If you are an avid biker or just going to purchase a two-wheeler, then you need to make sure you have appropriate clothes. Biker clothing is not only about fashion and style (although we can’t deny that motorcycle outfits look stylish and appealing) but also they can save your bones if you got into an accident as well as provide the desired level of comfort while riding.
Experienced motorcyclists will never go on a ride without special clothing and protective gears. Specialized biker clothes are a must not only because riders strive to look stylish and feel comfortable. Reliable motorcycle gears are an essential element to keep a biker safe and sound. They provide maximum protection when touring and help to avoid many troubles or injuries in the event of an accident.
What is the mandatory equipment of every motorcyclist? If you say ‘helmet’ you are absolutely right. It is the main element of protection that will allow keeping your head on your shoulders. Of course, some rebellious bikers refuse wearing helmets because they confront society and all the rules it wants to impose. Many riders are superstitious and they believe that some skull amulets or charms will guard them. Statistics of deaths on the road, however, proves that they are mistaken. In 2017 alone bikers died 28 times more often than drivers and passengers of other vehicles. A helmet doesn’t fully safeguard you from injuries but it is able to decrease the sad death rate.
Riding a bike, especially riding it fast, involves constant risk. Hence you need to provide adequate protection if you value your life and well-being. A helmet is effective protection from dust, branches, wind, or stones flying from under the wheels of a motorcycle. However, the main purpose of a helmet is to save a rider from bruises, injuries, and serious damage if he falls off his mean machine or gets into an accident.
Famous brands offer several types of helmets, differing in design, performance, type of a visor, and cost. The most popular styles of helmets are:
- An Integral helmet, otherwise known as a full face helmet, provides the ultimate protection. It completely covers the head including the chin, and is securely fixed with a strap.
- Modular helmets are similar in appearance to the integral ones but they have a reclining chin section. The ability to eat and talk without removing such a helmet provides additional comfort for a driver.
- Cross helmet is the best choice for touring, long rides, and off-road riding.
- An open face helmet is the most budget-friendly option. It is lightweight and convenient, though it won’t protect you from heavy injuries. Such a helmet is suitable for weekend bikers or occasional rides when there is a minimal risk of injuries.
Before we come down to describing the most important features of biker gears, let’s first talk about basic items you should have. We have already mentioned a helmet to safeguard your head but this is not the only part of your body you need to keep safe. Other necessary gears include:
- Goggles to protect your eyes from wind, dust, insects, broken stone, etc.
- Motorcycle pants;
- Motorcycle boots;
- Chest shell;
- Elbow and shoulder armor.
Motorcycle gear is inconceivable without special protection for the back, chest, hands, which are the most affected body parts when falling off a bike. The main attribute of motorcycle clothing is armor which is somewhat similar to the shell of a turtle. Such a protective jacket for a motorcyclist is like a scuba gear for a diver. A full-armor gear is a comprehensive protection for the abdomen, back, collarbone, and chest thanks to special inserts in the necessary places. Built-in protectors absorb shock force, thus, protecting from injuries.
In addition to full-body protective gears, there are other types of motorcycle clothing. For example, thick leather jackets made of durable leather will help safeguard a rider against scratches and abrasions when falling. This outfit is light enough so it is suitable for everyday wear. It is the most favorite piece of clothing for old-school bikers. The disadvantage of such jackets is that they offer poor protection and will not prevent catastrophic injuries if a rider gets into a serious accident. A compromise between full armor and weak protection is professional gears with special hidden pockets with inserts of shock absorbing shields. Such shields will protect the most vulnerable spots: knees, back, elbows, shoulders, clavicle, etc.
When buying protective biker gears, you need to consider a lot of aspects. We offer some worthy tips to make the choice of the right item easier:
- No matter what type of clothing you decide to buy, you have to make sure it doesn’t fit too tight. Otherwise, you will feel discomfort which prevents from moving freely in your clothes.
- You should try clothing items on before buying them. Additionally, you ought to put them to a test before you go on a ride. Just put on your jacket or overalls and sit on your bike. You will understand whether you feel comfortable in your regular riding position or not.
- You should opt for clothes loose enough to wear a sweater underneath. This is going to help you when it is chilly outside since an additional layer of insulation is able to save you from getting cold. If you live in a hot climate, you should consider looser outfits as well since they will prevent you from overheating and allow some ventilation.
- If you are going to ride in low light conditions, you should avoid putting on black clothing since they will reduce the visibility to other riders. We understand that black is always in style and it is the only appropriate color for a real man but your safety is worth moving away from the settled canons. You should consider bright colors for the clothing that are clearly visible in twilights.
- If you still want to wear black biker outfits then you ought to complement them with reflective strips helping other drivers to make you out in the dark.
- Pay attention to seams and durability, especially in places of a possible impact if you fall. Take time to carefully examine such small details as pockets, zippers, wind protection, etc. If a manufacturing company has made these elements well then, most likely, the rest of the product is made quality.
- Check the leather thickness. Good leather should be at least 1 mm thick or even thicker. The thicker the leather, the higher the level of protection it ensures.
- Air vents. If you’re touring in hot weather, you will immediately realize how important that your jacket is equipped with special ventilation openings so that the flow of oncoming air can cool you down.
Types of materials for motorcycle clothing
When it comes to bikers, an image of a brutal man in leather pants and leather jacket with rivets, chains, and spikes immediately pops up in our heads. However, modern manufacturing technologies and materials allowed slightly changing the usual motorcycle clothing, so the textile gears made a worthy competition to the classic leather jacket. Before buying a motorcycle jacket, trousers or overalls, you should learn more about materials your gear is made of.
So, materials for biker clothes can be divided into two categories:
- Leather biker clothing.
- Man-made textile;
Each of the materials to produce motorcycle gears has its pros and cons, so we are going to talk about their features in more detail.
The leather biker clothing
Undoubtedly, leather biker jackets look spectacular and blend perfectly with appealing steel bikes. Leather jackets were worn by the very first bikers who adapted the famous Perfecto jacket for their needs. Initially, a biker jacket was very similar to the aviation coat. It has long sleeves covering the fingers, wide shoulders and a fold on the back giving freedom of movement, an adjustable belt and, of course, an askew zipper which became the hallmark of the biker jacket. Over time, the design has slightly changed, the sleeves were shortened, the leather fold disappeared, and the jacket itself began to be adorned with metal inserts and rivets. You may be surprised but such decorations are designed not only to shock and frighten but also to protect when a biker ‘eats asphalt’. When falling off a bike, rivets protect from friction.
The leather is a quite durable but not exactly breathable material. Therefore, it is not suitable for long-distance touring. At the same time, it is able to protect the body from the wind. When rubbing against the asphalt, leather does not overheat, excluding the appearance of burns and other damage to the skin. Leather has a high degree of wear and tear resistance but frequent wetting and drying can ruin both the appearance and quality characteristics. You should bear in mind that leather clothes stretch when they are worn continuously, so it is best not to size up when purchasing such items. New leather biker gears should fit snugly to the body and even be slightly tight but only slightly otherwise you will feel uncomfortable riding a bike and this will increase the risk of an accident.
So, a motorcycle jacket should be really durable to protect your skin from friction against asphalt, have additional protection in the shoulder and elbows (thickened skin or shields), and sit pretty tight (and at the same time provide good ventilation). Pay attention to the leather quality. The structure of top-notch leather should be uniform throughout the product without any wrinkles at the seams. If a leather jacket has protective inserts, you need to make sure they are reliably covered with a layer of leather and firmly sit in their places. Otherwise, these metal shields may get exposed at an accident and get hot because of friction against the pavement. Also, check if your biker clothes have double seams at the areas where protective shields are inserted. If you are lucky enough to become an owner of a first-class motorcycle jacket, you can be sure it is super durable. Even after contact with the road surface, leather, as a rule, retains a decent appearance and can be used for a long time.
The leather is a traditional material for biker clothes with a number of benefits. Unfortunately, it also has some serious drawbacks. Let’s look at some Pros and Cons of leather as a material for motorcycle gears:
- It lasts longer in comparison to certain man-made textiles;
- Available in many styles;
- The leather is a waterproof material to some extent;
- The leather clothing is comfortable and soft;
- The leather jackets are suitable for wearing in cold weather because they can retain body heat and protect against the wind;
- It is easy to patch up a leather jacket of you it got a tear or a hole;
- The leather is abrasion resistant;
- It will provide you with a stylish and distinct look.
- It is more expensive than textiles;
- Less comfortable for wearing in summer;
- It offers less water resistance than modern synthetic materials;
- It can get wet which eventually make you uncomfortable and cold;
- It can shrink when wet;
- Leather jackets are heavier than their textile counterparts;
- It is not resistant to punctures;
- An animal has to die so that you can sport a leather jacket.
The man-made textiles
Textile motorcycle outfits were designed to offer protection and warmth and, at the same time, remove some of the flaws of leather garments. Manufacturers use various combinations of polyester, vinyl, nylon, polyurethane, and other synthetic materials to produce motorcycle clothes. The advantage of synthetic textiles is high tensile strength and friction resistance. Many types of textiles are very resistant to high temperatures, for example, the melting point of Kevlar fibers is about 430 ° C. Synthetic materials can be used as a basis for biker clothing and gloves as well as for the manufacture of inserts on the hips and knees of motorcycle pants, backs and side parts of jackets, etc. Textiles used for motorcycle clothes are very light. Having thickness of regular denim, their durability is several times higher. When choosing biker clothes you should remember that textiles do not expand and do not shrink, so you have to choose the size very carefully, despite the adjusting belts.
Textile jackets, as a rule, are equipped with ventilation inserts which you can open in summer to regulate the temperature of your body. They feature wind and waterproof designs (however, you still have all chances to get wet because the water may penetrate through seams). Your textile biker jacket may also have removable pads and liners useful for cold weather. Rigid parts or foam for protection can be easily placed in strategic places under the surface without spoiling the design of a jacket. The production process and textiles have been improving every year. Synthetic fabrics and textiles are getting softer, less cumbersome, and they provide better protection than before. Textile jackets are an excellent choice for people who want to use high technology to protect their bodies and prefer the corresponding high-tech product design.
- Built-in armor can be upgraded to whatever type of armor you require;
- Materials such as ballistic nylon and Kevlar are very durable and tough;
- Many synthetic materials are highly waterproof;
- Cheaper than leather clothing;
- Textile biker garments do not shrink;
- Biker jackets and overalls are equipped with thermal linings which can be used in cold weather;
- These linings can be removed when the weather is warm;
- Textile motorcycle clothes can include air vent inserts to keep a rider cool;
- Synthetic materials are lightweight;
- Easy to take care of, easy to wash, no need to iron;
- Retains its original appearance for a long time.
- Textiles will not provide you with the distinct look as leather jackets do;
- Synthetic materials are less soft and more bulky in comparison with leather.
- Holes and damages to textile material are difficult to patch, so the service life of a textile jacket can be reduced.
Harley Davidson biker’s clothing
If you are a proud owner of a Harley-Davidson bike, you need to match your mean machine in appearance and attitude. Here are some aspects you need to consider when picking cool biker outfits.
You need to decide what your priority is – to look cool or be safe. If you go for a classic biker jacket you will undoubtedly ooze confidence, appealing attitude, and a lot of people would want to be like you or to be with you. However, leather biker jackets provide weak protection and won’t save your bones if you get into a major accident. But if you want to ride your chopper imposingly and look badass, a classic leather jacket is a great addition to your style.
On the other hand, if you are an owner of a fast sport bike, the speed is most likely your loyal companion. In this case, safety must come to the fore. You can't afford to show off. You should make your choice in favor of professional gears with chest, back, abdomen, elbow, knees, etc. protective inserts. Such fully-armored outfits are not the most comfortable but they can really save you in case of an accident. You can also opt for a compromise by picking a leather jacket with protective shields.
We have already said a couple of words about fitting but let’s focus on this aspect again. So, your biker clothes should fit you well but they can’t be too tight. When you pick your biker clothes, you need to consider the materials they are made of. Textile and leather have opposite properties when it comes to fitting. Textile materials never shrink and never expand when washing or wearing. On the contrary, leather expands with time. So make sure you purchase your clothing items taking these features into account. We recommend buying leather jackets and pants that fit snuggly – in a couple of months you will notice that they got a size bigger. Textile biker outfits won’t stretch so you need to pick your size exactly.
If you live in a country with cold winters you need a separate set of clothing for riding in cold weather. It is not a good idea to ride in the same clothing come rain or shine. But if you don’t want to part with your favorite jacket even in winter, make sure it is roomy enough to let you wear a sweater or at least thermal wear underneath.
Continuing the previous point, we would like to mention that there are biker jackets with thermal lining to make you feel warm even in winter. Normally, these linings are removable enabling you to use such biker outfits in every season. Besides being suitable for any time of the year, modern biker clothes provide many useful functions. For example, they may feature vent inserts to give you the desired level of comfort in hot weather. If a jacket has pockets with protective pads for back, elbow, shoulders, etc, you are able to remove these shields or upgrade them with more sturdy materials.
Bikers don’t wear purses so they have to carry all the essentials in their clothes. Therefore, it is important that your biker jacket or an overall has many pockets of various sizes. You can use them to put your phone, zipper, wallet, road map, bottle of water, and anything you find necessary to have on you.
Your leather biker jacket will survive in an accident, it will serve you for many years, it can be utilized in both cold and in hot weather, but what it can’t do is to be washed in a washing machine. So, your leather biker garment can only be cleaned in a dry cleaner. If you have textile clothing, it’s much easier to maintain them. They are washable. Just follow the instructions you see on a tag and you’ll be fine.
The Bottom Line
Being a biker means you have to keep a certain dress code. It must necessarily include a helmet, biker jacket with protection, gloves, plants, and gargles. If you prefer old-school look you may opt for a classic leather jacket (just remember that its main purpose to look good and not to provide reliable protection). If you want to feel safe when riding your mean machine, the best option is textile jackets or overalls with armor inserts in strategic places.