With new textiles and technology, motorcycle gear has evolved a long way in the last decade, even more so in the last few years. As someone who extends the season as long as possible, rides in whatever weather the road delivers and travels long distances, having the right gear is important. My quest is to have the minimum amount of gear delivering the maximum amount of function. Given that I wear full gear whenever I ride, it’s a tall order.
Here’s the criteria I use to select gear.
- Fit. After interviewing Marc Bay, Product Manager for Joe Rocket Canada, this has moved to the top of my list. Marc explained that not only will protective armor not stay in place in a loose fitting garment, but if you do end up sliding down the pavement, the jacket grabs the ground and you keep moving, in essence until you collide with it. In addition to causing injury, the force of that collision can burst the seams and then you’re not protected at all. It also has to be comfortable in the riding position.
- Function. Here I look for abrasion resistance, tensile strength, which keeps the garment close to your body, and well-engineered and well-placed armor. I also want the garment to be waterproof and well ventilated.
- Versatility. Because I want to carry as few pieces as possible, it’s important to have as much function as possible. In decades of riding, I’ve not found raingear that has kept me dry. I now have that with my Gortex suit and it’s a beautiful feeling when it starts to rain and I don’t have to pull over to the side, root around for rain gear and struggle to put it on.
- Layerability. Bulky layers make it awkward to move, hasten the onset of fatigue and can create a safety hazard. I’m now down to three thin layers that take me through just about all weather: a Gortex riding suit with removable jacket liner, a merino wool base layer and heated gear when necessary. This has kept me comfortable for prolonged periods in below-freezing weather and through all but extremely hot conditions. Then I’m never comfortable.
- Quality. The initial outlay for good quality motorcycle gear can be steep, but if you purchase quality pieces and care for your garments, they can last for many years and miles of travel. Look for carefully constructed seams, well thought-out fasteners and I had a pair of BMW boots re-soled three times before it was time to replace them.
- Fashion. I want gear that’s feminine and flattering, whether I’m riding or stopped for lunch. Thankfully, there’s more choice than ever before, of functional gear that looks and feels good.
- Practicality. Caring for gear extends its longevity. Except for leather, most of it can be thrown in the washer and hung up to dry. I’m good with black, but lighter colours are also attractive. The problem is, even with road riding they show dust, soot, bugs and grime, thus need more care, more often, and if you’re on a long trip, that’s not practical.
Riding season is in full swing and there’s still lots of gear available. Check it out at your local retailers, trade shows and events. Most of all, put it to use riding the open road in comfort, style and safety.
Related article: How to Select Riding Apparel