Vegan motorcycle gear

This post is about safety gear for riders. For fashion, check out my post on vegan motorcycle jackets.

In a previous life (well, circa 2006), I was very much a sportbike rider. For five years, a motorcycle was my main form of transportation. I commuted (in the HOV lane) on my bike, did weekend trips with hubby and friends, and took my bike to the racetrack. What a fun hobby–and an efficient way to travel!

vegbiker

Jacket: Fieldsheer (I think)
Pants: Dainese
Boots: Sidi
Gloves: Tourmaster (I think)
Back protector (not shown): Dainese
Helmet (not shown): HJC

It wasn’t until I adopted Frankie, my dog, that I started to use a car more and spent time at the dog park instead of on the twisties (that’s motospeak for curvy roads for you non-riders out there).

My handle (name) on motorcycle forums was vegbiker so I’d like to think I know a thing or two about vegan motorcycle gear. I outfitted myself with head to toe non-leather gear. Safety is paramount so I wore it all, rain or shine, summer or winter. I’ve racked up over 40,000 miles on sportbikes and I’ve been in two accidents (caused by someone else).

I believe non-leather gear is best for a few reasons. Mainly because I don’t want to wear an entire cow. But also because leather is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. It absorbs sweat and other smells. If it gets wet it stinks, and more importantly, it loses its strength after being wet. With cordura, lorica, and kevlar as options, I wouldn’t choose leather. The Cadillac of motorcycle suits, the Aerostitch Roadcrafter is cordura, a non-leather material.

Jackets – Fieldsheer, Joe Rocket, Dainese, Tourmaster, Icon, and similar brands all offer jackets made of cordura, a tough, tear-resistant fabric that helps keep out the rain and wind. The jackets often have zippered flaps to let air through if it gets warm outside, and they usually have removable linings, making them great all-season jackets. There are even mesh summer jackets available that are still strong in a crash. When you buy a jacket, get one with armored elbows and shoulders–and make sure the sleeves are long enough when you reach forward.

Pants – The same companies that make jackets make pants. Again, get a pair with armor. If you buy cordura pants from the same manufacturer as your jacket, you can zip them together at the waist for a snug fit. I always wore riding pants over my jeans because denim will last about five feet on the cement before it rips to shreds. The goal is not to crash, but if you do find yourself sliding across asphalt at 50 miles an hour (as I once did), you’re going to want more between your skin and the road than cotton. Trust me!

Gloves – A lot of gloves are made of leather–but some aren’t. I wore armored gloves with Clarino and Kevlar with carbon fiber knuckles to protect my hands. Even a bug bouncing off your finger will hurt when you’re at highway speeds. You can find warm winter gloves as well as airy summer ones from companies like Spidi, Alpinestars, Aerostitch and Scorpion.

Boots – This might be the toughest category to shop vegan but it’s not impossible. I wore lorica boots by Sidi that kept out the rain and protected my foot. The main things to look for is a boot that is sturdy, covers the ankle, and has a slim toe profile (so you can get your foot under the shifter. Try to get a pair without laces. If yours are lace-up, always tuck the laces into your boots so they don’t get caught on anything. Don’t wear steel-toe boots. They’re usually too bulky to shift smoothly and I’ve heard bad things about how the steel can cut if your boot is bent back (as could happen in a collision).

Helmets, unless the chin strap is leather, are vegan, as was the back protector I always wore under my jacket. Like I said, safety first!

I wore my vegan gear to track days, which is a track environment for race enthusiasts but isn’t an actual race. I’m not sure what the official rules are for races. Tracks might require leather. You could always scour Craigslist and eBay for used gear if you need leather as a track requirement. There are a lot of Rossi-wannabes who quit riding and sell their almost-new gear.

For the 98% of riders who don’t race, the vegan route is completely possible–even for fun on the track. Check out online stores like Motorcycle Superstore and Motosport.com to get started. Your local bike shops probably carry popular brands as well (or can order them).

I always wore all my gear–even on a quick run to the grocery store. The saying, “better sweat than bleed” is true. Motorcycle gear isn’t cheap, but walking away from a crash is priceless.

26 thoughts on “Vegan motorcycle gear

  1. I’m so glad you have not been a casualty or permanently disabled! Happy, safe motorcycling ( if you still participate in that activity).

    • Thanks Bob! I’m not riding at the moment but when I do, I’m as defensive as possible. Everything carries risks – from swimming to skiing – being the smallest vehicle on the road calls for safety gear. I’m a fan of being safe 🙂 As they say in the riding community “keep the rubber side down!”

  2. Yes, everything carries risk….a friend walking on a sidewalk was struck by a door of a delivery vehicle that flew open. I could go on with other examples.

  3. Pingback: Vegan Motorcycling | lanmandan

  4. OMG so glad we’ve connected.

    I’m not a racer and decided to go for HD with my partner; we are both somewhat lead-footed so we figured cruising machines would be the safest bet for us 😀
    HD is all about leather apparel though…

    • You’re right about the leather and cruiser connection. I know HD owners who wear fabric but they’re in the minority. I vote for vegan safety gear while riding and faux leather while looking good and fitting in! 🙂

      • I think denim is “acceptable” too 🙂
        one of the faves look-wise is icon. wish they’d veganise a few more jackets and boots…

        and the problem with man-made materials is that those are mostly petrochemicals = not really 100% cruelty-free, and faux leather can be toxic etc.
        it’s crazy how much attention you need to pay when shopping for fashion, biker or not *sigh*

  5. Pingback: need help with gloves... - Page 2 - SoFlaSportbikes.com - South Florida's Sportbike Community

  6. I don’t know how strictly it is enforced, but all track days in UK I have looked at require a full leather suit. The reason is simple, it offers better protection. I agree that textile gear is usually more practical, but leather can be made far more water resistant with a product called “sno seal”.

    If you are a strict vegan then fair enough, but otherwise I recommend wearing quality leather gloves, even if the rest of your gear is textile. The reason is that your hands are probably going to hit the ground hard in even a minor accident. If you trip, your muscle memory puts hands down to protect head, before your brain has time to respond. Same thing happens in a bike accident.

    • Thanks for writing! Here in Washington State, at the track days I’ve attended, the requirement is one- or two-piece suits with protective armor at the knees, shoulders and elbows. Rules differ place to place, I’m sure. For actual racing, I believe leathers are required. For an ethical vegan, that might be a good occasion to buy a used leather suit. It’s possible to have a very protective suit using modern materials. I’d love to see one made with Kevlar, CF and other strong, light materials. But for now, leathers are the standard.

  7. I really appreciate this article and knowing there are like-minded motorcycle riders out there, but as I’m looking for boots I see that the Sidi Lorica description says it is “fiber material created from strands that are less than 1/1000 the thickness of silk” and of course silk is neither vegan nor humane (they kill a bajillion silk worms to make each small amount of silk). It’s too bad because Sidi boots seemed like one of the few race/sport-worthy boot options that don’t skimp on protection in the name of fashion. I’m loving my kevlar suit and gloves from MotoPort at least.

  8. Lots of interesting stuff here and no foul language anywhere. But I’m gonna have to buy a pair of Forma Adventure boots though as the Sidi ones aren’t tall enough 4 me. I saw a great pair of police motorcycle boots on ebay but the import duty from USA to Europe was prohibitive.

  9. Hi, I moved from Oregon to Arizona and cycle 4 hours to work (total). Being in this new stronger UV, I”m looking for a pair of gloves, jacket, etc for summer riding – but are sturdy too. Mostly breathable as this heat is Bad!

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