Motorcycles are cool, and so is motorcycle gear. When you hop on your bike for a ride, you want to look good and feel good. But you also want to be safe, and what you wear plays a vital role in that department. Here’s the rundown on motorcycle gear, its purpose, and how to find the stuff that works for you.

How motorcycle gear protects riders

Motorcyclists have always had a style all their own. But that’s not because riders are trying hard to stand out. The reality is that motorcycle fashion is about practicality.

The purpose of what you wear on your motorcycle is to protect you. Nothing is more important than that. So when you shop for motorcycle gear, use a checklist and don’t stop until you have a safe and effective version of everything a motorcyclist should wear. You need a helmet, jacket, pants, boots, and gloves. This stuff is non-negotiable.

When you shop for gear, you should focus first and foremost on toughness and safety testing. Look for sturdy materials and ask for recommendations. Check out safety studies and compare notes with other riders. Of course, just because something is safe doesn’t mean that it can’t be stylish.

Take leather, for instance: it’s a popular choice of material for motorcycle jackets, gloves, and boots. That’s because it can act as a second, tougher skin if and when you hit the road during an accident. It’s better to lose a leather jacket than what’s underneath. And this choice of material just so happened to look cool, which is why motorcycle gear has a fashion history as well as a safety-focused one.

A rich and stylish history

Motorcyclists might have started wearing leather motorcycle jackets because they were effective at protecting their skin in the event of a slide, but that’s not the reason why leather jackets are still so popular today. Despite plenty of alternatives, they’re still the most famous, and there are even non-riders who love their leather jackets too. The culture of motorcyclists and the hip look of the leather jacket combined to make it a classic piece of clothing, one that exudes toughness and unbothered coolness.

Modern riders benefit from this, because your leather jacket will be as ready for the bar or even the restaurant as it is for the road. In fact, the motorcycle jacket is enjoying something of a comeback right now in popular styles. Just make sure that you care for it and keep it clean — you want to exude motorcycle style, not dirt and exhaust.

Finding the right fit on the modern motorcycle gear market

Combining safety and great looks is easy with motorcycle gear, because so much of what motorcyclists need has become classic and cool.

Go through a full checklist of motorcycle gear and make sure that you get everything you need to keep yourself safe. It doesn’t all have to be stuff that you’ll wear in the bar — you can put away your helmet and some other gear before you go out. But it all has to be tough and reliable.

Look for the trusted brands which served the motorcyclist community for years, and shop at trusted outlets where you can find knowledgeable salespeople (ideally ones who don’t work on commission). Try on your gear to make sure it’s comfortable and well-fitted, and read reviews to make sure that you get the tough stuff.

When you assemble your ideal outfit, you’ll find that you can look great while feeling secure on your motorcycle.