Best Motorcycle Protective Gear: Stay Safe and Secure On the Road
Protect yourself while you ride with this high-quality motorcycle protection gear
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON March 18, 2021
Making sure you have durable protective gear is important before riding your motorcycle. A helmet, leather jacket, gloves, back protector, and boots protect your body and keep you warm so you can enjoy the ride. Whether you need to upgrade your riding gear or you’re looking for a brand new full-face helmet or motorcycle jacket, we’ve got a list of the best motorcycling gear for you to consider.
These motorcycle boots keep your legs safe with injected plastic plates for additional protection against impacts. They’re made to be the perfect complement to any set of body armor.
- Modern, stylish, and reinforced with metal shank inserts for improved support and grip
- Thick leather guard protects against heat damage
- They can be a bit stiff and rigid, the straps aren’t the strongest
- They are not waterproof
These gloves by ILM offer a great layer of protection with their padded knuckle armor. It will resist abrasions and more.
- They come in a range of sizes and colors
- They come in winter and summer varieties
- Breathable to keep your hands cool
- Compatible with touchscreen devices
- They aren’t the most waterproof and could be a bit warmer.
- Touchscreen functionality can be a hassle to use
A stylish all-black motorcycle helmet built out of a sleek and lightweight material.
- Design works to reduce wind resistance and muffle noise
- Cheek pads are soft and light
- Modular design allows it to work as a compact semi-helmet or full-face helmet
- Can get loud at higher speeds
- Screws holding the visor aren’t the best, and you may need to spray fog repellent on the visor
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Benefits of Motorcycle Protective Gear
- Safety. Many motorcycle enthusiasts are familiar with the acronym ATGATT: All The Gear, All The Time. Even if you’re hopping on your bike for a short ride, the danger can be just as high as if you’re on a distant road. Resist the temptation to ride in your jeans, and be prepared for any eventuality.
- Warmth. Motorcycling can be a chilly activity, even in the warmer months. If you find it hard to maintain a comfortable temperature, changing up your gear might be the solution. Gloves can keep your fingers warm for better dexterity, jackets can protect your core temperature, and helmets can help keep the wind off your face.
- Comfort. Riding is always an epic experience, but it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. If you tend to ride in street clothes or jackets that aren’t built for motorcycling, you’ll be surprised by how comfortable you can feel in the right gear.
- Style. Everybody knows motorcycle gear can look cool, and you don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics for safety. Motorcycle gear comes in tons of options that will let you get your look just right.
Types of Motorcycle Protective Gear
Of all the types of motorcycle safety gear, the helmet is non-optional. Research shows you’re far more likely to survive an accident if you’re wearing a helmet, and many motorcyclists know somebody who may have died had they not had one on. The three types of helmets are half helmets, three-quarter helmets, and full helmets. All of them offer the same amount of protection to the top, side, and back of the head, but three-quarter helmets and half helmets don’t cover the face, meaning goggles or face masks are necessary to completely protect your head.
Gloves protect your hands from both everyday annoyances and dangerous crises. Some may prioritize safety, with padded knuckles and heavy Kevlar protection, while others focus on comfort, with ventilation and heating. Some gloves also include finger pads that allow you to use a touchscreen while you’re wearing them.
Good motorcycle boots include a few elements that distinguish them from walking boots. Ankle protection, gripping soles, and extra stiffness help protect your feet in the event of a crash. Comfort is a priority, but don’t ignore durability. You want a pair of boots that will last through years of riding adventures.
Motorcycle jackets can be made out of leather or synthetics and offer a great balance of protection, comfort, and style. Bright colors ensure you can be seen at night, while thermal liners and ventilation can be adjusted for a pleasant body temperature in all seasons. Some jackets come in full-body suits that include protective pants, while others can be purchased separately.
Elbow, knee, and shin guards provide adjustable protection for the most vulnerable parts of your body. They can be a great substitute for full-body armor or a back protector if you don’t find that comfortable. Range of motion and protection are the two most important traits for protective pads; look for a balance of maneuverability and effective construction.
Founded in Italy in 1972, Dainese manufactures gear for a wide variety of vehicle sports, including the AGV line of helmets. It has received acclaim for its innovative research into protective apparel and has built gear for racing, sailors, equestrians, and even astronauts. Some of its most acclaimed products include the 4 Stroke Evo Motorcycle Gloves and Air Frame D1 Motorcycle Jackets.
Another Italian brand, Alpinestars pivoted from hiking boots to protective motorcycle gear soon after its founding in 1963. It produces jackets and outerwear for casual use in addition to heavier-duty gear for motocross and other motorsports. The Alpinestars product line includes accessories like the Tech Warmer Baselayer along with flagship products like the Air V2 Motorcycle Jacket.
Founder Jim O’Neal was there for the birth of American motocross in the 1960s and founded his company to make high-quality gear for the fledgling sport. From its start in the motorcycle racing world, it has diversified into bicycle gear. It now offers heavy-duty motorcycle safety gear, like the 2 Series Helmet, and lighter options, like the O'Neal Element Gloves.
ILM builds riding gear that exceeds safety standards and works with human anatomy to provide comfort and protection. In addition to its top-selling Bluetooth helmet, it offers products like the Motorcycle Full Face Helmet and Steel Knuckle Powersports Gloves.
Motorcycle Protective Gear Pricing
- Under $50: Many of the best-reviewed gloves are available in this range, but gloves with armor and padding tend to run higher. High-quality goggles and tough knee and elbow pads can also be found for less than $50. Ear protection, which shouldn’t be ignored, falls into this affordable range as well.
- $50-$100: Here, you can get many essential items of protective gear with more features and better construction (i.e. better-armored gloves). Some jackets are available for under $100, but they tend to be less versatile. Half helmets and three-quarter helmets tend to be in this range as well as some of the lower-end full helmets (although the price should take a backseat to safety where helmets are concerned).
- $100-$200: In this range, you’ll find jackets with higher utility, such as four-season jackets, back protectors, and body armor. Full-face helmets tend to cost about this much. This is also the price range for motorcycle boots.
- $200 and up: Brand-name helmets, jackets, and back protectors, especially those from Alpinestars, Dainese, and Rev’it, are likely to run well into three digits. Luxury protective gear in this range tends to be more durable, although specific features, such as visors and armor plates, can be found across all ranges.
Construction materials for motorcycle protective gear commonly include denim, leather, synthetic textiles, and Kevlar. Each has specific advantages and disadvantages. Kevlar increases resistance but can lead to heavier and stiffer gear. That said, companies are getting much better at placing it discreetly for abrasion resistance so it doesn’t sacrifice comfort. Denim isn’t enough on its own, so it’s usually found reinforced with Kevlar. Textile is the lightest material and is very breathable, which makes it a great choice for warm weather. Leather is stylish and offers some protection but doesn’t breathe well.
Durability and Repairability
Like all sports gear, your motorcycle protective gear is going to take some heavy punishment, even if nothing bad happens. Spending a bit more money is worthwhile if it means your gloves, boots, and helmet will last longer. Some products will have distinct panels that can be removed, cleaned, and replaced, increasing the lifespan of the gear.
Make sure you have a plan for when and where you’re going to be riding: high elevations or low, in summer or winter, rain or sun, on-road or off. If you’re riding in warmer temperatures, get lighter materials that breathe. If you’re riding off-road, protection is paramount. Don’t forget ATGATT; dress for the most extreme temperature you plan to encounter, even if it’s not present where you start.
- Impact Test Results. Did you know that the death of T.E. Lawrence (of Lawrence of Arabia fame) in a motorcycle accident first inspired the invention of the crash helmet? Since then, helmet technology has advanced and expanded and so have safety standards. There are three standard inspectors for motorcycle helmets: Department of Transportation (DOT), SNELL (Snell Memorial Foundation), and ECE (Economic Commission for Europe). Don’t buy a helmet that doesn’t have a sticker from at least one of these groups.
- Fit. All motorcycle gear comes in a variety of sizes, just like any other article of clothing. If something is meant to be your size but the liners don’t fit comfortably, go a size bigger. It’s always safer and easier to add extra padding than to try to wear something too tight.
Best Motorcycle Protective Gear Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- You may need to break in your motorcycle jacket, gloves, boots, back protector, knee guards, and other gear before you get a proper feel for them. They can be a bit stiff and rigid at first, but after using them for a few hours they will loosen up.
- If you constantly ride through mud and dirt, your helmet visor or goggles might get dirty. To help alleviate this problem, you can buy what are called tearaway lenses to place over the goggles or visor.
- Cleanliness isn’t the most glamorous aspect of motorcycle safety, but it’s one of the most important. To best clean a helmet or half helmet, spray it with water and soap and then wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth to prevent scratches. You can also use a lubricant to loosen up the moving parts of the helmet.
- Body armor can make a huge difference in a crisis. If you don’t want to spring for an entire suit, or if you already have a riding outfit you like, elbow and knee pads can offer protective coverage similar to what you’d get from a full jacket and pants.
Q: How can I best clean motorcycle gear?
First, check and see if you can put the gear in the washing machine. With motorcycle boots or gloves made out of plastic or leather, it is best to wash them by hand with warm soap and water (this also works on elbow guards and reusable earplugs). Leave them out to air dry.
Q: How can I tell what size gloves and boots I need?
Riding gear sizing varies by brand, manufacturer, and material. Gloves and boots should both fit snugly while allowing you to move your fingers and toes independently. Motorcycle jackets should fit comfortably and leave room in the shoulders. You may need to order a size larger just in case, especially with full-body gear like back protectors. You should also consult the manufacturer’s size chart online.
Q: Do all gloves come with touchscreen fingertips?
Check with the manufacturer to see if gloves are compatible with touchscreens. While it is a convenient feature, you want to prioritize gloves that offer better protection for your fingers while on the bike.
If you need new gear to protect yourself on your motorcycle, consider the O’Neal New Logo Rider Boot for additional leg protection. For riders on a budget, the ILM Alloy Steel Knuckle Motorcycle Gloves offer knuckle guards for your fingers and are made out of a breathable fabric to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.