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What Not to Wear on a Motorcycle

What Not to Wear on a Motorcycle (Must-Know Tips for Women)

You already know what you SHOULD wear on a motorcycle, right?

Essential safety gear includes:

  • A road legal motorcycle helmet
  • A leather jacket, or a denim one with kevlar armor
  • Riding jeans or leathers
  • Motorcycle boots, and
  • Motorcycle gloves.


It’s a lot.
But that’s the standard motorcycle safety getup.
And here’s a more detailed run-down if you need it.


motorcycle gear is a lot


So is there any wriggle room when it comes to what you can wear on a motorcycle?

Like: can you ride in a t-shirt and shorts in the summer?
Or maybe a dress if you’re going on a motorcycle date?

Well, there is A TINY BIT of flexibility when it comes to what you can wear on a motorcycle.
So let’s talk about where you can compromise a little bit.

But make no mistake: it’s just not worth risking your safety to look pretty.

When you know what not to wear on a motorcycle, you can make smart choices and ride with less risk.
Shorts and flip-flops are a bad idea, and you should also ditch the backpack.
Here are 10 things to leave at home on your next motorcycle ride.

What Not to Wear on a Motorcycle: 10 Things to Avoid

1.  A cool but illegal helmet (or no helmet!)

I know there’s a big anti-helmet movement out there.
And in some parts of the world, motorcycle helmets are not legally required.

So some people ride with novelty helmets, pretty helmets that offer no protection, or no helmet at all.
But I can’t for the life of me imagine why you would risk what’s arguably the most important part of your body.


motorcycle helmets are necessary


If I had to choose only one piece of motorcycle safety gear, it would be a motorcycle helmet.

If I wasn’t wearing proper riding jeans or a jacket, I could recover from a broken arm or road gravel in my skin (been there – that was fun).

But I’m never, never NEVER getting on a motorcycle without a helmet.
I don’t want to deal with a brain injury, a cracked skull, eye damage, smashed in teeth, gravel embedded in my face, or a broken nose.

Why on earth would you zoom down the highway with a naked head, just hoping for the best?
If I want to feel the wind on my face, I’ll just open my helmet visor.

Is there a compromise?

Yes. A road legal half-face motorcycle helmet.
It doesn’t have the closed-in feeling of a full face helmet, but it still protects your precious head.


a half face motorcycle helmet is OK


2.  Tight underwear

As you’re probably noticing, on a motorcycle ride, comfort and safety are more important than glamor.
So this is not the time to bother with your laciest, prettiest lingerie.

You really don’t need tight elastic digging into your waist, or hard underwire from a pushup bra digging into your soft lady bits.

No-one’s going to notice amazing cleavage under all that gear anyway.
So you might as well be comfortable instead.

Here are a few tips on how to choose the right biker panties and motorcycle bra.

Is there a compromise?

Yes. Choose comfortable, breathable underwear in cotton.
But you don’t need to wear gigantic beige underpants, or a big white baggy bra.
Add some pizazz with color, not all-over lace or super-tight fastenings.


what to wear on a motorcycle – the right underwear


3.  Open toed shoes

Here we’re talking about sandals, flip flops… or any kind of flimsy summer shoe that puts your feet on show.
On a motorcycle, it doesn’t matter if you have the perfect pedicure.
Hopefully, no-one’s going to see it.

Your feet must be covered from toe to ankle (and preferably even higher).
You don’t want to lose a toe, break your foot or ankle or have all the skin on your feet scraped off.


what not to wear on a motorcycle – bare feet


The safest kind of shoes to wear on a motorcycle are motorcycle boots.
They’re generally padded to absorb possible impacts, so they’re way safer.
The good ones are also waterproof, and comfortable enough to wear all day.

But motorcycle boots aren’t exactly gorgeous, so…

Is there a compromise?

Yes. Leather boots – calf length, or ankle high.
They’re not as solid as motorcycle boots, but they’re a huge improvement on flip flops.


motorcycle boots or leather boots


4.  High heels

Riding a motorcycle is surprisingly physical.
You need to be able to spring on and off the motorcycle quickly and safely.
And if the motorcycle stops suddenly, you’ll have to brace your feet against the foot pegs.

If you’re wearing heels, that’s harder to do.
And you could easily twist an ankle, fall into the gutter (embarrassing) or totter into passing traffic (potentially lethal).


what not to wear on a motorcycle – high heels


But what if you love your heels – or you’re a little on the short side?

Is there a compromise?

Yes. A small, square heel that gives you more height, but is still stable and won’t tip you over.


what to wear on a motorcycle – a small heel


5.  T-shirts or tank tops (without a leather jacket)

The point of a leather motorcycle jacket is to protect the upper half of your body.
Without that thick, abrasion-resistant protection, it’ll be your skin that hits the road first – followed by your shoulder or arm.

Of course, on a summer’s day, it’s tempting to just forget about wearing a jacket.
Who wants to wear leather in the summer?

But riding in a t-shirt and jeans instead is not exactly safe.
In fact, it’s not remotely safe.


what not to wear on a motorcycle – tank tops


And in hot conditions, there are a few more kinds of dangers to deal with.

Like angry, overheated drivers who are being more aggressive than usual and driving right at you.
Or melting road surfaces that will stick nicely to exposed skin on impact.
And the sunburn that you’ll develop without noticing as you ride in a cooling breeze.

Yep, you always need a jacket.

Is there a compromise?

Yes. In summer, leather’s too hot.
Invest in a denim motorcycle jacket with kevlar armor and air vents to let the breeze circulate around your body.


wear this on a motorcycle – denim jacket


6.  Shorts or a dress

Just as you should never have your arms or shoulders exposed, the same rule applies to your lower body.
You need to protect your legs and backside with riding jeans or leathers.

Believe me, you don’t want to land on the road on your knee.
Or slide at speed along a gravel surface on your bare thigh.


We’re talking potential hospital-level pain here.

Sure, we hope that won’t happen.
And most of the time, it doesn’t.

But what if it does, and you’re wearing shorts or a dress?
You’ll lose some skin and possibly break some bones.

All that pain is totally avoidable.


what not to wear on a motorcycle – a dress


Is there a compromise?

Yes. There’s a trick to wearing a dress safely on a motorcycle: try this.

7.  Sweat pants

Surely sweat pants would be OK now and then?
After all, they cover your entire lower body, right?

They do, for sure.
Especially if you’re watching TV with your biker dog.

But that’s not really comparable to roaring along the highway surrounded by homicidal car drivers.


what not to wear on a motorcycle - sweats


If you run into trouble on a motorcycle when wearing sweat pants, you’ll have zero real protection between you and the road.

You might as well just wear shorts.
And we’ve just talked about how crazy that is.

Is there a compromise?

Yes. Try some kevlar riding jeans or textile motorcycle pants on for size.
They’re often more comfortable than traditional leather motorcycle pants.
And they offer a lot more protection than sweats.


what to wear on a motorcycle - kevlar jeans


8.  Big jewellery

I know, it’s hard to look feminine in full motorcycle safety gear.
Here are some tips on how to look good on a motorcycle.

In the meantime, don’t be tempted to dress up the layer-on-layers of black safety gear with a beautiful pair of dangling earrings, or 10 jingling bracelets.

You already have enough gear to wrangle every time you stop the motorcycle.

You don’t need more challenges – like how to take off your helmet without ripping your earlobe in half because a big earring is caught in your helmet lining.
It’s also hard to ride comfortably if a big ring is digging into your finger under your riding gloves.

Is there a compromise?

Yes. Add some feminine touches with small, simple jewellery that makes a statement without getting caught in everything.
Like this.


what not to wear on a motorcycle – big jewellery


9.  Contact lenses

I know that some people think it’s fine to wear contacts on a motorcycle.

And it MIGHT be OK if:

  • You’re going on a very short ride, and
  • You have either goggles that seal well, or a full face helmet with a visor that will protect your eyes from the wind.

In that case, you might want to risk it.


what not to wear on a motorcycle - contact lenses


But I never would.
And I’m as blind as a bat.

I wear glasses all the time, from the second I first wake up, until it’s time to wash my face at night.
And so I wear glasses inside my motorcycle helmet too.

The danger with wearing contacts on a motorcycle is the wind factor.
Even with a full face helmet, the wind can cause havoc with your eyes.

With contacts in, you’ll likely find your eyes will dry out really quickly.
And if a little bit of dust or dirt gets in behind the lens, you’ll be in agony until you can stop and fix the problem.

It’s way simpler to just go for some glasses that will fit comfortably into your helmet.

Is there a compromise?

Yes. If you really need to wear contacts, bring them with you and swap them out for glasses at your destination.
Just remember to take them out again before you get back on the motorcycle.


what to wear on a motorcycle - glasses


10.  A backpack

Backpacks on a motorcycle are a terrible idea.
They can throw the bike out of balance – and also make your back hurt by the end of a ride.

A backpack will move around, and slide to the left or right around corners.
It adds strain to your back, which now has to support the extra weight strapped to your body.

Wearing a backpack on a motorcycle can also add extra risk factor in an accident.
If there’s anything sharp in there, that just might end up embedded in your spine.
Again, just not worth the risk.


what not to wear on a motorcycle – a backpack


Recently I’ve stopped wearing any kind of bag on motorcycle rides.
I can fit my wallet and phone into the inside pockets in my leather jacket.
And my house keys and lipstick go in an outer pocket.

It’s SO much easier to spring on and off the bike without a heavy bag dangling off me and getting in the way.

If you want to carry your house on your back, you might want to come back in your next life as a snail.

Is there a compromise?

Yes. If you absolutely need to bring a bag, pack it away in the motorcycle luggage until you reach your desintation.

Now you know what not to wear on a motorcycle!

And even more importantly – now you know WHY it’s a bad idea to ride in a t-shirt or flip flops.

But it’s not all about being boring and super sensible.
As we’ve seen, there are ways to compromise a little bit, without increasing your risk factor.

Motorcycling is the most fun thing ever – but like anything you do, it can expose you to danger.
So if you’re wearing the right gear, you’re way more protected.
And then you can relax and enjoy the ride.

Like this article?

Then you might also be interested in:

How to Feel More Confident on a Motorcycle (10 Tips for Passengers)

How to feel more confident on a motorcycle










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