Save your skin

Impact and abrasion are the most common types of injuries for motorcyclists. It doesn’t matter what size bike you ride or how fast you go protective clothing is an essential part of your kit.

Even though total protection doesn’t exist, wearing protective gear could make the difference between getting a few bruises and sustaining more serious injuries.

Your helmet

Protects your head

  • Not only is it the law but it is the most important piece of protective equipment you will wear.
  • Never buy a second hand helmet you don’t know what’s happened to it.
  • All helmets worn on UK roads must either
    • Meet British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark.
    • Meet UNECE Regulation 22.05.
    • Meet a European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.

Getting the right fit is vital

  • A correctly fitted helmet significantly increases your chances of surviving a crash.
  • If your helmet moves around on your head it won’t protect you in a crash.
  • Before trying on helmets make sure you know your head size, measure around your head just about the ears.
  • Make sure it fits firmly on your head.
    • Remember the two finger rule, the strap should be tight enough that you can only get two fingers between the strap and under your chin.
    • Check the fit, if the helmet slips or moves it’s probably the wrong size.
  • Look for the SHARP rating system. This is an independent rating system that helps you make a more informed choice when choosing a helmet. When you think motorcycle helmet safety, think SHARP - THE HELMET SAFETY SCHEME (dft.gov.uk)

Take care of your it and it will take care of you

  • To get the best protection from you motorcycle helmet you need to keep it in top condition, always follow the manufactures instructions.
  • Consider replacing it every five years as this around the life of a helmet or for more frequent use replace every three years.

Visor or goggles

When riding you should always use a visor or goggles, they must either:

  • Meet a British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark.
  • Meet a European standard offering at least the same safety and protection as the British Standard and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark (UNECE Regulation 22.05).

Before setting off, make sure your visor is clean and free of smudges, scratches or marks which could affect your vision, especially in strong sunlight.


When you crash the first thing you’ll do is put your hands out to protect yourself, it can take less than a seconds contact with the road to remove the skin from your hands!

  • Never ride without wearing specialist gloves.
  • It’s important that your gloves fit correctly. Uncomfortable or ill-fitting gloves could cause discomfort and may affect the movement of your hand and fingers.
  • Ideally you need a different pair of gloves for winter and summer to help keep your hands safe all year round.
    • In winter your gloves need to keep your hands warm and dry as cold hands could affect your hand movements. Gortex, Cordura and other similar materials have good thermal properties as well as water-resistance.
    • Summer gloves can be lightweight but they need to provide good abrasion resistance.
  • If the manufacturer claims the gloves are protective they must carry a permanently attached CE label EN 13594:2002.

There are lots of different types of protective gloves. Ask your local motorcycle clothing dealer for advice on which type of gloves would be best for you.


There is no law about wearing motorcycle protective clothing, but it is highly recommended as it could save your life.

  • Riding in every day clothes puts you at serious risk of injury. A 30mph short slide on tarmac will shred your clothes and take skin down to the bone in no time.
  • Wearing a protective jacket and trousers with the appropriate protective padding and armour will offer you very good protection against abrasion in a crash.

Whether you go for leather or textile make sure your protective clothing is comfortable and fits well without being too tight. When trying on clothing sit on a bike to make sure it is comfortable as you will spend most of your time wearing the gear on your bike.

Leather gear

  • The better the quality and thickness the better protection provided.
  • Leather should be at least 1.2mm thick. However if it’s too thick it will be uncomfortable and will restrict your movements.
  • You are more likely to skid along the road if you fall off wearing leather.
  • A good quality leather will withstand a long 60mph slide on a pavement.
  • It will keep you warm in winter but can be hot in summer.
  • You will need to treat your leather from time to time to keep it water proof.
  • You may need to wear a one or two piece waterproof over suit to help keep you dry in winter or harsher weather.

Textile gear

  • This is light weight and cooler in summer.
  • You are more likely to roll when you are wearing textile protective gear.
  • Will frequently sacrifice itself to save the wearer and is often not usable after a long slide on a pavement.

Casual Kevlar

  • These are made of heavy duty denim and Kevlar weave which provide good abrasion protection.

How do I know it’s the protective gear?

  • If the manufacturer claims the jacket or trousers are protective they must carry a permanently attached CE label EN 13595.

Body armour and back protectors

  • Integrated body armour gives enhanced protection at the elbows, back, shoulders, hips and knees and any protective wear that has body armour must carry a permanently attached CE label EN 1621.
  • Investing in a back protector is a good idea as wearing one could lesson certain injuries if you crash.


Statistics show that 19% of hospital admissions for biking injuries involved broken bones in the lower leg, making it the most likely part of the body to get injured. (NHS Hospital admissions due to motorcycle injuries 1997-2008)

Wear protective footwear. Never wear steel toe capped work boots as these are capable of cutting through your toes in a crash. Flip flops, high heeled shoes or trainers should also be avoided.

  • The best boots offer all round protection for the toes, ankle and lower leg.
  • Make sure they fit properly - you don’t want them too tight or too loose.
    • Too tight and you’ll end up with numb feet.
    • If they’re too loose they could affect your control of the bike and you may end up with blisters.
  • Choose a good quality pair, the better the quality the better the protection provided.
  • Strong soled boots are important as feet tend to get crushed sideways in a crash and cheap boots may split and tear against the road surface.
  • If the manufacturer claims the boots are protective they must carry a permanently attached CE label EN 13634.