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Motorcycle gear and safety

Updated on June 29, 2015

Basic requirements checklist

protective gear is there to save your skin. Hitting a gravel or tarmac road with bare skin is extremely painful and the hospital bills are heavy when compared to the price of riding gear. Permanent scarring and infections can occur but are easily avoidable if protective riding gear is worn at ALL times. Rather be too hot than bleeding.

  • Head - helmet, the best you can afford. Do not go cheap on this item.
  • Neck - Neck braces are available to ensure in a fall that you do not break or twist your neck reducing whip lash and paraplegia
  • Upper body - A decent leather or synthetic, nylon riding jacket. Preferably with shoulder, back and elbow pads
  • Hands - Gloves with knuckle protection and palm reinforcement
  • Chest and Back - Armadillo or chest and back armor are a must especially for off road riders.
  • Legs - denim at the least but never short pants. Preferably leather or nylon pants or jeans with waist and knee protection mixed with kevlar
  • Feet and ankles - Riding boots preferably with ankle support, never wear trainers or low ankle shoes as your ankles do not have any protection and you will lose the skin here.


For your head you should always buy the best helmet you can afford. Even if you have to save up to buy a better helmet, this is not an area you want to be cheap. Read my full review on helmets to see what is best.

Spirit Helmet with communication device

Spirit Helmet with communication device
Spirit Helmet with communication device

Motorcycle jacket and upper body protection

When it comes to your jacket, there are many choices and types. Leather or nylon. Summer or Winter. Vented or breathable. With padding or without.

Most motorcycle jackets will come with the protection and padding already built in to the jacket with hard kevlar or rubber pieces on the main parts of the torso. Elbows are especially open to damage as they have the thinnest skin and are always pointing out. Some riders are proficient enough to lean their motorcycles so that the elbow drags on the ground. Leather is always a good option as it is durable and can be used as a normal out on the town jacket as well depending on the look.

Nylon jackets normally are a bit more breathable and have better airflow but as a personal preference do not look as good as the leather counter parts. Even if you are riding a small scooter or 125 cc, it is recommend to have a riding jacket to protect you from major falls and scrapes. The back is a large area of the body and when sliding it is normal for this part to drag along the ground or slide. Without protection and losing the skin here will certainly mean a trip to the local hospital to be cleaned and disinfected and you will not be able to lie on your back for sometime.

Nexo Leather motorcycle jacket, worn look.

Nexo leather jacket, Elbow, back and shoulder protection. The jacket comes with a faded old look to it.
Nexo leather jacket, Elbow, back and shoulder protection. The jacket comes with a faded old look to it.

Chest and back protection

When riding on the track where speeds are much greater than normal road use or a dirt roads, it is advisable to use a hard chest and back protector. This helps when even your jacket has been worn through that your major parts are still protected from road rash. The also provide the added benefit of keeping your spine straight, reducing the chances of your spine being damaged or major nerve endings being severed. They can either be loose items that are placed inside the jacket when zipped up or alternatively strapped tightly to the body to ensure they do not move.

Lower body protection and legs

When it comes to the lower body, a lot of people are too lazy to wear proper riding pants. I myself am one of these people. The problem with denim is although it is strong, it can tear or be worn down very quickly in an accident. Studies show that a pair of jeans can be worn right through in the matter of 30 yards on the road. This is fine if you are going very slowly or just fall over but at any type of speed, it is not going to save you from skin damage or road rash.

The preferential item would be a full riding suit or a two piece suit, with knee pucks / sliders and protection on the hips. Some manufacturers are now mixing denim with Kevlar to increase the resistance to tearing and being worn down in an accident. The protection covers the waist, outer thigh, knee and calve muscles greatly reducing the chance of serious injury due to abrasion.

Motorcycle Gloves

This is another item that has hundreds of variations. Leather or nylon, fingerless. Summer or Winter. Off road and on road.

What ever your choice of gloves, ensure that your knuckles are protected. Again they have very little skin and are easily damaged. The palms should also have added padding as it is human nature to put your hands and arms out in front of you when falling down. Your palms will take the impact of the fall. If you are sliding on your back and rear, your natural instinct will be to put your palms out to stabilize your body. Strong leather gloves with added palm leather is suggested but again it is up to you and the application.

Nexo Racing gloves

Nexo full length racing gloves with carbon fiber knuckle protection
Nexo full length racing gloves with carbon fiber knuckle protection

Wearing your gear poll

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Nexo Racing boots

Nexo riding boots.
Nexo riding boots.

Motorcycle boots

When riding, you are constantly moving your feet, be it to change gears, push brakes or stabilize your self when stopped. There is always a chance that you can twist your ankle or get your foot caught on something on the road. Your boots give support to the ankle ensuring that they do not twist.

If you do come off, your ankle which has a thin layer of skin will be protected by the strong support. They also normally come with metal toe sliders to prevent the sides of the boot from wearing down too quickly. Even normal everyday boots can offer some protection.

Riding in sneakers or short shoes that do not cover your ankle are very dangerous for riding. The leather or fabric can tear easily and will wear through on even the smallest slide.

Full race leathers

If you want the best gear for road riding, you cannot find better than a full one piece suit. Ensure when purchasing one that it fits securely. If it is too loose, the leather or material will fold and twist and can tear easier.

A full race suit will also normally come with Knee pucks / sliders which can be replaced with fun add on such as smiley faces or skull like the ones below. You can also choose them in colors that match your motorcycle and even have your name fitted to them. The make of your bike can also be added.

If you want the best protection, A full leather race suit is the best way to go. If it is good enough for motorbike racers then it will be good enough for the weekend warrior going for Sunday rides.

Full race leather

Full AGIP leathers with after market skull knee sliders.
Full AGIP leathers with after market skull knee sliders.


In the end your are only as safe as your protective gear. Always buy the best you can afford so that you are buying quality. Wear your gear as much as possible even when going for short rides. Even if you are just going to the shops, there could be an incident on the way.

Wear your gear and Ride Safely.


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      johnnybet 7 months ago

      Great review! Thanks for the info.

      I am currently looking for an all seasoned motorcycle touring jacket.

      I am between Dainese D Explorer and Siima Sibirsky Super Adventure.

      Any other suggestions?