Guide to protective clothing
You’re keen to get out and ride your bike, but before you do, you should really consider what sort of protective clothing you’ll need…
As a biker, you’ll appreciate that you’re the one most likely to sustain an injury in the event of an accident, regardless of the circumstances. Your clothing could play a critical role in the outcome of any potential injuries, so naturally you’ll want to ensure you’re as protected as possible.
Fortunately, the market is packed with clothing designed to protect you, with various materials available to suit different budgets, and for all types of riding. Whether you commute, ride on the odd Sunday, or even year-round, there’s clothing out there to meet your needs.
Let’s take a look at some of the protective motorbike clothing that’s available…
The helmet is the only piece of protective motorbike clothing that’s a legal requirement. It’s designed to protect your brain by taking the brunt of an impact, and it does this by absorbing the force of a collision and dissipating it around the helmet. Note – should this occur, the helmet will need replacing as its construction will have been weakened.
Available in various shapes and designs, such as full-face, open-face and motocross, your choice will be down to personal preference, as well as your bike type. For instance, a Harley-Davidson rider will most likely be seen wearing an open-face helmet, rather than a sporty full-face one.
Gloves should be considered as vital as a helmet – after all, in the event of an accident, the first thing you are likely to do is put your hands out to break your fall.
Gloves will also protect your hands from the elements, and allow you to operate your bike’s controls better.
Depending on your needs, there are all sorts of gloves available. These can range from lightweight, sporty gloves, made from high-quality leather and hard armour for maximum protection, through to thicker, textile gloves – these will offer maximum warmth and waterproofing, making them ideal for wearing in winter.
Leather is traditionally seen as the material of choice when it comes to motorbike wear. A good leather suit will have great abrasion resistance and durable, long-lasting construction, and will protect you for as long as you take care of it.
One-piece leather suits are typically worn by racers and sports bike riders, but two-piece suits, i.e. a separate jacket and trousers, are more common on the road. As well as allowing you to mix and match what you wear, these suits are much more practical when you’re off the bike.
While it’s hard-wearing, leather can take a while to ‘break in’, and it’s also hot, heavy, non- waterproof, and expensive. That said, it’s arguably the best material you could be wearing, should you be unlucky enough to come off your bike.
Modern textile suits make a great alternative to leather – they’re lighter and more waterproof, and often associated with more technical types of construction, such as Gore-Tex and Cordura. With removable linings, waterproof layers and, in some, the potential to be heated, they're also more practical than leather.
Given their versatility in different weather conditions, textile suits are well-suited to bikers who ride year-round.
Both textile and leather suits can have the option to have either soft or hard armour inserted, to further maximise their protection.
Shielding your ankles and feet is essential, as they can take a heavy impact if you were to come off your bike.
Boots come in many different styles, varying from lightweight sports boots, which offer good protection but no waterproofing, to touring boots, which are waterproof and more suitable to wear year-round.
It doesn’t stop there – for further protection, perhaps consider additional items such as back protectors and armoured vests, both of which are usually worn under your jacket.
There’s also neck braces and airbag jackets: Neck braces are regularly seen in motocross and off-road scenarios, and are used to reduce the chance of neck injuries, while airbag jackets inflate in the event of you being thrown from your bike, potentially minimising injury.