You've just bought that shiny new motorcycle, and you think you're all set to start riding, right?
Not so fast.
It's clothes shopping time.
Whether that statement puts dread or joy into your heart, it's a necessary chore. Motorcycle clothes are more than fashion (although motorcycle fashion can be fun), they're about safety. With that in mind, we've compiled a motorcycle accessories primer to help you out. (We cover helmets and goggles in other articles.)
Protective gear protects you, both from the elements and (to a limited extent) from the aftermath of an accident. But it also helps make your riding experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Let's look at some protective gear options, from head to toe.
Although available in many designs, face shields are categorized as either flip (meaning they can flip up) or nonflip. Make sure the shield is free from imperfections and is impact-resistant. Even tiny flaws can affect your vision, so check to see whether everything looks sharp through the shield.
Tinted shields are available for daytime driving, and can help promote eye comfort.
Motorcycle jackets offer some advantages over ordinary jackets. To compensate for riding positions, these jackets are a bit longer in the sleeves and a little bigger in the shoulders. They also have vents and flaps designed to either let air in or seal it out. Plus, some will have extra padding to help protect you in an accident.
Most motorcycle jackets are constructed out of either leather or high-tech synthetic textiles.
Leather jackets help protect you from road rash if you ever get in an accident, as well as seal out the elements. Make sure to stick with a heavier-weight leather for added protection.
Textile jackets receive high marks for abrasion resistance and wind and rain protection. These jackets are usually lighter and are better suited for warmer months. However, some come with removable liners that can help you adjust for weather conditions.
Zippered-front jackets are best at keeping the wind out. Sleeves should be narrower at the cuffs and waist for added wind protection. Collars should be short and close-fitting. For more information about buying the right jacket, read our article about buying leathers that fit.
Constructed out of one or two pieces, these suits are usually made out of lightweight materials such as nylon. Some are insulated for extra warmth.
Many suits utilize bright colors or are constructed with reflective materials to improve your visibility to others, both during the day and at night.
Rain suits offer the benefit of being waterproof while being uniquely tailored to shield riders from foul weather conditions.
Look for gloves that fit tightly enough to provide for a good grip, but not so tight that they'll block the circulation to your fingers.
Motorcycle gloves have extra material in vulnerable areas such as the fingers, palms, and knuckles to protect your hands from blisters while riding and injury, should you make contact with the asphalt. Gloves that either are seamless or only have outside seams are the best for warding off blisters.
Standard gloves stop at the wrists and might be a good option during warm weather.
Gauntlet-style gloves offer the most protection from the elements and are the best choice during cold weather. Their extra material extends the glove over the top of your jacket, keeping cold air from sneaking up your sleeves.
Fingerless gloves are lightweight but offer the least protection, leaving your fingers exposed.
Coverage is key here. Shorts might be cool and fashionable, but will not be your friend in a crash. Plus, strong winds on bare legs don't make for a comfortable ride, even on hot days. Denim jeans, especially heavyweight ones, allow decent abrasion-resistance in case of an accident, as well as some element protection.
However, leather or textile motorcycle pants provide the best overall protection from abrasions and the weather. Some come with extra padding for crash protection.
Chaps or overpants allow for another layer of warmth and safety, and they can quickly be removed once you've finished your ride.
Avoid baggy pants that might get stuck in the motorcycle's protruding parts.
Whatever footwear you choose, look for soles made out of sturdy, oil-resistant rubber that will provide an excellent grip. Over-the-ankle boots offer protection from debris and scorching hot exhaust pipes. Laceless boots lack string that could tangled.
Once you've taken care of your basic needs, you might want to consider buying one of the many other motorcycle accessories available, including:
- Tool bags
- Reflective vests
- Heated clothing
- Helmet extenders
- Leather triangles
- Bike covers
- Windshield bags
- Ear plugs
Motorcycle dealers or motorcycle shops can hook you up with the basic safety gear and motorcycle accessories. There are also plenty of online sites and catalogs that cater to motorcyclists where you can find specialized equipment.
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