This article was originally published on Motorcyclist.
Sometimes motorcycle gear goes a little overboard in the looks department. Sometimes it goes a lot overboard, actually, unless you’re heavy into sci-fi or dystopian future fashion.
While there’s no arguing with the fact that being visible on the road is a good thing, there’s plenty of us out there who want something a little more subtle than dissonant neon color schemes or chromed exterior armor plates. If you’re a mohawk-wearing, stormtrooper-boot-stompin’ rider with a cape and tassels, this article isn’t for you. Rather, this is a quick look at some of the more casual, low-key gear on the market for riders who would rather have the bike, or their skill on the road, do the talking.
Helmets are easy, since most give you the option of a wide range of color schemes. And for safety’s sake, there’s typically not a lot of doodads or embellishments appended to the exterior.
Since a riding helmet is one of the most important pieces of your kit, and in many states a required item, it’s best not to skimp here.
And the nice thing is that these are all well-built, protective pieces from some of the best brands in the business. Even dirt riders, who often face the most flamboyant looks, can find classy, quiet looks from most major brands. The key is dig around a retailer’s site or store and find the solid options. They’re out there, even if they don’t get top-billing.
If you’re aiming for a casual look, you’ll likely want to steer clear of highly technical adventure or sportbike jackets. These are a sure way to either look like you’re heading out for a safari or roadrace. Rather, check out some of the leather and textile pieces from brands like Rev’It if you value style, or Tourmaster if you’re wanting to keep budget casual too.
Of course, numerous other brands carry jackets to meet the introvert’s needs, but consider the quality of armor included and the seasonal functionality. There are calm jackets with waterproofing, with mesh, with top-notch protectors. And with café culture in full swing, there’s no shortage of jackets and overshirts made to look like pieces you’d wear with a pair of jeans and Converse off the bike.
For warmer months, a pair of mesh gloves with some built-in protectors will do you worlds of good without making it look like your hands have been dipped in tie-dye paint.
The short cuff style is more likely to keep you looking totally aloof, but there’s even gauntlet gloves that will fit the bill if you plan to look cool while riding in bad weather.
Without a doubt, the most casual choice you can make in riding leg wear is a pair of riding jeans. You’ll hardly look like you cared enough to dress for the occasion! But what the spectators won’t realize is you’ve got reinforcements like Kevlar and Aramid in high-risk areas, and impact protectors in the knees and even hips sometimes. Bull-It is doing awesome stuff with riding jeans these days, with some of the best materials and armor you’re going to find. The SR6 from Bull-It is a great example.
You can find textile and leather pants that won’t garner a glimpse, but if you really want to keep it casual, you’ll want to grab a pair of riding denim.
Full-length boots may offer the most protection, but for the casual rider a pair of riding shoes is the choice du jour. These will often look no different than the sneakers you can get at the mall, but there’s impact protection and crush protection and abrasion resistance and cleverly designed lacing systems and… You get the point. They’re designed for the needs of riders, in good times and bad.
These come with black uppers and white outer soles, have impeccable design, and offer looks meant to blend in with the crowd. Plus, these shoes are comfortable, and only get better with age.
The key to a low-key, casual look is realizing that manufacturers are producing pieces these days specifically aimed to look like everyday wear. Whether it’s an overshirt, a pair of jeans, or riding shoes, finding a casual kit for your next ride is easier than ever. Subtle colors, blacks, browns, and grays, and solid options for your helmet and shoes will ensure people are staring at your ride and not your getup.