Motorcycle Gear: What You Need to Know
Motorcycles are great fun. However, they are less stable and obviously more open than automobiles, posing a higher risk of injury or death. In fact, it is estimated that the number of deaths on motorcycles, per mile traveled, was over 27 times the number of in cars. So it should come as no surprise that many motorcycle riders have geared up to hit the road -- and many brands have introduced incredibly strong, durable, and quality products to keep riders safe -- on and off the road. We at SnowBigDeal have created this guide to help riders find the right gear for themselves -- because we truly care about safety. This guide will be broken down into the various components of a proper motorcycle outfit -- Helmet, Jacket & Pants, Jerseys & Layering, Gloves, Footwear, Armor, and accessories you may want to have. Each of these categories will be broken down further by off-road, adventure, and street/touring riding types.
Helmets are 67% effective in preventing brain injuries -- and a crash on a motorcycle can pose some serious threats to the brain. So it is vital to wear a helmet -- and with new technological advances you don’t have to be uncomfortable. SnowBigDeal features a wide variety of helmets -- full-face to motocross and everything in between, and we offer them from premium brands that have earned a name for themselves like KLIM, SHOEI, and HJC. We also recommend that if you want to be able to have more control of temperature over a wider range of riding conditions that you invest in a balaclava or head sock.
Off-road & Adventure
Many helmets that are designed for off-road and adventure riding take the shape of motocross or dual-sport helmets -- due to their open design, the ability to use goggles, and the visor for keeping the sun out of your eyes. These helmets often differ the most in terms of weight, some helmets like the KLIM F4 carbon fiber and Kevlar helmet weight in at the 2.75 mark, while the HJC DS-X1 weighs in toward the 3.5 lb mark. These differences don't typically exceed a couple of pounds, but wearing one all day will make you appreciate the little things.
Street & Touring
Full-face, modular, half-face, and open-face are the helmets we recommend for street and touring rides. The full-face helmet offers the most complete protection with minimal moving parts the helmet is one solid piece -- the SHOEI X-Fourteen is a great example of a full-face helmet. Modular helmets take the same shape of full-face, with the difference being the chin of the helmet folds up making it easier to put the helmet on. Half and open-face helmets are just that, they provide a solid piece on the top of your head. Some models have shields that fold over your face, while other models fit like a child's bicycle helmet.
Jackets & Pants:
Protecting your upper-body and your legs is a somewhat difficult task and most riders choose not to wear protective jackets or pants because they are heavy, bulky, and uncomfortable. Though this may be true, modern research and development has provided new technological advances that have resulted in more comfortable gear that still allows for premium fit and function.
Off-road gear often focuses on a lightweight design, with enough durability to protect against branches, rocks, and anything that might get you on the trail. While there are pockets, they are there for smaller items, as most riders hit the trail with a backpack full of the things they need. Both the jacket and the pants are designed with a flexible, articulated-fit for off-road bikes. The KLIM Dakar series is a fantastic example of what is expected of jackets and pants by those who use them.
Adventure riding is very comparable with Off-road riding with the main difference being adventure riding is a several day trip versus a quick rip up the mountain, so when it comes to designing the gear riders want there is a lot of time invested into cargo and storage. Adventure gear is not as lightweight as off-road, but it provides more durable materials, more adjustable ventilation and much more cargo options for the long-haul. Many of the KLIM adventure jackets have a hydration system contained within the jacket itself. One example of a fantastic adventure setup is the KLIM Adventure Rally Series.
Street & Touring Outerwear:
Street & Touring refers to the type of riding that occurs on r oads, not so much off them, so the gear needs to stand up to asphalt and other similar surfaces. Many of the jackets and pants that we recommend for this type of riding have a casual look that makes it easy to buzz around town all day or hit the high road for the coast. The jackets and pants also have to be extremely comfortable, as many riders end up in the seat for hours at a time, day after day. KLIM's Kodiak series is a prime example of touring gear, while the KLIM 626 Series embodies the street side of riding.
Jerseys & Layering
Layering may have been around for years, but KLIM reinvented the concept of outerwear and the way to wear it when they introduced the Aggressor and Solstice layering systems, and of course the new Teton Merino wool series.
KLIM’s Aggressor Cool -1.0 has a unique chemical-free material that wicks moisture and helps maintain a cool body temperature, which is great for those of us who sweat and got extremely warm. The Aggressor 1.0 is similar, with flat-lock seams that don’t irritate the skin and moisture wicking material they keep you covered all day.
The Aggressor 3.0 is the warmest in the Aggressor series, with a quarter zip design and a piece to cover your neck; it will keep you warm and dry all day. Then of course, the Teton Merino wool collection offers the most warmth of any of the base layers KLIM offers, and it still wicks moisture – which is essential to riding in comfort.
Jerseys are great for the track – they keep the elements off of you from dust to rocks. The KLIM Dakar and Mojave jerseys are incredibly ventilated and designed to fit perfectly. Most jerseys are made to fit over chest protectors too, for those who tear it up at the track.
Keeping your hands and fingers out of the elements is important -- whether those elements are dust, rocks, trees, wind, or rain gloves will keep them protected. Most motorcycle gloves are lighter weight and non-insulated -- this helps reduce bulk increasing dexterity and improving grip. Off-road gloves often have very little material and offer the best in ventilation, whereas street and touring gloves have loads of protective elements, extremely durable materials, and minimal ventilation. Many of the adventure gloves that KLIM makes, such as the KLIM Quest glove, have PORON XD. The protective material stays flexible for the ride but hardens to provide impact protection. Windstopper materials also prevent the wind from blowing through the glove and causing a chill.
Another extremely important element to riding is finding the right pair of riding boots or shoes, and with so many options it can be hard to decide. Many riding boots are constructed from high-grade leather and can feature metal pieces in high-wear and abrasion areas. With a wide range of styles -- like the race styled Impulse Air Boot or the casual Vice WP Shoe -- it adds to the process of what boot to get. Make sure to pair them with a sock that works best for you -- the KLIM Mammoth Sock offers the most warmth, while the KLIM Vented Sock provides a lighter weight sock.
It is no shocker that motorcycle crashes can be extremely dangerous, some result in death. So when it comes to the clothing you wear we recommend ensuring that the garment offers the ability to house armor. All of the KLIM Adventure and Street/Touring gear comes either with D3O protective armor or the capability for it, and most of the Off-road jackets and pants do as well. D3O protective armor is a unique padding that is malleable enough to stretch with the user, but upon impact hardens.