Commuting on two wheels has a ton of benefits, from the lower costs of running and maintaining a bike or scooter, to how easily they can cut through the traffic and get you where you need to be on time. It's no surprise they are becoming increasingly popular, especially when your CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) can be completed in just an afternoon! Swapping from your car to a 125cc moped or scooter could be surprisingly easy.
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 choices, they are meant to give you a basic idea of some of the items you can look for to make a commute in the UK a more comfortable and safe experience.
Remember: Safety comes first
While only a motorcycle helmet is mandatory by law in the UK, 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 here in the UK!).
When you are buying your gear, ideally you should try everything on in a store if possible, to make sure it fits correctly and comfortably. An important thing to bear in mind as well is what you will be wearing to work. When I ride to work, I put my work clothes in my backpack and change when I arrive, so all my usual gear works fine. Some people can leave a clean set of clothes at work to change into when they arrive too, but if that is not possible, it may be most convenient to just wear your work clothes under your protective gear to avoid creasing. If this is the most convenient option for you, then make sure that your motorcycle gear 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 Continental Advanced Textile Jacket
This is a great all-rounder that comes at an affordable price, I've seen them on sale for as low as £110. The jacket comes with a removable thermal insulated lining, as well as a detachable waterproof membrane. The result is a jacket that can be adjusted to suit all weather types, while still providing good protection with built in elbow and shoulder armour. There is a pocket for a back protector too but that will have to be purchased separately.
You can get one of these in a range of colours with reflective detailing for increased visibility and having spent a lot of time in Oxford jackets myself, I can definitely recommend them for their ability to deal with all conditions and their general level of comfort. Ticks every box a budding motorcycle commuter might need!
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 £200. It's a textile mesh jacket with armour on the shoulders and elbows and there is a rear pocket for an optional back protector as well.
The breathable mesh inserts mean that while you are riding in the summer, this jacket will give good airflow and keep you really cool. I've used one of these for years and it's been great, my only complaint would be the tiny pockets, but there is still 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 quick-dry fabric will have you comfortable again in no time.
Richa Cyclone Gore-Tex Jacket
This one is a bit more of a premium option, coming in at around the £400 mark, but it will serve as a great all year round jacket with excellent protection.
A water and windproof Gore-Tex membrane will keep you dry and insulated in the rain, with a detachable quilted thermal lining for cold weather and ventilation ports to allow better airflow when it's hot. The jacket has built-in D30 armour on the shoulders, elbows, and back as standard and the outside offers excellent abrasion resistance with its durable 500D Cordura outer shell.
There are decent sized pocket pouches for some extra storage space and adjustable velcro and zips on the arms and waist to get a more customised fit. If you are willing to spend the money, its a great year-round commuter jacket that can handle anything you want to throw at it.
Oxford Rainseal All Weather Over suit
A lot of motorcycle jackets tend to come in dark colours, and 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 oversuit, so you simply purchase one in your usual size and it will fit over the top of whichever jacket and jeans you are wearing. Aside from the maximum visibility, it's also fully waterproofed and can fold up to fit in a backpack or top box.
At around £60, this could be a handy item for any motorcycle commuter who wants to make sure they can be seen by other road users.
Oxford Continental Advanced Textile Jeans
The perfect companion to the Continental jacket, these are some great waterproof trousers that can be picked up for a very reasonable price and are another decent option for commuters.
The Oxford Continental jeans come with both a removable thermal lining and a detachable waterproof membrane, meaning they can be customised for protection in any weather. There are adjustable armoured knee protectors built in, as well as reflective detailing and large box pockets for a bit of extra storage.
A well-rounded pair of trousers offering decent protection for around £130 brand new. Pretty hard to argue with that!
RST X Kevlar Tech Pro Aramid Fibre Jeans
Something similar to these is 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, with built in armour on the hips and knees too.
I use a pair of these in the summer, they look excellent and fit well but the lack of waterproofing does mean it can be unpleasant if you get caught in a downpour. Still, at around £180, they are a great option for someone who prefers a more stylish casual look while still benefiting from the increased safety.
Richa Cyclone Gore-Tex Trousers
If you are going for the premium options, then a matching Gore-Tex trouser could be a good choice. With a price tag at around the £300 mark, the full set can start to add up, but you are getting a suit with maximum versatility and great all-round protection.
These trousers come with the same features as the jacket, with a durable 500D Cordura outer shell, Gore-Tex membrane and detachable thermal lining. Good in any climate with built in D30 armour at the knees, they can be zipped in to any Richa jacket to create a fully connected suit. Expensive for the full set, but you won't need anything else.
RST Stunt 3 Gloves
These are some great short-style gloves, meaning if you have a suit on under your gear for commuting, you can still wear them comfortably without your sleeves getting in the way. They are a lightweight mixture of leather and microfibre with a carbon aramid shell over the knuckles and added layers over the palms.
They have a cool sporty design and offer good protection and, perhaps best of all, are cheap as chips at £30 new. Bargain!
Oxford Mondial Short MS Gloves
These are some decent mid range gloves with good protection and armour, as well as a breathable laminate membrane that gives a bit of extra waterproofing. The interesting thing here is the touchscreen compatible forefinger and thumb. Our phones can be a handy accessory for motorcyle commuters themselves, with satnav and other useful bike apps (check out our list of must-have motorcycle apps here), so a pair of gloves that offer full protection while still being able to operate your phone, is a convenient little feature. Just don't fiddle with the phone while riding!
Priced at £89.99, they are more expensive than your basic gloves, but offer more features as a result.
Richa Hurricane Gore-Tex Gloves
Another Gore-Tex option here to complete the set, they aren't the cheapest at £130 but, they do offer that excellent all-year-round performance from the fully waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex membrane.
Reinforced leather palms, armoured knuckles and reflective detailing complete the package for a great choice that will have you covered in all the British weather types.
Rev'it Liberty H2O Heated Gloves
Finally, we have the most premium option here, a nice thing to have in the winter and an alternative to heated grips - heated gloves! The RRP is £259.99, so these are more expensive than the other gloves in the list, but you get good level of protection and armour that are waterproof, windproof and electrically heated.
They come with two 7.4V batteries built in, with a micro USB lead for charging. You can charge them up at home in advance or plug them into your bikes USB port (if it has one!) on the fly.
Definitely a more expensive option but will give maximum comfort in the winter and they look very stylish on top in both black and brown finishes!
There are a lot of types of helmet available and because everybody is different, it is hard to make specific recommendations on this one. The key is to actually try on any helmet you are thinking of purchasing, and see what fits you best. You are going to be spending a lot of time with this thing on your head, so it needs to fit and sit perfectly.
What I will recommend, is that as a commuter, you are going to be riding in traffic regularly, so go for the maximum protection possible! That means a full face lid or at least a flip-up.
Alex has just done a detailed review of the Ruroc Atlas 4 motorcycle helmet, which offers a good mix of protection, comfort, and style so why not check that out here
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 be very helpful for a motorcycle commuter, and to be honest, I would consider some of these to be essential!
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 - it is fully waterproof, there are some convenient holes to thread your armoured chain and lock through, and perhaps best of all, it can fold up small and fit in your backpack so you can take it with you on your commute.
Now this one is 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 costs less than £50, and combined with your steering lock, this is usually the bare minimum.
I also use a Data-tool 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 space. 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 can all be taken along with you on your commute. On top of that, if you plan to change your clothes at work, you will need somewhere for them as well.
Givi makes 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 size box your bike can comfortably support, and what kind of storage you need. Either way, a top box is Definitely something to think about if you need more storage space.
These are really handy for taking things with you on a bike or scooter. I used to always use a regular backpack and it does get the job done, but there are some definite disadvantages with these. Firstly, they are made of weak fabric, so if you do take a spill it could easily be torn. Secondly, they have no aerodynamics in mind, it would sometimes be irritating when my backpack would catch the wind and flap around at high speeds.
Fortunately, there are tons of excellent purpose designed motorcycle rucksacks out there, with a whole range of prices too. Good old RST make an excellent cheap option for under £50. It has a decent 42 litre capacity with adjustable chest and waist straps to keep it snugly in place, and it is made of sturdier material than your average bag!
Some bikes come with these as standard, but it is usually reserved for the most premium motorcycles. However, if your motorcycle does not come equipped with heated grips you will be pleased to know you can purchase yourself a pair of third-party heated grips and install them yourself. They come in a variety of options, 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, helping to 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 various price points ranging from £40 to over £200 for the latest 'pro' version. Take a look and see what fits your style and budget!
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 when the weather is cold and wet. The latest 'Pro' versions even have a new inflation system to prevent the cover flapping in high winds! Pretty cool!
The Last Stop!
So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed my rundown of all of the must-have essentials for commuting!