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6 Motorcycle Accessories That Will Make Your Next Ride Safer

A rider in their riding gear

OB production/Shutterstock

Riding a motorcycle can be a freeing and exhilarating experience, and the right accessories can only help enhance your ride by making it a whole lot safer. That said, buying accessories as a rider is easier said than done. If you’re unsure what to buy, it’s easy to go overboard and purchase things you don’t need or are just plain unimportant. But that doesn’t mean you should put off purchasing essential safety gear.

If you’re a new rider, here’s a list of things you should consider buying before your next road trip or ride to the office. Keep in mind that this list is only a starting point. You may have to purchase additional accessories based on the climate conditions in your region. While you don’t have to splurge on these purchases, it pays to do your research and buy quality items since they can keep you safe while on the road, not to mention, last for years to come. 

Helmet

A motorcyclist with a helmet on

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Although most states in the U.S. allow people to ride motorcycles without helmets, it’s a critical accessory you shouldn’t do without. Remember that a helmet can be the difference between life and death. The CDC estimates that helmets can reduce the risk of death by 37% for riders and lower the chances of head injury by 69%. Given this, whether you’re cruising through state lines or riding on a busy street, there’s no reason to leave your helmet at home.

If you’re looking to purchase a helmet, it’s best to get one that’s DOT-approved. This essentially means that the helmet is in line with the standards set by the Department of Transportation. A wide range of helmets, including ones that are full-face and half-face, meet DOT standards. Having said that, a full-face helmet is a better bet because it will offer more protection in the event of an accident. 

If you’re trying on helmets, be sure to go with one that fits right. A helmet that shifts and moves while you’re riding is unlikely to provide you with sufficient protection, and one that’s too tight will be extremely uncomfortable to wear.

Gloves

A rider with riding gloves on

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In the event of an accident, your hands are typically the first point of contact with the road. Given that they’re the most likely to suffer abrasions and bruises, it’s important that you buy a pair of riding gloves. Riding gloves are available at varying price points and degrees of protectiveness. Many motorcycle riders make the mistake of picking up a light, fingerless pair, assuming it will offer them better control of the bike. However, these types of gloves offer minimal protection in the event of an accident.

You’re better off paying a little extra and picking up a pair of gloves that offer sufficient coverage and adequate protection for your wrists, palms, knuckles, and fingers. Before making your purchase, though, ensure the gloves are a good, snug fit. Gloves that don’t fit your hands well may not offer the grip you need to safely operate and ride your motorcycle. Additionally, look for gloves that are made of durable, reinforced fabrics or high-quality leather. If you live in a colder region, consider purchasing another pair of insulated gloves or glove liners to keep your hands warm while on the road.

Riding boots

A rider with riding boots

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Riding boots can be heavy and bulky and might be challenging to get in and out of, but they play a crucial role in ensuring your safety while you’re on the road. Riding boots usually have a full-length design, i.e., they go up until the shins or knees. Designed with durable materials, these boots can really protect your feet and legs in case of a fall or crash. If you enjoy riding in not-so-great terrain or doing long-distance trips on your motorcycle, a sturdy pair of riding boots is an essential accessory.

However, if you’re only riding your motorcycle to work or on busy roads within the city, you can opt for riding shoes, which still offer some degree of protection but are easier to walk in once you’re off your motorcycle. Riding shoes typically include reinforced heels and toes and have a protective lining. While they don’t offer the kind of protection riding boots do, they’re a practical choice for shorter commutes. 

Motorcycle jacket

A rider with a motorcycle jacket on

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Not only do motorcycle jackets protect against wind chill and dust (which alone makes them worth buying), but they also keep your upper body safe from bruises and injuries in the event of an accident. If you’re looking to purchase a riding jacket, pick one that’s made of high-quality, durable materials, so it can absorb shock and resist tearing on impact. Most bike jackets, whether made of leather or synthetic materials, will have a slide rating precisely for this concern. Additionally, since you want your rides to be easy on the body, look for features like ventilation panels, adjustable cuffs, and a moisture-wicking lining on the inside of the jacket. These design elements may seem insignificant, but they can help you stay dry and feel comfortable during your ride.

The riding jacket you pick should be suitable for the type of riding you do. So, for instance, if you ride in the cold, be sure to choose a jacket with a detachable insulated thermal liner. This type of jacket will offer you the warmth you need but is versatile enough that it can be used in different weather conditions. Similarly, if you tend to ride in the dark, look for a jacket that includes reflective elements, so you’re visible to other people on the road.

Riding pants

A biker in protective riding pants and boots

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The right pair of riding pants can really enhance the safety and comfort of your ride. These pants are usually made using abrasion-resistant fabric, which means they can provide significant protection in the event of a fall. Since there are different types of riding pants available, make sure to go through your options, try out a few types, and purchase one or two that seem like the best fit for you. 

Among the various types of riding pants, leather pants remain the most popular choice among riders. They’re durable enough and may even feature some sort of impact protection, like padding at the knees and hips. Alternatively, you can opt for textile motorcycle pants, which are designed to be weather-proof or offer extra breathability. You can also purchase denim motorcycle pants, which look like regular jeans but feature pads in the knees and hips and have a mesh lining for improved air circulation.

Riding goggles or glasses

A rider with riding goggles

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If you’re not wearing a full-coverage helmet, you’ll find that riding goggles are an essential accessory. While you ride, your eyes are exposed to harsh weather elements like wind, dust, sunlight, and more. Riding goggles can help shield your eyes from these hazards and improve your visibility while you’re on the road.

Before you purchase a pair, though, it’s best to get an updated prescription for your eyes. Keep in mind that riding with blurry vision is a recipe for disaster, whether or not you have protective eyewear on. After that’s done, decide if you want to go with goggles or glasses. Goggles wrap around your eyes and offer more protection. Glasses, on the other hand, may be more comfortable to wear for extended periods.

Regardless of which option you pick, ensure that the lens is impact-resistant — polycarbonate is your best bet. Steer clear of glass and plastic lenses that can shatter and pose a risk in the event of an accident. A good way to determine if the glasses are durable is to look for an ANSI certification, which indicates that the glasses meet the standards set by the American National Standards Institute.








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