Learning to ride a motorcycle: The right kit

You'll need protective gear, get suited and booted from head-to-toe with the right helmet, leathers or textile gear, gloves and boots

TODAY'S BIKING kit is better than ever. It's affordable too, which means everyone can enjoy the protection of quality clothing when they're out on their bike. So whether you're buying one-piece race leathers or a heated fabric suit you shouldn't have much trouble finding decent kit at reasonable prices.

Buying kit from a reputable bike shop's the best place to start. Their stock will have been built specifically for bikers, which means you'll stand a better chance of finding decent quality kit. What's more, the shop staff will be able to guide you in the right direction to make sure you end up with the best products for your needs.

Consider what bike you're likely to ride when you've passed your test. Full race leathers on a trail bike can look rather odd, and although textiles are extremely versatile their bulkiness may hamper your riding style on a cramped sportsbike.

The benefits of wearing decent protective clothing can't be emphasised enough. Good kit can be the difference between walking away or getting carted away from an accident. Nasty but true.

Do I need full race leathers?

Bikers have always been associated with leather and you may think that leather means a brightly coloured racing-replica suit, but you can get separate leather jackets, and trousers which you can mix and match with textiles. Over the last few years modern fabrics, like Cordura and Goretex, have given motorcyclists another option. Cordura is lighter than leather, more hardwearing and washable and unlike leather, it dries out quickly when wet, too.

Leather is...

  • Tough, warm and breathable
  • Looks good (not guaranteed)
  • Can be uncomfortable in hot weather
  • Not 100% waterproof
  • Dries out slowly
  • Has few pockets
  • Heavy (especially when wet)

Cordura is...

  • Extremely hardwearing
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Waterproof when used in conjunction with a Goretex liner
  • Dries out quickly
  • Warmer than leather in cold weather
  • Usually plenty of pockets
  • Not as stylish or as snug fitting as leathers
  • Bulkier than leather
  • Manmade fabrics...warm, washable and waterproof

The Golden Rule

Invest in the best kit you can and wear it every time you ride. One day you might just need it.

Part 7: Practical test | Part 9: Choosing the right bike