Whether you choose to bike in the city or mountains, protective clothing is vital. Here are some essential tips on protective gear for bikers. This is not something to compromise on – a decent set of basic clothing will set you back around 1,000 francs.
For many, motorcycle riding means having a sense of freedom. However, the probability of having an accident is also seven times higher than when driving a car. For this reason alone, it is worth paying attention to the quality of your protective clothing. A helmet, gloves, special boots, a motorcycle suit and kidney belt are all must-haves.
A motorcycle helmet is mandatory in Switzerland and the EU. Full-face helmets offer the best protection and include a chin protector as well as a visor. You should be able to open the helmet with one hand and it should fit your head properly. Removable helmet liners are practical and can be washed. A helmet must be replaced after a crash. Good brand name helmets are available starting at 300 francs.
As your hands are usually the first to hit the ground because of your natural reflexes, it’s well worth getting reinforced or leather gloves. They should be as abrasion-resistant as possible, since hands are particularly susceptible in an accident. A strong wrist strap is also important. Try to choose gloves with fingers that are narrow rather than too wide or long. Gloves typically stretch a little from wearing. You can get a decent pair from as little as 80 francs.
Cowboy boots may well be a better choice than flip-flops, but beware: only special reinforced motorcycle boots with high bootlegs offer the right protection. Good footwear is extremely important – if the motorcycle falls onto your leg during a crash, for example, the consequences can be quite nasty.
The lower legs are at the greatest risk of injury in a motorcycle accident. Ideally, the boots will connect directly with the protectors on the motorcycle trousers. Short boots that do not cover the ankles offer considerably less protection and are not recommended. Boots are available from as little as 150 francs.
Jacket and trousers
Motorcycle clothing should offer protection in an accident and prevent the body from cooling off too much in the wind. Motorcycle jackets and trousers are usually made out of leather or abrasion-resistant textile material. While leather offers the best abrasion resistance and fit, textile clothing is more comfortable and water-resistant.
A popular textile fabric for protective clothing is Cordura 500, a nylon fibre that is sometimes reinforced with Kevlar, which is highly tear-resistant. Good protective clothing features protectors on the shoulders, elbows, forearms, knees and shins.
Ideally, you should wear a one-piece motorcycle suit comprising both jacket and trousers with no detachable seams. If you prefer separate jacket and trousers, they should be joined together with a zip so that they don’t slip out of place if you crash. Stitched seams are a weak point in a crash: so-called safety stitching is preferable to regular stitching that can tear during a crash. Leather suits are available from 700 francs, textile ones from 500 francs.
A kidney belt insulates and protects. It also supports the organs in the abdomen, reducing the risk of injury. A kidney belt can also be combined with a back protector. This is preferable to a back protector built into the jacket, since it provides protection all the way down to the coccyx.
Instead of wearing a one-piece suit with integrated protectors, you could also opt for a protective vest. This fits the body closely and is tightened with Velcro or laces. It can be used to upgrade older protective clothing that has no protectors.
A protective vest is a particularly good idea if you wear textile protective clothing, which slips more easily than leather. However, you should still wear abrasion-resistant clothing on top. As well as vests, you can also get protective shorts. Protective vests are available from 130 francs, protective shorts from 70 francs.
If you are planning a multi-day tour in unpredictable weather, it is worth investing in some rain gear, which should be brightly coloured for better visibility on the road. Zips make the suit easier to put on and ensure it will still fit snugly. The price of a rain suit starts at 70 francs.
Ultimately, it is important that protective clothing fits well and is comfortable to wear. This is the only way to be sure you are properly protected.
The right motorcycle clothing is important, not least when it comes to motorcycle insurance. If you are not properly protected and don't keep your motorcycle gear in good condition, you risk being found guilty of gross negligence. Going without motorcycle jacket and trousers is not ideal, but it is far less serious than riding in flip-flops or swimming trunks and then having an accident. The latter is a punishable offence, but even here distinctions are made: the insurance company will assess the situation differently depending on whether you were on the motorway or in a 30 km/h zone.