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Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycle Clothing

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If you’re thinking of getting on two wheels, then yes, go for it! Although you need to jump through a few hoops, don’t let the choice of kit and the price be another hurdle. With our guide, you can kit yourself up with quality safe motorcycle clothing but keep your costs down.

Table of Contents

Getting your gear right

What to wear for safe motorcycling

Finding the right gear to wear when you go out riding is less about how cool you look, and much more about keeping you safe and well protected.  Some items are a legal requirement, others are just recommended.  There are a wealth of clothing options out there to suit every kind of rider, but to keep yourself well protected, consider investing in some of the following:

Motorcycle Helmets

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Here in the UK, it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.  This also applies if you are riding pillion.  While there are lots of great looking helmets out there, safety and protection is key.  Therefore you should only wear one that meets the following standards:

  • British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark
  • UNECE Regulation 22.05
  • a European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark

If you are in anyway unsure that the helmet you are wearing, or plan to wear, meets the regulations, you can check out the SHARP helmet tool for further guidance.

Which helmet is right for me?

The most obvious answer is a safe one, but there are decisions to be made when it comes to design and style.  Again, the SHARP tool can help you to identify if your helmet is road legal, and as a general rule full faced helmets offer a far higher level of protection than cool-looking open faced ones do.

NEVER skimp on your motorcycle helmet.  After all, you cannot put a price on safety, especially when it comes to protecting your head.  Always buy the best motorcycle helmet you can afford.

Pillion riders and children

If you are planning to take your partner or child out riding pillion, it is a legal requirement that they wear a helmet too. Adult pillion riders should opt for the same type of helmet as you, while children and young adults should ensure that they have their helmets professionally fitted to their heads.  As always, full-face helmets, or in some cases dual-sport style helmets offer more protection than open-face ones. 

If budgets are tight, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a quality helmet. Check out our guide to the best cheap motorcycle helmets.  We’ve highlighted the helmets that offer top levels of protection without breaking the bank.

If you can stretch to it a top-line helmet can be tailored to fit the shape of your head perfectly.  These can be configured with different thickness cheek pads to ensure a snug fit.

Protect your eyes too…

All full-face helmets will come with a visor, which you can lift up and down.

However open-face helmets are a popular choice too. Some of these also come with a visor and others don’t. Many riders also opt to invest in a pair of goggles or a separate visor, which you can clip onto some open face helmets.  These will keep your eyes free from dirt and dust on the road, keep the rain out and shield you from the sunshine.

As with helmets, there are safety regulations to which your goggles of visor must comply with.  They must display either:

  • A British Standard BS BSI Kitemark
  • Or a European standard to the equivalent of the British and carries a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark

It’s not just your head that needs protecting..

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You can have the best motorcycle helmet in the world, but if your arms, legs and the rest of your body is exposed, you could still do a lot of damage on the road.

Protective motorcycle clothing is available for a reason – to help keep your limbs and internal organs as safe as possible should the worst happen.  While there is no legal requirement to wear leathers or similar protective clothing, you would, quite literally, be mad not to.

Leathers are the most common articles worn by riders and come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, from one piece suits to separates, and come in a range of different styles to suit the rider.  Here are some of the best out there:


These are also an important piece of your protective motorcycle wear, and these should be strong enough to withstand daily use and abrasion in the case of an accident, while still allowing you easy movement of your fingers. Invest in the best pair of motorbike gloves you can afford, not only will they protect your hands from the elements, they could also save your skin (quite literally) if you have a crash and land hands-first.


Vitally important to not only keep you warm on the open roads, but also to protect your upper body while you ride.  Choose from summer mesh textile jackets, to winter waterproof jackets, sports, long or short jackets or even those that come with a zip to attach them directly to your trousers.  Some motorcycle jackets also come with thermal lining, padding and even removable armour on the shoulders and elbows.


More decisions to be made here as you choose from all-weather waterproof motorcycle touring trousers, relaxed style cruiser trousers, tighter fitted racing leather trousers or even extra roomy dirt bike trousers.  All motorcycle trousers are designed to offer better protection than just wearing jeans.

One piece suits do exactly what they say on the tin, and offer head to toe protection, and are a great choice for track racing but they’re not the best option for road riders as they’re not that comfortable, are more awkward for walking and require sliding off when you need the toilet!

Your motorcycle gear can come in a variety of materials including leather, denim, and synthetic mixes. The price tends to increase when more materials are used or when the materials are high-end, like goatskin leather and Gore-Tex membranes.

Waterproofs and thermals

Riding in the UK can be a sometimes mean braving through the wettest and iciest of weather conditions.  It makes sense to wear a set of under-layers, as they help to keep you warm.  I’d also advise on carrying a waterproof top, which you can slide on should the heavens open. They’re a great way of ensuring you stay dry.

High Visibility Clothing

Be safe, be seen. High visibility clothing is also a worthwhile investment if you plan to ride on the roads.  These simple items of clothing will ensure that you are seen by other road users, and for the sake of a few quid, they can literally be the difference between life and death. High viz safety vests are easy to come by and can be slipped over your usual gear on the go.

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