Finding quality vegan motorcycle gear is an absolute pain in the backside.
You thought you'd finally found a pair of vegan gloves or boots without any leather...
...but upon closer inspection there's trace amounts of genuine leather mixed in with the synthetic stuff, or a stupidly small patch of leather for no apparent reason other than to make life hard for vegans.
However it is possible to stay safe and comfortable on the road - without contributing to the suffering of any animals.
You just need to know what products, brands and materials are vegan-friendly.
Which to be honest isn't super easy, hence why I decided to put together this buyer's guide to vegan motorcycle gear.
If you're short on time, below is an affordable, 100% vegan full set of motorcycle gear with 3-season functionality:
*Update (2018-06-16): Many have contacted me about the Aerostich Roadcrafter R3 - a fully synthetic, 100% waterproof, one piece riding suit. All in all, a real workhorse.
Another brand that's been brought to my attention is Corazzo, the only PETA-approved vegan riding gear company in North America. Check out this page to browse their collection of vegan men's jackets, women's jackets, gloves and other equipment.
Then there's also Alien Moto which offers some really incredible "real deal" vegan motorcycle riding suits, boots, gloves and other gear.
I've plans to add more items/reviews/brands later, but I'll just leave this here for now (if anyone wants to help out with building out this article send me an e-mail at [email protected]).
Why it's Hugely Important Wearing Motorcycle Protective Gear
There's a saying within the motorcycle community that goes ATGATT, short for:
All The Gear All The Time.
Which makes a whole lot of sense for a whole lot of reasons.
The most obvious one is to stay safe on the road.
A crash can happen even to the best of us and in the case of a worst case scenario you want to wear a full set of quality gear to avoid injuries and protect a very valuable asset, your life.
When you're out and about in a car you're protected on all sides by a large metal chassis that acts as a first line of defence in a crash.
On a motorcycle you're completely exposed to potential dangers such as the ground coming up and slamming you in the face, other vehicles and large metal boxes on wheels running into you as well as the elements of weather.
A rule of thumb is that you'll lose approximately 1mm of flesh for every 1 mph you're going over 30 m/hour when you hit the ground (no I'm not quite sure why we're mixing imperial and metric units here).
Hitting the ground at 55 mph means you'll lose an inch of flesh - which should be avoided, and can be avoided with the right protective equipment.
Wearing appropriate gear will not only help keep you alive, it also enhances the experience of riding.
During cold weather you wan't something that insulates heat and keeps you nice and warm.
For hotter days ventilated gear crafted out of breathable material is a must as it'll allow air to flow through, which help keeps you cool and stave off excessive perspiration.
During rainy days as well as colder temperature, gear with waterproof and windproof membranes will be the difference between coming home soggy and in a bad mood versus completely dry and ready to bake delicious vegan cake.
What to Think of When Purchasing Your Vegan Gear
You cannot spend several thousand on the ride and then cheap out on gear...
...they go hand in hand.
Wearing the approriate motorcycle gear shouldn't be an afterthought. If you spend 5000 dollars on your bike, you should also have budgeted for another 1000-1500 dollar spent on high-quality riding equipment.
Here's another insightful saying:
"Buy once, cry once".
This is a superior method compared to skimping out and buying items of questionable quality because you want to save money.
Chances are you'll end up switching out the shitty gear for something better - and in the end buying multiple items will cost you more than simply going for quality from the get-go.
Also worth mentioning again, you're investing in stuff with the function of protecting your life and not hobby items such as guitar pedals or kitchen blenders.
Sure you'll get pissed off when your kitchen blender leaves lumps in your smoothie and the guitar tone isn't dialed in perfectly - wearing inadequate motorcycle gear on the other hand might lead to your death.
Basically you want to make sure to invest in a full set of all the essentials:
Vegan helmet, boots, gloves, jacket and pants.
Best Vegan Motorcycle Helmet
A quality full-face helmet is your best bet when it comes to protecting your precious face, teeth, nose, eyes, skull and brain.
As an added bonus it'll also keep the wind out of your eyes and bugs out of your mouth.
Luckily most motorcycle helmets do not contain any animal products, unless it's covered in leather or in any other way obviously not vegan.
So with that said, here are two different quality vegan helmets:
The first one being more budget-friendly while still offering adequate protection... and the second one a more high-end option for those that want the 'cream of the crop'.
HJC CL-17 Full Face Motorcycle Helmet
The HJC CL-17 is a helmet that delivers loads of bang-for-your-buck and is a great alternative for those that can't afford high-end range helmets in the upper hundreds.
The CL-17 comes in a wide variety of different stylish paints, so you are sure to find something you like.
And for the price you pay (about 1/4 of an Shoei or Arai helmet)...
...it's a real bargain. The CL-17 is an outstanding performer at it's price point, offering excellent protection and comfort, meeting the DOT standard and it's even got a Snell M2015 certification.
Alright so let's have a look at some of the specifications and details of this helmet:
This helmet is designed to fit those with a 'Neutral' or 'Round' head shape and is pretty much true to size.
The removable cheek pads and liner features the “SuperCool interior” which keeps moisture out and the thick padding provides provides a very comfortable fit for the wearer.
The liner is also grooved for using eyeglasses!
Moreover it features a double-D ring helmet fastener system and the padding under the chin strap is nice, long and padded.
The CL-17 has got a Pinlock-ready face shield with a total of three detents, one of them being a defogging opening which is an indeed very useful feature.
Outward and side-top-side visibility is also reported to be excellent and when closed prevents any water from coming in.
The face shield replacement system works very smoothly with a simple shield ratchet system that provides a quick, tool-less removal and installation.
The CL-17 has got a really well-designed ventilation system with two top vents covered by sliders, chin vent slider and a brow vent. These provide full front to back airflow, flushing heat and humidity up and out.
The sliders are easy to reach and operable even with gloves on, brow vents are adjusted with a single slider on the top.
For riding in colder weather it's possible to install a chin curtain as well.
The CL-17 is reported to be very quiet, probably due to the low profile vents, good padding and Snell certified shell. However noise levels can vary depending on many different factors so your experience might differ.
Shoei RF-1200 Helmet
As is to be expected of a Shoei helmet, the RF-1200 raises the bar for what is expected of a motorcycle helmet in terms of quality, comfort and protection - it's simply outstanding in all aspects.
Coughing up the money for this high-end helmet might feel painful, but when you consider the value of your life a couple of hundred dollars isn't all that much.
Alright, let's look at some of the specifications and details that makes this helmet so great:
The RF-1200 comes in a wide range of paints so you are sure to find one that you like (a really nice bonus is the large chin curtain along with a Pinlock anti-fog insert).
And by using a slimmer and aerodynamic design, this helmet is lighter than any other Snell certified helmet in the current Shoei lineup!
The shell used here is the Shoei AIM+ composite, which is very stiff with near zero flex, which both meets the DOT and SNELL M2015 safety standards.
The 'Shoei fit' lends itself to riders with neutral or slightly narrow head shapes, though it should also be mentioned that you can to some degree customise the fit with different sized cheek pads.
Both liner and padding are of Shoei quality and feel plush yet provides a firm hold. The moisture-wicking Max-Dry System II liner material allows for moisture and sweat to dissipate effectively.
To fasten the helmet securely there's a double D-ring chin strap with a good amount of padding to keep it comfortable.
The RF-1200 comes with the rather substantial CWR-1 pinlock shield, featuring thick ribs molded on top and bottom of the shield to improve rigidity and remove any flex in the shield.
There's a total of 8 opening position detents - for light defogging you can lift the shield slightly, or for slow speed and better defogging lift it up to the first detent.
Moreover independent beading in the top and sides helps to keep the seal of the shield tight. That together with the thick eye port gasket on the RF-1200 ensures that any harsh weather elements will not bother you.
To further tailor your riding experience you can also use the quick-release, self-adjusting base plate to pull the shield back onto the helmet, sealing it tightly against wind and rain.
This helmet offers superior ventilation capacities with one large lower three position vent, three upper air vent intakes and four upper exhaust outlet vents...
... and then there's also 6 holes running through the EPS at the top of the liner that allows cooling air to push out moisture.
Due to the combination of the aerodynamic shape, interior linings and the face shield the wearer can enjoy a comfortable and very quiet ride.
While most users praise the noise-reduction capacity of the RF-1200, some mention that it does produce some noise at higher speeds. Now noise levels can vary depending on many different factors so your experience might differ.
Best Vegan Motorcycle Boots
If your bike topples over it's good to be wearing a pair of heavy-duty vegan boots to prevent your ankles and feet from getting crushed.
Also every time you come to a stop, the first point of contact with a potentially uneven and slippery ground will be your feet.
You want a good sturdy, boot to support the weight of you and your bike so you won't slip and fall over.
To the despair of many vegans leather is quite ubiquitous in motorcycle footwear.
Now there are some exceptions to this rule. Brands such as Sidi and Alpinestars among others offer products made from Lorica or TechnoMicro, a type of synthetic leather.
This material resembles the real deal made from cowhide but it's lighter, more water resistant and stronger than leather. However one drawback is when it comes to breathableness and comfort, it's usually a bit more stuffy than traditional boots.
Here are two great options for quality vegan riding boots:
Alpinestars SP-1 Shoes
While not technically a boot, my go-to recommendation when it comes to vegan motorcycle footwear would have to be the Alpinestars SP-1 shoes:
With abrasion-resistant synthetic microfibre material throughout the shoe, TPU and TPR reinforced protectors in the heel, ankle and toe area, CE-certification, Kevlar speed lace system and overall great attention to detail - it's a tremendous amount of shoe for your money.
If we dive into the details of this shoe you are looking at a upper constructed from lightweight and abrasion-resistant microfibre which provides great protection and comfort.
But the standout feature of this model is probably the insane amount of protection with TPR ankle protectors and along the front-medial area, a really beefy TPU ankle and heel counter that works its way around the shoe for improved shock protection and durability.
In the front there's a big toe counter with extra toe box reinforcement under the microfiber outer.
There's some stiffness to this shoe but it's still very comfortable with a wicking, breathable textile interior lining used in the padded tongue, collar and all around the ankle providing a comfortable experience for the wearer.
Alpinestars’ SMX 3 compound rubber sole really beefs it up, promotes improved feel and grip, water dispersion and durability.
Kevlar speed lacing system with an adjustable hook-and-loop strap allows for a tailored fit and secure closure.
There's both the regular version and the 'vented' version which is perforated and more suited to hot climates.
Sidi Mag-1 Motorcycle Boots
The Sidi Mag-1 boots are made exclusively out of synthetic (vegan-friendly) materials to provide both good comfort and superior crash protection...
...so if you can get over the somewhat over-the-top motocross appearance, they are just as viable to be used for more casual riding as they are for competitive racing.
Here are a couple of the features that makes these boots a fantastic choice:
The MAG-1 boots offers race levels of protection whilst keeping a slim profile, and are constructed out of the Sidi “Technomicro” synthetic (yay!) leather which actually provides more abrasion resistance than actual leather.
TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is used throughout the boot for an additional layer of crash protection, such as the front and rear upper protectors which both are attached with screws.
Moreover they feature excellent stiffness due to the internal carbon fiber support beams that prevents any lateral flex, sleekly designed shock-absorbing rear heel protectors and hardened insert protectors in the toes.
While it doesn't look the MAG-1 would be the most flexible motorcycle boot you ever put on, due to the clever construction it actually is rather comfortable and provides a ton of fore/aft flexibility.
This can largely be attributed to the ladder-type front and rear flex panels that Sidi calls 'comfort panels'. They are designed with elastic textile and injection-molded polyurethane “ladder” type support.
The liner used in this boot is Sidi's "3D liner" which helps promote a greater air circulation and the red liner at the top helps protect your calves from chafing.
Another great feature is that the toe has a slider in front, opening up dual air intakes on each toe that flow air directly into the boot.
The micrometric tecno-3 closure system is really easy and quick to use allows for a custom fit at the arch, ankle and calf.
Best Vegan Motorcycle Gloves
The hands are two both immensely useful and fragile tools.
It's the kind of thing that you don't appreciate fully until you suffer a hand or finger injury, and suddenly everyday life becomes 38x harder (thanks drunken mechanical bull ride in Bangkok)
When you drop or fall off a bike you will instinctively put out your hands to protect more vital bodyparts - hence why properly constructed and padded protective vegan gloves are essential for riding.
Good quality vegan riding jackets and pants constructed out of kevlar are pretty abundant, however finding a pair of decent vegan-friendly bike gloves is akin to looking for unicorns.
There are literally only a handful (or less) of good vegan gloves if you want something more substantial with padding, knuckle armour, ideally palm sliders and with a retention strap that wrap around your wrist tightly. Not some mesh gloves made out flimsy textile fabric.
Now if you've experience riding in colder climates you know hands can become cold very, very quickly. In that case you'll want something with a windproof and waterproof membrane and insulation.
Here are a couple of different options for vegan gloves (my top pick here would definitely be the first pair):
Alpinestars SR-3 Drystar Gloves
Having spent way too many hours looking for the best pair of vegan motorcycle gloves, the Alpinestars SR-3 Drystar Gloves is the best option I could find as of 2018.
Why is that?
Well for starters this affordable model from Alpinestars is a light-weight, all-weather glove constructed out of 100% durable synthetic materials that provides both protection from the elements, as well as the pavement if you drop off the bike...
... and the best part is that there were no animals harmed in the process of making this glove.
The tough exterior features durable polyamide fabric in the backhand and cuff, synthetic leather at the palm and thumb and EVA padding reinforcements on knuckle, outer hand, and palm:
All in all, a ton of of abrasion and impact protection, as well as flexibility, without using actual leather.
The Drystar® waterproof and breathable membrane, along with 100 grams of Thinsulate thermal insulation on the top hand, ensures your hands stay nice and warm in a wide variety of weather conditions.
Moreover the full-gauntlet design, elastication at the back of the hand, and a velcro strap means you get a tight seal against any unwanted air.
A pre-curved finger construction reduces fatigue and thermoplastic rubber thumb and palm inlays gives you more traction when it's raining - providing improved grip on controls.
The SR-3 has got touch-screen compatible fingertip so you can text and drive at the same (don't do that).
What's awesome is that Alpinestars also offer a women's version!
As far as sizing is concerned, they do fit a bit larger and you might want to consider going down one size.
Olympia 760 Air Force Gel Motorcycle Sport Gloves
The Olympia 760 Air Force Gel Gloves are an awesome pair of cruelty-free gloves made from synthetic leather and mesh, offering a good mix of protection, durability and breathability.
I would say that these are best suited to be used during the hotter seasons because of the full mesh back that wicks away moisture, and overall light-weight design without any real insulation to speak of.
One nifty feature is the gel padding used in the palm area which reduces vibration, hand fatigue and maximises comfort (one user with carpal tunnel mentions this was the only glove that made riding possible).
The reinforced stitching and durable synthetic leather stands up to some rugged usage and a nylon stitching adjustable velcro strap keeps the glove fastened securely.
However to get the most amount of impact protection, I would recommend going with the Alpinestars SR-3 Drystar model above.
Now when it comes to fit the sizing seems to be way off with these. Order one or two sizes up to get a good fit.
Olympia 6000 Mustang I Winter Gloves
The Olympia 6000 Mustang Winter Gloves is a really solid, budget-friendly alternative for the vegan rider who needs something waterproof and warm during winter.
Here are the features that makes these pair of gloves perfect for colder temperatures:
The combination of a Thinsulate thermal liner and Dri-lock material provides good insulation to keep the nasty cold outside, and makes the glove both waterproof and windproof.
A generous gauntlet keeps cold air out of your sleeves and the velcro strap at the keeps them securely fastened.
The nylon shell and PVC padding used in the palm and knuckles provides a fair amount of abrasion-resistance, and it is a very comfortable fit with the soft fleece lining.
As these are quite inexpensive you can obviously get a pair of warmer and more protective winter gloves (such as the Alpinestars above).
(For additional warmth you can always grab a pair of cheap thermolite glove liners such as these)
Best Vegan Motorcycle Jacket
Motorcycle jackets fall into two categories: Leather or textile.
And for obvious reasons we want to go for the latter option.
Now while leather has been the traditional option for a long time, textile has come a long way in regards to protectiveness.
High-quality materials like Cordura are able to resist abrasion as strongly as leather, and it does so completely cruelty-free. And if you know that you'll be riding in some bad weather, the addition of Gore-Tex or other water-resistant membranes will keep you dry.
Moreover, it's also a good idea to make sure your jacket includes some CE-approved armour at both the elbows and shoulders for maximum protection.
Brands such as Klim, Rukka, Spidi, Olympia and Alpinestars make good, quality textile jackets if you want to do some research on your own.
Here's a great option for a quality vegan motorcycle jacket:
Olympia Airglide 5 Jacket
The Olympia Airglide 5 is a vegan-friendly jacket that offers an insane amount of value and unmatched levels of versatility when compared to other textile riding jackets.
It's unique design allows it to be used comfortably during three different seasons: spring, summer and fall (and perhaps even winter)...
...and it does this while keeping you protected at all times with a ballistic mesh, 500 denier corder sheet and CE-certified armor.
Let's take a closer look at some of the outstanding features of this piece.
The Airglide 5's three layer system design allows you to customize its function by simply adding or removing appropriate layers as needed:
The outer shell is constructed out of 500 denier cordura shell which gives you superb abrasion resistance, as well as panels of ballistic mesh that pushes plenty of air through to keep you cool when the weather gets warm.
The second piece is the two stage, waterproof and breathable, rain jacket with a thermolite insulated liner that keeps you warm when the weather gets colder.
This rain layer is so versatile that it can be worn both over or under the jacket depending on your needs. And the thermal layer can be worn both in the jacket or inside the rain layer, allowing for a great amount of customisation.
Along with the multi-season riding comfort, the Airglide 5 also packs a punch when it comes to protection - featuring removable CE rated motion flex armor that covers your shoulders, elbows and back.
Around back yoke, arms, shoulders and collar there's also 3M scotchlite piping to boost visibility at night and during bad weather conditions. You also have five storage pockets plus an interior cell phone pocket.
Available in a women's version that is not as baggy but more accentuated.
As it's an 'American fit' you might want to size down with this particular jacket.
Best Vegan Motorcycle Pants
Last but by no means last, a pair of motorcycle pants will prevent you from losing swaths of skin if you bite the dust (cue base line).
Of course you want to look good cruising around town so you figure a pair of unwashed raw, japanese, 192 oz pair of denims will do.
A pair of denim pants will not offer adequate protection. And cotton is not going to stand the extreme heat generated from abrasive forces during a crash - the heat will literally fuse the cotton to your skin.
However if you add some heat -and abrasion resistant kevlar in the lining you get a pair of jeans that can take a hell of a lot of beating.
Be warned these motorcycle kevlar denim pants usually feature the standard jeans leather label at the back which may or may not be vegan, so you want to be extra careful there.
Another alternative are more traditional motorcycle pants made out of the same textile material that your jacket is made out of i.e ballistic mesh panels, armour and 500 Denier cordura.
Here's a great pair of vegan motorcycle pants:
Olympia Airglide 4 Pants
The Olympia Airglide 4 Pants is constructed out of vegan-friendly and abrasion-resistant synthetic materials, works perfectly with the Airglide 5 jacket above...
... and considering the three-seasons functionality, full rain liner underneath, protection and comfort it's overall a great pair of pants to ride in.
Pictured here is the black version but there's also a pewter coloured one if you need something that doesn't attract as much heat.
So unsurprisingly there are lots of similarities between these pants and the Airglide 5 jacket (and they do make a great combo as you've got an 8 inch connection zipper which will zip together with the Olympia jacket).
This very versatile garment comes with a full rain liner which can be used both under and over the other shell - meaning you can wear it underneath or take it out and wear over the top like a traditional rain suit.
For example during summer you can ride with one the outer shell and if then starts to rain you can put the rain liner on top!
At the bottom there's an ez hem system which gives you 8 inches to play with so you can really fine-tune how long you want the pants to be. And here around the ankle there's a big, beefy velcro strap which ensures a secure snug fit and allows for a customised fit.
Moreover there's also a full length zipper running along the pant if you want to take them off and wear these as overpants.
And they are not only a versatile garment but protection is good on these guys, too.
The Airglide 4 pants are constructed out of sturdy materials such as 500 denier cordura mixed with ballistic mesh panels, offering maximum airflow with superior abrasion resistance.
At the knees you have got CE-rated knee armour which offers three positions of adjustability so you can get it to sit comfortably.
As far as sizing is concerned, go with what you would typically wear in your jeans size or maybe one size up according to users.
This model is available in 30-44 men's size and 4-18 in women's size.
I hope you found this article informative!
PS. Please share what vegan riding gear you use in the comments (especially gloves as they are so elusive). Stay safe on the road! 🙂