your interest when buying motorcycle gear and that will tell you if the gear will, in fact, have been tested to protect you. Please note that just about all motorcycle gear has not been tested to any of these CE standards, so knowing the standards’ enumeration and definitions isn’t really needed if buying motorcycle gear for the first time. The only CE standards that are referenced with relative frequency (in advertising literature) are the EN 1621-1:2012 standard (for limb armor) and the EN 1621-2:2014 standard (for back armor).
EN 1621-1:2012 (limb armor)
It’s of importance that you check that the limb armor in any jacket or pants you want to buy has been tested and certified to the EN 1621-1:2012 standard. This standard ensures that the limb armor in your gear will protect you against impact.
Limb armor encompasses the armor used to protect the shoulders, elbows/forearms, hips and knees.
EN 1621-2:2014 (back armor)
This is also another CE standard that is of use to you as it ensures that the back-armor pad in your motorcycle jacket will provide impact protection to your back.
EN 13594:2015 (motorcycle gloves)
This is for motorcycle gloves. Also look out for the enumeration EN 13594:2010, which is the previous superseded standard. Very-few motorcycle gloves have been tested to this standard, so it’s very uncommon and only seen with higher-end motorcycle gloves of European origin.
Beware of some shady motorcycle-gear companies that play around unethically with the enumeration to make it look like their gloves are certified to the EN 13594:2015 standard, when they’re actually only certified as gardening gloves (I’m not kidding you).
EN 13595-1:2002 (motorcycle jackets, pants and one-piece suits)
This is for motorcycle jackets, pants and one-piece suits. The EN 13595-1:2002 standard tests a jacket, pant or one-piece suit to prove its real protection against abrasion, tearing, cuts and sharp-object penetration. This standard also tests for the correct fitment and retention of the gear (e.g. jacket not riding up to expose the forearms) as well as for the comfort and ergonomics of the gear, and if it leeches any dye.
As you can imagine, the amount of commercially-available motorcycle pants, jackets and one-piece suits submitted for testing of the EN 13595-1:2002 standard can be counted with one hand. Maybe one day, manufacturers will take this form of rider-safety standardization more seriously and we will all be able to tell objectively in a nanosecond (by looking at the labeling) if the jacket we’re going to buy isn’t going to burst open in a 30-mile-per-hour slide.
EN 13634:2010 (motorcycle boots)
This CE standard applies to motorcycle boots and tests a boot’s resistance to abrasion, impact and penetration; it also checks other performance parameters relevant to motorcycle boots. If you can’t find a reference to the EN 13634:2010 standard in the boots’ labeling, then do also look out for a EN 13634:2002 label, which is the previous superseded CE standard for motorcycle boots.
Most motorcycle boots made by the bigger European brands are tested and certified to any of the two aforementioned CE standards; certifying motorcycle boots to the 13634:2010 and 13634:2002 standards is relatively popular in Europe and just about expected on all higher-end European motorcycle boots. Cruiser-styled boots, work boots or engineering boots (as sold in the United States) will never pass the testing for the EN 13634:2010 standard, and a boot that doesn’t pass this standard doesn’t even begin to approach the protection afforded by a motorcycle boot that has passed and been certified to either the 13634:2010 CE standard or the 13634:2002 CE standard.
You choose what level of boot protection you want your feet to be wearing in a crash; the EN 13634:2010 standard already makes it very easy for you even if you’re in the United States. Caveat emptor, fellow rider.
ECE, DOT or AS/NZS (motorcycle helmets)
Depending upon your jurisdiction, a motorcycle helmet will need to be ECE approved (in the European Union), DOT approved (in the United States where applicable) or AS/NZS approved (in Australia and New Zealand). Bear in mind that there are other countries with different directives imposed on the use of motorcycle helmets, so check with your local governmental agency when in doubt.
Dude, I just got a headache from reading all that on CE directives and standards, do I really need to memorize it all?
Don’t worry. The above-mentioned standards are uncommon (to our demise as motorcycle riders). As a bare minimum, though, do try to remember that the body armor in your motorcycle jacket and pants should be certified to the EN 1621-1:2012 standard (for your limb armor) and EN 1621-2:2014 standard (for your back armor).
Also, make sure that you’re wearing a helmet that has been approved for use in your country.
Any subjective tips to know if whatever gear I’m looking at is any good?
Since CE directives are seldom followed by manufacturers (nor tested for), we motorcycle riders have to rely on some rules of thumbs to get an idea of how good the gear we’re looking to buy really is.
Minimum thickness of leather for motorcycle gear is 1.0 millimeters, although motorcycle gloves can have as little as 0.6 millimeters in leather thickness. Avoid most exotic leathers, sheep leather and faux leather. Leather should never feel gummy, paper-thin or cardboard-like. Avoid leather gear that has any signs of mold infestation; even new leather gear can contain mold if it hasn’t been stored properly.
Go with polyamide or polyester. Minimum denier should be 450 denier, although 600 denier and above is better. Avoid vinyl at all costs. Cordura is good.
The larger the Kevlar’s coverage in the garment, the better the protection against abrasion. Ideally, the Kevlar should be blended with an elastic material or woven into the outer cotton fabric (in the case of denim jeans). The use of Kevlar/aramid fibers is also popular among the newer armored motorcycle shirts like the epic Scorpion Covert flannel shirt.
Common impact areas like the elbows and knees should be double stitched, although triple stitched is better. Threading should be nylon or aramid/Kevlar.
Reinforced impact points
Elbows and knees are the areas of the body that are hit most often in a motorcycle crash. Having an additional panel of fabric in these areas (of your jacket or pants) is always good.
Avoid boots with no ankle protection and coverage. In an ideal world, you want the shaft of the boot to cover the first third of your lower leg and up. Try to twist the shank and shaft of the boot laterally; if it flexes, put the boot back on the shelf (that’s your ankle at 30 miles per hour).
Look for the EN 13634:2010 logo and for some type of solid bracing system at the ankle that’s made of plastic; this aids in stabilizing and protecting the ankle and lower leg in the worst crashing scenarios that you could ever imagine and in which amputation of the foot would be a likely outcome if otherwise wearing an unapproved non-ankle-protecting boot.
Perforated fabric and mesh panels for ventilation
Avoid jackets and pants that have perforated fabric or mesh panels at the outer elbows, shoulders, knees, hips and buttocks; these areas of the body must always be covered with a non-perforated version of the chosen fabric. Good locations for mesh panels and/or perforated fabric include the inside sleeves, chest area and inside/frontal areas of the thighs.
Reinforced palms in gloves
Your palms are usually the first area of the body to strike the ground, so minimize any risk of road rash or of fracturing your wrist bones by having reinforced leather panels at the palms and by also having palm sliders that cover a wide section of the gloves’ lower palms. Such a setup is the safest one to have in your motorcycle gloves and is one that many gloves already offer as part of their rider-safety features.
Palm sliders can be made of plastic/TPU, Superfabric and even of stingray leather; the point of it all is to allow your palms to slide across the tarmac instead of the palms’ leather binding and catching on the tarmac. Palm sliders work amazingly well to ameliorate the destruction of a rider’s scaphoid and wrist bones in a high-speed crash!
Gloves must have a good retention system
If buying new gloves, try them on first and secure them as if you were to ride with them. Proceed to grab the left glove’s fingers with your right hand and yank (i.e. pull hard) the left glove’s fingers in a quick upward motion. Now do the same for the right glove’s fingers. Did the gloves stay secured and didn’t ride up your hands? Then the securing (i.e. fastening) system of the gloves is of sufficient performance to believe that it may stay closed and secured in a crash. If the gloves rode up your hand when you yanked them or if you burst a finger seam while doing this test, do not buy those gloves.
New helmet should be in perfect condition
A helmet should be approved for use in the country it is being sold. If you live in the United States, European Union or Australia/New Zealand, you should be looking for the words DOT, ECE or AS/NZS in your helmet’s specifications.
Buy your new helmet from a reputable shop, whether online or offline. Inspect the helmet for any nicks or scratches. The helmet must be in impeccable shape with absolutely no imperfections or scratches. Never buy second-hand helmets.
All motorcycle gear must fit tightly and comfortably
For any motorcycle gear to function as intended, it must be fitted tightly as if it were a second skin. While being tightly fit, said motorcycle gear must also be comfortable to wear for hours. Avoid motorcycle gear that fits you loosely or that is inherently designed with a loose fit.
Leather or textile?
Both. What matters is that you wear it.
Serious question: is motorcycle gear only for girls and beta males?
If you ever hear anyone say that, you have our permission to smack the bejesus out of that person.
A real man does all possible to protect his loved ones, and, by default, that includes protecting himself so that he is there to be able protect his loved ones when required. Ditto for what real women do. Don’t let posers and pseudo-males try to convince you of their idiotic ways.
But I’ve heard that wearing motorcycle gear is done so as to mask one’s own deficient riding skills?
You’ve heard wrong.
But I heard this guy in my local HOG chapter say that helmets are bad
Ignore that person.
But, but, but he says that helmets break necks and that they impair one’s field of vision
There is not one single iota of empirical medical evidence pointing to properly-fitted, approved, full-face motorcycle helmets breaking riders’ necks. As a matter of fact, there is evidence pointing to the exact opposite: that full-face motorcycle helmets help to avoid the fracturing of vertebrae and damaging of the spine as (approved) full-face helmets slow down the inertia of the skull when impacted and, thus, the resulting violent whipping and oscillating of the spine is reduced.
Oh, and any full-face helmet that isn’t junk will have a wide-enough eye port to allow you to see everything and anything to the sides and to your front.
But, but, I told the anti-helmet guy what you’ve said and he then resorted to the paltry excuse of helmets not letting you feel freedom
Freedom of what? Freedom off your mortgage? Freedom off family problems? Freedom off sexually-transmitted diseases? Freedom of what? I ask. The whole freedom mantra repeated as parrots by certain motorcycle groups is utter trite and so passé.
You know what I want to be free off? Wind blasting my face all the time as it conspicuously leaves me with gradual deafness because I like to ride more than the ten miles per week allocated to posers and people who come up with stupid excuses to not wear a full-face helmet.
Listen, do this:
- Find an old, crash-experienced, gray-bearded guy who likes to ride hundreds of miles at a time just for the sheer joy of riding. No posing or riding with acquaintances to look cool; just piling on long miles in a single go because it’s so awesome to be riding a motorbike.
- Ask him what’s his opinion on motorcycle helmets and whether you should wear one or not.
- Proceed to sit down and get some sense smacked into you (we’ll call it “tough love”).
- Go back to your local group and never again waste one second of your life listening to the anti-helmet dude (or lady) with his (or her) helmet anathemas.
- Buy your full-face helmet.
- You can now go ahead and enjoy your ride with your full-face helmet knowing that you have the best chances of surviving a motorcycle crash while you don’t have to worry about wind, flying rocks or insects, and deafening noises ruining your ride.
If you’re still not convinced, then have a look at this photograph of a helmetless motorcyclist who fell off his motorcycle at a mere 25 miles per hour and only hit his head once on the pavement just as his body was slowing down while tumbling. He fractured his skull and was left with lifelong sequelae, including speech problems and partial loss of vision.
Is good motorcycle gear expensive?
Good motorcycle gear can be had for affordable prices, so long as you know what to look for. Here at the Motorcycle Gear Hub, we have reviewed lots of motorcycle gear that offer incredible value for money and which you can easily buy online.
Here are some varying price points that you should expect to pay for good-quality motorcycle gear:
- Helmet: 200 to 400 US dollars.
- Jacket: 200 to 400 US dollars.
- Pants: 200 to 400 US dollars.
- Gloves: 60 to 120 US dollars.
- Boots: 200 to 300 US dollars.
- Body armor: usually comes with jackets and pants. Add an extra 70 bucks if you want to upgrade it to Level-2 CE-rated armor (the SAS-TEC 1/42 Prestige armor is top-of-the-line armor at a very-affordable price).
- Fingerless gloves with studs: you thought we were being serious here?
Working out the averages of these listed price points, it’s around 1,200 US dollars to be kitted out with good motorcycle gear. Mind you, all the motorcycle gear that you’d get for this money would last you many, many years, so think of it as a long-term investment. Even if you crashed, the gear would still be usable, especially if made of leather.
We’re talking of motorcycle gear that would save you from death, from remaining in a vegetative state for the rest of your days or from life-altering injuries like traumatic limb amputation or widespread road rash. Will such gear give you 100% protection against these horrible motorcycle-crashing scenarios? No. Will you fare infinitely better than if you didn’t wear good motorcycle gear? You bet your bike you will indeed. So 1,200 bucks comes out to be a small price to pay so as to be alive and fine for your loved ones to get to enjoy your presence, don’t you think?
Can I just wear some motorcycle gear like an armored leather jacket and a helmet?
Sure. Do note though that fractures of the ankle are extremely complicated to fix without leaving the person limping for life. Fracturing your ankle due to a casual tip-over at a traffic light can easily lead to having to fuse your ankle, which will brutally impair your quality of life until the day you die.
Do the math and then go with whatever you consider adequate; we ain’t your mom.
Should I wear a full-face helmet or a half-helmet?
Didn’t you listen to the old bearded guy, kid? Wear a full-face helmet!
Alright, let’s be less of an extremist: wear a full-face helmet if you want maximum protection from impacts and all sorts of road and environmental hazards. Wear a half helmet if you, for whatever reason gracing this beautiful planet, happen to have a reason for wanting to have your head less protected.
Do please note that wearing a half-helmet can put you at a risk of permanently damaging your face. Here on our site, we’ve documented how the use of a half-helmet led to facial road rash and lifelong scarring (along with the loss of teeth); all from the face hitting the pavement at a moderate speed in which the wearing of a full-face helmet would have resulted in no damage to the face.
One more thing before we put an end to this whole half-helmet debacle: half-helmets are banned in the European Union and wearing one to ride a motorcycle (even a scooter) will lead to a heavy fine. That should tell you how a good chunk of the Western world thinks of half helmets.
Should I make it a priority to choose my motorcycle gear based on how it matches the color or theme of my motorcycle?
Who are you? One of the females from that “Sex in the City” TV show?
Your only priority when buying motorcycle gear is how much protection is the gear going to afford you when you go down. Nothing else.
Should I buy the same motorcycle gear as my riding buddies?
Refer to the previous answer.
But I’ve been riding for 30 (dog) years and I’ve never crashed because I’m (as I believe) a good rider, so surely I’m at a low risk of going down, right?
Here, read this:
- You’re not as good of a rider as you think you are.
- In non-DUI, at-fault motorcycle accidents, excess speed is the main contributor to a rider crashing. Overconfidence is the second main contributor.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Meh, I’m a rebel, so I’m wearing a half helmet regardless of what you say (it’s my freedom and it’s my choice and blah-blah-blah)
Hold your horses; we have a badass here! Right on, dude, you continue to wear your cute half helmet so as to comply with the minimum requirements of the law (ain’t you a rebel, though?), but just make sure that you have a local chapter nearby of facially-disfigured-due-to-half-helmets bikers; that’s if you’re still interested in riding a motorcycle as you look into the mirror for the rest of your painful esse.
Entry to this local chapter of cool disfigured rebels is about 15,000 US dollars to be paid to the nearest hospital that accepts to work on your face. Get some veneers implanted while you’re at it so that your wife can at least look at you without crying when you smile.
But I thought you were done discussing the stupidity of wearing half helmets?
Will I be OK buying made-in-Asia motorcycle gear?
There used to be a time when anything made in Asian countries like China carried a marketing stigma; however, this isn’t so much the case any more. Many companies specializing in motorcycle gear have moved their manufacturing (or outsourced it) to countries like China, Pakistan and Vietnam while still maintaining strict quality-control regulations and processes. What this means is that there is plenty of Asian-made motorcycle gear that retains the quality needed for these garments to protect riders.
I like to mention the example of the British brand, Weise. These guys make terrific motorcycle gear that’s manufactured in China; they’ve made sure that the gear being manufactured in its Chinese factory is put to the same quality standards expected from the Weise brand in Great Britain and as also expected by its customer base. I own the Tornado gloves from Weise (seen in the previous photograph and in the link) and I’m utterly gobsmacked with how awesome these motorcycle gloves are despite having costed about half the price of similar-in-features gloves from the bigger motorcycle-gear brands.
You, as a consumer buying motorcycle gear, owe it to yourself to be informed on what it is that you’re going to buy, and a website like our very-own McGearHub.com is extremely useful for rapidly learning to discern what’s good gear and what’s junk gear; be it made in Asia or otherwise.
My cool-looking motorcycle jacket comes with no armor and with no pockets for armor, what should I do?
Don’t use that jacket. Or wear strap-on armor under the jacket.
Just about all leather jackets that come with no pockets for armor are not designed to protect a motorcycle rider, despite what the manufacturer may otherwise claim. Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Fonzie is not your priority.
The armor in my jacket and pants is dangling, what should I do? Should I double it up?
Dangling (i.e. loose) armor is frequently caused by the piece of gear apparel being too big for one’s size. In this instance, what you should be doing is buying the same jacket or pants in a smaller size. Dangling armor will not just leave you unprotected in a crash but it can also cause friction burns or serious cuts (if the armor has hard-plastic on it).
One feasible alternative is to add extra armor to the armor in your jacket and pants; this is what we call “doubling up” or “stacking up” your armor. This only works when the jacket or pant fits a tad bigger (i.e. one size bigger). Doubling up your armor helps to fill the empty space between your joints and the existing armor, and it also beefs up the impact protection of your armor as two armor pads (laid horizontally) are always better than one armor pad as it concerns the absorbing of energy from impacts.
One of the best armor products to use when doubling up is any armor made by SAS-TEC as this armor is very soft and it contours around the already-existing armor in your jacket and pants.
What is the difference between CE Level 1 armor vs. Level 2 armor?
Body armor used by motorcyclists can be certified to one of two levels within the EN 1621-1:2012 standard and the EN 1621-2:2014 standard: Level 1 or Level 2.
What this is all about is in measuring and proving the ability of the tested armor to absorb the energy transferred from (repeated) impacts. The objective with body armor is to have it absorb as much of an impact’s force as scientifically possible while transferring as little impact energy as possible to the bones and joints of a rider.
Limb armor that has been certified to Level 1 (in the EN 1621-1:2012 standard) has allowed an average of less than 35 kilonewtons (kN) of energy to be transferred from repeated 50-Joule impacts.
Back armor that has been certified to Level 1 (in the EN 1621-2:2014 standard) has allowed an average of less than 19 kilonewtons of energy to be transferred from repeated impacts.
Limb armor that has been certified to Level 2 (in the EN 1621-1:2012 standard) has allowed an average of less than 20 kilonewtons (kN) of energy to be transferred from repeated 50-Joule impacts.
Back armor that has been certified to Level 2 (in the EN 1621-2:2014 standard) has allowed an average of less than 9 kilonewtons of energy to be transferred from repeated impacts.
How much impact energy is required to break ribs or vertebrae?
It is estimated that a lowly 5 kilonewtons of force is enough to break ribs and even vertebrae. Moreover, the medical community in Europe has been pushing for a new certified level for back protectors that limits the transferred energy to just 5 kilonewtons (that or to update the current Level-2 limit). This is why you should wear back armor that is certified as Level 2 and which yields an impact-absorbing performance that’s a good bit less than the 9-kN limit for Level-2 certification.
Bones and joints in the limbs can sustain higher-energy impacts, but you will be doing yourself a big favor by only wearing Level-2 certified limb armor and not Level-1 certified armor.
Is there motorcycle gear for women?
Yes, although women’s motorcycle gear still takes a backseat to men’s motorcycle gear. The future panorama looks promising for female riders, and, slowly but surely, more and more motorcycle gear targeting ladies is being launched and being made available for purchase.
Now, just because a manufacturer will modify the design of the men’s version of a jacket or pant to label the new version as being for ladies, that should not entail that the quality of materials used on the ladies’ version be downgraded. However, this does occur and it’s our responsibility to highlight to you that motorcycle gear for women must always be made to the same quality standard as the men’s counterpart gear. Do not accept anything less.
The main differences between ladies’ gear and men’s gear occur in pants and jackets; these are the only two gear-apparel categories that we recommend for you to actively search for the ladies’ version of a jacket or pant if you’re shopping for female-oriented gear. Gloves, boots and helmets are mostly unisex and a female can wear any gear in these categories even when the gear does not specify it being unisex or for females.
Some manufacturers will try to tell you that women have intricately-shaped feet that warrant a totally-different boot from that intended for a male. This is not true and it is done to milk more profits from unknowing consumers as some manufacturers simply rehash the men’s version of their boots, gloves and helmets with tacky or unneeded designs and then charge an additional amount for those female-inspired designs and generous use of pink everywhere on the gear. Strictly speaking, a boot is a boot is a boot: a female will typically only need to choose a smaller-sized motorcycle boot than what suits the average male. As for gloves, most women’s hands are between an Extra-Small size and a Medium size in men’s (or unisex) gloves.
Lastly, head circumference is, on average, smaller in women than in men, so the helmet sizes that fit a big proportion of females across the entire world range from an Extra-Small size to a Medium size. It’s a very-simple ordeal if you’re a female: just take a look at the size charts for helmets, gloves and boots, and buy matching sizes despite nowhere in sight saying that the sizes are also for females.
Is road rash really that bad? I’ve scraped my knees in the past riding a bicycle and I was fine
Riding a bicycle and riding a motorcycle are two different activities, and an accident while partaking yourself in either of these two activities will result in different outcomes; for the most part, motorcycle accidents result in brutal injuries to the human body that are made worse if not wearing protective motorcycle gear.
This is what very-mild road rash looks like as a result of falling off a motorcycle at just 20 miles per hour wearing short cargo pants; the rider was also wearing a half-helmet which cracked diagonally from the impact he received on his head as he fell of his bike (he also received a concussion):
The road rash depicted would have been avoided completely had the rider been wearing proper motorcycle pants. He would have fared a lot better with an approved full-face helmet too.
Road rash, in particular, can become a source of chronic daily pain for many years to come. Falling off a motorcycle at 60 miles per hour while not wearing motorcycle gear can result in needing constant skin grafts for several years in a row; such a scenario can only be best described with one word: Hell. Even mild road rash inflicted on elbows, knees and buttocks (common road-rashed areas) will interfere with one’s daily life as the road rash takes weeks, if not months, to heal and it reminds you of its presence (and of your mistake for not riding with motorcycle gear) any time you go to the bathroom or when trying to sit down on a chair.
With regards to a rider sustaining impacts involved in a motorcycle crash, at speeds over 30 miles per hour, impacts to a human body wearing no motorcycle gear are usually life altering and lead to perpetual disability.
I ride with my wife/girlfriend as a passenger, should she wear as much gear as I do?
How’s that even a question? Road rash and impacts don’t discern between rider and passenger.
When riding with a passenger, their life is in your hands and you’re solely responsible for what happens to your passenger when riding with you. Just because your wife may foolishly favor fashionable clothing over serious motorcycle gear, that does not mean that she is exempt from wearing motorcycle gear that will save her life in the event of a motorcycle accident.
Even if you’re the kind of vain dude who has a trophy wife and who prioritizes her beautiful looks above all, it’s in your interest to have her wearing top-of-the-line motorcycle gear as even the slowest motorcycle crash can leave her disfigured for life.
If your wife (or any other want-to-be passenger of yours) doesn’t want to wear motorcycle gear or you cannot afford to buy her gear, then she doesn’t get to ride with you for her own safety. No quibbles, no exceptions. It’s that simple.
It’s summer, what kind of gear can I wear that’s comfortable?
Luckily for us year-round riders, motorcycle-gear brands have been upping their game over the last decade when it comes to summer motorcycle gear (and winter gear too). No longer are we limited to low-denier polyester-made erratically-perforated jackets and pants passing as summertime gear.
Perforated motorcycle gear is your friend during summer, as is MC gear that also has ventilating zippers such as the Joe Rocket Speedmaster jacket. Look for perforated panels in jackets and pants that are located in the previously-mentioned areas of the body: inside sleeves, chest and thighs (front only). Ventilating zippers (i.e. air vents) must also follow the same location pattern.
While summer-riding gear will have perforated fabric and panels, it’s also of the utmost importance that the fabric covering the most-frequent strike points (mainly around your joints) has not been downgraded (in quality) just because the jacket or pant is aimed at summertime motorcycle riders. A common scenario is when a manufacturer uses low-quality textile fabrics (mainly low-denier polyester) to make their summertime gear and then advertises the low-quality fabric used as being abrasion resistant and promoting maximum ventilation. Manufacturers who choose to follow this unethical manufacturing strategy profit big time, so it’s not uncommon to find summer-oriented motorcycle gear that provides just a little more protection than wearing a t-shirt.
As a rule of thumb, think of summertime gear as being wintertime gear with perforated panels and/or ventilating zippers.
What are some good brands of motorcycle gear that I can trust?
Namely, European brands of motorcycle gear tend to sell better gear than American brands. This is because, in Europe, motorcycle-gear companies are subject to strict advertising laws. They cannot use wild claims of their motorcycle gear being protective, unless the gear has been tested and certified to the CE standards that we mentioned earlier in this guide. This doesn’t stop some European brands from walking the fine line between legal and illegal advertising, but it does help to ensure that the main companies and brands of motorcycle gear (from Europe) go on to manufacture un-hyped gear that actually protects riders (even if not tested or certified).
Here are some of the best brands of motorcycle gear that you can, generally speaking, trust your life with:
- BKS Leather
- Joe Rocket
- AGV Sport
- Vanson Leathers
There are a lot more (too many to list them all on this guide) and you can check out the list of trusted brands that we’ve compiled on our site and which you can find in this link (list of motorcycle-gear brands). When shopping for motorcycle gear from these brands, you must remember that many of these brands produce motorcycle gear in varying ranges of quality, from mediocre-quality gear to astonishingly-protective gear that has been CE-certified.
Which brands should I avoid?
Avoid fly-by-night brands and motorcycle-gear brands that make exorbitant claims with no tangible proof or which obscure their gear’s true composition. Unbelievable claims must be backed by certified, objective scientific evidence and research, and not by unbelievable pop-science. A good brand that doesn’t hype their products will simply allow its crashed gear to do the talking.
Of course, there are new motorcycle-gear brands and companies that are yet to gain a reputation and to establish their presence due to their newness in the industry. While you should tread carefully with said new brands, you can get a good idea of their legitimacy by asking questions relating to their motorcycle gear. If a company’s answers are detailed and honest, then you can probably trust their products; if their answers are lacking transparency, then you are best avoiding their products altogether.
It should be noted too that some of the bigger brands may not even acknowledge your existence if you send them an email asking about the materials used to make their gear or they may reply back with a canned email. Just avoid looking like a competitor trying to pose as a consumer aiming to audaciously get in-house classified information on manufacturing processes (don’t ask me how I know this).
I bought a Cordura jacket but the tag says the jacket is made of polyester and there’s no mention of Cordura anywhere, what’s going on?
This is a bait-and-switch tactic used too frequently by shady motorcycle-gear manufacturers. Real Cordura specific to motorcycle-riding gear is made of nylon and will be listed in a jacket’s tag as 100% nylon or polyamide. If you have a jacket with a label that says it’s made of polyester while being advertised as real Cordura, then you have been scammed.
The only exception to the above is when a manufacturer uses Cordura meant for other uses unrelated to motorcycle gear. Sure, they can list their motorcycle gear as Cordura-made, but the Cordura used in their gear will not protect you. This is why you should always go with trusted brands that have their good reputation at stake if they happen to continuously mislead consumers.
OK, I’m convinced to wear motorcycle gear but I will only do so with the most-convenient gear possible, can you help me?
To start with, you should have some form of carrying capacity on your motorcycle so that you can take off your gear and leave it in your bike. Motorcycle panniers are good as is a trunk or even a leather pouch. That is the first step towards getting the most convenience out of motorcycle gear. Then, you should choose your gear apparel as suggested below.
The best option here is to use a motorcycle overpant such as the Olympia Airglide 4 overpant. This type of apparel is worn over your regular pants and can be removed in seconds thanks to full-length zippers that go from the waist down to the ankles. Be careful when choosing your overpant’s size as its innate size will quite possibly already take into account that you will be wearing the overpant over your street clothing. Ergo, do not go up in size when buying overpants.
The most-convenient form of a motorcycle jacket is one that is made of a strong textile and that has ventilating zippers so that you can regulate airflow to your upper body. Jackets made of textile fabrics (instead of leather) tend to be easier to remove, especially in summer. Perforated panels are good, but too-extensive perforated panels will limit the jacket’s range of all-round use as extensive perforation in a jacket can leave you feeling cold and chilly when riding in the evening at highway speeds.
Here’s the Tornado 2 jacket from Rev’It, which is an excellent summertime jacket to wear on pretty much any motorcycle:
This one is trickier as you will have to sit down somewhere to take off your boots. Choose tall motorcycle boots that are comfortable and that have a rugged sole so that you can walk in them everywhere. There’s a good amount of motorcycle boots available that won’t look out of place in an office setting or in a restaurant, so go shopping (online or not)!
If you intend to remove your motorcycle boots when you arrive at your destination, then buy the best motorcycle boots that you can get for your money. A pair of protective boots that we really like are the Alpinestars SMX 6 boots which give you tons of protection without being awkward to walk with.
Even the longest gauntlet gloves will pose no problem so as to store them in your motorcycle’s chosen storage form, hence you should buy the best motorcycle gloves possible. You may want some perforation on the dorsal area of the gloves to extend their seasonability.
Short-cuffed gloves tend to be more convenient to wear than full-gauntlet gloves since the former takes less time to remove. Therefore, one superbly-made pair of motorcycle gloves with short cuffs that we recommend are the Scorpion SGS MK II gloves which you can see in the next photograph and which we have reviewed on our website (in this link: Scorpion SGS MK II gloves review); the SGS MK II gloves from Scorpion are very well worth their price as they’ll match your convenience-focused needs:
Purchase the best full-face motorcycle helmet that you can afford. Look into the helmet possibly having a couple of air vents if you want to use the helmet all-year round.
Storing a helmet in a motorcycle is not an easy task as most motorcycle panniers cannot take a full-face motorcycle. You’d have to have a trunk on your bike if you want to store your full-face helmet, which is not always doable as different MC riders have different storing preferences.
If you cannot store your full-face helmet in your motorcycle’s panniers or trunk, then get a metal cord with a lock so that you can tether your helmet to your handlebar or to your passenger’s hand rails. Likewise, many motorcycles come with helmet locks which allow you to secure your helmet via its D-ring strap. We don’t recommend the latter as it leaves your helmet dangling for anyone to hit accidentally and you may also stretch or break the D-ring strap eventually.
Is counterfeit or fake motorcycle gear safe to buy and wear?
No. There are several reasons for the infestation going on online with regards to fake motorcycle gear. One of the reasons is that the counterfeit gear may, as matter of fact, be the same legitimate gear produced in the same factory. That’s what some people argue as being enough of a reason to take a risk buying unbranded or counterfeit motorcycle gear. In a way, they’re right, but you may very well not get so lucky and you may end up with actual illegally-made fake copies that can harm you.
We’ve reported on this site how China-made fake motorcycle gloves led to health problems such as internal blisters in the palms (see photograph above) and irritated skin and nose from the leftover dye in the gloves. We also know that many factories are still using carcinogenic chemicals to process leather gear and, as it goes for fake motorcycle gear, there is a tangible risk of the fake copies having banned levels of harming chemicals. That’s without mentioning the very-obvious risk of the faked gear not protecting you when you need it.
It’s you who chooses what to buy. But, we’re warning you: you’re taking a gamble.
So, what’s the best motorcycle gear?
The best motorcycle gear is the one you’re wearing when riding your motorcycle. There’s no point in buying the most-protective gear if you ain’t going to wear it because it’s uncomfortable or because you don’t like the gear’s aesthetics.
The best motorcycle gear will fit you comfortably and be secured to you as intended. Furthermore, the best motorcycle gear will follow the rules of thumbs and tips on this Frequently-Asked-Questions guide. Without a doubt, the best motorcycle gear puts rider safety and protection at the forefront of priorities instead of looks or trendiness.
A classic example of wrongly prioritizing aesthetics over safety is the topic of full-face helmets versus half-helmets (I promise this is the last time I go on about this!). Just take a look at the illustration depicted below, which shows the proportion of impacts to the head in a motorcycle crash (expressed in percentages). It’s pretty obvious just how much protection do full-face helmets provide versus riding helmetless or with half-helmets, yet certain groups of motorcyclists favor the latter (i.e. riding helmetless or with a half-helmet) to pay tribute to pseudo macho-crap nonsense in a cringeworthy attempt to try to look rebellious and cool. Too many folks have been left with no faces to speak of from following such herd mentality.
The motorcycle-gear industry is filled with legitimate brands and companies putting out a plethora of motorcycle gear to suit all sorts of preferences and tastes. There simply is no excuse to not be wearing motorcycle gear that enables you to ameliorate the risk of death or injury while riding your motorcycle. Do not go for any less; we’re dealing with your life here.
Last but not least, you can check out our ranking of the best motorcycle gear that we have reviewed and featured on this site; we are very thorough with our detailed motorcycle-gear reviews and we cover every important aspect to review on featured gear, from the gear’s design to the protection that the gear offers to a motorcycle rider.
We hope that our Frequently-Asked-Questions guide has been of great use to you and that it helps you to become a better rider!
You’re free to ask any further questions as comments below this guide. Do also check our guide from time to time as we continue to update it with more answered questions. You too can help us to spread our word and our goal of educating riders on motorcycle gear by sharing this guide on social-media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc)!
Last Updated: 20th February 2018