Does it matter what motorcycle passengers wear?
Do you have to wear all the safety gear that the rider wears?
Or can you get away with your favorite summer dress?
Maybe a pair of denim shorts?
These are important questions.
The answers directly affect your safety, and your experience on the motorcycle…
So here’s the truth.
As a motorcycle passenger, it does really, REALLY matter what you wear.
Choose the right gear, and you’ll be safer and feel more confident.
But climb onto a motorcycle with a lot of skin exposed, and you’re inviting – no, BEGGING – for trouble.
I have nothing against mini-skirts or short sleeved tops.
They’re pretty and feminine, and great for the summer.
But they won’t work on a motorcycle.
You want to keep your skin on your body, rather than risk leaving some of it behind on the road, right?
Yep, me too!
So let me explain what you need to wear when you ride on the back of a motorcycle.
Motorcycle passengers need to dress for safety before fashion. That means riding jeans, a jacket, helmet, gloves and boots – not a cotton dress and sandals. When you’re wearing the right motorcycle gear, you’ll be a lot more protected. You can relax, and enjoy every minute of the ride.
So What Should Motorcycle Passengers Wear?
OK, so we’ve ruled out the mini-skirt option.
So what should you wear instead?
It’s not complicated.
Let me walk you through the basics of what to wear on the back of a motorcycle.
1. A motorcycle helmet
If I had to pick only one piece of motorcycle safety gear, it would be the motorcycle helmet.
I know some people prefer to ride without one, in places where that’s legal.
But me, I would NEVER get on a motorcycle without a helmet.
It protects the most important part of your body – your brain.
You kinda need that, well, for EVERYTHING.
Aside from protecting your precious brain, it’s also highly practical.
It keeps the sun and rain off your head.
Close the visor, and it keeps the wind and stray insects out of your eyes, too.
Pretty handy, right?
Choosing a motorcycle helmet can be overwhelming, though, if you’re new to being a motorcycle passenger.
Don’t worry: I’ve written a really simple guide to women’s motorcycle helmets right here.
2. Comfortable underwear
If you’re spending more than 10 minutes as a motorcycle passenger, you probably don’t want to be wearing a thong.
Or a tight pushup underwire bra, come to that.
It’s better to choose breathable, comfortable cotton that moves with your body, and supports you where you need it.
And if you’re on a longer road trip, you might even ditch the underwire bra in favor of a softer cup that doesn’t dig into your skin and make you feel laced up tight, like a Victorian lady.
What we’re looking for here is some middle ground.
Somewhere between a Victoria’s Secret catalog, and ugly beige granny panties is fine.
This is not the time for underwear that’s tight, scratchy, super lacy, or made of leather.
And maybe not anything that suggests you may be dressing up as a cat for Halloween.
Cotton briefs and the most comfortable bra you own are purrrfect.
3. Jeans or thick pants
If you’re riding in a mini-skirt and stockings, you just might cause a 5 car pile-up as distracted drivers forget to watch the road.
But there’s an even bigger danger here.
What happens if something goes wrong?
In a mini-skirt, the lower half of your body will have zero protection.
That’s why motorcycle jeans are a better option.
Motorcycle jeans are great, because they look like normal jeans, but they have sewn-in padding reinforcement at the knees and butt. That’s known as kevlar armor.
It’s a proven way of protecting your lower half.
Happily, there are motorcycle jeans to fit all shapes and sizes.
But what if you don’t have proper motorcycle jeans yet?
While you look for the right pair, you’ll need to compromise in the short term.
So either wear some jeans you already own, or a pair of leather pants if you have them.
The goal here is to cover the lower half of your body with the thickest, most resistant fabric you have.
4. Lots of layers
As a motorcycle passenger, you suddenly start paying closer attention to the weather forecast.
It’s less fun being out on the bike if you get seriously cold, or soaked to the skin.
So you need to be ready for anything, clothes-wise.
Here in New Zealand, the weather can change dramatically in a matter of minutes.
We’re often out riding under a dazzling sun, and turn a corner to find buckets of rain being thrown from the sky.
And because we’re pretty close to Antarctica way down here, there’s often a freezing cold wind that can easily bite through 5 layers of clothes.
So what’s the solution?
Wear layers when you’re out on the motorcycle.
On colder days, you can layer thermals, cotton and wool, blocking out the wind chill factor and staying toasty on the open road.
And when it’s warmer, if you have a few layers of cotton and lighter wool under your jacket, you can peel off a layer or two if you get too hot.
So layers of clothing work, whether it’s warm or cold.
They make it easier to stay comfortable, because you simply add or subtract clothes according to the temperature.
5. A leather jacket
A leather jacket is the foundation of proper motorcycle riding gear (and it also looks good in a bar after the ride).
But we’re not talking about paper thin, high fashion leather jackets here.
You need a thick, quality leather jacket that offers key safety features.
The jacket needs to have armor built into the shoulders, back and elbows.
That gives you extra protection if a crazy car driver should cross your path.
And if you get a jacket with a removable thermal liner, you have another way of staying comfortable, whatever the weather.
But what if you don’t wear leather – or can’t afford it?
Textile motorcycle jackets are also an option.
They’re generally more affordable, and a lot lighter than leather, which some motorcycle passengers prefer.
Like leather jackets, the good textile ones also have in-built armor, and zip up tight to stop any cold bursts of wind getting through.
6. A pair of boots
Ever seen women riding on the front or back of motorcycles in sandals or high heels?
It really makes me shudder.
If anything bad happens, their feet will be a mangled mess.
That’s why motorcycle passengers need to wear some sturdy boots.
You probably have a pair or two of boots already in your closet, right?
If they go higher than your ankle, they’ll be a great start.
But a pair of motorcycle boots is what you really need to fully protect your feet, ankles and lower legs.
And this is probably the perfect moment to remind you that motorcycle passengers are dressing for safety before fashion.
Because motorcycle boots are not known for being catwalk gorgeous.
They’re functional, practical safety wear.
Thankfully, they mostly come in black and are usually hidden underneath your motorcycle jeans.
So you won’t notice that they’re the least pretty shoes you own.
So yes, they’re not beautiful, but they mean your toes, feet and lower legs are safely wrapped up in a warm, protective cocoon.
Get some comfortable ones, and they’ll double as walking shoes on a road trip.
7. Motorcycle gloves
Motorcycle gloves are another key piece of motorcycle safety equipment.
Once again, these are not just for the rider.
Motorcycle passengers also need to protect their hands from the wind, rain, sunburn, and any possible mishaps.
Motorcycle gloves are not the same as thin leather fashion gloves.
These are thicker, reinforced (and if you’re lucky, thermally lined) gloves.
They can help create a wind-proof seal that helps keep you more comfortable too.
And yep, these babies are generally not pretty either.
But we’re talking about safety gear, right?
So Motorcycle Passengers Should Forget About Looking Good, Then?
Not at all!
Sure, it’s super important to be wearing a form of armor whenever you get on the back of a motorcycle.
That’s just common sense.
Think of it as Iron Man summoning his magical suit that snaps together around his body.
Once he has that on, he’s pretty much a superhero, ready to save the world.
Happily, motorcycle passengers are not under that kind of pressure.
All we need is an outer shell of protection that keeps us safer on the motorcycle.
We don’t need to fly, or fight evil villains.
But that doesn’t mean we need to abandon any hope of looking halfway decent.
Underneath that shell of protection, it’s still possible to look like a woman.
There’s a full guide at the end of this post, but here are a few quick pointers in the meantime.
Motorcycle helmet hair
As I’ve been saying, motorcycle helmets are a must for anyone who wants to protect their brain.
But motorcycle helmets do cause total chaos in the hair department.
This is not true in Hollywood, of course.
In the movies, biker chicks throw a long leg over the bike to dismount.
They pull off their helmets in one elegant motion.
Never mind that their hair has been whipping around loose in a high-speed chase.
That hasn’t turned it into a wild pile of straw.
Of course not!
It’s still falling to their bare shoulders in perfect, glossy waves.
(Because yeah, they’re not wearing many clothes, either.)
This makes me laugh, every single time.
It’s just too ridiculous.
Hair that’s flying loose on a motorcycle always turns into a bird’s nest.
But don’t worry.
There are plenty of ways to deal with your hair on a motorcycle.
I talk about how to fix motorcycle helmet hair over in this post, if you need help.
Check out YouTube, and you’ll find quite a few makeup tutorials for motorcycle passengers.
But wait a minute.
Many of these experts insist that fake caterpillar eyelashes, and lashings of black eye shadow are normal day wear on a motorcycle.
That’s simply crazy.
Shiny makeup is a magnet for dirt and grime.
And sticky little insects.
It’s hard to look seductive covered in bug splatter and mud.
Here’s a low maintenance guide to easy motorcycle helmet makeup.
I know a few motorcycle passengers who insist on wearing big jewellery on the bike.
I wince as they pull off their motorcycle helmets, and get a long dangly earring caught in the strap.
Now on a motorcycle, jewellery IS perfectly possible.
It just has to be small, and not get tangled up in the layers of gear.
Think simple and practical: sparkly stud earrings, some flat bracelets or rings.
Minimal doesn’t have to be boring.
Nails are another thing to consider.
Long pointy talons are wildly impractical.
How do you even poke them into your riding gloves?
But biker chick nails can be practical AND pretty.
I’ve put together plenty of inspiration over here.
Now You Know What Motorcycle Passengers Wear
There’s a big difference between wearing proper safety gear – or a cute dress and heels – on a motorcycle.
When you’re protected by the right gear, you can relax and enjoy the ride.
Because when you’re a motorcycle passenger, safety has to take priority over fashion.
But all is not lost when it comes to looking good!
There are still plenty of ways to look feminine underneath those layers of safety gear.
Check out the post below for some tips on how to be safe AND look good on a motorcycle.
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