As a passionate motorcyclist, you know the value of quality motorcycle clothing in ensuring your safety and comfort on the road. But owning the right gear is just the beginning; taking proper care of it is equally important. Improper or incorrect care of motorcycle clothes results in your gear wearing out fast, looking used and often - being damaged. On a contrary, regular maintenance not only prolongs the lifespan of your motorcycle clothing but also enhances its safety and performance. In this blog post, we'll explore essential tips to help you care for and maintain your motorcycle gear, ensuring it remains in top-notch condition throughout your adventures.
It all begins with a common sense
As we delve into the essential aspects of motorcycle gear maintenance, it's important to keep in mind that, as a consumer and rider, your foundation should always be rooted in common sense and fundamental knowledge of caring for your gear. Some aspects, such as routinely cleaning your motorcycle boots or avoiding specific washing detergents, might not be explicitly outlined on garment labels. This is because as an informed consumer, you're expected to possess this basic understanding of motorcycle gear upkeep.
In the photos below you can see an example of the same motorcycle boots - the ones on the left have been used for a period of approx. 2 months, while the pair on a right - for about 4 years! Do you see the difference?
With that said, here are the most important steps to having long serving motorcycle gear.
Read the Care Instructions
Before you embark on your motorcycle clothing care journey, familiarize yourself with the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Each piece of gear may have specific requirements for washing, drying, and storage. Following these instructions will ensure you don't inadvertently damage the fabric or protective elements of your gear. All products are different and they might require a different care - so make sure you do not skip carefully reading the care labels.
It's worth noting that while care instructions hold importance and provide valuable guidance, they may not encompass every conceivable aspect. Did you know, that washing instruction labels are not obligatory for any garments? While we are used to see them on almost all types of apparel, they often stem from the goodwill of manufacturers and brands rather than being obligatory mandates. This brings us back to the earlier point: your application of common sense and fundamental knowledge is pivotal. If your gear sustains damage due to improper care, the onus cannot be placed on the manufacturer.
Washing Your Gear
While proper care is vital to maintain the integrity and functionality of your motorcycle clothing, washing them too often is not the best idea. Unless your motorcycle clothes get really dirty, try airing them out, refreshing with a special freshener, or simply wiping with a wet cloth as a first aid.
Frequent washing might have a negative impact on the aramid fibers - protective materials used in motorcycle clothing, and therefore should be prevented unless it is really necessary. When you wash your mc clothing, avoid using harsh detergents, bleach, or fabric softeners, as they can break down the materials and protective coatings. Instead, opt for a mild detergent, specifically designed technical wash (for clothing with waterproof membranes or leather), or ideally - use only water. Hand washing is preferable for motorcycle gear, but if you use a washing machine, use a gentle cycle with cold water. Gentle cycle is considered to be a no spin or a low spin speed ranging between 400rpm to 600rpm. To protect the armor and other sensitive areas, turn your gear inside out before washing and remove any impact protectors that are inside the clothing.
If you choose to use some special detergent or gear cleaner, it is a good idea to study the label of the product first. While many technical washings and special detergents are created to improve your mc gear, they may also damage it if used incorrectly or for the wrong materials. For example, waxed, or so called coated, denim, which is a beloved material for many motorcycle pants, cannot be washed with any detergents that contains sodium alkyl sultanate, which is common in many technical washes.
Remember, motorcycle clothes are meant to be used in variety of conditions and therefore they are designed to wear, meaning that their appearance might and will change after washing or use, even with proper care and maintenance. However, the extend of it is highly dependant on a correct (or incorrect) washing they will be exposed to.
Drying Your Gear
Never use a tumble dryer for motorcycle clothing, as the heat and agitation can damage the fabric and shrink the gear. Instead, hang your gear to air dry in a well-ventilated area, or even better lay it flat after washing. Avoid direct sunlight, as UV rays can fade the colors and weaken the materials. Be patient during the drying process; it may take longer, but it's worth it to preserve the integrity of your gear.
Cleaning Armor and Protectors
Most motorcycle jackets and pants come with removable armor and protectors. Periodically remove them and clean them separately following the manufacturer's instructions. Typically, you can wipe them down with a damp cloth or use a mild soap solution. Ensure they are completely dry before reinserting them into your gear. The impact protectors wear out during time which might affect their protective abilities, therefore it is a good idea to replace them regularly (every few years depending on how much you use your gear).
Maintaining Leather Gear
If you own leather motorcycle gear, such as jackets or gloves, additional care is necessary. Regularly clean your leather gear with a soft, damp cloth to remove dirt and dust. To prevent the leather from drying out, use a leather conditioner or moisturizer regularly (every few months would do, but if you ride regularly, you should consider doing it more often). Keep your leather gear away from direct heat sources, which can cause it to crack. Additionally, avoid exposing it to rain; if it gets wet, let it air dry naturally at room temperature.
Motorcyclists often encounter unexpected rain showers. To keep your gear water-resistant, consider applying a waterproofing spray specifically designed for motorcycle clothing. Follow the instructions carefully, and don't forget to clean your gear before applying the waterproofing treatment. Clothes that are already rainproof and have waterproof membranes should be regularly treated with the technical wash to ensure the longer life span of a membrane.
When you buy your waterproof gear remember, that just like any other outdoor apparel or equipment, mc clothing have different waterproofness levels - a rating measured in how many mm rainfall the garment can withstand. This rating varies depending on which type, model or brand membranes are used. A 10,000mm waterproof rating means the garment can withstand 10,000mm of rainfall in a single day without letting moisture in. The higher the number, the more waterproof the item will be. For example many membranes used in mc clothing offer 10,000-15,000mm waterproofness, while Gore-Tex®, for example, has a waterproof rating of 28,000mm. Generally speaking, the higher waterproofness level clothing offer, the more expensive they usually are.
Storing Your Gear
Proper storage is crucial for maintaining the shape and condition of your motorcycle clothing during the off-season. Hang your jackets, pants, and suits on padded hangers to prevent creases and distortion. If you have limited hanging space, roll your gear instead of folding it, which helps maintain the integrity of the materials. Store your gear in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
Inspecting Your Gear
Before every ride, perform a quick inspection of your motorcycle clothing. Check for any signs of wear, tear, loose stitching, or damage to the protective elements. If you spot any issues, address them promptly. Small repairs can prevent further damage and maintain the safety features of your gear.
Caring for your motorcycle clothing is not just about extending its lifespan; it's about ensuring your safety and comfort on every ride. By following the common knowledge and the manufacturer's care instructions, washing and drying your gear properly, and maintaining leather items separately, you can keep your motorcycle clothing in top-notch condition. Regularly inspecting your gear and making timely repairs will preserve its protective features and keep you well-protected on the road. Remember, investing a little time and effort in caring for your motorcycle clothing is a small price to pay for the priceless benefits of safety and enhanced riding experiences.