Selecting your riding kit is no easy task. Assuming that safety and protection are a given (we’ll come on to those in a moment) your choice will depend on many factors: the style of your bike; the kind of riding you do; how much of the year you ride; how far you usually ride; and how much money you have available for your kit.
The first consideration must always be safety. Helmets must be approved to either ECE22.05 or the newer ECE220.6 standards and the UK government safety assessment program tests and rates helmets for safety, with scores out of five.
When it comes to jackets and trousers, these are rated under standard EN17092 and are classified as Personal Protective Equipment and given a CE rating; B, A, AA and AAA. These refer to the overall abrasive resistance and build quality and the highest rating is AAA.
The armour within jackets and trousers is also rated under CE regulations, to either Level-1 or Level-2. Level-2 is more absorbent of impact forces and hence, more protective.
You should be looking for armour in the shoulders and elbows of jackets and at least a pocket for a back protector if one is not fitted (or you wear a standalone one). For trousers, you want at least knee armour and ideally, hips as well.
Related: Best learner motorcycle gear
Be aware that the more protective clothing is, the more stiff or cumbersome it is likely to be though this is more apparent on lower-budget equipment than higher.
Boots and gloves are also CE-rated, for a variety of factors. Most boots will be rated to the 2017 standard and comprise four digits, either a 1 or a 2.
The first indicates if the boots is high or low-leg and the remaining three, the rating in key areas – abrasion resistance, impact cut and transverse rigidity. Boots can achieve either a standard pass (1) or superior pass (2) so look for as many 2s as you can.
Similarly, gloves are rated 1 or 2 overall with ‘KP’ indicating knuckle protection. A CE rating of 2 indicates higher protective abilities than 1.
Here are our favourite products in each key area...
1. Shoei Ryd
There are so many different types of helmet that entire articles have been written about them.
It gets five SHARP stars for safety; is exceptionally comfortable, light and compact (partly due to having no drop-down sun visor) and is quiet, with excellent ventilation. You can add a tinted or photo-reactive visor if you want but out of the box, it’s excellent. I have one and I love it.
Five SHARP stars for safety
No drop-down sun visor
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Best textile suit
2. Oxford Hinterland Jacket
The Hinterland is one of British clothing and accessory giant Oxford Productsu2019 flagship ranges
It uses elasticated sections to give movement to the wearer instead of more traditional external adjustment straps and has a AA CE rating. This means it is fairly stiff to begin with but it soon loosens up and is very comfortable and reassuring. It only comes with Level-1 armour so we’d suggest an upgrade to L2.
Laminated for weather performance
AA CE rating
No back protector, only L1 armour
More textile kit articles from MCN:
Best leather jacket
3. Spada Wyatt
A leather jacket is the staple of any motorcyclistu2019s wardrobe and this one from Spada is a
This helps it achieve a CE rating of AAA and it comes with a full suite of Level-2 armour, making it incredibly protective. It also has a removable thermal liner and it’s waterproof too.
Highest protective abilities
Retro styling may not suit everyone
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Best riding jeans
4. Knox Shield
Historically, riding jeans needed a separate layer of material, such as aramid fibres or Kevlar,
They come with Knox’ micro-lock armour in the knees and hips and the knee armour is housed in external pockets. Sister title RiDE tested jeans recently and these provided the best protection on test.
Highest CE rating of AAA
Come with knee and hip armour
Traditional straight-cut design
Only Level-1 armour
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5. RST TracTech Evo 4
British brand RST knows a thing or two about producing race leathers and the companyu2019s famous
A two-piece is more convenient for road users or for those doing trackdays while a one-piece is more useful for riders who are actually racing. Both offer an overall rating of AAA and come with Level-1 armour though the shoulders also have external TPU sliders and there are stretch panels across the garments for comfort and fit. The one-piece suit is £20 cheaper than the two piece, which has a zip to join the jacket and trousers.
Highest AAA CE rating
Hugely experienced company
Available as one or two-piece suit
Only comes with L1 armour
6. LS2 Swift
LS2 is more famous for helmets than clothing but a couple of years ago it introduced a range of
They are a sporty, long-cuffed glove that offers the highest protective rating – 2 KP indicating they have hard knuckle armour that is also vented. In addition, they have hard plastic protection on the fingers, a bridge between the ring and little fingers, stretch panels and Superfabric padding on the outside of the hand, the thumb and the heel of the palms. They are comfortable and give excellent feels for the bike’s controls.
Highest protective rating
Excellent feel and comfort
Perforated for cooling
Fingers a little long for some
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Best winter gloves
7. Richa Ice Polar GTX
While there are thicker u2013 and hence, warmer u2013 gloves available, these from Richa give a
They use a mixture of leather and textile and are backed with a Gore-Tex waterproof and breathable membrane to prevent them getting sweaty. They have hard knuckle armour, touchscreen-compatible fingertips and a visor wipe.
Good feel for the bike
Not as warm as some
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Best waterproof boots
8. Alpinestars SMX-6 V2
These may seem a lot of money but theyu2019re really worth it. These sporty boots from Alpinestars
However, personal experience says that the Drystar is at least as good as the Gore-Tex at keeping your feet warm and dry. They are sports-style boots which are not only comfortable but extremely protective, thanks to plenty of armour and an ankle bracing system that protects without affecting comfort or usability.
Waterproof and breathable
May not go under narrow-leg jeans
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Best year-round base layers
9. Rukka Outlast Top
Getting a pair of base layers to work year-round is no mean feat but these from Rukka use Outlast
Not as cooling in summer as some
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Best safety innovation - Airbag technology
10. Ixon Airbag
One of the most recent game-changers when it comes to rider safety is the developments in airbag
Helite is one of the leaders in vests that you wear outside your main jacket and both Dainese and Alpinestars have their own systems. However, it is French company In&motion that is penetrating the market, working with clothing manufacturers such as Furygan, Ixon, Klim, RST and Held with both clip-in, integrated and universal garments, making the technology available to all riders.
Ultimate rider protection
Available in range of wearable options
May make clothing bulky