What do motorcycle gear trends 2021 look like, and how is bike gear evolving?
Motorcycles we ride keep evolving each year, with the mid-range, off-road and rally-capable adventure motorcycles dominating the market. What about our gear? What are motorcycle gear manufacturers and designers up to this year and the next, and how is gear tech changing over the years? I talked to adventure, enduro, and urban gear manufacturers to find out.
Adventure Gear: Road vs Off-Road
For the longest time, adventure riding gear all lolked more or less the same: heavy, GoreTex-covered suits capable of withstanding any weather, temperatures, or crashes. Little by little, however, there’s more and more diversity in adventure gear.
“When it comes to ADV riding gear, it’s hard for me to generalize because there are always people who value extreme protection over all else – or layering adaptability over all else. Or it could be looks, or venting, and so on. I think we’re seeing a more even distribution of gear preferences across the ADV riding community. The market has enough different gear options to satisfy a broad range of rider preferences. For example, we’re now seeing people gravitate towards midweight ADV gear, which can partially be attributed to technological advances in fabrics, meaning we’re not really losing protection capacities over older gear designs but we’re shedding weight and bulk. And another reason for the midweight shift is the hot bikes coming out such as Yamaha T7 and KTM 790”, Lukas Eddy, Klim‘s communications manager, said.
“There’s another thing that’s always been an option, but recently we’ve seen a resurgence in it, which is waterproof shells over body armor for dual-sport type travel. This is actually how KLIM’s adventure gear started – we had super durable, vented snow shells called the Valdez Parka (still around today) and people were wearing those on top of dirt bike gear to go adventure riding. We even had modified versions of the Valdez on Dakar Rally racers back in the day as we were developing purpose-built ADV gear. Depending on the type of trip we’re doing, I sometimes just wear a Stow Away rain jacket over my gear and pack some lightweight waterproof overpants. Or I’ll go full GoreTex with a Carlsbad kit (my current favorite) if it’s a faster, longer distance ride”, Eddy said.
It seems that for riders who mostly ride on the road, the hardware adventure suits are still the best option. But what about off-road riders?
For ADV riders who prefer to go off the road as often as they can, there were only two options until recently: either ADV gear or lightweight motocross gear, rarely suitable for long-distance travel. Mosko Moto has come up with a solution: their new apparel is aimed at motorcycle travelers who prefer dirt.
“We see adventure gear going in a more dirt-oriented direction, designed around multiple layers rather than all-in-one jackets. This is the same apparel transformation that happened in the outdoor industry in the 70s and 80s. With a layering system built around separate body armor, you can remove your jacket when it’s hot out, all without sacrificing impact protection. A layering system can accommodate a much wider array of temperature conditions, with significantly better impact protection, and better abrasion protection than gear with integrated armor. We go for simple, tough, minimalist designs, made from highly technical materials, and without all the pockets, zippers, and liners you typically associate with adventure gear”, Pete Day, founder of Mosko, said.
Kevlar Jeans for Long Distance Travel?
Another gear category that younger ADV riders tend to choose is even simpler: Kevlar jeans. Traveling South America in 2019, I saw several American and European riders in their late twenties – early thirties riding in Kevlar or Dyneema jeans, and they all swore the protection level is enough.
“Typically, you’ll see long-distance travelers still wearing multifunctional, layered textile gear, but we’ve noticed that the Kevlar jeans are becoming a choice for adventure riders, too. There’s a simple reason for that – once you arrive at your new destination, you can easily ho off the bike and go explore without feeling like an astronaut in your high tech adventure gear. You stand out less, it’s more comfortable to walk around in jeans, and frankly, it’s often a lot more comfortable to ride in them, too”, Marius Bieliauskas, founder of Pando Moto, shared.
“I think there are two types of travelers – those who set out on long, six-month or longer journeys, and those who go for fly-and-ride adventures or shorter trips. The hardcore travelers will choose the durable, multifunctional ADV gear, but most riders who are traveling for a couple of weeks go for jeans and a leather or textile jacket. There’s no question that textile technologies are developing at an incredible pace: more and more, we’ll see two-layer fabrics (denim+Kevlar) replaced by single-layer materials (such as Dyneema, Armalit, and so on); even armor is getting lighter and thinner, just look at SAS-TEC Tripleflex or D30 Ghost. You can’t even see that armor under the jeans or jacket. So I think in the coming years, motorcycle gear will continue becoming thinner and lighter thanks to new technologies available”, Marius said.
What’s your take? What motorcycle gear do you prefer, and why?