Reviews

Best Motorcycle Armors: Stay Safe on Road and Off

Motorcycle armor strips away the bulk of a jacket and focuses on protection

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BY Andra DelMonico , Daniel Rika , Linsay Thomas / LAST UPDATED ON March 17, 2021

Protection is paramount when it comes to riding. Sometimes you want to wear essential protection without all of the bulk of a full jacket. That’s why motorcycle armor is the perfect solution. Armor will protect all of your impact points with shells, and you don’t have to deal with the bulk and heat of a full jacket.

Best Overall
Alpinestars Men's Jacket
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Summary
Summary

This jacket provides maximum breathability with a durable mesh base that houses CE certified shells at the shoulders, elbows, chest, and back. Each shell adjusts for a custom fit. A wide reinforced kidney belt enables you to secure the armor in place. 

Pros
Pros
  • To maintain breathability, the shells are highly perforated
  • Back protector is ergonomically shaped to follow the line of the back and is divided into three pieces 
Cons
Cons
  • Shells in this jacket aren’t removable
  • If you damage one, you’ll need to replace the entire jacket
  • Sizing tends to run small, which can be an issue for larger riders
Best Overall
Alpinestars Men's Jacket
Best Value
Fox Racing Titan Sport Protective MTB Jacket
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Summary
Summary

This upper body armor comes with a soft jersey to hold the CE-certified and high-impact shells. You’ll have protection on your chest, back, shoulders, and elbows. There are also ventilation zones to help keep you cool. 

Pros
Pros
  • This jacket features a full mesh body to give you a comfortable and bunch-free fit
  • There are also additional ventilation zones to keep you cooler 
  • Backplate is articulated to make it more comfortable
Cons
Cons
  • Zipper isn’t the best quality and might split when you zip it up
  • Fox sizing also runs extremely small, so be careful to size up enough
Best Value
Fox Racing Titan Sport Protective MTB Jacket
Honorable Mention
Motorcycle Full Body Armor Protective Jacket
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Summary
Summary

This inexpensive armor features a lightweight and comfortable design. The base for the armor is an elastic PVC and Lycra mesh cloth. It has high-density EVA to protect your back, spine, and elbows. There are thickening pads on the sides to protect your core.

Pros
Pros
  • Jacket uses high-quality plastic buttons and a YKK zipper
  • You can adjust the elastic belt at the waist to create a custom fit 
Cons
Cons
  • Jacket may lack some of the proven protective qualities that other jackets have
  • Protective shells aren’t CE certified
Honorable Mention
Motorcycle Full Body Armor Protective Jacket

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Benefits of Motorcycle Armor

  • Protect your body parts. The best motorcycle armor jackets are essential when it comes to safety gear. A high-quality armored jacket can help you in a motorcycle accident by providing impact protection to various parts of your body, including the chest and elbows.
  • Survive a crash. You're more likely to walk away from a high-speed crash if you're wearing body armor than if you're not. It protects you during that first initial impact as well as any abrasions you may get when you slide on the dirt or pavement.
  • Enjoy the ride. When you’re wearing motorcycle armor, it gives you a little peace of mind. Riding a motorcycle is dangerous, but if you have the right protection, it makes you feel a little more confident when you’re on the road or on the trail.

Types of Motorcycle Armor

Armored Jackets

The best motorcycle body armor jacket includes extra protection in areas such as the back, shoulders, and elbows. Armored motorcycle jackets may be made of leather, mesh, textile, or Kevlar. They usually have straps or snaps to customize the fit. Sometimes you can remove and replace the armor.

Armored Vest

The best motorcycle armor vest covers your chest and is designed to protect your torso and back. It is ideal for impact and abrasion protection for your back and chest; however, it does not protect your arms. Armored vests usually have a tough outer shell and padded interior. You can wear one either under a jacket or over a shirt.

Armored Pants

If you're shopping for the best motorcycle hip armor, you may want to consider a pair of armored pants. They are usually made of leather or textile, which makes a difference depending on where you ride and the conditions you encounter. Armored riding pants protect your legs, knees, hips, and pelvis. As an alternative, you can wear padded shorts with armor underneath regular riding pants to protect your hips.

Armored Suit

You have the option of purchasing either a one-piece or two-piece armored suit. Two-piece suits connect at the waist, and the advantage is that you can wear the pants or jacket separately. Armored suits protect your legs, knees, hips, elbows, back, and shoulders. They are made of a variety of materials and feature different pockets and closures. They are also designed to provide protection against the weather.

Armored Boots

While many riders understand the importance of armored jackets and/or pants, many forgo wearing protective footwear. However, research has shown that armored boots can decrease the risk of sustaining an open wound by a whopping 90 percent. Some boots have protection, such as steel toe inserts.

Other Armor

You can wear armored elbow, shoulder, and knee guards either under or over your shirts or pants. This equipment is very versatile. For example, if you have a favorite pair of jeans, simply pair them with a set of armored pads. Another option is an armored back and spine protector, which is commonly worn by racers.

Top Brands

Alpinestars

This Italian company got its start in 1963 when motocross started becoming popular in Europe. The company produces a variety of road racing products, including armor, boots, and leather suits. One of its top products is the Alpinestars Men's Jacket.

Fox Racing

Fox Racing is a California-based company that is known for its motocross and mountain bike gear. The company has been around for nearly 50 years and produces high-quality products designed for a variety of terrain. One of its popular armored jackets is the Fox Racing Titan Sport Protective MTB Jacket.

Joe Rocket

The California-based motorcycle gear company Joe Rocket launched in 1992. It produces a wide variety of gear for both men and women. Its gear features the SureFit adjustment system, which provides protection in an impact. One popular product is the Joe Rocket C.E. Standard Shoulder Armor.

Motorcycle Armor Pricing

  • Under $30: You can find inexpensive gear such as armored elbow, shin, and knee pads in this price range. They provide good protection and don’t cost a lot of money.
  • Around $50: You won’t find the best motorcycle body armor jacket in this price range, but there are some options that are available. Armored jackets in this price range may not be CE certified or be as durable as more expensive brands.
  • $100 and up: Expect to spend a little bit of money if you want the best body armor for motorcycles. You'll find brands that are more well known, and the armor itself will be durable, CE certified, and of superior quality overall.

Key Features

CE-Certified

The best body armor for motorcycles is CE-certified. CE stands for "Conformité Européene" or European Conformity. It is used as a safety guideline even though the United States hasn't officially endorsed this standard. CE-certified armor isn't required on streets or highways, but it may be for certain track events.

Torso Protection

Besides your head, the torso is the next spot on your body that needs the most protection. That's because your spine and vital organs are located in that area. If you hurt any of these body parts in a crash, you could lose your life. If you just buy one piece of armored equipment, choose one that covers your torso.

Fit

It's important that you get a back protector, armored motorcycle jacket, and knee guards that fit properly. Make sure the equipment is snug and conforms to your body's shape. If it's too large, the armor may slide around and not provide adequate protection during an impact. If it's too small and uncomfortable, you're less likely to wear it. 

Other Considerations

  • Breathability. The best motorcycle armor is made of a material that provides ventilation so you do not get too hot or sweat too much. Most motorcycle armor features mesh that makes it both comfortable and breathable. At the same time, it provides impact protection.
  • Replacement vs. Strap-On Armor. Armored replacement pads are designed to fit in jackets, pants, suits and other gear that have pockets specifically for armor. Some types of gear come with stock armor that you can replace with superior replacement pads. As for strap-on armor, it is directly strapped onto your body and is more common among racers and motocross riders.

Best Motorcycle Armor Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Alpinestars Men's Jacket

This jacket from the Italian manufacturer Alpinestars is a universal fit. It provides maximum breathability and includes a durable mesh base that features CE-certified shells at the shoulders, elbows, chest, and back. Each one of the shells adjusts for a custom fit. The armor also has a wide reinforced kidney belt that enables you to secure the armor in place.  


To maintain breathability, the shells are highly perforated. The back protector is ergonomically shaped to follow the line of the back and is divided into three pieces. The armor fits well under a loose jacket, and you hardly even notice you're wearing it. The armor is not restrictive and doesn't weigh you down.


Unfortunately, the shells in this jacket aren’t removable. Even worse, if you damage one, you’ll need to replace the entire jacket instead of just the shell. In addition, the sizing tends to run small, which can be an issue for larger riders.

Best Value
Fox Racing Titan Sport Protective MTB Jacket

This upper-body armor is geared towards serious riders and comes with a soft, comfortable jersey to hold its CE-certified and high-impact shells. The jacket provides protection on your chest, back, shoulders, and elbows. There are also ventilation zones to help keep you cool. The jacket comes with a one-year warranty.


This jacket features a full mesh body to give you a comfortable and bunch-free fit. The backplate is articulated to make it more comfortable. Overall, this armored jacket is a great way to protect your upper torso from any number of hazards when you fall.


Unfortunately, the zipper isn’t the best quality and might split when you zip up the jacket. Also, Fox sizing tends to run extremely small, so you may have to order a size up. In addition, the armor itself is a little thin, the chest panels are small, and there is no side protection.

 Honorable Mention
Motorcycle Full Body Armor Protective Jacket

This inexpensive armor features a lightweight and comfortable design. The base for the armor is an elastic PVC and lycra mesh cloth. It has high-density EVA to protect your back, spine, and elbows, and there are thick pads on the sides that protect your core.  It's also useful for other extreme sports, such as skating and skiing.


This jacket uses high-quality plastic buttons and a YKK zipper. You can adjust the elastic belt at the waist to create a custom fit. All of the protective padding is solid and is positioned in the vital areas that are normally exposed to impact during spills. The armor is both sturdy and flexible. It is also very breathable.


One drawback with this jacket is that it may lack some of the proven protective qualities that other jackets have. Also, the protective shells aren’t CE certified.  In addition, it’s very easy to scuff up the materials or put tiny tears into it if you expose it to rough surfaces.

Most Stylish
Borleni Motorcycle Jacket

The Borleni Motorcycle Jacket is available in solid black or black/blue and black/red color options in sizes medium to XX-large. It has an adjustable collar, cuffs, and forearm straps for a customized fit. The jacket has two external pockets and five removable EVA protectors in the back, shoulders, and elbows. The cotton liner is breathable, comfortable, and also removable, so you can wear this jacket in either warm or cooler temperatures. In fact, it should keep you nice and warm in colder conditions. 


The 600-denier polyester fabric is abrasion-resistant and windproof. Users also like its stylish design and that it's so affordable for what you get. Just note that it may run slightly large. 


While this jacket does have armor protection, it's not quite as tough or as hard as some rival brands, so you may want to replace it with higher-quality protectors. Also, it lacks internal pockets, which can be inconvenient.

Most Visible
ILM Motorcycle Jackets Carbon Fiber Armor

The ILM Motorcycle Jacket accommodates both men and women and is available in sizes small to XX-large. Designed for year-round riding, it features a ventilation system that makes it perfect for summer weather. The outer shell is waterproof, while the thermal quilted liner is removable. It comes with removable CE-approved armor in the spine and elbows, as well as shoulder, back, chest, and kidney armor. The jacket also features reflective elements, which boost your visibility at night. 


Overall, the armor is well-placed and the material is tough and appears abrasion-resistant. Users like the style of the jacket, the amount of pockets, and the use of carbon fiber protection in the shoulders. 


However, it may be a bit snug, and you may need to order a size up, so make sure to check the specs before placing an order. There have also been a small number of complaints that the zipper can fail.

Tips

  • Accurately measure your size to ensure that your armor fits snug to your body but isn’t too tight. You want the jacket to fit against the body so that the armor sits in the correct places and doesn’t move. 
  • A jacket with a removable liner will help you keep the jacket clean. During summer, you can sweat in the jacket and then remove the liner to wash it. 
  • A jacket with CE certification will ensure it is of high quality. Protective gear with this mark has gone through extensive independent testing to prove its ability to protect you in the event of a crash. 

FAQs

Q: Can I wear motorcycle armor under a jacket?

Motorcycle armor is meant to be worn instead of your jacket. The extra padding and shells will make fitting your jacket over it a little difficult. You may also end up with double protection over your shoulders, elbows, and spine, which can make riding uncomfortable. 

Q: Can I wear motorcycle armor all year round?

Armor is just the shells for protection. There is no warmth or insulation to them, so armor may not adequately keep you warm in colder months. 

Q: How do I properly fit my motorcycle armor? 

When you put your armor on, make sure that the shoulder shells fit the size and shape of your shoulders. The elbow shells should fit over the point of your elbow. There should be straps to hold these shells exactly where you want them. Make sure the spine shells fit the shape of your back. For extra protection, look for a spine shell that extends down over your tailbone. 

Final Thoughts

The Alpinestars Men's Jacket provides superior protection and is backed by an industry-leading brand. 

The Fox Racing Titan Sport Protective MTB Jacket is a more affordable option that provides both breathability and protection.