The Best Motorcycle Gear To Upgrade Your Riding Experience
From high-end helmets and fashionable-but-functional pieces of kit to cutting-edge gadgets.
We love riding year-round, but something about summer elevates the singular joy of motorcycles to another level. So we spent the season testing out gear to find the best options around—from helmets, boots, gloves, armored pants and jackets to the best in accessories and gadgets. Here’s our favorite motorcycle gear to score right now:
Bell The Bullitt Helmet
There’s no piece of gear more important than your helmet, and there’s no brand with better reputation than Bell. While there are far more technical helmets out there loaded with cameras, earbuds, intercoms, space lasers, etc., a clean, minimal helmet lets us get back to basics.
Enter Bell’s aptly named Bullitt—a sleek, retro-futuristic helmet boasting a wide aperture for superior visibility. All the best of 70s styling aped from Bell’s iconic Star helmet upgraded with modern safety technology like a composite fiberglass shell, laced with the highest quality materials like genuine leather and plush micro-suede interior—which can be easily removed and washed. Numerous vents ensure your brain stays cool and fresh. $440
Forcite MK1S Smart Helmet
Tech-packed smart helmets inspire ponderous consumers to ask, why? To increase a company’s bottom line? For (over)engineering’s sake? For Alfred Boyadgis, CEO and founder of Australia’s Forcite, a motorcycle accident resulting in injury sent him on a noble mission to bring a much safer helmet to market. Today Forcite is selling the MK1S, an improved evolution of the Australia-only MK1, which entirely lives up to its billing as the “world’s most advanced motorcycle helmet.”
The standout feature is definitely the clever LED display—non-distracting lights illuminate in the rider’s peripheral vision to signal navigation instructions, upcoming speed traps and changes in traffic conditions, using data from the connected Forcite App. There’s a Sony camera in the chin bar that continuously records, even during and after impact, and Harman Kardon speakers placed in between premium padding and a slick carbon fiber shell. Incredibly, the entire package weighs a feathery 1,500g, which is just a smidge more than Bell’s The Bullitt. We’ve just scratched the surface of the Forcite MK1S, so stay tuned for a full-fledged review. $1,100
Cardo PackTalk Edge Headset
As satisfying as a V-twin’s raw roar (or four-cylinder’s scream) may be, it’s only natural to long for the creature comforts of car’s infotainment system at some point on your riding journey. The Cardo PackTalk Edge, as the name suggests, is billed primarily as an intercom system for group rides, but it also transforms your helmet into a motorcycle-safe infotainment system.
It succeeds as an intercom in spades, offering the ability for you and up to 14 buddies to chat with phone call-level fidelity at a range of up to one mile via Cardo’s evolved Dynamic Mesh Communication (DMC) system. With a couple taps of the Cardo App on a Bluetooth-connected smartphone, you can create a rolling chatroom or even start up a sneaky private dialogue with your best bud. But for the lone wolf who will rarely take advantage of the excellent intercom system, the Cardo PackTalk Edge offers much more.
Cardo’s noise-canceling mics (two are included for either full-face or open-face helmets) are a technological marvel—multiple phone call recipients were utterly shocked to learn that we were conversing from a bellowing cruiser at highway speeds, given the complete lack of wind or engine noise. The same mics can relay commands to your smartphone’s native voice assistant, allowing you to take and make calls, skip songs or obtain new navigation directions on the fly.
The svelte battery pack, which magnetically attaches to a cradle mounted on the side of the helmet, boasts 13 hours of battery life and features a simple tactile interface comprised of three buttons and a volume dial, all of which are actuated easily through gloved fingers.
Our one gripe with the Cardo PackTalk Edge pertains to the included 40mm JBL speakers, which are easily placed and hidden behind helmet padding. Audio is clear enough in-town below 50 mph, but that clarity is lost at interstate speeds. If you want to do any touring, we’d recommend ditching the JBL speakers for an inexpensive pair of wired Plugfones, which are a combination of headphones and noise-blocking ear plugs. The Plugfones’ 3.5mm jack connects seamlessly to the Cardo, and its wire is easily hidden. But most importantly, music and calls will be perfectly clear at any speed, in any helmet, regardless of windspeed. Cardo PackTalk Edge: $390, Plugfones Basic: 20
SA1NT Unbreakable + Engineered Pants
There are plenty of MotoGP-grade armor options out there, but sometimes you don’t want to walk into an appointment looking like Mad Max stumbled into Mastro’s. You prefer to dress like a normal human, in which case you want to dig deep into SA1NT.
The Australian motorcycle apparel company created the world’s strongest single-layer denim dubbed Unbreakable. Crafted from Dyneema (15x stronger than steal, it’s the material used in bulletproof vests and to tether the space shuttle), SA1NT’s Unbreakable line are the world’s strongest single-layer jean. 650% more resilient than your Levis, the pants fit similarly to selvedge denim—significantly more comfortable than leathers.
If the Unbreakable’s cost is a little steep, the brand also just launched the more affordable Engineered Collection. While a lower price, the new line comes loaded with integrated armor to add extra protection to initial points of contact like hips and knees—however they do make the fit considerably more bulky. Unbreakable: $350, Engineered: $199
Alpinestars Argon Slim Fit Denim Pants
Alpinestars is an elite motorcycle kit manufacturer that’s trusted at the highest echelons of two-wheeled racing by the most revered riders, including six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez and two-time 450 Supercross champion Eli Tomac. That’s to say you really can’t go wrong with any gear emblazoned with the Italian label’s A-star glyph, including the Argon Tech Riding Pants.
Nucleon Plus knee protectors and Bio-Flex Plus hip protectors given the form-fitting jeans AA-Class protection under the EN 17092 standard—that’s the second-highest level of protection offered under EN 17092, behind only the AAA-Class suits designed specifically for track riding. Even so, there are hardly any noticeable ergonomic restrictions, thanks to a stretchy-but-sturdy Cordura denim construction. $290
Klim Sixxer British-Style Jacket
Rigby, Idaho-based motorcycle and snowmobile outfitters Klim have been crafting terrific, well-engineered products since launching in 1999, growing rapidly in the American market. While loaded with more technical options, their clean, vintage-inspired British motorcycle jacket Sixxer is the option when you want something you can wear without feeling like you’re stepping out from an episode of the Long Way Round.
Constructed of smooth and supple premium leather (in gunmetal black or sienna brown), the Sixxer still offers enough protection to ensure safety, matched with considerations like adjustable elbow armor pad pockets, well thought-out vent perforations and plenty of zip pockets. A modern classic. $550
REV’IT! Sand 4 H20 Jacket
REV’IT! has engineered the moto kit equivalent a Swiss army knife in the all-season Sand 4 H20. The Dutch brand, which was founded in 1995 on a mission to strike a balance between function and fashion, could reasonably sell just the abrasion-resistant outer shell solo, as it’s packed with top-level, impact-absorbing armor at the shoulders and elbows (back armor is sold separately).
But there’s also a detachable waterproof membrane to keep you dry in the rain, a detachable insulated layer for cold-weather riding, and nine different zippered vents that allow wearers to fine-tune airflow. The hardest-core four-season motorcyclists would do well to consider this high-value, technically-focused jacket. $550
Can-Am Brode Jacket
Black leather is the quintessential biker jacket color and material, being both timelessly stylish and extremely tough. Nearly every major fashion label makes one, many of which are purely for fashion. Not the Can-Am Brode. The jacket’s impeccable fit belies its practical function. Onlookers will see a beautifully tapered jacket that accentuates the V-shape from the shoulders to the waistline.
But beneath an already-strapping layer of 100 percent leather is ultra-flexible armor in the shoulders and elbows from Germany’s SAS-TEC, an additional mesh sleeve on the inner back designed to take a piece of SAS-TEC back armor (sold separately), and a water-resistant internal liner—not that water will have much chance of penetrating the buttoned-up cafe collar or water-repellent AquaGuard zipper. Don’t underestimate the convenience of the easily accessible “key pocket” positioned just above the right wrist, which is deep enough to a stow a phone or wallet. $530
Indian Motorcycle Canyon Plaid Shirt
On particularly torrid days, the squid Satan on your right shoulder will be a little louder than the guardian angel on your left, and he’ll tempt you saddle up a t-shirt that’s sure to disintegrate—just like the skin beneath—if you have the misfortune of low-siding into a slide. Let the Indian Canyon Plaid Shirt be your salvation from squid Satan.
Though it’s the lightest-weight garment for your torso featured here, its built-in elbow and shoulder armor help it achieve EN17092 CE certification, meaning it passes the highest international personal protective equipment standards. But most importantly, at least with regard to this list, it doesn’t look or feel like PPE. We threw it on before a 45-minute ride in 95-degree heat, hardly broke a sweat, and didn’t take it off when we stopped off at a farmer-favored dive bar for a beer. No one was the wiser. $250
Alpinestars Oscar Monty V2 Boots
You’ve got your Bell helmet, Dyneema jeans, slim fit jacket and stylish gloves—all you need now is a solid pair of boots to complete the look. Alpinestars Oscar Monty V2 Boots utilize a throwback 1960s aesthetic yet improve the classic design by reinforcing the heel counter and toe box, re-engineering the latter for riding—adding internal padding where your foot upshifts, and reshaping the box for better pedal ergonomics.
Protective ankle discs and a higher-cut silhouette better protect the lower leg, while medial side zippers allow for easy removal. Made from 1.4-1.6mm leather, the Oscar Monty V2 Boot’s upper construction uses a stronger full grain leather for more durability, adding a new mid-sole layer to cushion walking for all that time you spend off your bike. $260
Klim Rambler Gloves
If style is a primary consideration when selecting your weekend riding kit (as it should be), then gloves are perhaps the easiest and most swappable starting point. Klim says its Rambler gloves “just plain work in any condition, from grabbing an axe to twisting a throttle.”
But to our eyes, this is also a supremely chic choice, especially in Tan—we have yet to see another motorcyclist rocking this vibrant hue on their hands in the wild. And because they’re crafted from 100 percent deer leather, which is slightly softer and more forgiving than cow leather, they fit and flex on first wear without any break-in period. $70
Klim Tek Pak Backpack
One of the greatest disadvantages to riding a bike is a lack of storage or carrying ability (if you don’t have a bagger, that is). It’s tough to run errands or be productive in any capacity without the option of taking anything with you. The natural solution: a backpack. But Klim’s Tek Pak optimizes its design for motorcyclists with plenty of dedicated storage and pockets for tools, hydration bladders, hidden valuables, etc., with a front chest protector that doubles as a smartphone pocket.
Durable, rain resistant and treated with 3M ScotchLite reflective material, the Tek Pak considerately straps around the chest (no waist belt for comfort) with helmet fasteners and water bottle holsters (both internal and external). The back pocket can be used to store your laptop or back armor (sold separately). Best of all its safety cable not only clamps the Tek Pak to your bike, but it can also lock down your helmet and jacket so you can walk away and handle your business unencumbered—and with peace of mind. $199
EarPeace Moto Pro Ear Plugs
Of course you want to protect your melon and body when riding, but don’t forget about your ears. Long rides can leave your head ringing without proper care—apparently you can permanently damage hearing after just 15 minutes of riding—which is why you always want to keep a pair of earplugs stashed in your jacket. Since 2008 EarPeace has innovated hearing protection, and the brands Moto Pro model was designed specifically for motorcyclists.
The patented silicon Contour Earplugs (with small, standard and large buds included) completely seal your canal by softly conforming to the shape of your ear, and offer two swappable filter options (20dB and 24dB) to protect against engine noise, wind and road fatigue. And they’re designed to work perfectly with comms, as EarPeace filters out the noise to keep your focused on whatever’s coming through your speakers. As the official ear plugs of Metallica (and, strangely, NPR), you can trust they’ll get the job done. A handy dual-chamber carrying case easily clips to your keys, belt loops or bag. $40
AO Eyewear x Huckberry Apollo 11 Sunglasses
Good eyewear is essential on long rides for protection or backup, regardless what type of visor you prefer. Channel your inner Buzz Aldrin with these impeccably crafted reissues of the American Optical FG-58 sunglasses—the very eyewear Neil Armstrong wore on his giant leap to the moon.
The official glasses of the Apollo 11 astronauts, the collaboration between AO Eyewear and American outfitters Huckberry follows the original design to a T, with comfortable 23-karat gold-plated frames, scratch resistant SkyMaster glass lenses and perhaps best of all for bikers, “bayonet” temples designed to fit comfortably with helmets—as required by astronauts. Made in the USA, of course, each frame comes packaged in a near replica of the original 1969 case. $250