Even casual riders know: motorcycle gear will save your life. In an accident, a DOT-approved helmet and armored jacket can mean the difference between walking away shaken but unhurt, or disfigured for life in a wheelchair. Or worse.
Still, most of us have zero desire to zip up a graphics-laden onesie, or a tasseled leather vest and chaps. When it comes to motorcycle gear, isn’t there some happy medium between Power Ranger and Sturgis geezer?
There is. The last few years have seen an influx of protective yet stylish motorcycle gear that’s designed to look as good on the sidewalk as it works on the bike. Today, riders can get Kevlar-lined denim jeans in dark washes and contemporary cuts, quality leather jackets that hide their armor, and tasteful, comfortable boots with steel toes and padded shanks. None of which will make you feel like a complete tool once you put the kickstand down.
Until recently, most of this gear came from upstart manufacturers like Roland Sands Design and Biltwell, but lately long-established brands have begun to get into the mix. Enter Alpinestars and Klim, two internationally renowned manufacturers of quality motorcycle gear. While both are renowned for their hardcore racing and adventure apparel, respectively, both also produce gear for guys who just like to ride, and be protected while doing it. Here are two of our favorite pieces.
Klim Revener Jacket
Klim, the Idaho company renowned for its highly technical adventure and off-road riding gear, has a new casual, multifunction jacket called the Revener ($530 at Cycle Gear) that not only protects you from the elements, but is light enough to be comfortable and looks great.
Everyone has a theory on how to keep a rider dry when it rains. Klim uses the right one. It’s a Gore-Tex membrane — with its 90 billion holes per inch — that allows water vapor to escape while denying access to drops, keeping you dry while also making you dry. This is the key principle to wicking away moisture and the summer-weight Revener jacket is covered in the stuff. The Revener features a simple, straight-torso design, six external pockets (four have magnetic closures), four side vents, a velcro-wrapped cuff, and is reinforced with removable, industry-standard D30 armor in the shoulders, elbows, and back.
Klim products are known for their toughness — bombproof in some cases — but if ever you tear one up in an accident, they’ll replace it for free for up to five years after your purchase. Available in brown or blue.
Alpinestars Oscar Twin Drystar Boot
Given the opportunity to ride with some real American heroes to the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, I picked up my favorite riding boots I’d been wearing nearly every day for the last few years to pack them in the bag — and the zipper breaks on the left one. So now I need new boots for the annual Veterans Charity Ride, which starts in less than a week.
I called Alpinestars, but they were out of stock on my favorites. The renowned Italian company has been making racing gear for decades, and in the last ten years or so has taken a shine to the streets, releasing limited-edition lines featuring contemporary styles that wouldn’t be out of place on a fashion runway. The brand is legendary and I know they make a great boot, so when they offered to send me a new style called the Oscar Twin Drystar sight unseen, I had to trust my instincts and accept. They arrived on the morning I left.
Inside the box was a beautiful grey, dressy yet moto-minded low top pair of boots with black laces. Alpinestars calls them riding shoes; they look like a pair of casual chukka boots but let’s be clear: with a reinforced toe box, dual ankle protection, and oil-resistant sole, the 100 percent waterproof Twin Drystars ($250 at MotoSport.com) are made for serious motorcycling. I put them on and hit the road, and my feet have felt great since. They’ve kept out the moisture as promised and the fit is ideal. They’re the only pair of shoes I’ve worn since I left LA 600 miles behind.
If you’re looking for solid motorcycling boots that look and feel great once you’ve parked the bike, the Oscar Twin Drystars are the ideal choice.
One caveat, and this is good advice for all your online shoe buying: know your EU size, and order it whenever possible. US half-sizes are just too far apart to be truly accurate; whenever I order by my EU size I always get a perfect-fitting shoe. Available in sizes 6 to 13, in half sizes — or, more importantly, EU 38-48.
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