Motorcycle Body Armor Information

Motorcycle riders may purchase back protectors and impact protection armor.

Protecting yourself on a motorcycle goes farther than riding awareness. A helmet, gloves, boots, jacket and riding pants can be the difference between walking away from a motorcycle accident and weeks in the hospital. Within each category of body armor (helmet, gloves, etc.) there are multiple brandnames, each with gear designed for different riding environments such as warm weather and rain. Understanding the purpose of specific body armor products will keep you safely comfortable on the road.


Arguably the most important piece of motorcycle body armor, the helmet protects the head and with a tinted visor blocks bright sun rays that could limit riding visibility. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) requires every legally sold motorcycle helmet to pass Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218, which includes brain and head safety tests, according to NHSTA. After meeting safety standards, a “DOT” sticker of approval stamps onto the helmet. The NHSTA cautions riders not to wear helmets without the “DOT” sticker because they could be dangerous. The inner liner should be at least one-inch thick, the chinstrap should securely hold the helmet in place and the helmet should weigh more than one pound. Third-party safety organizations such as Snell and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) also stamp their labels onto helmets after passing their safety standards.

Riding Jackets

Riding jackets protect motorcyclists from upper body road rash and bone fracture. Manufacturers design riding jackets for weather and environment. Summer jacket material includes textile, synthetic or mesh as opposed to leather. Air vents, a removable inner liner and light feel are also common to summer jackets. Winter jackets are water resistant, sit lower down the waist for further protection from the elements and have increased insulation. Winter jackets offer riders increased inner armor and padding because the increased likelihood of crashing on slick road surfaces. Off-road jackets are thin, sometimes nylon and denier for mobility, include many pockets, protect against harsh weather and offer armor commonly in the elbows and shoulders. Leather jackets offer increased protection because of material strength. Leather jackets include armor plating in the elbows, shoulders, sides and back of varying degrees depending on model and whether or not it is designed for a racetrack.

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Motorcycle gloves can be fingerless, armor plated or gauntlet-style, which protects a few inches past the wrist as opposed to a traditionally sized glove. There are gloves designed for rain, the racetrack and summertime. Made of leather, textile or other synthetic materials, armor and padding on the knuckles, fingers and palm help protect the hands.


Designed for racetracks, off-roading, motorcross or the street, boots come in assorted styles, but all protect the ankles and feet. Armor plates the nose, front and sides of a motorcycle boot. Off-roading and race boots lock in place with hinges. Some boots have removable booties for increased comfort and cleaning.

Riding Pants

Made from leather, textile or synthetic, riding pants offer further protection from road rash as compared to denim. Riding pants sell separately or come as a set in the case of a race suit. The knees, backside and thighs are common places for padding and body armor.