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Safety helmets and protective clothing for motorcyclists

When riding mopeds or motorcycles it is important that you wear the correct protective clothing. Make sure that your helmet and visor or goggles display a BSI Kitemark. Wearing protective clothing may protect you from injury if you fall off and may also offer protection from the weather.

Safety helmets – the law

By law you must wear a safety helmet when riding a motorcycle on the road. All helmets sold in the UK must either:

  • comply with British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark
  • comply with UNECE Regulation 22.05
  • comply with any standard accepted by a member of the European Economic Area which offers a level of safety and protection equivalent to BS 6658:1985 and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark

Damage to helmets

If your helmet receives any serious impact you should always buy a new one. Damage won't always be visible to the naked eye.

Never buy or wear a second hand helmet, as you may not see if the protective material inside the helmet is damaged.

Visors and goggles

A visor or goggles are vital to protect your eyes from wind, rain, insects and road dirt.

All visors or goggles must comply with either:

  • a British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark
  • a European standard which offers a level of safety and protection at least equivalent to the British Standard and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark (ECE 22-05)

You should not wear tinted glasses, visors or goggles if you are riding in the dark or in conditions of poor visibility.

Glasses and contact lenses

If you need glasses or contact lenses to read a number plate at the prescribed distance then you must wear them when you ride.

Protective clothing for motorcyclists

Motorcycle clothing is of two main types:

  • clothing made from man-made materials
  • leather clothing

When you are choosing protective motorcycle clothing make sure you look for additional protection for the shoulders, back, elbows, knees and hips.

Good gloves or gauntlets are essential when your ride a motorcycle. Never be tempted to ride without gloves. If you fall off you could seriously injure your hands.

It is important to wear good boots or footwear when you ride a motorcycle. If you wear sandals or trainers your feet will have little protection if you fall off. Look for boots which have protection for the shin, heel and ankle.

Improving your visibility in the dark

To improve visibility in the dark you need to wear reflective clothing or strips. They work by reflecting the light from headlamps of other vehicles. This makes you much more visible from a long distance.

How to find out more about protective clothing for motorcyclists

For more information about protective clothing you can read the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) official publication 'The official DVSA guide to riding: the essential skills'.

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