Motorcycle gear: what is most important?

From helmets to gloves: our top tips for staying safe. 

Leandro Giannetti

Leandro is responsible for developing non-life insurance products, such as car insurance. His tasks include, among others, market observation, analysing the competition and defining and implementing product adaptations and innovations. Leandro has seven years of experience as a product manager.

Riding a motorcycle can give you a profound sense of freedom. However, a fall can have serious consequences when riding without adequate motorcycle equipment: a helmet, one- or two-piece suit with protectors, gloves and boots.

Helmet: take your time finding the right one

Legal regulations: In Switzerland, it is compulsory to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or scooter. These helmets have to meet the requirements of regulation ECE 22-05 or ECE 22-06. ECE 22-06 is more recent and stricter. However, even though it was released 20 years ago, ECE 22-05 helmets are also still allowed.

Buying a helmet: The best helmets for motorcycles are full face helmets, i.e. helmets with an integrated chin guard. Finding the right helmet can take time, because a helmet will only provide maximum protection if it is a good fit. Of course, this also applies to all other protective gear. To find a helmet that fits, you will first need to measure your head’s circumference. However, just as with clothing, helmet sizes may differ from one manufacturer to another. It's therefore crucial that you try them on. Experts generally advise against buying second-hand helmets, because there is often no way to tell whether they’ve already been involved in a crash.

Testing a helmet: Taking a helmet for a test drive is the best way to find out whether it is right for you in terms of how well you can see through it, its fit, weight and ventilation. There is a always a risk that, for example, the padding might compress within a short time and cause the helmet to slip, or that it will feel too tight after a while. 

Replacing a helmet: As a rule of thumb, helmets should always be replaced after about five to seven years. The same applies if they have been involved in an accident or have visible cracks. Helmet prices can vary enormously – so it is best to get advice from a specialist retailer. As with everything, a good time to pick up a bargain on your motorcycle gear will be at the end of the motorcycle season.

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Clothing: essential protection in a crash

Next to your helmet, the motorcycle clothing you wear will be the only other protection you will have in the event of a crash. So it's important to keep the following in mind. 

Material: Motorcyclists are increasingly opting for textile motorcycle suits because they are lighter and more comfortable than leather, but still very safe. However, leather is and continues to be much tougher and will provide much better protection in a crash. Thanks to the latest technologies, it is now also much more breathable and weather-resistant than it used to be. Overall, bear in mind that a one-piece suit will be less likely to slip than a jacket and trousers. In addition, you can now also buy protective motorcycle gear with integrated airbag systems.

Protectors: Protect your back, shoulders, elbows and other vulnerable areas with protectors. A lot of one-piece suits and jackets already come with integrated protectors, but they can generally also be added later on. In that case, it is especially important to make sure that the protectors are in the right place. Protectors should always cover as large an area as possible, such as not just the upper, but also the lower back, and provide adequate padding. 

Kidney belts: Some people consider them an essential part of their motorcycle gear, others find that they restrict them too much. Kidney belts protect the lower back and keep the kidney area warm while riding. They are elastic and usually made of neoprene or other high-tech materials.

You should also protect yourself when riding a scooter by wearing long trousers, a tough jacket and solid shoes. Protectors can also prove very valuable. And, just as with a motorbike, make sure to use reflectors to make sure you are clearly visible. 


Motorcycle boots: essential protective kit

Protection: Tall motorcycle boots will provide padding around the ankles and calves, and have reinforcements around the toes and heels. Ideally, they should also be both waterproof and breathable for maximum comfort. If you are riding your motorcycle all year round, it will be worth buying a lighter pair for the summer and a warmer pair – big enough to wear with thick socks – for the winter.

Fit: Boots should be wide enough at the top to allow you to tuck the bottoms of your trousers into them. They should also have Velcro or buckle fasteners for tightening them. Never buy boots with laces, because they could get caught on your bike. Zips should always be covered. 


Gloves: effective cover and protection

Protection: Gloves need to be able to provide effective protection in a crash. This is because we tend to instinctually extend our hands to buffer any falls. Figures published by the ADAC, Europe's largest automobile association, show that over 80 percent of motorcycle crashes involve the hands. This is why motorcycle gloves have to be extremely tough and resistant – just like all protective motorcycle gear.

Fit: It’s important to make sure that the ends of your gloves reach over your sleeves to ensure that none of your skin is exposed. They should also be wide enough to allow your fingers to move freely to operate all of the controls on your handlebar. Just as with boots, it might also be handy to buy a lighter and a warmer pair. 

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