What to wear (and what to avoid…)
Whatever the time of the year, it is important to always wear the correct protective clothing.
While there's no greater feeling than climbing on your moped or motorbike and going for a ride during the summer months, taking a tumble - even at low speeds – can be a painful experience.
You need a helmet, strong and sturdy boots, proper biking gloves and a trouser/jacket combination that will offer your skin and bones some protection in the event of a fall.
No matter what you're riding always wear protective clothing such as leathers or textiles. They may look hot and clumsy, but for the warmer months you can get ultra cool summer trousers and jackets with strong mesh panels for maximum airflow that are both waterproof and breathable to keep sweat down.
Fortunately, there is a suite of European Standards specifically produced to enable motorcyclists’ clothing to be tested and certified according to product safety legislation. Approved clothing, footwear, gloves and impact protection carries the CE and/or UKCA marks. This is a highly specialised topic in itself, so we will be producing supplementary information for anyone who wishes to have more detail about the legislation and standards.
You are always better with a full-face helmet. An open-face helmet is appealing in hot weather, but it won’t offer as much protection as a full-face model. However, there are options that give you the best of both worlds. Look out for full helmets with a chin guard hoop and a sun visor built in, or open-face models with full visor and extended cheek guards.
All motorcycle helmets must meet one of the following standards:
• British Standard BS 6658:1985 (and carry the BSI Kitemark)
• UNECE Regulation 22.05 (which has now been superseded by 22.06, although 22.05 helmets can continue to be sold for the time being)
• 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)
In addition, goggles and visors must meet either:
• A British Standard (and display a BSI Kitemark)
• 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 22.05/22.06)
It is important to wear riding gloves or gauntlets. Buy two sets: a heavy-duty pair that will keep your hands warm in the winter, and a lighter pair with mesh panels, or ventilation on the back of the hands, to stop you getting sweaty palms when the weather is warmer.
European Standard EN 13594:2015 assesses gloves for their abrasion resistance, cut resistance and seam strength at two performance levels: 1 (lowest) and 2 (highest). Knuckle protection is optional at level 1, but mandatory at level 2. Gloves will be marked 1, 1+KP or 2 KP. Similarly to footwear (see below), short, cuff length gloves can only achieve Level 1, whereas longer gloves can be Level 1 or Level 2. We recommend a minimum of Level 1+KP in either a short or a long glove.
Modern textile riding jackets and trousers are much lighter than leather and feature mesh panels to allow plenty of airflow and keep you cool. Kit like the WEISE Air Spin suit has CE-approved armour throughout, for added protection.
Some, like the Rev-It’s Turbine ladies’ jacket, combine mesh with a breathable waterproof membrane to keep you dry in sunshine and rain. They can also be stylish enough to wear everyday, not just when you are riding.
It's a really good idea to consider jackets and shirts that include a Kevlar lining which provides additional protection should you ever come off your bike or scooter.
Jackets are covered by European Standard EN 17092:2020, which tests the abrasion resistance and tear strength of materials, plus seam strength. Jackets will be marked A (lowest level of performance – generally only considered suitable for low speed, urban riding), AA (intermediate level) and AAA (highest level). Shoulder and elbow protectors conforming to European Standard EN 1621-1:2012 must be fitted. Back protectors conforming to EN 1621-2:2014 and chest protectors conforming to EN 1621-3:2018 are optional. Some more expensive jackets are fitted with an airbag that protects the back and chest, or will accept one being added. We recommend that you consider jackets marked AA or AAA, unless all your riding will be completed at very low urban speeds, when A may be sufficient.
Kevlar-lined riding jeans are a popular choice with scooter riders during the warmer months. Although they look and feel like normal jeans, super-strong Kevlar panels are attached inside around the hips, knees and bottom.
Trousers are also covered by European Standard EN 17092:2020 and those marked “A” must feature knee protectors conforming to European Standard EN 1621-1:2012, whereas both hip and knee protectors are required to be fitted into AA and AAA garments. We recommend that you consider trousers marked AA or AAA, unless all your riding will be completed at very low urban speeds, when A may be sufficient.
Never jump on a motorbike or scooter wearing trainers or anything even less substantial. The first thing that will hit the floor in the event of a tumble will be the soles of your feet or your ankles, so make sure you've got plenty of protection in the form of riding boots.
If you can’t face wearing high boots for quick journeys around town, there are plenty of short, paddock-style boots with impact protection and proper fastenings for a secure fit. They are comfortable to wear on and off the bike, and include a waterproof membrane which will keep your feet dry in summer showers.
The European Standard for motorcyclists’ footwear is EN 13634:2017. Footwear is divided into low boots (those fitting to just above the ankle joint) and higher boots. The labelling on footwear will feature four digits; either 1 or 2. The first digit refers to the height (1 = lower boot, 2 = higher boot), and the next three cover the results from testing for abrasion resistance, cut resistance and transverse rigidity (the footwear’s resistance to sideways crushing such as occurs when the foot is trapped under the bike) and these will be level 1 (lowest) or level 2 (highest). We recommend that you choose footwear where the second, third and fourth digits are all 2s, as these will provide the best abrasion, cut and crush resistance.