Make fun of hipsters all you want, but we can thank them and the burgeoning cafe racer culture for much of this shift.
Thankfully, in recent years, fashion and style have edged their way into motorcycle apparel industry. Motorcycles by themselves are functional pieces of art, and as such, you should try to look as good as the bike does when rolling down the road.
Make fun of hipsters all you want, but we can thank them and the burgeoning cafe racer culture for much of this shift. In recent years, big companies and artisans in garages have begun producing bespoke accessories and leather goods. Some of the big apparel companies have introduced practical urban attire, and that attire looks as good as it protects.
I strive to find the best motorcycle accessories that prove invaluable and durable enough for day-to-day life on and off the bike. I would characterize myself as being somewhat unexpectedly rough towards most my gear. So if it can survive my life, chances are it will survive yours.
E3 x SP Glove Lanyard
Typically, I throw my gloves in my helmet. Good thing that David Browning of E3 Motorcycles and Steve West of Silver Piston got together to make a super simple, fashionable, and functional horween leather strap that holds your gloves and keys securely by your side.
It's been attached to my hip for the past six weeks, and in that time, the leather has softened up and taken on a darker hue from the oils in my hands. My main gloves for the past couple weeks have been my Racer Mickey’s, and even though they have an armor knuckle, stuffing them into the band has proved easy enough.
However, the strap is best designed to hold a pair of malleable leather gloves instead of those of the race / motocross style variety. I keep my main keys and a couple bike keys on their own rings on the attached tactical hook and the setup has been manageable. Swapping one out over the other is easy and convenient.
Priced at $90 here:
Racer Glove - The Mickey
I've only been riding with these gloves for the last two months, and I must say as summer approaches Los Angeles, these small armored mitts have become my go to for an "all around city" glove.
The Mickey stops at the wrist, but incorporates full armor over the knuckles and also has a pronounced palm slider. They are well ventilated along the top layer and the palm side offers great grip. No matter the bike—whether it's a cafe racer, dirt bike, adventure, cruiser, or sport— the Mickey looks the part and functions equally well.
At just above the hundred dollar mark, the Mickey definitely commands a premium price for a glove lacking a gauntlet, but you definitely get what you pay for in style and function.
Priced at $115 here:/strong> Racer Glove Mickey Gloves
REV’IT Red Hook Jacket
A good leather jacket must be functional and stylish and the urban line from REV'IT is certainly at the top of the pack. Every motorcyclist should—and probably does—have a leather jacket.
Boasting CE approved shoulder and forearm armor with the option of adding a back protector, the Red Hook will protect you in the event you encounter an unscheduled dismount from your bike.
For three months, day in and day out, the Red Hook as become by defacto uniform around town. I even used it on my long haul trip from Los Angeles to Portland this past February to cover the One Motorcycle Show. My only gripe with the jacket is the exterior side pockets are a bit difficult to get your hands into (especially with gloves), and the removable insulated lining can get bunched up when putting the jacket on.
Priced at $469 here: REV'IT Red Hook Jacket
There is a bonuses though: The Redhook has two internal vest pockets big enough to carry a flask, maps, iPhone 6 Plus, and then some. The thermal liner also does, in fact, keep you warm down to about 55 degrees F.
Priced at $469.99, the Rev’it Redhook is available in Black or Brown.
REV’IT Memphis H20 Jeans
Waterproofing meets the every day pair of jeans. In addition to the denim being treated with a 3M Hydratex coating, the Memphis H20 goes one step further by adding a PWR Shield lining, making them 100% waterproof.
These jeans will keep you dry, but the downside is that they don’t breath very well so don’t wear them in climates above 70 degrees F. I took these jeans with me on my Los Angeles to Portland and back adventure and they served me well in the cooler climate when paired with my Icebreaker 150 Anotomica leggings. I was able to test them out in a torrential downpour that hit LA in May, and aside from a little water getting in at the waist, my legs remained dry.
Priced at $319 here: REV’IT Memphis H20 Jeans.
Biltwell Bonanza Helmet
It's simple and classic. Tons of people call these 3/4 or cafe helmets impractical, but they are affordable and DOT approved. The addition of any number of bubble shields can allow you to add your own flair while simultaneously giving passersby the notion that you're more astronaut than motorcyclist.
I use and enjoy using my Biltwell Bonanza for light trips around town and for when I want to just leave my helmet on my bike without worrying about it getting stolen. I have even gone so far as mounting my SENA SMH-10 communications system to it in order to listen to some tunes while riding.
Priced at $99 and comes in a variety of colors.
SENA 20S Communications System
If you don't have a communications system strapped onto your helmet then you are missing out on one of the major conveniences afforded to you as a motorcyclist.
Ninety percent of the time, I use my SENA as a fancy way to listen to my music via its ability to simply connect to my phone via Bluetooth when I turn it on. It's easy and simple to operate with even the thickest gloves, and the 20S allows voice commands and the use of Siri. This enables any rider to listen to a reply to text messages, take phone calls, and use turn-by-turn GPS navigation. By itself, the 20S has a built in Radio receiver, enables communications with riding buddies in a group, and control of the SENA Prism Action Camera when paired.
I'm still learning and playing with the rider communication functions, but to date it has worked incredibly well. Audio fidelity is very clear and battery life allows for more than 10 hours of continuous use.
For a full in depth review of the new Sena 20S Communications system, click here.
Priced at $269.99 here: SENA 20S Communications System.
SENA Prism Camera
The SENA Prism camera is specifically designed for motorcyclists in mind. It captures 1080p video at 30fps and XXXX, and options for single photo mode, burst photo mode, and time-lapse capture.
Performing the same function as a GoPro, the SENA Prism takes functionality and ease of use to the next level by allowing it to sync with any SENA communication device. In my case, I have been using it pretty regularly with the 20S I have attached to my Schuberth C3.
Where it's better than a GoPro:
- The Prism’s battery life is better than any GoPro I've ever owned.
- Slim design allows for better storage in a pocket or bag.
- Comes with a handful of mounts (double suction cup mount, heavy duty handlebar / roll cage mount, and two helmet sticky mounts) that are far better in build than anything GoPro offers.
- Comes with an SD card adapter for the MicroSD card needed for recording video. Comes in handy if your laptop has a built-in SD card reader.
Where it falls short:
The mobile app does not allow for the downloading of video directly to a mobile device or viewing of photos taken.
- Communication between the 20S and the Prism can experience issues when linked to a cell phone while listening to music. I found myself needing to do one or the other, but not both at the same time.
- The Prism lacks certain “high-quality” shooting options like: Protune, 60fps and 4k shooting modes found on the GoPro Hero 4 Black and Silver
Priced at $399 including mounting accessories here: SENA Prism Camera
Shwood Polarized Sunglasses
There are tons of sunglasses manufactures out there and everyone has their own preference, but the Govy sunglasses by Shwood has proven to be surprisingly durable and lightweight.
Made from reclaimed wood and by hand in Portland, Oregon, the Shwood sunglasses have that extra je'ne se qoi while providing excellent optics, polarized lenses, and UV protection when out and about.
Priced at $159.99 here: Shwood Polarized Sunglasses.