Motorcycle gear 101

So, the last 2 articles got a lot of positive attention. So, here is the next one! gear 101.

A bikers gear boils down to: Helmet, jacket, gloves, pants and shoes. I’ll cover them, one by one.


The Helmet

By far the most important piece of equipment, so it amazes me how many morons ride without it.
Most states don’t require a helmet, but you would be a moron of MASSIVE proportions to ride without one. Some may argue that helmets “reduce their field of visibility”. Probably the most BS excuse ever, as helmets have a 170 degree FOV, and even if it did impede your FOV, you can always turn your head. Really, its not that hard.

Helmets are rated by a couple of systems. DOT, Snell, and British standards are the big ones. If a helmet does NOT have a sticker on the back of the helmet (as demonstrated below), you might as well have a plastic bag on your head.

A DOT and Snell approved helmet.

Another thing that you have to keep in mind that helmet DO have a shelf life as well. They can stay in the box for about 5 years before they are...I’m not going to say junk, but they will not protect you as well as if they were brand new.

Once a helmet has been worn though, they are usually good for 3 years. 4 if its not worn that often (like a spare helmet for your wife that you ride 2-up with once in a while). This is due to the sweat and oil that your body produces. the protective material absorbs this stuff, and it slowly degrades the foam and padding. Plus it starts to smell, and no one likes a stinky helmet.

there are a couple of types of helmets:


This is the best kinda of helmet for safety. bar non. They have a full shell that covers your head, a chin bar they protects your jaw, and are generally pretty aerodynamic and in doing so, quieter then the rest of the helmets here (with the possible exception of the modular). These helmet are the most brightly colored and have the flashiest designs, sometimes commanding a MASSIVE premium over a plain colored version.

The big manufacturers are AGV, Icon, Bell, Shoei, Arai,Fox and Thos. There are many other manufacturer so dont think you have to just stick to these names. I used to ride with a G-maxx helmet, and now I’m rocking a Kaos carbon fiber helmet.

There are on-road and off-road full face helmets. as well as hybrids (also called enduro helmets)

on road:

<AGV GP tech (Valentino rossi paint scheme)


^Icon Variant

Full off road:

^ Fox racing fantom V3 (mens)

3/4 face

While the full face helmet is the best (as far as I’m concerned) there are a few issues. The biggest draw back to them is space. The full face completely surrounds your...uhh. face. and to some, this is VERY claustrophobic. Not to mention airflow and the screen fogging up. This is a hit and miss to be brutally honest. Full face helmets are also a bit of a pain in the a** to put on if you have glasses.

Because of this, a lot of people opt for a 3/4 helmet. they are kind of like full face helmets, but they are missing the chin bar, instead opting for more air and less claustrophobia.

EDIT: Someone mentioned to me about having the correct sunglasses for a 3/4 and 1/2 helmets. While I’ve never used sunglasses, its a good thing to take into consideration, as IF you go down, you don’t want something that will shatter and end up with a shard of glass in your eye.

EDIT#2 With full credit to dmat, this is whats what with the glasses

the main benefit is that they withstand impacts to a higher degree than regular glasses. Most glasses are made to be shatter resistant but that is all. If the impact to the lens is too great, it will just pierce right though. Thats where the safety rating comes in. They come in 2 ratings, Z87.1 and Z87.1+ with the + being able to withstand higher impacts. for reference, in one version of the testing for z78.1, they shoot out a 1/4” metal ball at 205 MPH from 300 feet at the glasses and expect them to withstand the impact without breaking. Outside of that, the cost isnt much different from a normal pair of sunglasses.

<Arai SZ ram 4


These helmets can be sold with OR without wind screens. You will a lot of 3/4s minus wind screens on cafe style bikes


< Bell custom 500. by far the most popular for the cafe styled crowd.


Modular helmets are sort of the best of both worlds. They combine the full face protectiveness of a full helmet with the ease and ability to have the openness of a 3/4 (should you choose to ride with the modular part up) These helmet have 2 draw backs however. They are very heavy and usually more expensive ( a higher end Schuberth helmet is 1000$) To some they are worth it. When I had glasses, I loved the fact that it could pop open and be easier to put on. Before I got rid of my glasses, I had already switched to full helmets because hey, I like my noggin intact.

<Schuberth C3

Half helmets / skidlids (as I like to call them)

These helmets are the worst in terms of safety, but to some (mainly the cruiser crowd)
the “coolness” factor of them outweighs the safety.
Some are DOT approved. but a lot of them are NOT. So a lot of the cruiser guy are riding with pretty much no helmet. Not my choice, but hey, some pople like looking cool. and if thats your thing, go for it. Just now your a lot less safe then if you have a full helmet.

<Bell drift DLX

Personally, I use a full carbon Kaos ether helmet



The largest single piece of equipment you will wear. There is a lot of misconception about this piece. A jacket is less to protect you from broken bones and more to protect you from road rash and sharp items (like glass or a rock) from penetrating the skin. There are 3 types of jackets


Mmm, peeled cow. Although some of the more exotic race suits use kangaroo now. These jackets are the most resistant to sliding, and don’t tear as easy as textile. Keep in mind you cant just grab any fashion leather jacket. those are terrible. The real motorcycle jackets have properly treated leather and are hard to move in, not to mention they had some form of armor for your back,shoulder and elbows. The one that I ride with is a Teknic jacket that someone gave me, most resembles a current Teknic mercury leather jacket.


Textile jackets are great when the weather is a bit warmer and wearing a full leather jacket is simply not possible without a cooling undershirt or sweating out your own body weight in water every 2 hours. The good ones will always have some armor built into it (again, into the back, elbows and shoulders) with the option to take out the armor for cleaning OR to upgrade it. (leather jackets have this too)
Textile jackets are also lighter then a leather jacket, which to some smaller and weaker riders/ passengers, this does make a difference.

<Teknic supervent mesh jacket



these are more or less beefy back protectors. they dont cover your arms, so if something happens and you go down with just a vest, your arms will be skinned. I used to ride with just s vest one, until I realized the dangers. From then on, I wear my vests under my jacket for extra protection. The most Iconic vest is the eh...Icon striker vest.

That being said,, I did see they released a form of armor suit which is basicly elbow pads, the back protector and some shoulder armor held together with a very thin mesh (think under armor VS a tru textile jacket) which caught my eye. Will have to look into that.

<Icon striker vest

As for the leather vest the cruiser crowd wears.....yea, no. That’s not gear.



Second biggest piece of gear on you,. these will protect you legs from road rash and help keep the heat from the motor from burning you up.



Can basically be described as a second pair of ass-less leather pants you put on top of your normal jeans. I’m not really sure how well they work, but they seem to be popular within the cruiser crowd.

<a pair of chaps

Riding jeans

These at first glace look to be normal, day-to-day jeans. The reality is is that these are much, MUCH tougher then those. Lined with kevlar (yes, THAT bullet-proof kevlar) and sometimes with built in armor padding, These are a good choice for those who commute to work or dont want to wear a full racing suit or have to change when you get to work. I used them all summer. Great product, but not the safest out there

^ see the yellow? thats kevlar.


Now we are into motorcycle specific clothing, no longer stuff that you can wear at a party or at the office while waiting to go home. Like the jackets, the textile pants are usually a mesh like material with padding in key areas to protect you in a crash.

Also, pending on the model of pants and jacket, you can zip them together so you cover as much skin as possible in a crash.


<AGV Sport Telluride H20 vented pants


Just like the jacket, these are the safest pants. And they can be bought as a pair with the jacket so you can zip them together. I have never ridden with them, so I cant say how comfortable or not they are.
And if you take a close look at the knees, most leather pants will have somewhere to attach knees sliders too. Track racers pride themselves on getting those pads ground down as far as they can. On the street, its best if you don’t lean as far.

<Alpinestars GP plus leather pants


^Knee down on an SV650


Your riding gloves have a 2 part job.
1: Protect your hands when you go down.
2: Keep you hands comfy on the controls and blister free, you can ride the nights away

A lot of people forget the second one. which is why you see a LOT of guy saying they cant ride bikes because it hurts their wrists. It could be as simple as changing the gloves you ride with

1/2 finger


Think road bike gloves. these are less about the protection and more about not getting blisters on your hands after so many hours in the saddle.

Daxx fingerless motorcycle gloves

Full finger

What it says on the tin. These gloves fully encase your fingers, keeping them protected from the elements and the road.
Some of these will have a hardened knuckle area to help save your hands in a crash,m as well as plastic areas to help the hands slide instead of getting road rash.

<AVG sport vortex short gloves.
You can clearly see the plastic knuckle covering and the plastic nubs on the fingers.


These are basically full gloves dialed up a notch or two. They extend past the wrist and have a healthy overlap with the jacket to protect your wrists in a crash (and helps keep the wind out at speeds)

<Knox handroid gloves
Notice the plastic guards on the “sleeve” part of the glove


Protect your feet and help you feel the gear shifter and brake pedal. You cant just grab any old shoe. and laces are to be avoided at all costs. You dont want the laces getting caught in the gear selector and entangling your foot to the bike when you have to stop. The other one to avoid is slip on boots. If you can just slide them on, in a crash, they will DEFINITELY just slide right off, and your feet will get eaten by the road.

Racing boot


Tall, supportive boots the will usually have a metal or plastic slider for when you are really leaned over.

Alpinestars S-MX racing boots


Street boots

Shorter boots that a little less protective (they dont go up your leg as far) But are a little lighter and little more comfortable for walking around. They still arent great for the job, but they are better then racing boots


^Icon tarmac ventilated boots

Off-road boots

Tall boots meant for off-roading (duh). Very supportive shoes, with a thick tread pattern for walking around in the mud and dirt. The height of the boot is so tall to help prevent mud and dust and sand from getting inside the boot and ruining your socks. They are also much tougher as a boot, with most of the exterior being plastic panels that move (think similar to plate armor) to you dont get hurt by a rock when your buddies roost you.


<Sidi crossfire SRS 2 mens off road boot

Cruisers boots

The cruiser crown tends to go for black leather boots which frankly, aren’t THAT bad. The leather keeps your foot free of road rash and they are fairly grippy shoes with decent soles. One thing that they don’t do right is that a lot of them have laces. laces on motorcycle boots are just a bad idea.

Tour master coaster WP

<These aren't a good idea. Although they are better then other as the laces are higher up away from the controls.


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