The Stylish Man’s Guide To Motorcycle Gear

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The Stylish Man’s Guide To Motorcycle Gear

Is it possible to ride a bike, in safety gear, while still looking good? I’d like to think I make a decent go at it. With a little simple guidance to quality, practicality and crash-ablity, you can too. Here’s the stylish motorcycle gear guide for men in 2014. With it, you can crash a bike and walk away looking good.

If you just want to look like me, here’s the cheat sheet. The Wes-replica jacket is a Vanson AR3 ($550). I wear Deth Killers Asphalt-Resistant Jeans ($250), Corcoran Jump Boots ($120), and an Alpinestars Bionic Air Back Protector, the strap-on kind ($140). To that, add whichever ECE 22.05 helmet fits your head in either plain black or plain white. I like to wear an American Apparel Flex Fleece Hoodie ($50), and can usually be found with Racer Sicuros ($240), on my hands. There you go, put $1,500 or so on your credit card and job done.

The rest of you, who want to have your own style, while still riding in some semblance of safety, read on.

The Theory

“Do you, like, ride a motorcycle?!” Asks random pretty girl at a party/bar/any social setting. “No way, my mom says they’re dangerous.” You respond. She giggles, you smile and there you go. It can be a good look, this biker thing, provided you don’t let it turn you into Cosplayer in search of a Con. Think Marlon Brando or James Dean, not Nicky Hayden or Jorge Lorenzo.

Alpinestars Black Shadow Collection

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in head-to-toe Alpinestars, Dainese or Aerostich anytime I’m out doing something dangerous or even just commuting on the highway, but if you’re using motorcycles as transportation, there’s going to be times (likely a lot of times) that you need them to transport you somewhere full of normal people. And normal people don’t think skin-tight leather onesies are a good look.

This is the guide for those times. When you’re not dragging knee, pulling wheelies, jumping sandy gulches or battling SUVs full of texting teen moms. This is for when motorcycles are just an awesome way to get from point A to point B.

Your Friends

You have a few allies in this war against ugly motorcycle gear. Accept their help.

Color: Nothing says “biker” like black leather. You can pull black off without looking like a Schprocket or an asexual hipster. That’s because you have:

Shape: Big shoulders, narrow waist. Those are the ideal proportions of a manly man. You get to wear shoulder armor. Get a jacket that fits you right and you’re going to make every other guy look like a pansy.

Fit: Unfortunately, it’s easy to end up all baggy with your motorcycle gear. Don’t let that happen. You’re better able to define proportions and body type (even beyond what you’re naturally working with) thanks to motorcycle gear. A jacket’s shoulders should fit closely to your body without being restrictive, the torso should follow the natural taper towards your waist and that waist should fit closely to your own. And, whether it’s jacket or pants or anything else, it should fit you without bunching or excess material or sagginess.

Corcoran Jump Boots

Height: Boots don’t just keep your feet and ankles safe, they add inches. Tall is a good look for us guys.

A Seam Ripper: These handy little devices will allow you to quickly and easily remove sewn-on logos, patches, stripes and other add-on ugliness.

A Sharpie: Use one of these permanent makers to black out the brightly colored tribal fairy dragons that inexplicably find their way onto most motorcycle gear. Literally just color them in with a standard felt tip sharpie. It works.

Leather Lotion: Turn an average-looking item of leather motorcycle gear into something that looks and feels expensive in under five minutes. Sound too good to be true? Well, you are going to smell like a meat rendering plant until it dries. We like to use Pecard’s, but anything will do. Don’t hesitate or wait, just soak any item of leather motorcycle gear in lotion and be amazed as it looks more expensive while also better forming to your body. Works even better on old, distressed leather, accentuating the character while bringing it back to functional life.

Pecard Motorcycle Leather Lotion

More: The Stylish Man’s Guide To Motorcycle Gear – Page 2 >>

  • Aakash

    Showing up to a bar/house-party/classroom/office warm, dry, and happy having just zipped off your Roadcrafter or quality overpants and riding jacket is much preferable to walking in like some half-squashed spider, miserable from cold and soaking wet but looking oh-so fly.

    Nobody is impressed when you don’t look like you know what you’re doing.

    • Rameses the 2nd

      The problem is where do you keep all this gear when you get to your destination. Sometimes, you just can’t leave your expensive gear unattended at your destination. I am thinking about adding a large ammo case to my Scrambler, so I can lock my jacket, boots, rain gear and overpants in it when I am off the bike. For my helmet, I just bought a backpack with helmet carrying straps (AlpineStars Tech Aero Backpack). I wish there was an easier solution to make motorcycles more practical for everyday commute.

      I still need to figure out which overpant(s) to pick. Roadcrafter seems like a quality product, but I don’t want to drop $500+ on my first pair of overpant, not knowing how I would like wearing it in practice.

      • Aakash

        Look into getting a Pacsafe steel mesh 85L bag protector. Then buy a waterproof duffle bag that is large enough to store all your gear and packs small. Then, when you get to your destination, throw everything in the duffle, lock the zipper and then cover it with the steel security mesh and lock it to the bike. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s going to be good enough most of the time.

        • Davidabl2

          I looked at one recently..and was concerned about those little locks they use, in terms of longevity/reliability.

      • Braden

        I’ve never really had an issue, but we might have different circumstances. At the office, I put it all under the desk. When meeting someone for dinner, I put the jacket on the chair back and the helmet underneath. Concerts/events/outdoor occasions usually offer a friend or two that has a car I can chuck the gear in. At school I just carry my gear from class to class. Mildly annoying but I put a positive spin on it and pretend I’m getting a tiny workout from it.

      • ThruTheDunes

        I had the same quandary for commuting, Ramses. I looked at all kinds of backpacks, but on the suggestion of the backpack guy at EMS, I bought a large duffel. Holds my cover and locks when riding (strapped to the seat), and holds my gear when I park. I wear it like a giant messenger bag, with the strap across my front and the bag across my back. I walk a mile when I get off the train, and carry it like a duffel if I take the T. Anyway, it works for me.

      • Piglet2010

        Locking hard panniers and top box, of course.

        • Michael Howard

          Or a maxi-scooter that can hold all your gear under the saddle. ;)

  • Rameses the 2nd

    Eight reasons why James Bond is a total squid?

  • ChiMagic

    Half the fun of motorcycling is the gear and all the cool accessories many many people don’t have.

  • Justin Turner

    I’d throw the kushitani leather jeans into the mix:

    They’re expensive, but its reassuring to have leather on every time I go out. Cut like 501s, which will forever be a good look.

  • Lourens Smak

    The leather-lotion is a good tip; just this week I treated my jacket with Effax leather balsam (some old-skool German stuff) and it’s like I have a new jacket, with $5 spent. Actually it looks even nicer than new. It did smell funny for about a day.

  • Stacey

    I thought Iron Heart was more of a fashion denim than something that actually provides protection? Personally if you are going the raw/selvage denim route, I suggest Maple Jean (, at least that has some Kevlar built into it…

    • Chris Hunter

      I wear and recommend Maple too.

      • Isambard

        me three. I have the skinny ones and they’re a little tight through the hips, but otherwise close to perfect. They don’t scream motorcycle, either.

    • Nathan Haley

      I use Sliders-brand pants which have Kevlar and they have built-in pockets for kneepads. They are very good for anti-abrasion – much better than even heavy-duty jeans.

      I love the Roadcrafter solution and I wish they’d come up with something like that for your feet…MX boots are cumbersome but regular road boots don’t protect you as well as most people think.

      • Piglet2010
        • Nathan Haley

          …yup. nope.

          In any case, it’s not the style that I care about so much, it’s just the effort it takes to put them on (I know, first-world motorcyclist problems). I try to make my gear as easy to put on as possible because if it’s a hassle, I know some days I’ll be tempted to skimp out on it – and I definitely don’t want that.

    • Matt Mason

      Check out lean angle jeans. Maple jeans look awesome but were out of my price range. Lean angle jeans came with ce approved armor but are ce certfied for abrasion resistance too. Plus they look good and you don’t have to do all that hippy crap with showering with your jeans on to make the raw denim fit correctly.

  • Jack Meoph

    A part of me is glad that today there are so many choices for motorcycle kit. When I started, and for a while after that, your choices of actual MC gear could be counted on fingers and toes. armor? forget it……did not exist. We’re at the point were companies not only make good protective clothing, but it has evolved to where they can make it fashionable (if you’re into that) as well. So yeah, it’s your money and you can spend on what you want. And if looking good is important to you, you would spend that money on nice clothes anyways. I know when I look for new kit it has to ascetically pleasing, just like the motorcycles I buy. If I don’t like how it looks, I’m not buying. and, if having good looking kit makes more people wear protective gear, then all’s the better.

    • Jack Meoph

      And yeah, I’ve used the cr@p out of sharpies on my kit.

  • VagrantCoyote

    Great article Wes, lots of good options.

  • Bruce Steever

    Fashionista Wes strikes again! Maybe i’m just not cool enough to be stylish. But then again, i like GoreTex…

    • Kr Tong

      Those boots are my favorite regardless. You can spring for the apex boots but these you can just walk around in like normal people. One thing i’d say is not to get the IN versions if you don’t own a suit made for in boots. The out ones are still plenty thin for regular people pants.

    • Piglet2010

      Apart from any safety considerations, I like hi-viz gear because it sets me apart from all the “bikers” and 1% MC member (real and fake). And in “snowmobile suit” form, it sets me apart from all the squids.

  • Sam Bendall

    Im a bit disappointed by this list. You guys are neglecting Rev’it, Aether, and any number of brands that don’t spread their logos all about their apparel. The urban rider wants to blend in, not advocate for a brand, the clothes should not scream “this is a motorcycle jacket”.

    • Wes Siler

      Reads like an article full of helpful, practical advice to me, not a shopping list. You can find plenty of coverage of the brands you mention and their products elsewhere on the site.

  • Braden

    Big ol +1 on the Torque Ins. I wear them pretty much day in/day out without little issue. I’d like to find a waterproof equivalent with the same easy fit under jeans.

    • Maximus

      The Dainese TRQ Tour fits that request, no? I wore them under my jeans no problem. If you need a size 44, I’m selling my practically new pair:

      • Braden

        Argh, so close! I wear a 43. And yes, that might just work. A few others I’ve tried don’t fit under the jeans nicely.

  • motoguru.

    To add to the glove verbiage, stay away from clarino palms at the very least!

    • minnjohn.advrider

      Wow. Great argument for good leathers. Hope the rest of you fared better.

      • motoguru.

        Not actually me, just something I found on the google machine.

    • Wes Siler

      Yep. You want real leather motorcycle gloves and palm sliders.

    • Jesse

      So much ow.

  • grb

    what about warm (HOT!) weather? black leather is really not a good idea, specially if youre around town (slow), many stoplights, middles of the day… An article like this but aimed towards warm climate ridding could be interesting for us, what mesh jackets you like? it would be interesting to se what you think

    • Wes Siler

      Well, I live in Los Angeles and routinely ride in 100 degree weather. Know what extreme measures I go through to stay cool? I unzip my Vanson down to the center of my chest… You get free A/C when you ride a bike.

      • Ken Lindsay

        I think we need to take into account how in CA, you can still move during bad traffic and you don’t necessarily have high humidity. Riding with a leather jacket in Minneapolis was oh-so-much worse at 90 degrees than it is in San Diego. Also, some guys sweat when its 60 degrees out.
        This might make a good reader’s ask/answer topic.

        • Piglet2010

          Light colors help (another reason for getting a Roadcrafter in hi-viz yellow over something darker).

          When miserably hot and humid (heat index of 120+), the best I have found is light gray mesh gear.

      • anon

        100 degree weather in LA is easier to deal with than to 80 degree weather in the south or on the east coast. As cliche as it sounds, it’s the humidity that’s a bitch. This is compounded by any time you spend not in motion (i.e. in traffic if you don’t live in California and don’t want to risk the reckless driving ticket for lane splitting). I have found that shorts under mesh over pants and a mesh jacket (Alpinestars oxygen-air overpants and Dainese Airframe) makes it about as bearable as possible but it still sucks.

    • Kr Tong

      Jump in the shower with a teeshirt or your liner and socks on. Then get suited up.

      • Piglet2010

        Does not help when the relative humidity is above 80%.

    • eddi

      A mesh jacket will keep you going on all but the hottest, most humid days Then get one of those evaporative cooling vest you soak in the sink will work. I’ve only needed mine a few times but for the three to four hours it works before it dries, it’s a real life saver. Of course, expect to get wet.

  • Kr Tong

    Skin-tight leather onesies in line at the grocery store, every day, because i can’t carry that much, bitches.

  • Kr Tong

    How do you get on or off the freeway without knee pucks? And how well do these designer jeans fair against the potential leg shanks that are foot pegs? I need armor, or a car.

  • TP

    You hooked me at the beginning with “The Theory”, and I lol’d good at ‘space elf’ too. More of this please Wes, this reminds me of the old stuff a lot. Useful too, for those of us that actually care about looking good and getting laid.

  • socalutilityrider

    I just got my new slim fit Maples, first production run-they look great over the bmw “city” boots I use around town and to meet clients in. Very impressed after coming from the Dainese D1′s and the Edwin Zylon jeans. It’s hard for people to tell that the knee pads are in there without studying them closely, but the pants actually fit vs looking like JNCO’s from the ’90′s. I will be ordering a pair of Dethkillers as well, it’s great to finally have options in the tiny but expanding stylish motorcycle gear market.

  • Dylan Jones

    Never put your gloves inside your lid as it wrecks the lining. Get a messenger bag like Timbuk2 for everyday use, super useful if you don’t have panniers or a top box

  • Jesse

    Does that Pecard lotion work on treated leather, like the hide that Icon uses on their non-1000 line jackets? My Overlord is getting properly bugged and grimy after a couple-dozen thousand miles.

    • Wes Siler


      • Jesse

        Sold. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Donnie Byers

    Nothing says you’ve arrived like wearing a full-on, one-piece leather race suit and helmet at a formal affair. Pass the Grey Poupon, pleeeeze…

  • Bruno Vanzieleghem

    I have a pair of Maple Motorcycle Jeans. Most of my riding friends are surprised when they find out they are riding jeans, and they have knee and hip armor in them. No logo’s, no seams, just straight up regular looking jeans. They are pricey, but worth it IMO. Combined with a pair of Dianese Cafe boots and a leather jacket with just a bit of Triumph branding, I can fly under the radar for the most part.

  • Jason 1199

    Just picked up an RSD Mission jacket in black at Motorcycle Superstore for $200. Looks badass with a flat tracker look. I wear it exclusively anytime I’m hopping off the bike to run errands or eat dinner. The optional armor doesn’t make it look disproportional either. For in to wn I wear Waterproof Alpinestars scout boots and bilt cargo Kevlar pants

    • SneakyJimmy

      that is a good looking jacket at a great price. thanks for the tip!

      • Jason 1199

        Just be aware of the fit, the arms are small like a euro jacket and the torso is slightly boxy

  • jleno

    Even with all the cool gear, there’s still no solution to helmet hair (unless you shave your head)

  • Heather McCoy

    If you can get that whole Errol Flynn-scarf-thing goin’, I’ll pay you. That kind of moxxy is just plain hot.

  • Davidabl2

    “(but not guillotining steel) toe boots” I’ve been hearing this for years, so I got curious. It’s always seemed to me that anything that’d make a toesie guillotine out of the steel toes in your boots would just crush non protected toes enough to require amputation.Which would make the question kind of a moot question, since the end result would be the same.. A lazy man’s search turned up a wikipedia article about Mythbusters season 5, which ‘myth busted” the idea;
    Steel Toe-Cap Amputation[edit]Myth statementStatusNotesSteel-toe boots are more dangerous to one’s toes than normal boots when a heavy weight is dropped on them. Whereas a normal boot would just crush the toes, a steel toe would curl and crumple in, cutting off the toes.BustedUsing similar tests to those used to test steel-toe boot certification, Adam and Jamie determine that one’s toes are much safer with steel toe boots than without. There was no toe-cutting curling of the steel toe, and even using a blade attachment did not work, only glancing off the steel toe to cut right above where it ended.

    This begs the question of whether heavier work boots are more likely to cause so-called “windmill injuries” than lighter weight MC race boots, which also will have shin and ankle hard armor,as well as typically having stiffer heel boxes,and more resistance to twisting the foot away from the direction that the leg is facing..

    I’m writing while wearing my steel-toe Chippewa work boots(after riding in them)..after wearing/riding yesterday in my Sidi’s.. and I gotta say that the Sidi’s definitely felt “safer” although I’d not like to walk cross-country in them.

    I plan to check out Corcoran another “compromise’ boot. My dress shoes are some Icon lace-ups that are sadly no longer made..ankle height polished black leather lace boots with only a couple of chevron-shaped shifter protecters to give away the fact that they aren’t normal dress shoes. That and the lugged soles:-) They’re better than the Alpinestars Harlem boots in every way–both as MC boots and “stealth” dress shoes. I hope my icons are resoleable when the time comes… On the other hand the Chippewas will get tossed, not resoled. FWIW, all the boots mentioned easily pass HFL’s “twist test.”

  • Piglet2010

    “Your hands are the first thing to touch down in a crash and the palms are the first part of your hands to hit.”

    Maybe for some or some of the time, but not all. Heck, I have crashed at speed on the track without even getting a scuff mark on my gloves – now without knee and elbow armor I would have been in a world of hurt.

  • Kr Tong
    • Joe_Biden

      Check out Duluth Trading companies “Fire Hose” pants line. They are made of some pretty tough stuff, and are comfortable as well. I’m on a cruiser primarily, but I’ve warn them on nearly everything (except a vespa) and have no complaints. They also have a gusset in the crotch of the pants, so they dont bind or ride up when swinging your leg over the bike etc.

      I’ve not gone down on pavement in them. but in some gravel at around 35, and they still look as good as new. They are definately an upgrade if you’re currently just wearing jeans..and they come in different patterns and color options, so you can show up around “Normal people” without looking too out of place. I have some plain ones I wear to work with a dress shirt and tie, and no one really knows any different. Just looks like pants. They also come in fleece lined for those chillier days when you cant wear your leathers.

      And yes thats the dorkiest picture ever…but they come in black, dark brown, and blue.

  • Dave Swider

    No short gauntlet gloves. Ever. After your jacket rides up and exposes your wrist and the pavement grinds through yoru skin, you’ll be blessed with a bone infection. Ask Kevin Schwantz about bone infections. Gauntlet gloves with a positive retention device like a strap. Held Steves look good and, in my crash test, they protected my hands perfectly.

  • atomicalex

    Whatever you do, don’t try too hard. It just looks weird. I’d rather see a guy dolled up in dirty loud leathers than a guy who is trying to pull off the 007 look and failing.
    +1 on the gloves/boots, though. Get out the sharpie and wear the best you can. Most gloves and boots ca be acquired in plain black anyway.

  • David Gurney

    Good article, but too bad pants were totally neglected (except to condemn jeans).

  • taba

    Thing is, I’d never wear a leather jacket or boots if I wasn’t riding.

    So I’ll wear a technical jacket and boots that speak to function before anything else. I do appreciate the idea of a hoodie softening the look.

  • Andrew .Semaan

    What helmet is that?