With the way 2020 has gone, I think there will be more people than ever looking to get away from public transport and turning to one of the most cost effective ways to commute - motorcycles and scooters!
Commuting on two-wheels has so many benefits, from how economical it can be to run and maintain a bike or scooter compared to a car, to how easily they can cut through traffic and get you where you need to go.
In this blog we are going to be looking at some of the best and most helpful gear and accessories for motorcycle and scooter commuters, as well as giving a few examples of both budget and premium options. The items listed here are not meant to be the only possible options, but more to show what is out there and give you an idea of some of the things that can make a commute in the UK a bit more comfortable.
While only a motorcycle helmet is mandatory by law, a full set of protective clothing is highly recommended. If you are going to be commuting regularly, then you want to be as safe as possible and that means jackets, trousers and gloves. Aside from keeping you safe, they can also protect you from the weather (definitely something to think about in the UK!)
One thing to bear in mind when you are buying your gear is the correct fit. Obviously you should try everything on in a store if possible, to make sure it fits correctly and comfortably but also think about what you will be wearing to work. For me, when I ride to work I put my work clothes in my backpack and change when I arrive. Some people are able to leave a clean set of clothes at work to change into and others wear their suits under their motorcycle jacket and trousers. That can be a good option to avoid creasing or if getting changed at work is difficult. What you will need to do if you go this route however, is make sure when purchasing your motorcycle gear, that it is sized to fit over anything you will be wearing underneath.
Okay with that out of the way, let's look at some gear!
Oxford Montreal 3.0
This is a great affordable jacket with Rainseal technology and a thick thermal lining that will keep you warm and dry when the weather is wet and cold. The jacket is less than £150 and comes with armoured shoulders and elbows as well as an optional back insert. There's ample pocket space, including a handy box pocket on the rear and it's also got reflectors on the front and back for increased visibility.
Brett wears one of these on his Bike Matters test rides and I reckon it ticks all the boxes for an excellent commuter jacket too.
Dainese Airframe D1
This is a really nice looking summer jacket from Dainese and despite the big brand name, it's actually not too expensive either, you can pick one up for around £160. It's a textile mesh jacket with armour on the shoulders and elbows and there is a rear insert on the back as well. The back armour has to be purchased separately but that is pretty standard these days and one of the ways they get the cost down on the jacket.
The breathable mesh inserts mean that while you are riding in the summer this jacket will keep you really cool, while still offering decent protection. I wear one of these myself and it's been great, my only complaint would be the tiny pockets, but it is enough room for a phone and keys, everything else can go in a backpack.
Of course it isn't ideal for the winter, but it can endure the odd shower and the QuickDry fabric will have you comfortable again in no time.
Bering Yukon GORE-TEX
This one is a bit more of a premium option, coming in at around £550, but it will serve as a great all year round jacket. Thanks to Bering's 'Air Dynamic System' you can actually adjust the airflow, allowing you to stay cool in summer and keep warm in winter. There is also a removable thermal lining, adjustable elbow protectors and once again a rear insert pocket.
A waterproof GORE-TEX membrane will keep you dry in the rain, there are pockets everywhere and an adjustment system that lets you get a perfect fit. It also looks pretty cool too. If you are willing to spend the money, its a great all-round commuter jacket.
Oxford Rainseal All Weather Over Jacket
A lot of motorcycle jackets tend to come in dark colours, most have reflective areas now which is good but if you are spending a lot of time in traffic then something like this will provide maximum visibility. It is designed to be an over jacket, so you simply purchase one in your usual size and it will fit over the top of whichever jacket you are wearing. Aside from the maximum visibility it's also fully water proofed and can fold up to fit in a backpack or top box.
At only £25 this is a great item for any motorcycle commuter.
Oxford Montreal 3.0
The perfect companion to the Montreal jacket, these are some great waterproof trousers that can be picked up for a very reasonable price and are another great choice for commuters.
Heat resistant inner leg panels can deal with unwanted engine heat, it also comes with built in armoured knees and features water resistant pockets. There are some handy zip-up air vents which can help you cool down in the summer or stay warm in the winter. You can see these in action on Bike Matters along with the full set of Oxford Montreal gear.
A well-rounded pair of trousers offering decent protection for £129.99 brand new. Pretty hard to argue with that!
RST Metro CE Aramid Fibre Jeans
Something like these are what I would say is the minimum you should be wearing on a bike. These trousers look just like regular jeans but the reinforced aramid fibre offers a lot more protection. There are also pockets on the knees and hips that can be fitted with armour The armour has to be purchased separately but I definitely recommend it as your knees are going to be one of the main impact points if you come off at slow speeds.
I use jeans like this in the summer, they look good and the light weight is very comfortable but no waterproofing means it can be unpleasant getting caught in a downpour.
Like I said before, these do not offer as much protection as the other options here, but they are definitely preferable to regular trousers and you can pick a pair up for less than a hundred pounds.
Alpinestars Tech Road Gore-Tex Trousers
This one is another premium option utilising GORE-TEX fabric for great all-weather protection. There is built in knee and shin armour, abrasion resistant panelling and a removable quilted liner to keep you warm in the winter.
These trousers are fully waterproof and feature reflective strips for improved visibility in the dark which is always a good thing to have when your riding home from work in the evening!
With all the advanced construction in these trousers you can expect a premium price tag to match with a £399 RRP but I have seen these going for under £250 new so it is possible to get a bargain if you shop around. All in all a solid piece of commuter gear with good protection and versatility.
Oxford Rainseal All Weather Over Suit
Similar to the over jacket but this time it fits over your entire body. These things are designed with that in mind so you purchase one in your usual size and it will fit over the top of your regular gear.
It can be folded up and stored in a top box or backpack, so if you find yourself getting caught out in unexpected weather, you can put one of these on and be good to go! Less than £50 makes this a bargain and a great bit of kit for motorcycle and scooter commuters.
Alpinestars Celer Glove
These are some great short style leather gloves, meaning if you have a suit on under your gear you can still wear them comfortably without your sleeves getting in the way. They are lightweight and have ventilation so great in the summer for keeping cool but not ideal in the rain.
They look really nice and offer good protection with armoured knuckles and reinforced padding. You can pick a pair of these up for around the £70 mark.
Richa Cold Protect Gore-Tex Gloves
Another Gore-Tex option here but these gloves are actually very reasonably priced at around £90. The built-in fleece lining means they are going to keep you really warm in the winter because trust me, riding with freezing cold hands is not much fun.
Thanks to the Gore-Tex material these are breathable but fully waterproof and feature strong impact protection. Another excellent choice for a commuter.
Gerbing MicroWirePRO Heated XRL Hybrid Gloves
Finally we have the premium option for gloves, a nice thing to have in the winter and an alternative to heated grips - heated gloves! The RRP is £179.99 so these are more expensive than the other items but you get a solid pair of leather gloves with decent protection and armour that are waterproof, windproof and electrically heated.
One thing to bear in mind with these is that they have to be connected to your bike's battery, so if you don't want to mess around with cables you would have to purchase a chargeable lithium battery separately for them.
There are a lot of types of helmet available and because everybody is different, it is hard to make specific recommendations on this one. We do have a motorcycle helmet guide that covers all the variations and gives some general advice on what to look for.
The key is to actually try on any helmet you are thinking of purchasing, and see what fits you best. What I will recommend, is that as a commuter, you are going to be riding regularly and among traffic, so go for the maximum protection possible and that means a full face lid or at least a flip-up.
HJC I70 Karon Black
The HJC 170 Karen Black is definitely one helmet we can recommend, as used by Brett on all of his Bike Matters content. I think this is a great helmet with a lot going for it, the fact HJC have managed to create a relatively small shell without sacrificing any protection makes it very comfortable and lightweight. You get a handy drop down sun shield as well as sunglass or spectacle grooves, plenty of air vents for good air flow and a very reasonable price of £169.99.
Like I said earlier however, you really do need to try your helmets on and see which has the perfect fit for your head.
Motorcycle commuter accessories
We've been over the clothing essentials and seen a few examples of what is out there but in this section we will go over some other bits of gear that can come in really handy for any motorcycle commuter, and to be honest, I would consider some of these to be essential as well!
These are really good to put over your bike if it is being parked outside. I use an Oxford Rainex cover, it cost around £50 new and offers protection against all types of weather. There are a few nice features on this one, of course it is fully waterproof but there are also convenient holes to thread your armoured chain and lock through and perhaps best of all, it can fold up really small and fit in your backpack so you can take it with you on your commute.
Motorcycle security is definitely essential. Most insurance policies will require you to use security on your bike at all times when it isn't in use and to be honest it's common sense. I have an Oxford armoured chain which cost less than £50, and combined with your steering lock, this is usually the bare minimum.
I also use a Datatool immobiliser for added security but one thing to bear in mind with the immobiliser is that it uses your bike's battery charge to function. If you don't keep it regularly charged, it is easy to come back to a dead battery!
Motorcycle / Scooter Top Box
If you are making the switch to commuting on two-wheels, one of the very few disadvantages is your luggage and storage. Of course this depends on how much you need to take with you, if you can get away with just a backpack then great, but I have listed a few things here like the over-jacket, bike cover and armoured chain that all need to be taken with you. On top of that, if you plan to change your clothes at work you will need somewhere for them as well.
Givi make a whole range of top boxes for motorcycles and scooters with prices ranging from £50 all the way to £300 and beyond. So really it depends what kind of size box your bike can support and what kind of storage you need. A top box is Definitely something to think about.
Motorcycle back pack
These are really handy for taking things with you on a bike or scooter. I used to always use a regular backpack and it gets the job done but there are some definite disadvantages with these. Firstly they are made of weak fabric, so if you take a spill it could easily be torn. Secondly, they have no aerodynamics in mind, it used to be very annoying when my backpack would catch the wind and move around on my back at high speeds.
Fortunately there are a whole range of excellent purpose designed motorcycle backpacks out there with a whole range of prices too. One of the best is the Kreiga R20, made from abrasion resistant fabric and designed to fit the contours of your back, there is also a handy waist strap to hold the bag in place and avoid any unwanted wind resistance. They aren't cheap at around £130 but if you are using one of these day in and day out, its durable nature and comfort will be worth it in the long run.
Some bikes come with these as standard but it is usually reserved only for the most premium models. You can actually get third party heated grips installed yourself and they come in a variety of options too including a very affordable set from Oxford called the Hothands. They will need to connect to your battery for power, but according to Oxford the battery drain is minimal.
You can pick a set of these up for £69.99 and they can help keep your hands warm on those cold weather commutes.
Termoscud Leg Cover
These are really awesome for anyone wanting to start commuting on a scooter. They come in a bunch of options designed to fit almost any type of scooter you can think of, even the new 3-wheeler styles like the MP3. There are also various price points ranging from £99 up to £199 for the latest 'pro' version.
The Termoscud from Tucano Urbano attaches to your scooter to cover your lower body with a fully waterproof and abrasion resistant material, with a removable quilted thermal lining. The aim is provide you with maximum warmth and waterproofing and comfort in bad weather. The latest 'Pro' versions even have a new inflation system to prevent the cover flapping in high winds!
If you are looking to ditch public transport and make the switch to two-wheels, be sure to check out our guide to some of the most useful accessories any new rider should have.