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When motorcycles were used to run messages in World War II, the army redesigned messengers’ outfits with inspiration from gear worn by tank crews. These military origins, tempered by decades of use by daring stunt racers, have made full-body riding suits one of the highest-performing pieces of gear a motorcyclist can wear. A good motorcycle riding suit will protect you from impact, wind, weather, and everything else you’ll encounter on your ride. In this motorcycle riding suit guide, we show you where to find the best of the best.
Nelson-Rigg Stormrider Motorcycle Rain Suit
A comfortable, well-protected, and highly durable motorcycle suit that’ll keep you dry even in rainy conditions.
- 100 percent waterproof with a self-sealing storm flap
- Well ventilated thanks to underarm cooling vents
- Thick, heavier material is protective and durable for frequent use
- Lining can break down and become shredded with use
Nelson Rigg 2 Piece WeatherPro Rainsuit
Waterproof two-piece riding suit with a polyester outer shell backed by PVC. Seals with elastic cuffs. Includes reflective stripes.
- Extraordinary waterproofing for a great price
- Seals very well,
- Easy to put on and take off
- Doesn’t include any armor
- Polyester layer can melt if it touches any of the hottest parts of your bike
KLIM Hardanger 1 Piece Suit
One-piece leather riding suit designed to work for both commuters and adventurers. Fully armored with an extensive ventilation system.
- Very easy donning and doffing for a one-piece suit
- Vents do their job wel
- Armor is safe and durable
- No thermal insulation layer
- Longer than average legs
- High price tag
Benefits of a Motorcycle Riding Suit
- Protection from accidents. A good suit will be constructed from abrasion-resistant material. In the event that you go flying from your bike, the suit will keep you from scraping painfully against whatever surface you hit. Many suits are also armored at joints and other vulnerable spots, lowering your risk of serious injury even further.
- Protection from the elements. Serious collisions and wipeouts aren’t the only situations in which your riding suit will be useful. The best suits are waterproof, insulated for warmth in cold weather, and ventilated to keep you cool in the heat. The suit will keep the wind from your skin, and protect you from sunburn.
- Storage. In addition to being a safer and more comfortable way to ride, riding suits are also more convenient. Many of them are covered in waterproof pockets, allowing you to store all that smaller gear you can’t live without—without the need to lug a bag or backpack along on your ride.
Types of Motorcycle Riding Suits
One-piece motorcycle riding suits might look familiar if you’ve ever watched a Grand Prix or Motocross event. They’re popular among professional racers for the way they form a single aerodynamic unit, but they also have advantages for the casual rider.
Without a gap between the top and bottom halves, the insulation and waterproofing on one-piece suits are far more effective, keeping you warmer and drier. The disadvantage is that it’s less convenient to get on and off—plus bikers who opt for the classic Brando-style jacket might make fun of you.
These suits consist of a top half worn like a jacket and a bottom half worn as a normal pair of pants. Like two-piece suits, they’re engineered for safety and comfort and often feature just as much armor and storage space as a one-piece suit.
Two-piece suits are way easier to get on and off in a hurry. What they offer in convenience, however, they trade away in effectiveness. It’s harder to stay dry and warm when your protective gear has a zipper or a gap at the waist.
Founded in the Rocky Mountains of the Western U.S., Klim started out making backcountry gear, and expanded into products for adventurers of all stripes. The company sponsors a team of snow athletes. Some of its best products for motorcyclists include the Hardanger One-Piece Riding Suit and the Latitude Jacket.
Alpinestars is named after a flower that grows near the town in Italy where the company was founded 50 years ago by leatherworker Sante Mazzarolo. Nowadays, the company is as famous for its riding products as it is for sponsoring winning Motocross teams. Its finest motorcycle products include the Missile Leather Suit and the SMX-1 AIR v2 Racing Gloves.
Italian Lino Dainese began crafting and selling motorcycle gear in 1972, inspired by riding gear he saw on a trip to London. Since then, his company has owned multiple innovations in riding safety, including knee sliders and the first airbags for bikers. Nowadays, it sells gear like the Air Flux D1 Jacket.
Motorcycle Riding Suit Pricing
- Under $100: Riding suits that go for this much look more like rain jackets and rain pants, but can also include vents, reflective strips, and non-slip seat panels.
- $100 to $600: In this range, you’ll find fine, durable suits of both leather and textile construction. They tend to be from less-established brands.
- $600 and up: This range includes suits from the best-known brands like Alpinestars and Dainese, who have their own racing teams. They justify their high prices with extremely rigorous testing.
When looking for a motorcycle suit, the first things you should consider are where you plan to ride it, and for how long at a time. If you ride in hot weather, look for vents that help your suit breathe. If you ride in the cold, look for warm layers of insulation. For riders who like to experience a wide range of conditions on the same day, plenty of suits are both insulated and ventilated.
Pockets on motorcycle riding suits will be secured somehow, most often with zippers or Velcro. They should be protected with waterproof flaps, and be large enough to fit whatever you plan to bring along—commonly wallets, phones, sunglasses, maps, or basic tools. Common locations for pockets include the suit’s thighs and chest.
Motorcycle suit armor usually takes the form of dense foam padding at vulnerable spots—at minimum, the rider’s shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. Foam back pads are also common. You’ll often see armor referred to as “CE certified,” which indicates that it meets the EU’s rigorous safety standards.
A word of warning: Motorcycle suits don’t protect your head. It’s still the most at-risk part of your body, so a good helmet is critical for safety.
- CE Armor Marking. “CE” stands for “Conformité Européene,” or “European Conformity” in English. It refers to a set of standards the EU uses to rate the safety of motorcycle armor. In America, the CE marking is only legally required on racetracks, but it’s a good idea to look for anyway, as it means the armor conforms to a high standard.
- Textile vs. Leather. This debate divides bikers more than any other (except maybe American vs. Japanese). Leather suits offer stronger protection, while textile suits perform better in varying weather conditions. A good rule of thumb: Leather is for riders who like to go fast, and textile is for riders who like to go far.
Best Motorcycle Riding Suit Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- If you get a chance to try out a suit before buying it, test how fast you can get in and out. Easier donning and doffing can really help your satisfaction.
- Don’t overlook style—it can be a safety feature. Having a suit that looks cool is a great way to get into the habit of wearing it for every ride, even ones that seem easy.
- Do not wear normal street jeans to ride—ever. They aren’t armored enough to be safe. Riding denim exists, but it’s made of a very different material from your Levis.
Q: Are textile or leather suits better?
A: Each is better for a different situation. Leather offers stronger protection, and can sustain you through multiple crashes, while textile suits need to be replaced after one. However, textile suits are more comfortable to wear in different temperatures.
Q: How thick should a leather suit be?
A: The common standard for motorcycle riding leather is 1.3 mm. Most good-quality riding leathers will be at least 1.5 mm, with some that go as high as 2.0 mm.
Q: How do I know if my suit fits?
A: Your suit should be snug enough that the armor pads stay in place, but not so snug that it inhibits your movement. If you’re buying online, measure your waist with a flexible ruler. Sizes in both the US and EU are based on waist circumference.
The Alpinestars Missile Leather Suit is our favorite choice for a motorcycle riding suit.
For riders on a budget, the Nelson Rigg 2 Piece WeatherPro Rainsuit is a great option for staying warm and dry.
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