Many people see safety as an obligation, which is natural enough, since Italian law obliges us as motorcycle riders to follow specific rules for the purpose of safety: article 171 of Italian Traffic Law states that “all riders of motorcycle-based vehicles must wear a homologated helmet and keep it fastened correctly”. But that’s it – apart from a helmet, there’s no mandatory motorcycle clothing for personal protection. But we think there are plenty of other protectors to consider, in addition to helmets. It’s because we have a different take on it – we’ll try explaining it to you.
What if safety meant ‘freedom’ instead of ‘obligation’? Did you ever think about that? We have, and we’d like you to understand why. First of all, wearing technical garments lets you concentrate on riding alone, without worrying about anything else. Then you improve comfort, especially thermal comfort – technical garments protect you from the cold and from heat. We think that fewer worries and more comfort means greater freedom to enjoy your passion and savor every trip.
But let’s go back to the start. We want to give you some useful info on mandatory motorcycle clothing in 2023. Below is a list of garments required by law as well as other ones.
The first protector to consider is the helmet, the only mandatory one, as we said. Today there’s a huge range of types, colors, high-tech, comfortable and fashion-conscious. So you’re really spoiled for choice. As you’ve read, Italian traffic law mandates the wearing of a homologated helmet. That means that an independent external body has certified it in accordance with a series of tests (you may be interested in more information on the new homologation). The helmet may be open-face (without chinguard), full-face or modular. Our traffic law doesn’t currently envisage any “expiry date”, also because the life of a helmet depends greatly on its use and careful maintenance. But even if you keep it in perfect condition, the shell and interior materials lose their ability to absorb impact over the years. Our general recommendation is to replace the helmet at least every five years. It must of course be replaced before then if it has actively protected you against impact or has evident signs of wear on the shell, strap or EPS or on the mechanisms.
Then choose the right size. We recommend that you try it on in store and don’t rely on your sixth sense. You should also choose the right helmet for the job – if you’re an incurable wanderer, we recommend a modular, which is silent and comfortable even after many hours on your bike; full-face helmets are for those who want performance, compactness and low weight; open-face helmets are a practical solution for city riding.
Now let’s think about the back protector, a device that drastically reduces the possibility of damaging the spine in violent impacts. Even if it isn’t mandatory, always choose a homologated back protector. They can be strap-on or made to be inserted. Specifically, the latter are placed in a dedicated pocket on the jacket, so it’s a very practical system. Our back protectors are available in both versions. Just to be perfectly clear – always wear it under your jacket! Remember that any protector is more effective the more contact it has with the part of the body it has to protect, without any ‘filters’ in between, like other articles of clothing.
Smart Jacket is another step forward in protective technology. It’s a vest with electronically activated D-air® airbag that protects the back and chest. It doesn’t require any connection to the bike and is easily foldable. It’s ventilated and breathable, so you can use it even in the summer, and it’s also water-resistant. Its lightness allows it to combine freedom with superior protection, with impact energy absorption equal to that of seven back protectors and eight conventional rigid chest protectors. It isn’t mandatory under Italian traffic law, but the safety it offers, in combination with outstanding versatility and comfort, means that it’s definitely “strongly recommended”.
The helmet takes care of head protection, while the back protector (or airbag vest) takes care of the back. But the motorcycle jacket handles the rest of the torso and the arms, with certified protectors on the shoulders and elbows. Once there were only leather jackets, but today’s technology offers a wealth of choice. If you only ride your bike in the summer, we recommend a ventilated fabric jacket. If instead you want a garment that’s more versatile over the course of the year, you can focus on a four-season jacket, or alternatively a classic leather jacket, possibly perforated.
Riders often undervalue motorcycle gloves, especially in summer. We think that’s a terrible habit. Imagine hitting an insect at 90 km/h with bare hands... It’s a trivial matter on the face of it, but it’s easy to imagine how unpleasant it could be. And that’s before coming to actual accidents, even at really low speeds. And gloves protect your hands against the rays of the sun as well. For warmer temperatures we recommend short fabric gloves or, alternatively, mixed leather/fabric gloves. For the cold, consider waterproof gloves instead.
Motorcycle shoes (or boots) are equally important. That’s partly because feet can easily end up under the bike in a fall and partly because of comfort – reinforced soles reduce annoying vibration from the foot pegs. For warmer days you could consider perforated boots, but for the winter concentrate on waterproof boots. But for everyday use, we recommend a shoe like the York Air, which is like a sneaker, or a protective, stylish ankle boot like the S.Germain 2.
Finally, you may find a high-visibility vest very useful. Unless you’ve already chosen high-vis clothing, you might consider having one with you all the time in case of emergencies.
As we already said a number of times, we haven’t listed garments that are mandatory under Italian Traffic Law (except for the helmet), but it doesn’t matter. Don’t look at them as ‘mandatory’ but as an opportunity to travel more safely and above all comfortably, so you can enjoy your bike in complete freedom and worry free.