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Protective Motorcycle Clothing
 
 
 

WHAT’S THE BEST MOTORCYCLE CLOTHING FOR SUMMER AND WINTER?

 
 
 
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The internet is filled with top 10 guides touting the best summer and winter motorcycle clothing. The ones we’ve seen often polarize seasonal riding conditions - it’s a narrative that makes life easy for the marketing department but, not one that works on two wheels.

As global warming blurs the lines between the seasons, it’s getting harder to predict what the riding conditions will be like at any given time of year. Yes, a thick sheep-skin lined coat will keep you riding through the icy depths of winter and equally, a jacket littered with vents and mesh panels is well suited to riding across a desert. The problem with clothing designed for a very specific set of riding conditions is that, for the rest of the time, we’d wager it’ll sit unused in your wardrobe. It doesn’t make sense for your wallet or the environment.

 

A SYSTEM OF LAYERING - ALL YEAR / ANY WEATHER

Motorcycles move faster than the weather - what might be right for the beginning of a trip may not be right two hundred miles down the road. Through the countless hours spent testing our prototypes year-round, in all weathers; we’ve found that rather than thinking of motorcycle clothing in terms of summer and winter, it makes more sense to think of it as a year-round layering system. Each layer having a different but complementary function that can be added or removed depending on how conditions vary.

The concept of clothing as a layering system was pioneered through mountaineering and as such, the theory underpinning this is centred around long periods of sustained activity. On a motorcycle it’s different. When riding, our bodies aren’t moving and so we don’t generate much heat. What’s there is soon snatched away by the wind.

 
 
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The key to a layering system working on a motorcycle is to appreciate the effects of windchill. Time and again, we’ve set off on a summer ride with just a t-shirt under a jacket - only to have wished for an extra layer as we’ve pulled onto the motorway… sound familiar? In winter, the effects are compounded. At 70mph, windchill will reduce a temperature of 10°C to 3.6°C. An hour of that and only a hot shower will save you.

On a motorcycle, each layer needs to act as a dense barrier. Stopping the wind cutting through allows the trapped air between layers to warm up and insulate. It’s the opposite if you want to cool down, remove the number of barriers and your body temperature will drop. To account for windchill, as a loose rule we’ve found that when riding in the summer, wearing one extra layer to what you’d normally wear is about right. In winter, we’d recommend two.

Below, we’ve broken down each layer of the system - highlighting the properties and types of clothing we believe are important for each.

 
 
 

OUTER LAYER

Summer + Winter motorcycle jackets


 

All layers play their part but none more so than the outer. Whether it’s summer or winter, a motorcycle jacket is your first line of defence - it needs to protect against wind, rain, impact and abrasion.

 

WIND:

Any drafts entering at your wrists or neck will funnel air directly onto your core. The key to staying warm is to ensure these three entry points can be sealed tight. Conversely, to stay cool, look for a jacket that also allows these to be loosened. The best jackets have a double zip to allow the front of the garment to open from the bottom so that more air can pass through. If you’re riding in very hot climates, jackets that have vents will allow for more air to pass through. The trade-off being that vents create more places for drafts to get through - something you’ll notice when it’s cold. In our experience, it’s only when temperatures get close to 30°C that you start to need vents.

RAIN:

Staying dry when it starts to rain is half the battle won. Vital to this is having a seam-sealed layer. What this means… some jackets have a waterproof outer fabric, others have a drop liner that sits behind a protective outer shell. After constructing the waterproof layer, a tape is laminated along the seams - sealing the hundreds of holes created by the needle during the sewing process. Of the two options we’d recommend the latter - if you rely on the outer layer to be waterproof, any snag during a trip will puncture the layer and let water through. Water Resistant (WR) fabrics are normally achieved through a light fluorocarbon chemical finish that sits on the surface of a fabric. This is a coating and so will rub off. Be careful with these, what may seem waterproof when new but won’t be for long.

IMPACT:

A motorcycle outer layer should include Elbow, Shoulder + Back protection. There are various options on the market. We chose to work with D3O because it has the ability to mould to the shape of your body, and so the armour is less noticeable when worn. We prefer a jacket that has removable armour so that you can wear it when not riding - getting more use from the garment day to day.

ABRASION:

All outer layers should incorporate an abrasive resistant layer. Some only have protection in certain areas (elbow / shoulder / upper back). We don’t think it’s possible to know how you’re going to fall and so we highly recommend a jacket that has abrasive protection throughout. There are various options on the market, we work Dyneema®. For twenty-five years this has been the World's strongest, most durable yarn. On a weight basis, it's fifteen times stronger than steel and 40% stronger than Kevlar.

To read our manual on what we believe makes the best protective motorcycle clothing, click here.

 
 
 
 

EVERSHOLT JACKET

8oz Waxed Cotton Shell. Dyneema Lining Throughout. Removable D3O Armour. Seam Sealed Waterproof Membrane. Signature Three-button Storm Baffle. Double Zip Guard. Storm Cuffs. Adjustable Billow Pockets. Internal Chest Pockets. Brushed Wool Collar. Horn Buttons.

 
 
 
 
 
 

MID LAYER

LIGHTWEIGHT ARMOURED JACKETS / PROTECTIVE OVERSHIRTS / KNITWEAR


 

For your mid-layer, garments need a mix of the windproof and armoured features of the outer layer along with the thermal properties of the base layers. The best Mid Layers hold removable armour - allowing them to double as light-weight jackets when the weather allows.

 

WIND:

Like the outer layer, it’s important that the Mid Layer has the ability to close the cuff and neck tight. Sealing these will keep you warmer for longer. Assuming there’s a front opening, look for a garment that has both buttons and a zip. Depending on the conditions, this gives you the double benefit of cutting out wind when needed or allowing air to pass through on warmer days. Zips that have a windproof coating do a better job of cutting drafts. The windproof and thermal qualities of Mid Layers are determined by the fabric construction. Look for dense fabrics to create the best barrier against the wind. In our search to find and develop the best performing fabrics, we’ve found that Melton Wool offers the best combination of windproof and thermal qualities. However, if you ride in warmer climates more often, we’d suggest a heavyweight cotton twill or canvas around the 12-14oz mark.

IMPACT:

The best Mid Layer should hold removable Elbow, Shoulder + Back protection so that they can be worn as a lightweight jacket when the weather allows. We work with D3O because of its ability to mould to the body and so become less noticeable when worn. We’d recommend a Mid Layer that incorporates armour into an overshirt or garment that you’re also likely to wear off the bike. It makes sense to be able to get as much use out of a product from day-to-day.

ABRASION:

Mid Layers offer varying levels of abrasive resistant protection. For the reasons mentioned above, we used Dyneema panels in ours. We’d always advocate wearing as much protection as possible, however, it’s worth noting that when you’re likely to wear a garment like this as an outer (around town / rides along country lanes) there’s more chance of impact before you slide for long enough to wear through a fabric. The synthetic fibres that make up abrasive resistant fabrics have poor thermal qualities and therefore, there can be a trade-off here with Mid Layers that focus on abrasive resistance.

 
 
 
 

HOCKLIFFE OVERSHIRT

8oz Waxed Cotton Shell. Dyneema Lining Throughout. Removable D3O Armour. Seam Sealed Waterproof Membrane. Signature Three-button Storm Baffle. Double Zip Guard. Storm Cuffs. Adjustable Billow Pockets. Internal Chest Pockets. Brushed Wool Collar. Horn Buttons.

 
 
 
 
 
 

BASE LAYER

SWEATSHIRTS / LONGSLEEVE T-SHIRTS / THERMAL BASELAYERS


 

These are the layers worn closest to your body. They need to fit well, trap heat and above all be comfortable to wear. When you stop for lunch, more often than not these are the layers that you won’t bother to take off and so, it helps if they look good too.

 

WIND:

Most sports base layers follow theories pioneered through mountaineering and, therefore, have been designed to cope with long periods of sustained activity. As such, Merino fibres are often used because their hollow core pulls moisture away from the skin. On two wheels, our bodies aren’t generating nearly as much heat and moisture isn’t so much of an issue. Through testing, we’ve found that instead of focusing on the fibre, it’s more important to concentrate on the density of the knit. We’d recommend looking for interlock jerseys - a fabric created by ‘locking’ roughly twice the amount of yarn into a single thickness of jersey. This is the best construction to block wind and trap heat. Garments with any additional windproof properties will make a big difference on longer rides and when the temperature starts to drop. For fit, it’s key that the arms and body are cut long so that wrists and lower back remain covered. Details such as a grip tape around the hem will ensure the garment will stay seated around your waist when reaching forward. By heating trapped pockets of air, two thin layers can be warmer than one thick layer. Layering garments will allow you to regulate your body temperature depending on how conditions vary.

 
 
 
 

CARDINGTON SWEATSHIRT

Dense 400 G/M Interlock Jersey. Internal Windproof Front Panel. Grip Tape Around Hem. Low Profile Neckline. Arm + Body Cut Long. Buttoned Chest Pocket. Star Supima Cotton.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What Makes The Best Protective Motorcycle Clothing?

 
 
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Dyneema, D3O, Kevlar, Armalith, Cordura, Dynatec, Forcefield… when it rains it pours. For those stepping out of their leathers for the first time, no doubt your head will be swimming with the various types of abrasive resistant fabrics and armour inserts used in protective motorcycle clothing. For those well versed in the options available, we'd wager that the claims made against each have now blended into a low hum… we should all be paying better attention but let's be honest, we'd all rather be planning the next trip.

To cut through it all, we thought it'd be helpful to explain the thought process we went through when we choose which combination would provide both the highest level of protection on the bike, and the greatest level of comfort off the bike. Fortunately for us, the process was really simple.

 
 
 

Protection : Abrasion Resistant Fabrics


Our goal is to produce the World's best protective motorcycle clothing and so when selecting an abrasive resistant fabric, regardless of costs, we knew that we were searching for the World's strongest, most durable yarn. For twenty-five years, that has been Dyneema®. On a weight basis, it's fifteen times stronger than steel and 40% stronger than Kevlar.

Being the lightest of all of the abrasive resistant yarns, it can be woven into a lighter fabric without having to compromise on strength. In terms of design, this allows us to engineer a product of unparalleled protection without producing a garment that feels heavy when worn.

Having tested a variety of the options, we found that aramid-based fibres trap heat and can become clammy when worn for any length of time, especially when close to the skin. As a thermally conductive fibre, Dyneema® moves heat away from your body and so the fabric stays cool against the skin - ideal for riding in the summer months.

The one concern that's been levelled at Dyneema® is that with a melting point of 145°C, during a crash the fibre would melt. Having done our research, we learnt that Dyneema® has been used in protective motorcycle apparel for almost ten years - worn by thousands of people, in different climates, across the world. To our knowledge, there have been no cases of the melting point being an issue. For us, the weight of these numbers was enough to dispel any concerns.

 
 
 

Protection : Armour Inserts


Equally important to abrasion resistance is impact protection. When we began our search, of the options available on the market, by far and away the best was D3O.

Based on non-Newtonian principles, during normal use, the D3O® compound bends and flexes allowing for free movement. On impact, the molecules lock together to absorb and dissipate energy, reducing the transmitted force before instantly returning to their original state. The high levels of performance achieved by this technology mean that the armour can deliver the same level of protection as other armour alternatives whilst having a much lower profile.

Stepping out of the lab for a moment, less bulk and the ability to mould to the shape of your body makes for an armour that's more comfortable and less noticeable when worn on and off the bike. For us, this ticks all the boxes.

 
 
 
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We currently have two products that incorporate both D3O® and Dyneema® - the Eversholt Jacket & Hockliffe Overshirt. For more information on these, please follow the links below.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

WHAT TO TAKE ON A MOTORCYCLE TRIP

 
 
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Over the past few years, we’ve been fine-tuning what’s been going into our bags - keeping track of what we've needed and what we could've done without. Over time, this list has become the starting point for many of our trips. As such, we thought it might be of use to others and so wanted to share it. We’re not saying this is gospel, in fact, we’d like to hope that by putting this out, those of you who have learnt any tricks will get in touch so that this kit list can continue to evolve.

This list is a starting point – you will need to measure your plans against what you pack. If you don’t think you'll camp, you won’t need a tent. Consider how long you’ll be away, the distances you’ll cover, how remote you will be and the climates you'll encounter.

The tools we’ve listed will get you out of most situations but, only if you know how to use them. Before setting off, it’s worth understanding the sorts of terrain you’ll pass through and how they will affect your bike. An evening or two spent mastering the basics at home will pay dividends by the roadside.

For those less mechanically minded - don't let a lack of knowledge stop you carrying a tool roll. If you break down and don’t know how to fix a problem, someone you meet might. Having the right spanner to hand will make this a lot easier. Nearly everyone who’s been on a motorcycle trip has a story of how someone helped them out of a tricky spot. Were all in it together and that’s the way it should be.

 
 
 

The

The Motorcycle Expedition Kit List

 
 
 

Riding Gear

  1. Helmet

  2. Armoured, Waterproof Jacket

  3. Armoured Trousers

  4. Lightweight Armoured Top

  5. Windproof Sub-Layer

  6. Boots

  7. Gloves x2 (so you have a dry pair to hand)

  8. Earplugs (+ spares)

  9. Neck Baffle

  10. Waterproof Trousers

  11. Sunglasses

General Clothing

  1. Jeans

  2. Overshirt

  3. Warm Jumper

  4. T-Shirts

  5. Shorts

  6. Thermals

  7. Woollen Hat

  8. Lightweight Footwear

  9. Swim Shorts

  10. Underwear

  11. Socks

 
 
 

TOOL ROLL

  1. Breakdown Cover

  2. Spanners

  3. Screwdrivers

  4. Allen Keys

  5. Long Nose Pliers

  6. Mole Grips

  7. Cable Ties

  8. Chain Oil

  9. Engine Oil

  10. Small Can of WD40 (or other water repellant)

  11. Tyre Levers

  12. Spare Inner Tubes + Repair Kit or Tubeless Repair Kit

  13. Spoke Key

  14. Quicksteel (for cracked sump)

  15. Clutch + Break Leavers (in case you drop the bike)

  16. Spare Clutch + Throttle Cables

  17. Cable Repair Kit

  18. Lenth of Hose (for syphoning fuel)

  19. Superglue (for fuel leaks)

  20. Electrical Tape

  21. Spare Bulbs

  22. 2ft of Electrical Wire

  23. Spare Fuses

  24. Electrical Connectors

Kitchen

  1. Camp Stove

  2. Fuel

  3. Lighter / Fire Steel

  4. Pans

  5. Plates

  6. Mugs

  7. Cutlery

  8. Sharp Knife

  9. Water Bottle

  10. Chopping Board

  11. Peeler

  12. Can Opener

  13. Bottle Opener

  14. Small Sieve (to filter coffee)

  15. Oil

  16. Salt

  17. Pepper

  18. Dried Herbs

  19. Washing-up Liquid

  20. Scrubber

  21. Tea Towels

 
 
 

WASHBAG

  1. Shampoo

  2. Pine Tar Soap (helps relieve insect bites)

  3. Toothbrush + Paste

  4. Deodorant

  5. Mosquito Spray

  6. Suncream

  7. Pain Killers

  8. Pain Relief Gel (for aching neck / back)

  9. Basic FirstAid Kit

  10. Nail Scissors

  11. Travel Wash

  12. Needle + Thread

CAMP

  1. Tent

  2. Pillow

  3. Sleeping Bag

  4. Roll Mat

  5. Camp Chair

  6. Bush Knife

  7. Paracord

  8. Compass

  9. Luggage Straps

  10. Microfibre Towel

  11. Bike Lock

  12. Hip Flask for Whiskey

 
 
 

DOCUMENTS

  1. Passport

  2. Maps

  3. Map Case (+ net to strap to tank)

  4. Cash

  5. Driving Licence

  6. E111 Card

  7. Spare Bank Card (stored separately from wallet)

  8. Travel Insurance Detail

  9. Visas (if needed)

ELECTRICS

  1. Phone + Charger

  2. Camera + Charger

  3. Spare Camera Battery

  4. Spare Memory Cards

  5. Headphones

  6. 12v USB Power Adaptor

  7. Headtorch

  8. Electric Lantern

  9. Spare Batteries

 
 
 

 
 
 

To download a printable version of this list, please enter your details below.

 

If you have anything you’d like to add, please get in touch.

 
 
 
 

How Should Motorcycle Clothing Fit?

 
 
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‘Which size should I go for?’ is a question that we get asked a lot and understandably so. It’s a minefield. Everyone is a different size and shape. Factor in that each manufacturer has their own take on how a motorcycle clothing should fit and we’re already adrift. You may hit the jackpot in a particular size with one brand only to find that you’re miles out with another. Over the past few years, we’ve spent countless hours fine-tuning the fit of the motorcycle clothing we produce and in doing so, we’d like to think that we have a good understanding of how it should fit. We wanted to share what we’ve learnt.
 

Motorcycle Clothing : Size Charts & Fit Guides

Yes, there are guides out there but to us, most seem to be an afterthought. The ones we’ve come across follow a sizing system that has its roots in formal clothing. Herein lies the problem. Suits generally follow the same silhouette and most of the time, are worn with a shirt. The weight of the fabrics used in formal clothing only ever vary slightly and so, with a couple of body dimensions, it’s not hard to work out which size to go for.

Motorcycle Clothing is the opposite. It’s worn throughout the year in different climates the world over. Sometimes with a t-shirt, at others with layer upon layer to keep out the cold. Whether the item is textile or leather they should all have protective armour, some don’t. There are so many variables to consider that when it comes to motorcycle clothing, applying a universal sizing chart designed for formal clothing doesn't really work.

 
 
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What To Use As Your Starting Point

The best place to start is with a jacket that fits you well, even better if it’s one you ride in regularly. When searching for a jacket or overshirt to work from, consider your sub-layers. We’d recommend that you dress as if you were heading out in conditions a touch colder than average. There may be a handful of icy days that an extra layer or two may make your jacket a little tight but, if it’s that cold, hopefully you won’t be riding for too long - it’s better to have a jacket suited to the bulk of the time you spend on two wheels.

If you’re not one for heading out when the weather turns cold, be honest with yourself. You’ll be the one riding in an oversized jacket that flaps when you get up to speed. Once you’ve found a jacket to base your decision on, you’ll need to find yourself a flat surface to work from.


The Measurements To Take From Your Motorcycle Jacket

  • The first measurement that you’ll need to take is the chest. Having laid the jacket flat, run the tape across the front roughly one inch below the armholes. When measuring, always make sure that the jacket isn’t creased to give yourself an accurate reading.

  • The second measurement to take is the body length. For this, you’re searching for something called the ‘Side Neck Point’. As you might expect, this is the highest point at the side of the collar. Don’t be caught out by where the shoulder seam sits, this is sometimes moved depending on the style. Run your measure from the top edge straight down to the hem.

  • The last measurement is the sleeve. Again, make sure there aren’t any creases and then run the tape from the shoulder seam to the cuff. Once you have these dimensions, share them with the maker of your jacket. They should be able to recommend the correct size for you.

... And If The Fit Isn't Quite Right

Anyone selling a motorcycle clothing should always be happy to exchange for a different size if needed. The worst case is that you may have to wait a week or so for it to be swapped. Best if you can avoid it though, you can be sure that while you’re waiting for the postman, the weather will be perfect for a trip. If you have any questions or need some advice, please get in touch.

 
 
 
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To see our collection of specialist motorcycle clothing, please follow the link below.