Gear list developed by: Simon Bertram and Brittany Morrow
With the Winter now officially halfway done, it means that Spring is now closer. And for those of us that enjoy to travel on two wheels, that means it’s almost time to get the bike ready for its first Spring ride (related: preparing your motorcycle for winter storage). Yet, in many places, Spring, Fall, and even Summer can have cold, wet, miserable days, and others that roast you in your gear as you ride along (see also: how to ride safely in the rain).
It is with this in mind that we decided to get the hard work out of the way for you, and recommend three-season riding gear for the three main types of riders: Casual, Sport, and Adventure. Also, we will not be recommending helmets as we already have a few guides available (see also: best full face helmets under $500, best modular helmets under $500).
Each style will have a full set of gear recommended, and if more than one option is available for a certain piece, we have made an attempt to give each bit fair judgement.
Casual Riding Gear
The casual rider is one who has a standard motorcycle, such as a Honda CB500F or a Triumph Bonneville T100. This rider wants to appear to be as casual and low key as possible, yet still remain safe and protected.
Looking just like a regular leather jacket you would see someone wearing as they stroll down the street, this one hides massive protection under its casual exterior. Fully armored elbows and shoulders, with a space for a back protector insert, the jacket is made of hand distressed motorcycle grade leather.
On hot days, the inner liner can be detached and removed, allowing for air to flow in and out through the hidden vents under the arms and along the sides of the torso, and exhaust through the zippered rear vents. As well, as it is motorcycle grade leather, it is water repellant, but if you want full waterproofing, we suggest a waterproofing wax or spray that is certified for leather.
The casual rider does not want to have flashy logos screaming from their hands, and for them, Dainese made the Blackjacks. Classically Italian in their look, the gloves are made of premium goatskin leather, with double reinforcement on the heel and palm of the hand. The fingers, back of hand, and knuckles are protected with soft plastic inserts that are CE impact rated.
The point of being casual is to look like you aren’t wearing armor at all. Yet, these jeans are waterproof, kevlar reinforced throughout, and have CE approved knee armor inserts. They also have a three layer inner liner that lets you add or remove layers depending on the day’s weather. Huntsman waterproof coating helps repel water, dirt, and oil. And they look like a normal pair of jeans.
While you could wear riding jeans, maybe you can’t find the right fit, or the slim/regular cut leg that most have won’t fit your legs (a problem this specific author has with riding jeans), but you do have a pair of jeans you know fits a little loose on the legs. Fret not, riders, as Icon has us all covered with their Field Armor series.
The pants are made of tear resistant, double stitched poly-hydradry sweat wicking cloth. On top of the base layer, the pants have D30 grade armor and are kevlar reinforced at the sides of the knees, over the knees, thighs, hips, buttocks, groin, and tailbone to provide maximum abrasion and impact resistance.
Look at these shoes. Just look at them. Do they look like motorcycle boots in any way? We think not. In fact, we think these are some pretty sexy high tops for any occasion, let alone riding.
The geniuses at TCX have provided some high top riding shoes that will keep your feet both dry and safe. The upper is full grain leather. Hidden malleable heel and toe armor is also included. These “boots” feature high-wear-resistance rubber soles and provide the best grip on your pegs. There’s even a double reinforcement panel over the left upper foot so that shifting is comfortable and won’t wear out the leather. Lastly, a waterproof gore-tex membrane prevents water seeping in even while riding in heavy rain.
Type: Waterproof Long Distance Sport Touring Boots
AlpineStars designed these boots from the outset to be somewhat clandestine and low key, again what a casual rider generally wants. Yet these are some of the most impressive boots on the market today, and are designed for long distance sport touring as much as they are for inner city riding.
A full leather outer shell hides microfiber line accordion zones on the front and back to allow maximum flexibility. Heel protection is provided with full shock resistant armor. Toes are kept safe with a shaped shock absorbing soft plastic armor box. The upper foot is lined with TPU shift pads so you don’t bruise or bend when shifting. And full calf high ankle closures are reinforced with impact resistant armor that will keep your ankle from bending or twisting during a crash.
The sport rider is one who is interested in being able to tuck close to the tank, enjoy the twisting roads around their town, and owns a bike such as a KTM RC390 or Yamaha YZF-R6. Comfort isn’t as high a priority as is protection, and looking sporty while being safe. Also note, we are not looking specifically for track-rated gear here, just comfortable gear for the sport rider.
AlpineStars are well known for their sports gear, from FIM approved leather race suits to comfortable riding jackets such as this one. Made of lightweight poly-textile, with 450D and 600D density textile reinforcement on major areas, the jacket has a removable thermal liner in case the weather gets a bit warm.
The arms are pre-bent for the sport rider, and shoulder and elbow armor is built in and CE rated. Venting is available with two zippered shoulder vents and two hidden exhaust vents on the upper back. The jacket does move a lot of air through it, yet is still fully waterproof should you get caught out in the rain.
The ICON Hypersport GP Gloves are recommended because at the price point, they are absolutely unbeatable.
The chassis features a perforated french cowhide backhand. A kangaroo palm provides great abrasion resistance and a supple already-broken-in feel from the very first wear. The TPU and titanium molded knuckles are fully CE impact rated. Extra value comes in the form of palm, thumb, fingertip, wrist and side-of-hand TPU sliders that prevent the glove from gripping (and ripping) with the tarmac in case of a crash.
These gloves also feature a two-step closure system for maximum security, a pinky-to-ring finger connection panel, a double-wrapped inner thumb to prevent wear and tear from cranking on the throttle, and all stitching is double reinforced for maximum durability. The only thing these gloves don’t have is waterproofing – so just avoid that wet stuff at all costs and you’re golden.
AlpineStars pants in the past seemed to vary between relaxed commuter style pants and full on track leather pants, without much in the middle. The Raider Drystar pants fit into the hole left between commuting and track, with a great set of textile pants that are viable for three season wear.
Waterproofing comes via the permanent drystar lining, however there is also a removable thermal liner should the summer hit hard. CE rated knee protectors are also built in. Space is provided should you want to insert hip protectors. There are thigh vents in case you need extra cooling. And lastly, these pants will mate with the AlpineStars T-Jaws jacket recommended above if you want to form a full one piece riding suit.
The second generation Alpinestars SMX 6 Drystar Boots are a force to be reckoned with. With newly refined ergonomics, the accordion stretch paneling has been augmented on the forefoot as well as the back of the ankle for added flexibility and comfort.
These boots offer race-ready protection. They feature a high modulus TPU biomechanical ankle support, injected shin guards and calf protectors, a heel counter, reinforced shift pad and hard toe sliders. The air vents have been integrated into the heel counter and shin plate to help with both moisture evaporation and heat evacuation. The Drystar membrane is ultimate waterproof protection, guaranteeing prolonged comfort in even the harshest of conditions.
The Alpinestars SMX 6 v2 Drystar boots offer a fantastic package of protection, dexterity and waterproof performance without compromise.
The adventure rider is one that expects to get dirty, wet, and possibly even have to scrabble their bike up a bit of rock and dirt. This rider owns a bike like a Ducati Multistrada or Honda Africa Twin and wants to be protected from sharp rocks and wet, windy days.
Even at $370, this adventure jacket is almost criminally underpriced. First off, it’s waterproof with HyperTex, an evolution of Gore-Tex that allows for more breathability. It is made of 420D and 300D rip stop nylon, making it incredibly lightweight. D30 T5 grade CE approved impact armor in the shoulders and elbows are penetration resistant should you fall on sharp rocks.
Continuing the features, the venting on this jacket is unbelievable, with two large chest vents, two underarm vents that run almost to the base of the ribs, and two massive rear exhaust vents, all zippered. An under-helmet rain hood is built into the collar in a hidden compartment. There is a tail pocket that is 14 inches wide and fully waterproof for storage. Multiple pockets everywhere inside and outside on the jacket means you can carry a lot of stuff.
The collar button is on a slider to adjust to a perfect fit. The arms have bicep and forearm straps to find the perfect fit and keep the jacket tight in windy conditions. There is a removable inner thermal liner. There is a thick EVA foam back protector built in.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, there is a 1.5 liter water pack with drinking tube that clips into four easy mount backpack clips and can be secured over either shoulder with restraining straps.
The Rukka R-Star’s are pretty incredible in what they do. Not only do they offer a full cowhide leather construction with a waterproof Gore-Tex liner. Not only is there knuckle and finger armor sections, and abrasion resistant palm double layering. There is also a dual chamber system depending on what weather you’re riding in.
The dual chamber system is operated by sliding a hand into either the top (warmth) or bottom (grip) chamber of the glove when looking at the wrist opening. With the top opening, the rider gets full insulation across the entirety of the hand. In the bottom opening, the rider only gets insulation to the back of the hand, and gets a better feel of the handlebars.
Much like the Kathmandu jacket we recommended at the start of the adventure section, the FirstGear Kathmandu overpants are ridiculously underpriced for what they do.
D30 T5 CE approved armor in the hips and knees. Back of the waist, groin, inner thigh, and knee back areas feature HydraTex stretch sections to allow for perspiration to escape without allowing water to come in. The knees and inner calf area is made of soft suede to prevent scratching the tank or fairings of your bike.
Nearly 11 inch long thigh vents provide maximum cooling, and are held open by simply folding the zipper cover into the vents. An insulated two-thirds length thermal liner can be easily inserted or removed. Two front pockets are fully zippered and waterproof. A storm gator around the leg openings prevent splashes and rain coming up inside the pants.
And, just to top it off, there are removable suspenders to keep the pants snugly on, or you can remove the suspenders and the pants will zip together with the Kathmandu jacket.
While many boots are available for adventure riders, we found that the Forma Adventure boots simply provided the best amount of features at a reasonable price point.
The boots are made of full grain oiled cowhide leather, with a drytex integrated inner lining for waterproofing and breathability. The soles are made of dual-density, penetration resistant rubber, with an integrated steel shank surrounded by rigid nylon in the mid-sole to prevent your pegs poking into you hard over rough terrain.
Ankle and toes are protected by full TPU molded plastic. There is a full length, foam backed shin protector to shrug off branches and hard impacts on the legs. Plastic closure buckles made of aerospace grade material are nigh unbreakable, and help keep the boots tight over the velcro closure. And lastly, the top of the foot has a rubber covered TPU plastic protector to let you shift all day without hurting your foot.