Choosing the Safest Motorbike Clothing
16 October 2018
When shopping for motorbike clothing there are a lot of options available. This can be overwhelming, and with so many different manufacturers all stating that their clothing offers the best protection, how can you know where to start?
We have put together some guidance on the important factors to consider when selecting your motorbike clothing and the safety standards you should look out for.
Of course, the primary reason to wear motorbike clothing is to protect you from impact and abrasion in the event of a motorbike accident. So the level of protection that the clothing offers should be a key factor in your decision. A lot of motorbike wear has body armour built in, while others may have separate inserts. Either way, you'll want to make sure that your back, knees, elbows, shoulders and hands are adequately protected.
There are different styles of clothing available in a number of different fabrics, including leather, Kevlar and other hard-wearing textiles. It's up to you to decide which style and material is right for you, but all armoured motorbike clothing should carry the safety mark CE EN 13595, so be sure to look out for this.
Other protective features should include double or triple stitched seams to stop the garment from coming apart and a minimum thickness of 1.2mm for leather.
Getting the right material and the right fit for your motorbike clothing is really important. If you're uncomfortable on your bike for whatever reason, this can be incredibly distracting and divert your full attention from the road.
You want your clothing to fit you snugly and securely, without it feeling too tight or affecting your movement. When you try on clothing in the shop, ask if you can sit in your riding position on a bike (if they have one) so that you can check the outfit is comfy. You'll be in this position for 90% of the time that you're wearing these clothes, so it's worthwhile to check this
Clothing that is too loose could let water in and might not keep you as warm as a well-fitting alternative and loose, flapping fabric can also be dangerous if this catches in your chain or your wheel, for example. Clothing that is too tight could make you uncomfortable and restrict your movement. Another risk of ill-fitting clothing is that the armour you so heavily rely on could shift during an accident and fail to effectively protect the areas that it has been designed for, or the clothing could move to expose your skin in a slide.
It's important to think about the conditions that you will be riding in and the style of riding that you'll be doing. If you're a year-round commuter, for example, then leather might not be the right option for you. While it does provide robust, all-round protection in the event of an accident, it's not always as warm or waterproof as some of the man-made alternatives. It will keep you dry in a shower, but could become waterlogged in torrential rain, and riding in a soggy leather suit can be very uncomfortable.
Some non-leather alternatives come with removable thermal insulation and can also be more effective at keeping the rain out. This might be something to consider if you are likely to be braving the wet and wild British winter!
It's important not to get bogged down in the way that your clothing looks. Make sure that you take an objective view of the practicality of your bike clothing instead of focusing on the look of it. While it's likely that you'll have a preference on style and colour, you'll want to ensure that this doesn't detract from the level of protection that it offers.
Making yourself as visible as possible to other road users will help to prevent an accident from occurring. Wearing brightly coloured clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night will help others to spot you from a distance. Single blocks of colour catch people's eye much quicker than broken up colours, so it's worthwhile to wear trousers, a jacket and a bag all in the same colour.
Most motorbike clothing will have some reflective sections built in, but there's also reflective material that you can buy and attach yourself if you want to improve the visibility of your clothing, bag or bike.