Is it fine to ride a motorbike without wearing protective clothing?

DAs and crash helmets are common to any motorcyclist – but do you need to be fully equipped to ride a motorcycle?

Many riders may wonder – especially on hot days – whether they really need to wear layers of protective clothing before getting on their bike.

Let's see what you should and shouldn't wear when riding a motorbike


Let’s see what you should and shouldn’t wear when riding a motorbikeCredit: Getty

We explain the rules about what you can and can’t wear on a motorcycle – and what safety gear you need to have to avoid fines.

When can you be fined?

For UK motorcyclists, the legal requirement is to wear helmet on the roads.

You can be fined if you don’t wear one – even if you’re just popping into stores or around.

Police also have the ability to issue warnings or fines if you are found to be distracting other drivers and causing an accident – and that can include wearing inappropriate clothing.

This is below Road Traffic Law 1988, which states that driving without proper care or attention is an offence.

What are the different penalties?

Those not wearing helmets will be fined £500.

Helmets are mandatory and fall within the maximum fines of level two under the Road Traffic Act 1988 – meaning fines cannot exceed £500.

Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, you can also be fined £100 and three points on your driving license if you are found to be distracted or due to careless driving.

What should you wear?

Governments SHARP program (which stands for Safety Helmet Assessment and Evaluation Program) helps motorcyclists choose the right helmet.

The scheme has a list of approved helmet models, rated based on the level of protection they provide to motorcyclists.

When choosing a helmet, they must meet at least one of the criteria listed from the website.

Criteria include British Standard BS 6658: 1985 with BSI Kitemark, UNECE Regulation 22.05 or equivalent European Economic Area standard.

According to the government website, you must also wear face shields and goggles that meet British Standards and have the BSI branding.

Likewise, your helmet and goggles must meet the criteria.

According to Rule 86 of Highway code, you must make it as visible to other motorists as possible when riding a motorbike.

This could be because you’re dressed and wearing a hi-vis helmet or a fluorescent strip on your bike.

Rule 87 also states that when riding in the dark, you should “wear reflective clothing or strips to improve your vision”.

Protective clothing such as trousers and jackets is not required but is recommended by the Government to ensure safety when going out.

What should you never wear when riding a motorbike?

Old helmet

It is not recommended to wear a used or expired helmet when riding a motorbike.

While it may seem like a cheaper option, you just don’t know much of the damage and wear and tear they have had by their previous owners.

If the helmet has been dropped or bumped before, it can cause wear and tear and make it less effective.

The protective devices and glue inside helmets tend to wear down over time due to general use as well as heat and perspiration from the rider.

Large clothes

You may have seen motorcyclists wear tight clothing while riding – this is not a fashion statement, but because it is much safer than wearing loose clothing.

Before you start riding your motorcycle, check your clothes and if anything seems loose – loose pants or an open-neck t-shirt, for example.

Loose clothing can be distracting to other drivers and to yourself while driving, and can be easily dangerous if they get caught in something as you pass.


Similar to loose clothing, a scarf can keep you snug, but can be a major hazard when riding a motorcycle, so it’s best avoided. In general, fear can be a big danger when riding a motorcycle, so it’s best to avoid wearing them.

The scarf can easily get caught in or snag on another vehicle or anything else while you’re riding – potentially pulling you back on your motorcycle.

They can also be distracting while driving because they can hit your face and keep you out of the road.

Scarves can also come apart while riding and can hit another vehicle or get caught in your wheels, distracting and leading to an accident.

Open and heeled shoes

It is thought that the wrong footwear can do more harm than good.

Open footwear such as sandals and flip flops will not protect your skin if you are hit.

Meanwhile, shoes or boots with heels will cause your feet to lose balance, causing discomfort and danger when riding.

Choosing a comfortable, flat shoe with a roof will give you better protection when riding a motorcycle.

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Fry Electronics Team

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