Thanks to technologically advanced fabrics and materials now incorporated into motorcycle riding clothes and safety wear, there has never been a better time to be a biker. By discovering the best modern motorcycle riding gear we’ve got you covered from head to toe.

When motorcycles became a regular feature on our roads over a century ago, riding gear consisted of whatever you happened to be wearing at the time. As bikes got faster and more reliable though, the need to keep the elements at bay saw bikers adopt military clothing.

A typical outfit usually consisted of cavalry breeches and boots, a Lancer-style trench coat and a leather flying helmet. The big breakthrough came in 1928 though, with the launch of the Perfecto by Schott of NYC, the first motorcycle specific leather jacket.

Motorcycle Riding Gear
STANLEY KRAMER PRODUCTIONS: Marlon Brando sports a Schott jacket in “The Wild One”

Fast-forward 90 years and the Perfecto is still a design classic that’s spawned a thousand imitations. While leather is still popular for men and women’s motorcycle riding gear, however, hi-tech fabrics offer previously undreamt of levels of performance.

There can be no doubt as to the benefits of wearing good quality motorcycle riding gear. So, let’s break this down into different categories and take a closer look at how to save your hide with the best modern motorcycle riding gear apparel on the market.

Crash Helmets

Of all the different type of best modern motorcycle riding gear, the crash helmet has probably made the most significant leap forward in terms of safety features and in-built technology.

Although still utilizing traditional materials such as polycarbonate and fiberglass, it is the advances made in composites and the use of carbon that has made an enormous difference. These materials have given us helmets featuring tremendous strength while still remaining lightweight.

Most helmet manufacturers such as AGV, Schuberth, Bell, and X-Lite now offer carbon helmets from mid-priced to top-shelf models costing as much as four figures.

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Photo from AGV

Liners now boast removable moisture-wicking fabrics and anti-fogging quick- release face shields. As for in-built tech, there is a wide range of helmets offering everything from base-line Bluetooth compatibility to fully installed communication systems.  

The big news for the future of motorcycle riding gear, however, is the smart helmet. These helmets, such as the Skully Fenix AR and CrossHelmet X1, feature head-up display systems that project a range of information onto the rider’s line of view.

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Photo from CrossHelmet

Pushing the envelope further are the likes of Damon whose range of hardware and software will eventually allow interaction between the rider, smart helmet, and motorcycle.

Motorcycle Riding Jackets

Leather jackets may still be a popular choice for the custom and cruiser market and even on the racetrack, but with the advancement in fiber technology, textile motorcycle jackets offer many advantages.

The ability to weave Kevlar into the fabric of a motorcycle riding jacket as well as using it to strengthen stitching, abrasion times and overall toughness has significantly improved.

The latest generation of best modern motorcycle riding gear has taken safety to the next level though, with the incorporation of airbags into jackets.

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Photo from Dainese

There are some variations in the way the airbags operate with the likes of Helite and Merlin using chord tethers to trigger the device. Alpinestars and Dainese on the other hand prefer accelerometers, gyroscopes and sensors to inflate the bag.

Ducati has taken the evolution of the airbag one stage further by incorporating an operating mechanism into one of their bikes. In conjunction with Dainese, the Multistrada 1260S D-Air can sense an impending accident and inflate the jacket’s airbag wirelessly in 45 milliseconds.

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Photo from Ducati

Motorcycle Riding Pants

Early motorcyclists weren’t stupid; cavalry breeches were a damn good idea as there was no flapping material to catch in flailing chains and belts. That same practicality still holds good today.

Once again technology has increased the protective qualities, weight and weatherproofing of motorcycle riding pants immeasurably. All of which go towards making motorcycle riding gear a lot safer.

The flexibility of abrasion resistant fibers woven into different materials means that everything from cargo’s and jeans to heavier duty touring or adventure pants, offer top protection.

Body armor originally developed for military use is now equally advanced with hip and knee protectors if not undetectable at least subtly incorporated into the pants. If you are more at home with leather motorcycle riding pants no problem, but choose them with care.

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Leather comes by weight or thickness, and if it isn’t at least 1.1mm or 3 ounces, it’s fashion, not safety wear.

Motorcycle Riding Gloves

Good quality gloves are often an overlooked area of motorcycle riding apparel but are a must as it’s instinctive to break your fall with an extended hand.

Let’s not forget either that the majority of your bike’s controls are at either end of the handlebars. Cold or wet hands result in slower response and lower sensitivity, and prolonged vibration can lead to numbness in the fingers.

The type of riding you do together with the weather conditions will generally dictate the style and length of your motorcycle riding glove of choice. Whether you choose a wrist length street style, or an all-weather touring version designed to go over the sleeve, some basic principles apply.

Look for extra protection on contact areas such as palms and knuckles. The fit is important as too loose, and they’ll come off, too tight, and they can restrict movement. For all, you bikers out there with touch screen technology or smart apps on your handlebar mounted phones, make sure motorcycle riding gloves have smart-touch fingers.

Motorcycle Riding Boots

If gloves are essential, then a good pair of motorcycle riding boots ranks right up there alongside them. Forget about sliding down the road, every time you slow, stop, change gear or hit the back brake, your motorcycle boots are taking the hit.

Once again, the way you ride will decide on the type and style, but even the most basic of survival instincts should tell you flip-flops are a bad idea. Lots of people ride around in military style boots, and these offer good basic protection, but manufacturers make motorcycle specific riding boots for a reason.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Firstly, soles need to be non-slip, toe boxes and insteps re-inforced, with extra protection around the ankle and shin. They need to be relatively easy to get on and off. With more expensive models, make sure soles and heels are replaceable, and if you’re planning on getting wet, the word Gore-Tex should feature heavily.

Motorcycle Riding Glasses

The eyes may be the windows to the soul, but get hit in the eye by a small bug on the interstate and its weight multiplied by your speed equals a retina exploding 10 pounds.

Bear that in mind when you put on those ‘genuine’ five buck Raybans as not only do you need motorcycle riding glasses when riding in the sun, but they have to offer protection in all conditions in the event of an impact.

For motorcycle riding glasses to do their job, they need to be a good fit around the eyes and nose, with scratch resistant and UV protected lenses. Remember that they’re going under your helmet so make sure the arms will not cause painful pressure spots. The lenses of all good motorcycle glasses should also have a recognized safety rating.

Many motorcycle riding glasses come with extra lenses to cover different riding conditions such as Wiley X or Bertoni. If you want a pair that’s good in all situations though, look for photochromic or light adjusting lenses.

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Photo from Wiley X

Thanks to the breakthrough in tough new hi-tech fabrics and materials, men and women’s best modern motorcycle riding gear has never been safer or more affordable. The old saying of getting what you pay for may still hold, but by discovering the best modern motorcycle riding gear for the modern motorcyclist you’ll head down the highway safer than ever before.