It’s so funny to see motorcyclists in movies with no helmets or even protective goggles, let alone motocycle clothes, to look a certain way. But this is a Hollywood thing and it is also quite real in the US. There is no federal law requiring bike or motocycle riders to wear helmets in the US.
Unlike the states, UK law mandates the use of a helmet at a minimum. It’s a standard requirement but you may also need other protective gear if you so desire.
Do you need motocycle clothes?
When it comes to safety then yes, you do need motorcycle clothes. It will make a difference in case of injury, and it helps with the ride in certain ways.
The helmet is the first thing to come to mind. Both as protective gear for your head in case of falling but also against powerful winds, bugs, and pebbles. You’re not in an enclosed cage like the car, so any flying pebbles and bugs can and will hit you.
If the worry of not looking a certain attractive way also comes into play don’t fret. There are so many different types of motocycle clothes out there and some of them just look like regular clothes. You can still have that leather jacket with jeans look if you want, it’ll just have protection underneath.
Basic protective motocycle clothes
We could split the basic motorcycle gear into 3 types:
- Protective headgear
- Body armour
- Protection for extremities
This is the thing you need the most when riding a bike. It doesn’t matter what season it is or how warm is outside, a helmet is a must. Even riding smaller vehicles like a moped requires a helmet.
Of course, you also need to have a properly fitted helmet as well, regardless of price. A very expensive helmet that does not sit right is less effective than a cheaper version, so measure for the fit.
If you opt for an open-face helmet you still need to get something to protect your face and eyes. Because bugs, wind and all manner of things can and will come flying at you. Some protective goggles work nicely, and you might even opt for a balaclava.
Now that your head is protected the rest would benefit from some protection as well. Granted nothing will make a rider completely impervious to harm, but it does reduce the injury.
A jacket specifically made with shoulder, back and elbow pads are the norm. The material used to make the jacket itself is chosen to be protective, either Kevlar or leather.
Yes, you can get a leather biker jacket if that’s the aesthetic you want and it has spaces inside for protective pads.
There are some extra padded features in there, and air vents to help the rider cool off in warmer weather. Although the waterproof feature is the most cherished for UK weather because even in the summer, you will get wet.
Lastly, a pair of trousers also made from similar material as the jacket and with padding at the hips and knees complete this ensemble. Some prefer jeans because they like the design more, and fortunately, there are motorcycle trousers that look like jeans.
Protection for extremities
Hands and feet need some protection too, from potential injury but also from the elements and the bike. There can be the risk of falling, not just at high speed but also when waiting at a light.
It’s a reality it happens to all of us at least once, and your hands and legs, especially where your ankles are, can get in trouble.
The bike can easily stomp on your ankle and crush it not enough to warrant a trip to the doctor but enough to hurt and make riding harder. A pair of motorcycle boots with the necessary protection will prevent that, the same goes for your hands.
Motorcycle gloves are even more useful when you think of that colder UK wind that will freeze your hands.
I know it sounds like a lot, and it can be pricey to invest in all that gear, but you can’t really put a price on your life. You dress for the slide, not the ride, well you do dress for the ride too, but motorcycle clothes look amazing either way.