Best retro motorcycle gear

If you ride a retro motorcycle, then you need retro-style riding gear.

Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 on the road

by Jim Blackstock |

There is a definite retro vibe going on in motorcycling right now. All the big manufacturers – and a fair few of the smaller ones as well – have retro machines in their line-up. It’s an interesting concept – mix old-school styling and nostalgia with modern technology and safety so you get bikes that, for example, have fuel-injection throttle bodies that are deliberately designed to look like carburettors or liquid-cooled engines with fins manufactured into the engine case to look like old air-cooled motors.

That combination of retro styling combined with modern performance and safety carries across to the clothing that looks just right on this kind of motorcycle. You wouldn’t go out for a relaxed sunny ride on a 1970s-inspired naked in a set of racing leathers or on a cruiser in adventure textiles. So you need the right clothing that will keep you safe.

When it comes to jackets, you’re probably talking a leatheror a waxed-cotton style garment and there is no reason why you can’t have style and class with top-level safety and performance in either. Similarly, when it comes to trousers, it’s likely jeansor leather pants and as you would with any jackets or trousers, look for CE ratings overall as well as the specification of armour and where it is; jackets should always be elbows and shoulders with at least a pocket for a back protector and trousers with knee armour as a minimum and ideally, hips as well.

Related: Best leather motorcycle jackets

When you’re looking at helmets, the first choice is open or full-face. Many prefer the wind-in-the-hair (more like bugs-in-the-teeth) feeling of an open-face while others prefer the added protection of a full-face. Either way, there’s something for everyone and they should be at least ECE22.05 or 22.06 specification and if possible, some be SHARP star-rated too.

Boots and gloves also need to be up to spec so again, look for CE ratings, with as many ‘2’ ratings as possible; 1 is a basic pass and 2 indicates a higher level of protection.

You can't grab your retro handlebars in textile kit and these short leather gloves from Weise will

Weise Victory Gloves

We make no apologies for including the Spada Wyatt jacket again; it's a seriously impressive bit

Spada Wyatt Jacket

This leather jacket has a distinct feminine cut to it (and is clearly named after famed aviator

Weise Earhart Jacket

The Glamster from Shoei harks back to the heady days of 1970s and 1980s GP racing, with the

Shoei Glamster Helmet

These retro-style jeans from Resurgence offer classic styling and look and feel with top-rated

Resurgence Pekev Cafu00e9 Racer Jeans

Formed in perforated Nubuck leather, these summer gloves should keep the hands nice and cool

Garibaldi Veneto Gloves

These leather boots from TCX are subtle and classically styled, with lace-up front but with a zip

TCX Hero Boots

There can't be much more retro than a waxed-cotton riding jacket and this version from Richa,

Richa Bonneville 2 Jacket

This open-face helmet from HJC looks like a leather flying cap but this hides thoroughly modern

HJC FG-70s Helmet

Unless you knew, you'd never guess these boots were properly CE rated motorcycle boots. The

Falco Kaspar Boots

OK, so the second generation of Knox's armoured shirt isn't that retro but it's here for a reason;

Knox Urbane Pro Mk2

Its body is formed in mesh for incredible cooling and while it can easily be work on its own for protection on hot days, it can also be worn under an outer garment, such as a non-motorcycle waxed cotton jacket, shirt or a hoodie so you can choose your outer layers for style with this providing you with protection.

Just like a leather jacket is an essential for a retro look and feel, so is a pair of riding jeans

Oxford Original Approved Jeans

They are available in slim or straight cuts, with three leg lengths to get the knee armour in the right place as well as in three finishes. They comes with Level-2 armour in the knees and hips and the classic western-style design is timeless. Long enough for a cheeky little turn-up at the bottom too.

These short gloves from Dainese are available in black or brown and will complete any retro look

Dainese Blackjack Gloves

They feature soft padding over the knuckles and the back of the hand, as well as down the fingers and on the heel of the palm and the open design will mean they keep the hands cool on warm, summer rides.

A retro bike demands a retro helmet and an open-face is the iconic lid to go with a cruiser,

Premier Vintage OP

It has a handy drop-down sun visor for eye protection though of course, a pair of cool shades or goggles will also work. Finally, it comes in this faux-patina finish that should look great on any retro.

This classic-styled jacket is cut for ladies and is made from 12oz waxed cotton, forming part of

Merlin Buxton 2

It uses brass buttons and fastenings for an authentic feel while the Level-1 D3O armour in the shoulders and elbows and the back-protector pocket offer modern protection. Overall it’s CE A rated and comes with a hoop to connect to riding jeans.

Sometimes, you don't want a full jacket but you do want protection, so something like Oxford's

Oxford Kickback 2

There is Kevlar built into the material to provide protection and it comes with Level-1 armour in the shoulders and elbows. Perfect if you sleep all night and you work all day.

Be the first to know what's coming in the latest issue of MCN, plus the latest road tests, recommendations, and competitions. Sign up to the MCN newsletter.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us