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The 5 Pieces of Gear You Need to Ride a Motorcycle

Riding a motorcycle is inherently dangerous. According to NHTSA data, motorcycling is 33 times more dangerous than driving a car. There is a saying in motorcycle culture that there are two types of riders: Those who have crashed, and those who haven't crashed yet. 

Don't let that scare you off, with the proper gear you can enjoy how amazing riding is while keeping your skin on your body.

Helmet

The very first thing you will need is a helmet. Some states (including the current state I live, Idaho) don't have any sort of helmet law. You can ride with the wind in your hair and the bugs in your face. However, there are a lot of advantages of choosing to ride with a helmet rather than without one.

  • helmet-side_0.jpgYour face stays on your face. I've been in a couple different motorcycle accidents, and thankfully I've always been wearing full gear when the happen. There was one crash where my face was being dragged on the pavement for 20 feet. I had a full-face helmet though, and it allowed me to keep my nose on my face. Trust me, that's not just hyperbole, people have literally ground off body parts when they are tumbling down a road after a crash. I like my face, and I want to keep it.
  • It protects you from bugs. There are lots of different helmets out there, and I always ride with a full face helmet. The biggest reason is because I've had one too many bugs hit me in the mouth or the eye. These were times when I just had my visor open while riding! I can't even imagine what it would be like if I had no sort of face protection at all.
  • It looks mysterious. Batman wears a mask. Zorro wears a mask. Catwoman wears a mask. What do they all have in common? They exude mystery! That's what a helmet does, it just gives other people a small taste of that beautiful face of yours. Girls like mystery. Guys like mystery. Everyone likes it! So add a bit of mystery to your life with a full face helmet.
  • Lets you easily use bluetooth. Lots of helmets come with bluetooth capability and speakers already installed. You can also buy kits to install on a helmet without those. Bluetooth lets you answer phone calls, listen to music, and even get driving directions while you ride your motorcycle. 
  • You're brain stays protected. You are a human and a brain is really important for you to live. You don't want brain damage. You want to be just as witty 10 years from now as you are today, and keeping your noggin protected in a helmet is a great way to do that while you ride a motorcycle. 
  • It's the law. In a lot of states, you have to wear a helmet in order to ride a motorcycle. So if you have to wear one anyway, might as well make it something useful like a full face helmet that has so many benefits rather than just a half helmet. 

Leather Gloves

m13crashfingers.jpgThe second most important piece of equipment for me is riding gloves. Some would assume that a jacket would be higher on this list, but to me the gloves are even more vital. That's because if you are in a motorcycle accident flying through the air, you are most likely going to try and extend your hands in order to protect yourself. If you don't have anything protecting your hands, then you can break bones, lose skin, and even lose fingers.

There is a very popular motovlogger named m13 that was in a motorcycle accident. Actually, I believe he was on a scooter at the time, but either way he was on two wheels. The accident he suffered was very serious, he broke both femurs and lost at least one finger. Gloves don't protect you against everything, but they can really help if you end up in an accident.

Beyond protecting you in a crash, motorcycle gloves just look badass. Most of them come with knuckle protectors, are built of leather, and just look awesome. They also protect your hands against the wind if you get weather proof gloves, or you can find gloves that are more aimed towards keeping you cool in the summer months. 

typesofgloves.jpg

Motorcycle Jacket

A motorcycle jacket is one of the most popular pieces of safety gear, mainly because it keeps you warm in the cool weather, and it keeps you cool looking all the time ;) 

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There are a bunch of different materials your motorcycle jacket can be made of. I wouldn't get too caught up in picking the perfect first jacket, because chances are you will end up owning more than one. My first jacket that I still have is made of ballistic mesh that is great for the summer. I also have a perforated leather jacket for the spring and fall, and I have a full leather jacket for the winter riding months.

Most jackets protect you against the elements. If you ride a lot you will probably find yourself being more cold than too hot, so a jacket is a welcome piece of kit. There are times though that it will be extremely hot, but it's still important to wear a jacket.

Often in the peak of summer it will be 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) where I live, much too hot to wear a jacket normally. But before I go out riding without a jacket, I always ask myself, "Would I rather sweat a little, or bleed a lot?"

Although wearing a jacket might increase your temperature and cause you to sweat a little, if you do end up in a crash you will be thanking yourself since your skin will stay your body. When you slide along the pavement in an accident, it's just like taking your skin to a belt sander. It literally scrapes the skin off your body, exposing muscle, bone, and nerves. NOT FUN. A jacket protects you from that, and keeps your skin where it belongs.

So look cool, and wear a motorcycle jacket :) 

Over the Ankle Motorcycle Boots

typesofboots.jpgAnother part of motorcycle gear that has made it's way into mainstream culture is motorcycle boots. Motorcycle boots look great, but they also provide you with traction and protect the small bones in your feet in the case of a crash.

I've heard horror stories of people wearing tennis shoes while riding a motorcycle and when they crash and their shoes literally fly off their feet. I don't know about you, but I don't want my little toes exposed to 60mph pavement! 

The main rules when it comes to motorcycle footwear is to make sure they are sturdy, and they have over the ankle protection. That means things like work boots that you might already have are a great choice if you are on a budget. Those high top Reeboks you love so much? Yeah, those don't offer much protection.

If you want something more like a shoe, a lot of major manufactures like Icon and Alpinestars make motorcycle specific shoes like the ones you see at the right. Of course the best protection is always something like a full motorcycle boot. Plus, they look great!

Motorcycle Pants

I hope you aren't the type of person that wants to ride around in shorts. I cringe whenever I see that, mainly because I've had motorcycle pants save my knees on more than one occasion. 

Motorcycle pants are usually the piece of gear that the vast majority of riders choose not to wear. That's because for a long time you were forced to either choose leather pants (what a fashion statement!) or a ballistic nylon that would look a little odd. They just don't look like normal pants.

Most people think jeans are enough protection, but that simply is not true. Jeans will get shredded in just a couple feet of sliding on the pavement and offer no protection at all. Think about it, jeans are cotton, cotton is very weak. As a kid I would rip a hole in the knee of my jeans just by falling on the grass. Grass is so much softer than concrete!

Thankfully, many manufacturers are starting to design jeans with Kevlar panels added to key places. Some are even weaving the Kevlar directly into the cotton material, and adding armor to likely impact zones. The Kevlar jeans won't protect you as much as leather pants, but they are MUCH better than regular denim jeans. This means that you don't have to look like you are preparing for deep see diving just to enjoy a motorcycle ride. 

You can ride to your destination and walk around wearing your sweet motorcycle boots, cool jacket, and motorcycle jeans. You look like a badass, not some astronaut. 

With all that being said, there are some leather and textile motorcycle pants that look pretty awesome. They definitely make you look like more of a professional, not just a weekend warrior. I have a couple pair of leather motorcycle pants, textile pants, and even a pair of motorcycle jeans. Here are a few pics to inspire you!

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Share this with your friends!

Lucas over at MotoManner.com was kind enough to create an infographic about this article. Share this with your friends and it will help convince them to wear motorcycle gear. 

Motorcycle gear Infographic-1.jpg

Be cool, look cool, wear motorcycle gear.

Comments

Benny F's picture

Submitted by Benny F (not verified) on

So I'm 19 now and won't be riding until I'm at least 21-22 (money and college things) but when I start riding I'm making sure I set a few thousand to the side for gear. If there's one thing I learned from Football in HS, protective gear is super important. If it wasn't for my helmet,wraps, girdle, and lineman gloves I would gotten in many more injuries (not fun) and could have gotten a concussion. 

Good news is I love the feeling of being wrapped head to toe in any sort of armor. I also love carbon fiber, so I know what my helmet will be made out of. Luckily those engineering co-ops will help me pay for such expensiveness. I'm going to get some nice leathers w/ extra padding and gauntlets. I'd rather be the "uncool" guy in full gear everywhere he rides than in the hospital for weeks because I'm missing half my flesh. Great article!

Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on

That's a great attitude to have! You'll be surprised though, I've gotten lots of compliments on the leather gear I choose to wear. I think it actually makes me look 'cooler' rather than uncool.

Thanks for the comment. Ride safe!

Ben
BBM Admin

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Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

Ric Walter's picture

Submitted by Ric Walter (not verified) on

Nice Article, your advice on the gear is quite insightful.  I hit a deer at 50 mph and ended up with the Bike on top of me for the 125 ft slide on the blacktop.  I had a leather coat on but it was unzipped, a half helmet, fingerless gloves, jeans and boots.  Compared to my riding buddies I'm overdressed, hindsight I could have been better dress.  On the plus I had enough on to protect me with only some road rash on my calf and forearm and a broken wrist.   I have been looking at another bike and better gear.

Michael's picture

Submitted by Michael (not verified) on

Well done article. An anecdote to support your full face shield argument: I was riding with my girlfriend many years ago and laughing at something we were talking about (at fairly low speed) when what turned out to be a bee flew into my mouth and whacked me in the uvula -- the odd bit that hangs down in the back of your mouth. I ended up in the emergency room having a doctor remove the stinger from the back of my throat. Seriously unpleasant.

tythetygerlpcustom's picture

Submitted by tythetygerlpcustom on

Aether Eclipse Moto Jacket if anyone else would like to know.

donnanord's picture

Submitted by donnanord on

Quite an informative article. Along with the gears you have mentioned, getting a vest and an armour adds up to the protection while motorcycling. I am a fairly new motorcycle rider and one thing that I noticed was it isn't easy to get women's gear. Not many stores have the proper fit and style of riding gear for women. Fortunately enough, I came across this particular website, http://www.clandesmotards.net which sells good quality and well designed women's riding gear. Finally got all my riding gear in place and now I am planning for my first long distance ride next weekend.

Chris Howell 's picture

Submitted by Chris Howell (not verified) on

Who knew that motorcycle equipment can look so amazing, especially on some of these girls! I think that when getting some serious biking equipment you not only look awesome, but you have great protection if you fall off. Motorcycles are amazing vehicles and I'd love to own one some day, I'll have to put that on my bucket list for sure! http://www.americanbikerapparel.com 

Calbold's picture

Submitted by Calbold (not verified) on

Anyone have any noise on what the second jacket down is? The one under the jackets title, would be well appreciated. Cheeers

 

bobby's picture

Submitted by bobby (not verified) on

Riding the motorbike must be one of the greatest adventures in life. Irrespective of your level of expertise as a motorbike rider, you must realise the importance of having a helmet. There are so many people who have survived serious accidents, by virtue of having helmets at the time of the accident.

There are so many different types of helmets on the market and this means that everyone can find one that suits their taste and preference. You should ensure that your helmet serves the basic function of providing you with safety and protection. However, it should also be very comfortable to wear so that you can enjoy your ride.

I understand that everyone is an expert in finding motorcycle helmets and as such, we are committed to helping. i have come up with the 3 of the best motorcycle helmets and a buying guide. i took time to analyse all these helmets while factoring in the features and the price among other critical elements. you can check it here: http://buzzautomotive.net/best-motorcycle-helmets-review/

Jim morrison's picture

Submitted by Jim morrison (not verified) on

The whole only 2 types of riders, those that have crashed and those that haven't yet is totally bull crap.  I personally know riders that have been riding for 20 or more years and have never crashed.  They tell me, I'm a new rider, that over 50% of accidents are caused by people that drink.  another high % are from sports bikes, going over 100 mph.  If you drive safe and aware, there is no reason why you ever have to get in a bike crash.  i suscribe to that way of thinking.  

Dipendu Roy's picture

Submitted by Dipendu Roy (not verified) on

3 days ago I crashed because in the turn of road a dog suddenly come in front of bike. I wearing jeans, so I get a little scratch on my left knee.

Anonymous Rider's picture

Submitted by Anonymous Rider (not verified) on

My fiance's hit the pavement twice since we got our bikes this past April. Once because semi crossed center line on a country road, and the other because a deer jumped out into the side of him. Yes a deer hit him, he did not hit a deer. He always wear full gear, but we don't have riding pants yet. He's gone through two jackets and one helmet. His jeans did hold up. After see what looked like made for the movies claw marks on his first jacker where the road had torn through the fabric before getting to the form armor, I'm really glad he wears it no matter how hot it gets.

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