Best motorcycle clothing

Here’s our selection of the riding kit we would buy if we were starting from scratch

Riding motorcycles on UK roads

by Jim Blackstock |

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...

Best helmet

Shoei Ryd

Shoei Ryd
Amazon

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There are so many different types of helmet that entire articles have been written about them. However, if we needed one helmet to do everything and work day-to-day, then weu2019d have no hesitation u2013 itu2019s the Shoei Ryd.

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.

Pros:

Five SHARP stars for safety

Excellent ventilation

Superb comfort

Cons:

No drop-down sun visor

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Best textile suit

Oxford Hinterland Jacket

Oxford Hinterland Jacket

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The Hinterland is one of British clothing and accessory giant Oxford Productsu2019 flagship ranges and uses a laminated material backed with its Dry2Dry membrane to keep you warm and dry. Find the matching trousers here (£199.97)

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.

Pros:

Laminated for weather performance

AA CE rating

Great value

Cons:

No back protector, only L1 armour

More textile kit articles from MCN:

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Best leather jacket

Spada Wyatt

Spada Wyatt

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A leather jacket is the staple of any motorcyclistu2019s wardrobe and this one from Spada is a very serious proposition; it has a slight retro styling to it u2013 as opposed to a sports style u2013 with a narrow fit and is formed in premium cowhide that is 1.1-1.2mm thick.

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.

Pros:

Highest protective abilities

Great value

British designed

Cons:

Retro styling may not suit everyone

More leather jacket articles from MCN:

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Best riding jeans

Knox Shield

Knox Shield

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Historically, riding jeans needed a separate layer of material, such as aramid fibres or Kevlar, inside the denim to offer the highest levels of protection. However, technology has moved on and now, single-layer jeans can offer the highest ratings of AAA. These from Knox are made with Spectra denim, a combination of traditional material and reinforcements and are available in a traditional, straight-leg cut.

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.

Pros:

Highest CE rating of AAA

Come with knee and hip armour

Traditional straight-cut design

Cons:

Only Level-1 armour

More riding jeans articles from MCN:

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Best leathers

RST TracTech Evo 4

RST TracTech Evo 4

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British brand RST knows a thing or two about producing race leathers and the companyu2019s famous TracTech range includes these, available as either a set of two-piece or a one-piece suit. Two-piece: Jacket (£239.96) Pants (£175.97)

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.

Pros:

Highest AAA CE rating

Hugely experienced company

Available as one or two-piece suit

Cons:

Only comes with L1 armour

Find more motorcycle leathers here

Summer gloves

LS2 Swift

LS2 Swift
Amazon

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LS2 is more famous for helmets than clothing but a couple of years ago it introduced a range of apparel and the Swift Racing gloves were included in the first raft of products.

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.

Pros:

Highest protective rating

Excellent feel and comfort

Perforated for cooling

Cons:

Fingers a little long for some

More summer motorcycle glove articles from MCN:

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Best winter gloves

Richa Ice Polar GTX

Richa Ice Polar GTX

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While there are thicker u2013 and hence, warmer u2013 gloves available, these from Richa give a decent feeling of warmth to the hands and fingers yet also provide good feel for the bikeu2019s controls u2013 one area that thick winter gloves can have a negative effect.

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.

Pros:

Gore-Tex membrane

Good feel for the bike

Great value

Cons:

Not as warm as some

More winter motorcycle glove articles from MCN:

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Best waterproof boots

Alpinestars SMX-6 V2

Alpinestars SMX-6 V2

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These may seem a lot of money but theyu2019re really worth it. These sporty boots from Alpinestars come with either the companyu2019s own Drystar waterproof and breathable membrane or with one from Gore-Tex, costing an extra £30 or so.

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.

Pros:

Excellent protection

Superbly comfortable

Waterproof and breathable

Cons:

May not go under narrow-leg jeans

More motorcycle boot articles from MCN:

Alpinestars SMX-6 V2 review

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Best year-round base layers

Rukka Outlast Top

Rukka Outlast Top

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Getting a pair of base layers to work year-round is no mean feat but these from Rukka use Outlast technology. This regulates the body temperature by using phase changes of paraffin within the garments; when it is warm, the heat from the body causes the paraffin to absorb heat energy and change from solid to liquid and, when the temperature drops, the heat is released back to the body. They also help to wick moisture away from the skin too. Find the pants here (£46.59)

Pros:

Year-round performance

Good value

Well-respected manufacturer

Cons:

Not as cooling in summer as some

More thermal and base layer articles from MCN:

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Best safety innovation - Airbag technology

Ixon Airbag

Ixon Airbag

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One of the most recent game-changers when it comes to rider safety is the developments in airbag technology. The concept has been around for a while, porting across from the equestrian world but while there are still mechanical tether based system around, electronic versions have taken over.

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.

Pros:

Ultimate rider protection

Available in range of wearable options

Affordable

Cons:

May make clothing bulky

Best RST airbag clothing

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