As much as I’d love to just hop on my electric motorcycles and ride away carefree, there’s a decent amount of gear that goes into ensuring those rides are safe and fun.
As an electric motorcycle enthusiast and journalist, I get the chance to test out a decent range of gear throughout the year.
Sometimes I spend hours watching reviews and debating over which jacket or gloves to buy. Sometimes companies send me random new gear to try out, sight unseen.
Either way, some of it invariably turns out to be gold, while the rest never sees the light of day again. In this article, I’ve listed only the best gear I’ve been using this summer (or in the case of some women’s gear, the ladies in my life).
Note: For the gear below, unless I say I bought it, then assume it was a media sample provided for evaluation.
AGV Sport Modular helmet
I’ll start with the helmet, as I think this is the single most important piece of gear I use. Sometimes I’ll skimp on the padded pants, or maybe the armored jacket. Sometimes I’ll leave off the gloves. But I never ride without a helmet. And so the helmet is the ultimate piece of gear, in my opinion.
This summer I’ve been testing out the AGV Sportmodular helmet in carbon. Upgrading to this helmet has simply leveled up my riding experience by at least an order of magnitude.
First of all, it’s so much safer than my old “Amazon special” helmet. It has five layers of varying density EPS foam. Cheap helmets usually have one layer, and even getting two layers is nice. But five? Yes, please!
For those of you wondering what those different density layers do, they essentially absorb impact forces at different speeds. If you have only one density of foam, it has to be optimized for only a single-speed impact. Two layers allow a softer foam for slower speed impacts and a harder foam for faster impacts. But five layers gives much safer impact protection by covering nearly every possible impact speed. I hope I don’t have to use it at any speed, but if I do, I’ll be glad I have it!
Next, the carbon helmet is surprisingly light for a modular helmet. I prefer modulars so I can flip them up to chat with friends, take a drink, kiss my wife good-bye, etc., all without removing my helmet. But the extra latches and structural requirements make modular helmets heavy. AGV designed this one to be as light as possible, with the carbon fiber definitely helping.
The pads are also soft and comfortable. They are easily removable for washing and you get multiple sizes of chin pads. The vents also keep you nice and cool and stretch out how long I can go between pad washes as I don’t get quite as sweaty with the good airflow.
It also comes with a Pinlock 120 insert system to prevent the visor from fogging, though I won’t really be able to test that well until this winter.
The only downside of the helmet is that it is a bit louder than I expected. I’ve heard that the carbon fiber actually amplifies wind noise a bit, so that could be the source. But at city speeds, it’s perfectly fine, and at highway speeds you should be wearing earplugs anyway, so I haven’t found it to be a deal-breaker.
By the way, you’ll notice a lot of links to RevZilla here, which is both an online retailer for motorcycle parts and a pretty cool reviews source as well.
They didn’t pay me anything to say this, but I do like shopping there for my motorcycle gear. They make it easy to order online with a video review of nearly everything they stock. When you’re trying to decide if a $200 pair of pants or a $500 helmet is worth it, being able to see someone talk about a product’s details while showing it off from every angle is incredibly useful!
Dainese Air Flux D1 Jacket
The Dainese Air Flux D1 has become my go-to summer riding jacket. I wear it all the time and I think it might be the best mesh jacket ever. Or at least the best one I’ve had so far.
The elbow and shoulder armor provide the protection I’m looking for without getting bulky. The mesh is airy and breathable, and the branding is light. Sorry Dainese, but I don’t like giant branding. So I’m happy to see that this jacket is light where it counts and solid where it needs it.
I also like how the jacket doesn’t look too much like moto gear. Sure, I want to look badass as much as the next guy, but there are times where it can be nice to blend in a bit and not draw attention to myself by looking like a blacked-out stormtrooper. And the Dainese Air Flux D1 Jacket accomplishes that.
The only part of the jacket that sticks out more than I’d like is when I shoved some back armor in there. It only comes with elbow/forearm and shoulder armor, so I added the Dainese Manis D1 G Back Armor Insert. It gives me added peace of mind, but it does make the jacket look a bit bulkier, like I have a small backpack on. The pictures above are taken before I added the back armor, and I like the look a bit better there. The one below has the armor inserted, and you can see the added bulk in the back. Ignore the GoPro chest mount straps.
The only downside to the jacket that I’ve noticed is that the edge of the removable shoulder armor sometimes catches my shoulders when I slide the jacket on, and it requires me to reach up and flip it down onto my shoulder. It’s not unbearable, but it’s two seconds that I always think “man, I wish it slid on smooth” each time. But then again, the jacket breathes so well in the hot summer and has all the protection I’m looking for, and so the shoulder pads catching on me has never bothered me for more than two seconds. I can put up with it for all the plusses this jacket offers.
REV’IT! Airwave 2 Pants
Just like a nice mesh jacket helps you stay cool in the summer without sacrificing protection, mesh pants keep the bottom half of you protected and cool. The REV’IT! Airwave 2 pants offer comfortable hip and knee protection while still maintaining the airflow that I want on those hot summer days.
I opted for the light-colored pants since they tend to heat up just a bit less than black pants in the summer. When I’m riding and staying in motion, I feel nice and cool, especially when I wear shorts underneath. In fact, I usually use these mesh pants like overpants so that I can stick with my standard athletic shorts or khaki shorts in the summer, then just toss these mesh pants over them when I’m ready for a ride. That also allows me to switch back into shorts easily once I get to my destination. The last thing you want is to be stuck wearing motorcycle pants all day in the summer after you’ve gotten off your bike.
The adjustment straps at the ankles and waist mean that I can get a good fit with the pants and make sure they hug me just the way I want. Those little differences can help make the difference between comfortable pants and an uncomfortable ride.
Mission Workshop bag
Motorcycles are notoriously light on cargo space. Unless you want to start adding storage boxes or saddlebags, you’re likely looking at backpacking it to get any amount of usable storage space onto your bike.
That’s exactly what the Mission Workshop Radian bag allows me to do. I’ve been testing this bag for everything from grocery runs to tool hauling to travel, and the bag has been working wonderfully. It’s the ultimate motorcycle bag because it is narrow enough to not get in the way of your arms or turn into a sail, yet is robust enough to withstand air beating around it 70 mph.
All of the straps and fasteners are heavy duty and designed to last for years, which helps it stand up to the added load that motorcycle bags are forced to endure.
The Mission Workshop bags also have the added benefit of the Arkiv modular system. It’s not quite as universal as the MOLLE system I came to love in the military, but it is definitely a useful system for customizing your setup and adding smaller bags, pouches or packs onto your main bag. Mission Workshop has a full line of accessories that can be added to your bag, so I’d recommend checking those out as well.
REV’IT! Eclipse Women’s Jacket
I normally only get to test out men’s gear, on account of being a man and all. But since my sister is new to riding and recently got her first motorcycle (a CSC San Gabriel 250, despite my urging her to go for an electric CSC City Slicker), I got her a women’s mesh jacket to test.
It’s quite a fitted jacket and takes on a nice European style with the cut, which I think is pretty classy. I’m not sure I’d want as fitted of a jacket, but obviously, the cut looks better on a woman.
As she reports, the REV’IT! Eclipse Women’s Jacket is a winner. The adjustments help create the proper fit for a comfortable ride. As a new rider, she doesn’t have as much experience in moto gear but she finds the jacket to be perfectly comfortable and well-cut to fit her nicely without uncomfortable seams or chaffing spots.
The jacket is hefty without being stuffy and still provides plenty of airflow through the large mesh sections – exactly what you want in a summer riding jacket. The Knox Flexiform CE armor in the elbows/forearms and in the shoulders feels like it should hold up just fine in a crash, though neither her nor I want to see her testing the armor any time soon.
The jacket includes a pocket for back armor, so she added the REV’IT! Seesoft back protector insert. I’m kind of jealous and want to get one for myself because the armor is nice and flexible without adding much bulk at all to the rear of the jacket. It’s really well made and works perfectly for protective back armor that doesn’t stick out.
REV’IT! Brentwood Jeans SF
Padded riding jeans are one of the best inventions ever. I really like wearing jeans while I ride because they make for the most seamless on/off transitions ever. I’m always happy when my riding gear can do double duty and prevent me from having to change clothes each time I hop on and off my bike.
The REV’IT Jeans Brentwood SF offer a slim fit and use four-way stretch Cordura, making them as comfortable as any pair of jeans I own. Yet they still have all the added necessities of protected riding jeans. They have added protective fabric for extra abrasion resistance in the hips, knees, and butt – exactly the places where you’re likely to go sliding. They also have built-in pockets in the knees for the SEESMART CE level 1 knee protectors. If you look closely you can see the protectors in the knees, which add a small amount of bulk. But most people would probably never even know you have riding jeans on.
There are also pockets in the hips for SEESMART hip protectors, or any other hip pads you want to toss in there. I would have loved if the jeans came with hip armor included, but of course, you can always add it yourself. And it gives you the freedom to choose any kind of armor you want.
The jeans are a bit long, and of course riding jeans are cut longer than normal jeans to allow for the riding posture, but these are still longer than I expected. It did give me a reason to flip up the cuff on the ankle though to expose the reflective strip, which gives added visibility when a car approaches from your side. I’ll never say “no” to added visibility.
One warning: don’t try and fly with these on. I wore them to a media ride once where I knew I’d be hopping on a bike right from the airport. Turns out the extra padding shows up on the body scanners and TSA thinks you’re smuggler, so you wind up getting an intimate exam in a private room. Perhaps that should have been obvious to me in advance, but I didn’t even think to remove the knee pads before flying since they are so comfortable that I didn’t mind wearing them all day. Lesson learned.
Daisy Women’s Denim Alpinestars riding jeans
I also got my sister the Daisy Women’s Denim riding jeans, which offer a slim fit that mimics a standard pair of women’s jeans. Unlike a standard pair of women’s jeans though, these are designed to keep a woman safe should she have the unexpected and unfortunate experience of sliding across the pavement.
Knee protector compartments for the included CE level 1 armor are adjustable since of course no two women are shaped the same. The hip pads are velcro connected and make it easy to remove them if you don’t want the added bulk in the hips. And Kevlar reinforcement is sewn into the butt, hip and knee areas of the jeans for higher abrasion resistance.
The jeans have a nice urban style that doesn’t even hint at their true riding nature – rather they look like any other pair of women’s jeans.
For any lady that wants to stay protected on her bike without losing her urban look, these would be a great choice.
Alpinestars Eloise Air Jacket
As much as I love a nice mesh jacket for my own summer riding, I made sure my wife was outfitted in her own as well. She went with the Alpinestars Eloise Air Jacket, and I might be biased here but I think she looks pretty sexy in it.
The jacket has a sporty fit on her and the abrasion-resistant mesh inserts help her stay nice and cool while riding. The CE level 1 armor in the shoulders and elbows/forearms keeps her safe and gives me peace of mind at the same time.
The 480 denier poly textile is double PU coated for durability. It adds some water resistance as well, though the mesh nature of the jacket means you’re going to get wet if this is your only layer in a rainstorm. There’s an internal waterproof pocket though so you could always stuff anything important in there if you get caught in an unexpected downpour.
All in all my wife has been quite happy with her Alpinestars Eloise Air jacket and reports back that it is comfortable and convenient – the two most important factors for her.
Dainese Tuono D-Air Jacket
While I love my Dainese Air Flux D1 mesh jacket that I detailed above for every day riding and city errands, there are times when I want more protection than a mesh jacket can provide. And those times are usually on the interstate.
Everyone has their own comfort level in terms of safety. A mesh jacket is enough for me in the city, but if I know I’ll be commuting daily on the interstate, I’ll opt for a better-armored leather jacket. And not only is the Dainese Tuono D-Air Jacket armored in all of the right places, but it also features Dainese’s latest-generation airbag protection.
In the event of a collision, the jacket deploys an airbag system that protects the chest and neck. GPS and internal sensors including accelerometers and gyroscopes are both used for activation of the airbag. Why GPS? Because it helps prevent accidental activation. If you were to bump into something while walking at 3 mph, you wouldn’t want your jacket’s airbag to go off, would you? There’s also an interesting sensor that affects me specifically since I’m riding exclusively on electric motorcycles. There’s a vibration sensor designed to keep the jacket’s airbag activated even at rest if the jacket senses engine vibration. That way even if a car hits you while you’re at a stoplight, you’ll be protected despite not having achieved the minimum speed required (6 mph I believe, if I’m not mistaken). The only problem is I don’t have an engine. So technically I’m not protected while at rest.
Well, not from the airbag anyways. I still have all of the molded Pro Rated CE-Level 2 armor, the back protector, removable elbow slider pucks, aluminum shields on the shoulders and elbows, plus the high-grade leather for abrasion resistance. And the leather is also perforated, which helps keep me cooler in the summer. It’s still a pretty warm jacket for summer riding, but it only becomes uncomfortable when stopped for too long. While riding, there’s enough air that I don’t get hot. And when temperatures cool off this fall, I’m sure it will be perfect.
There’s only one problem left for me with the jacket, and it’s kind of a big one. I haven’t succeeded to register it with Dainese. Yes, the jacket is so tech-infused that you have to register it before you can take advantage of the features, including activating the airbag system. And I haven’t been able to register it yet. I’d tried to register via the form on Dainese’s website; nothing happened. I tried to register using the Dainese web app; the page doesn’t load properly for me. I’ve emailed Dainese directly; they didn’t reply. If anyone from Dainese reads this, please get in touch with me and help me register so I can get the most out of this awesome jacket. I’ll update this article as soon as I can succeed on this front!
Until then, while the racing lineage of this jacket probably makes it a bit much for city-only riding, it’s my go-to high-speed jacket. Even without the airbag system activated, it’s still an incredibly made jacket. And if I ever get into motorcycle racing, which I have no intention of doing, I’ll be ready to go with proper protection. So if it’s good enough for racing, it’s definitely good enough for your commute.
REV’IT! Ginza 2 Boots
When I’m looking for a riding boot, I want something that looks as little like a riding boot as possible. I want something that looks like I could wear it to work or a bar, not like I’m hitting the race track.
That’s the first thing I love about the REV’IT! Ginza 2 boots. They have a nice work boot style that doesn’t scream “Hey, did I mention I ride a motorcycle?” to everyone around you.
In fact, I take them on my fast 40 MPH electric scooters and other rides too. They’re the perfect boot to provide proper protection for high speed riding without the bulk normally associated with riding boots.
And despite looking good, they don’t skimp on the protection either. The heel and toe are both protected by thermoformed cups and the high top suede boot provides ankle support that no standard shoe can offer. The suede is also water-resistant, so you don’t have to freak out if you get caught in a passing shower.
There’s also a reflective heel for added visibility, and even a reinforced gear shift pad too, not that I need it on my electric motorcycles. There are e-bikes out there with gear shifters, but I don’t have one. Shifting gears is a thing of the past for me.
Alpinestars Sektor Vented Shoes
Of course, there are times that I don’t want a full boot for riding, yet I don’t want to sacrifice protection either. That’s when I reach for my Alpinestars Sektor Vented Shoes. These are awesome for summer riding and give me the protection I need while retaining the subtle look of athletic shoes.
They are made with durable microfiber that can provide abrasion protection without a bunch of added weight, keeping the shoes light and airy.
That microfiber conceals the toe box and heel cup protection that turns these shoes into proper protective riding shoes. There’s also a reinforced ankle, though they don’t sit as high as boots of course.
The shoes are surprisingly comfortable for walking around too. As you might have noticed, I really like gear that I can wear just as easily off my bike as I do on it. And so the flexible soles, breathable uppers and comfortable nature of this shoe make it a great summer riding shoe for me.
REV’IT! Canyon Gloves
Gloves, you really shouldn’t ever ride without them – and yet they seem to be one of the most neglected pieces of gear. But if you ever go down, you’ll want something to protect your palms when you instinctively reach out to break your fall.
For summer riding, I’ve been enjoying the REV’IT! Canyon gloves. They feature carbon knuckle armor that will keep the back of my hands safe – and will come in handy if I ever get into an unexpected bar fight.
The goatskin construction keeps them both lightweight and breathable yet abrasion-resistant. And the tri-fleece liner helps them slide on smoothly, though when sweaty they can still be a bit tough to get in and out of quickly.
And if I may say so, I think they look pretty classy too. So for great-looking gloves that feel good on my hands and keep me both cool and protected, what more could I ask for?
REV’IT! Tracer Air Overshirt
As much as I like my mesh motorcycle jacket as an everyday riding jacket, there are times that I want something that looks even more stealthy. Something even more normal. Something that looks like any old shirt. Yet still offers me protection, of course.
At those times, I’m grateful to have a REV’IT! Tracer Air Overshirt. It has mesh panels and built-in pads in the shoulders and elbows, just like any normal mesh jacket. The difference is that this one is cut like a standard button-up shirt, and actually looks pretty decent, if you ask me.
To lose the bulk, it opts for thinner padding and thus likely doesn’t offer the same protection as a bulkier jacket. But that’s sort of the point. This is a padded mesh overshirt, not a fully-fledged armored motorcycle jacket.
It gives you decent protection – certainly much more protection than a standard button-up shirt – yet looks like something I could easily wear on a date without drawing too much attention to myself.
T-CORE AIR DRYSTAR JACKET
The T-Core Air Drystar jacket from Alpinestars is the perfect combination of weatherproofing and breathability, making it a great option for my riding this summer. Not only does it have mesh on the chest, back and sleeves to keep me cool, but it comes with a removable Drystar membrane that keeps me dry will still remaining breathable to prevent the clammy feeling of membrane jackets of yesteryear.
There’s even a cool hidden pocket on the back for storing the Drystar membrane when you’re not using it. The last thing you want when the rain clouds suddenly roll in is to realize you left your membrane at home. This makes it easy to have it with you when you need it.
The stretch panels in the back and shoulders make the fit comfortable and ensure that the jacket moves with me while both on and off the bike. And the low profile collar keeps the jacket from digging into my neck – something that you don’t notice when it works but would be immediately apparent if it wasn’t designed so well.
And of course, the protection aspect is most critical. The T-Core Air Drystar features Level 2 CE Bio Air shoulder and elbow protectors. The shoulder protectors have over-molded layered TPU under the outer layer of fabric to keep the armor comfortable yet maintain the proper protection that riders seek. It’s just a nicely engineered jacket that will keep you both dry and safe – who can argue with that?!
Sena 10C Pro and 30K Bluetooth headsets
Communication is tricky on a motorcycle. It’s not like on my electric bicycles where I can just yell over to my riding partners. With a full face helmet, you’ll be lucky to get a few legible words out to someone more than 10 feet away. And when traveling at anything over driveway speeds, forget about it.
That’s where intercom systems come in, and Sena gear has proven to be indispensable for me. The Sena 30K is a great system for anyone that rides in a group or with a partner. The unit isn’t too bulky and so it won’t add much to your helmet, but still offers crystal clear communication from your partner. And with the mesh technology, you don’t have to go through the annoying pairing process each time you join up with your riding partner – the unit takes care of that for you automatically.
The 10C Pro doesn’t offer the same mesh technology – meaning you have to manually start the pair sequence, but it’s got one big benefit – an HD camera. This unit has become the main one I use every day because the camera gives me dash cam-like functionality. I turn it on each time I hop on my bike and then forget about it. It’s always there, silently recording all of my rides. If I see something interesting, I can pull the video off the micro SD card or connect it to my phone. And if something bad happens and I need video evidence to prove what happened, the camera is there to tell the truth. License plate details are clearly visible, which was an important point for me to verify. And with loop recording, I never have to worry about the micro SD card filling up, I just let it delete the oldest files and continue on recording.
The pair come with a pile of kit and accessories. The 10C Pro on left shows everything it comes with, while I’ve paired down the 30K on the right to just the pieces I actually use.
Both units work great for intercom functionality and make it great to talk with my wife when we ride together. But when I’m by myself, I find them useful for connecting to my phone. That allows me to do everything from listen to music, hear my GPS directions or take phone calls. Between the three, GPS is probably the most useful for me.
If you’ve never experienced the benefit of a Bluetooth intercom system in your helmet, I highly recommend it. You’ll never want to go back. Nearly every modern helmet has special cutouts built-in for the speakers. The Sena units themselves can be connected with a hard mount or with adhesive mounts to the outside of the helmet shell. They might not fit every single helmet, but they probably fit 99.9% of them. So I definitely recommend giving it a shot.
Muc-Off motorcycle cleaning products
Muc-Off sent me a pile of motorcycle products including cleaners and chain lubes.
Ironically, I don’t have any electric motorcycles with chains, as my Zero FXS and CSC City Slicker both use belt drives. I was able to use some of the chain products on my electric bicycles though and found them to work better than most bicycle-centric products.
The Muc-Off products also included some great detail brushes as well, which I really need to make more use of. I’m definitely guilty of going too long between detailed cleanings of my bikes. The brushes make it super easy to get into nooks and crannies in the wheels and around the battery box, etc.
But believe it or not, perhaps my favorite of all the Muc-Off products was the Muc-Off Helmet Cleaner. My helmet gets absolutely plastered with bug debris. I don’t know why I’m such a bug magnet, but I swear my helmet is always way dirtier than anyone else I ride with. And if you don’t get those bug carcasses off right away, they harden and become one with your helmet.
Bug splatter, before and after
But with the Muc-Off Helmet Cleaner, I was wiping off bugs so old they had kids in college.
I don’t know what’s in that stuff, but whatever it is will clean just about anything off of your helmet – that’s for sure!
And there you have it!
That’s it! That’s my list of the best gear I’ve tested this season for summer riding.
While many things didn’t make the cut, everything I’ve listed here has been awesome enough for me to feel comfortable putting my name next to it.
If you’ve made it this far then you’re obviously a gear junkie with a problem, just like me! If you’re into electric bicycles and cycling in general, make sure you check out my electric bicycle gear article.
And let me know in the comments below if I’ve missed anything good or you have a favorite piece of gear that I should pick up for myself!
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