What clothes should I wear when riding?

Motocross rider on dirt bike in a forest trail, navigating a forest path.

May 18, 2020

Buying motorcycle gear can be both exciting and overwhelming, with the hundreds of different styles, protection, materials, it can be hard to know where to start. Obviously, you want to keep the focus on motorcycle safety, but there are so many different brands of motorcycle apparel out there that you’ll easily find one that keeps you safe on the road and that you actually want to wear every time you go for a ride.

A motorcycle helmet is every rider’s best friend and your main protection on the road. Your helmet needs to be approved to meet the standards that are set out in your specific state’s government road rules, but that doesn’t have to mean choosing a helmet that you don’t love.

One essential thing to remember is that you should never purchase a secondhand helmet, given that you can’t know for certain the wear and damage it might have. You should also make sure you are looking for a helmet that has great ventilation and is made out of lighter materials. This doesn’t mean it will have less shock absorption but will be more comfortable to wear.

The three different types of helmets are:

  • Full face and flip-up
  • Open face helmet
  • Dual-purpose helmet

We recommend the full face or dual-purpose helmet, given that the open face helmet can result in bugs or rocks flying towards the face and impacting the ride, as well as potentially causing injury. The other two types provide much better protection and still have flexibility in having a completely enclosed or more open style.

The full face and flip-up helmets have a chin bar to cover the lower face and jaw. We recommend clear visors as tinted visors are illegal to use at nighttime. The Dual-purpose helmet allows for a bit more freedom, with a partially open face that allows for MX goggles, or to be worn with the included face shield. This can be the perfect mix for any riders who want to be riding off road and open road.

Once you’ve found the perfect helmet, you need to make sure it’s snug. Try twisting it from side to side, making sure it will do its job if you find yourself in a bad situation on the road.

Gloves and boots
Whilst you might have some gloves and boots lying around at home, normal gloves and boots won’t provide the grip and safety you need for riding. When picking out gloves, you’ll need to be thinking about what type of riding you’ll be doing. Is it cold and rainy often where you live? Do you need something more comfortable for long rides? You should also consider how extra details might affect your rides like studs, stables, or sharp edges that might cut into you if you fell, or just generally irritate you whilst you’re riding.

Similarly with motorcycle boots, they are made specifically for riding and have no laces, buckles, or extra parts that could get caught in the bike or could catch in a crash. You should also keep in mind that not all boots were made equal – the fabric makes a big difference. When it comes to motorcycle apparel you should treat yourself to some good quality boots, ideally made out of the strongest grade leather or synthetics, such as resin-impregnated microfibre.

As with all motorcycle gear – always check the size is right. Test out your gloves and boots, move around in them and see how it is going to feel when you are riding before you commit.

Jacket and pants
Jackets and pants can be the best pieces to buy, and they don’t have to be leather! There are plenty of different synthetic materials such as Cordura®, Gore-tex®, Kevlar® and Dyneema® which can be combined to provide the same level of weather protection and safety. A lot of them even come with extra spine support and higher impact absorption levels, like a built-in body-armour.

Make sure they are comfortable, not too tight so that they are restricting, but not loose and bunching up around yourself whilst you are riding.

Different terrains – city vs dirt track
Are you going off-roading or adventuring with your motorcycle or dirt bike? Then you should be looking into different types of gear. When you are travelling off-road you need a lighter helmet with better ventilation to promote airflow as you are going to be more engaged with the bike and moving a lot more than if you were just riding down a highway. They also tend to have large eye ports to accommodate goggles, which stops dust getting sifted up into your visor and blocking your vision whilst you ride. This doesn’t mean you don’t need a standard helmet for when you aren’t off-roading, however, as they tend to be less weather-resistant due to the lightweight nature and allow a lot of noise which can be very distracting on a highway.

You can also look into lighter weight pants and jackets for dirt bike riding or off-roading, any time that you are going to be working up more of a sweat and need to avoid fatigue. You’ll also want to invest in a jacket and pair of pants that take grazes and abrasions exceptionally well with off-roading.

Another important thing for off-roading: boots. Whilst they can be heavier than street boots, they provide much more padding and protection for any misplaced rocks or unexpected falls, and you’ll thank yourself for the investment later.

Whether you’re a first time or expert rider picking the right motorcycle gear can make all the difference in your ride, so if we can leave you with any advice it’s to invest in the gear that is the most comfortable and will keep you safe in the worst-case scenario.

Perhaps the most important form of protection however, is motorcycle insurance. Make sure you and your ride are protected, with Swann Insurance. We are a motorbike insurance provider in Australia who have a range of cover options available. For a quick quote, click here.