Motorcycle protective clothing


This section deals with motorcycle protective clothing . . . 

Protective clothing

Introduction Skin v Bone
Boots Permanent injuries
Long Pants Boots. Walk or ride?
Gloves Denim. Regular / padded


Jackets Kevlar and Cordura
Waterproofing Gloves. Two / Three pairs
Crash and Slide Factor Jackets. Synthetic or leather ??
Ear Plugs  
A lot more about Clothing on the touring page!!   
Quiz Question The objective of motorcycle apparel is to protect  . . . .

** The bony parts
the fleshy parts**

Quiz QuestionIn motorcycle apparel tests soft body armour has proved to be less effective in protecting critical areas than hard body armour

** True/False**


Choosing protective gear

Professional racing leathers, boots, spine protector and gloves are the last word in protective clothing e.g. look at any superbike race track. Buy the best you can afford if sport biking and high speed is where you are at. A snug fit is important as leather stretches. Unfortunately they are also very warm but . . . 

It is better to sweat than to bleed!

When choosing less serious motorcycle protective gear (other than the helmet) here is a handy rule. Buy gear that offers superior protection to areas of the body where the bone is just below the surface of the skin e.g. knuckles, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Injuries that occur in these areas can take up to 2 years to heal properly as the skin being so thin has difficulty regenerating itself. Look for garments with thick soft body armour stitched into these key areas. In some quarters hard body armour is considered less effective.

Your average motorbike shop is the place to start your  shopping for your helmet, gloves and jacket. They also stock sportbiker and MX boots. Touring boots and pants are not so readily stocked and you may have to look elsewhere for these.

Check out where you will find a lot of good motorcycle clothing and some informative articles on modern protective fabrics. (Find links page on the Navigation Page) . The British motorcycle magazine RIDE is the ultimate authority on good and bad motorcycling gear.  


There is a simple formula when it comes to riding boots. The more professional the riding boot, the less comfortable it is to walk in. Generally sport bikers and MX riders do not like to walk . . . no problem!! Choose the best professional competition or MX boots you can afford that offer protection right up over the shins. All else is compromise i.e. the protection while still offering mobility.

It is for this reason that long distance bikers use strong outdoor-type boots that offer firm ankle protection. The sole must not make gear changing awkward and walking around town still comfortable. Visit a good outdoor store and ask to see boots that have been professionally graded as "Off Trail" (rather than "On Trail") . This means that they have a very stiff sole and offer good ankle protection. In the event of an accident you want a boot that will brace your ankle and a hard sole that will not bend, twist or collapse thus preventing your foot from being crushed. Remember that in non fatal accidents the most common permanent, debilitating injuries are to the feet, ankles and lower legs. 

They should have a breathable/waterproof inner layer (e.g. Gortex) which not only offers protection from rain but offers more warmth. Check out the new generation of 'Off Trail' boots with a more synthetic construction as they dry a lot quicker than the traditional leather uppers.

Some long distance off road touring dudes compromise by using a pair of soccer/hockey shin protection pads tucked into a pair of long socks when the going gets really tough.


Creating, maintaining and rejuvenating of the waterproofing of boots, jackets, gloves, tents etc is a complex subject with a variety of products within each brand name. Nikwax has a comprehensive range of interesting products and a visit to their website can be very worthwhile (Find  links page on the Navigation Page)

The Crash and Slide Factor

You need to access all your riding gear in terms of a crash and slide accident. Will your pants, jacket and gloves stay where they are meant to be or will they slide up (or down) as your body slides along the road? This means that all cuffs i.e. wrist and ankles must be securely fastened. Also the belt and Velcro fasteners (if any) around the midriff area are tight enough to keep the jacket down.

Sliding across the road on your butt causes a huge amount of heat to be generated. This means that any garment that can only take a cool iron (110 degrees C) will melt if it comes into contact with the road surface. If the fabric is also against your skin it will melt right into your flesh and make your road rash even worse.

Ear Plugs

Wearing ear plugs on long high speed tours is essential. With the 'wrong combination' of windshield and helmet, wind noise through your helmet can and will cause hearing damage over a long period of time e.g. tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ears)

  world of accessories for all your motorcycle needs

World of Accessories - Great place for all your protective motorcycling gear in Randburg, Pretoria and Somerset West

Motorcycle Pants

Pants are a big problem and to date I have not owned a pair that delivers everything I want i.e. crash and slide protection, cool in summer, warm in winter, waterproof, dries quickly, offers knee protection, looks smart and does not smell after a long hot day on the road. This sounds like a tall order but many jackets score well in all of these requirements. If you own a pair that you would like to recommend please let me know (see Contact Us on Navigation page)

Most bikers wear denim jeans but studies have shown that cotton is not resistant to the abrasive forces in a motorcycle accident. They also take a long time to dry which creates problems should it rain or you need to wash them on a long tour. There are sportbiker leather pants available but these are very hot in summer. Some stores do have other padded Kevlar pants that are a bit cooler  i.e. between R1000-00 and R2500-00 per pair! For some reason MX pants which are reasonably priced e.g. R500 - R800 are branded to the point that they cannot be worn anywhere except on the MX track.

Kulcha is an excellent South African brand of biker clothing. Stylish, comfortable and professional they are half the price of the imported stuff. The emphasis is on protection but without being excessively hot. They even have a range that allows you to wear a suit underneath. Unfortunately their website is still under construction but give it a try anyway i.e.

Draggn Jeans, an Australian make of long pants that look and fit like ordinary jeans are designed specially for crash and slide scenarios. They are lined with heat and abrasion resistant Kevlar Fibre padding. They retail for about R1400. (200USD) (Find links page on the Navigation page)

Leather chaps that fit over your regular denims are also an option and can be seen usually amongst the cruiser brigade


There is only one story with gloves and that is  . . . .protection, protection, protection. The skin around the fingers and knuckles is thin and does not heal easily. Maximum protection for high speed riding means only one thing i.e. gloves with hard Kevlar panels. 

You also need protection against the type of cold weather you are likely to expect at that time of the year. Cold hands do not give your brain the feedback it needs to control things like hard braking on slippery surfaces. Conversely desert riding in thick warm gloves can drive you nuts with the heat. This means owning two or three pairs of gloves i.e. a winter and summer pair and possibly a thin pair of inner gloves if you live where it gets really cold.

It is a good idea to give the back of your gloves a light coating of heavy duty Scotchgard or any another waterproofing product suitable for leather hiking boots.

Most gloves use a heavy grade of Velcro around the wrist area. Depending on the cut and design it can do a lot of damage to the inner lining of you jacket - solution? Beats me.

Keeping warm

One of the most effective ways to keep warm is with a neck tube like the one shown below.

We found existing neck tube warmers too thick and bulky under the chin strap. (After an hour of riding we had to stop for a drink - and some welcome blood to the brain!) Thus the genuine FlamesOnMyTank neck tube warmer was born providing protection both front and back without the bulk!

This nifty product can be ordered from our specials page. ** Specials **


Motorbike Jackets - Leather or Synthetic?

When choosing your motorcycle jacket you will be faced with the decision of synthetic or leather. Consider the table below which outlines some of the advantages and disadvantages of each. Note. By leather we mean a leather jacket, not brightly coloured one piece racing leathers . In all respects, racing leathers are superior if you own a sports bike which you push to the limit.

If you use your bike a lot, travel at reasonable speeds and live in a hot climate you need to invest in an air flow jacket. This is a synthetic jacket made of a mesh-type fabric that allows air to penetrate. Modern products have good protective armour and offer good crash and slide protection. In South Africa I wear mine 8 months of the year and change to leather only once winter arrives. You will need a rain suit in your luggage as the wind chill factor is significant as this jacket offers zero warmth and waterproofing protection.

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Leather Jackets

Can last as long as 30 years if looked afterDark in colour and thus affecting visibility
Classic styling prevents it looking datedHeavier in weight
A lot cheaper that synthetic jacketsNot as waterproof and is not the best choice if you intend to tour a lot.
Professional motor cyclists only use full body leather riding suits Few have zip out linings
Has an attitude, history and tradition that is hard to beatSome leather jackets are fashion garments and should not be used for serious biking
Sportbiker leather jackets have very effective soft body armour sewn into the style of the jacket. (Touring and cruiser jackets generally do not)Feels more restrictive and heavy at first
Smells great especially after it has been treatedTraditionally shorter in length
Can often be worn as a regular garment (although the sleeves are a bit long) due to a huge variety of available stylesMust be treated to keep it soft and water resistant
Does not show the dirt!Not as warm as a synthetic jacket with a winter lining. Hot and uncomfortable in very hot weather.

Synthetic Jackets (e.g. Cordura)

Brightly coloured, often with reflector stripsDoes not last as long.
Almost totally waterproof thus making it an excellent choice for touring.Styling becomes dated, begins to look grubby and the colours fade
Many have a zip out lining to cope with extremes in weather, again making it a good choice for touring.A lot more expensive
For hot countries there are special 'airflow' fabrics that allow the moving air to penetrate the jacket and keep you cool. The 'airflow' fabric mentioned alongside offers no waterproofing qualities at all. If the weather turns cooler you freeze. In this case a separate windbreaker worn over the jacket has to be used.
Usually longer in lengthCannot usually be worn as a regular garment except in extreme weather
Lighter in weightCleaning can be a complex process as damage to the waterproofing layer can result from using detergents. Visit a website like Nikwax (Find links page on the Navigation page) for a complete solution of how to maintain and rejuvenate the waterproofing qualities of the jacket
Has a body armour system sewn into the inner part of the jacket. Soft body armour is regarded to be more effective than hard.
Kevlar-lined denim-style jackets and Cargo pants are available through companies like Draggin Jeans. These garments can be comfortably worn into theatres and pubs.

Helmets     Riding Safely     Choosing a Motorcycle    Touring

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