Best Motorcycle Armor – 2021 Guide

Troy
| Last Updated: February 6, 2021

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ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time) is a worthy motto to live by, and experienced motorcyclists know the importance of wearing leathers, good boots, and a helmet, at the very least.

But riders looking for more robust protection are turning toward motorcycle armor in addition to, or sometimes instead of, their usual gear.

Our Top Picks for Best Motorcycle Armors

  • Better airflow
  • Easy adjustments
  • Fit under jackets
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  • Comfortable fit
  • Safe to use
  • Hip protection
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  • Best for the Money
  • Movement space
  • Waist protection
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Comparison of the Best Motorcycle Armors

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Comes with a breathable back insert for better airflow
  • Shoulder and waist straps are easily adjustable for better fit
  • With a low-profile design it will fit under most jackets
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  • A very flexible fabric used for improved comfort
  • Mesh and Lyra construction for improved safety
  • Impact protection on hips with ventilated Bio-foam
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  • Best for the Money
  • Four-way stretch for freedom of movement
  • Elastic waistband made from soft fabric
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  • Best Leather Motorcycle Jacket With Armor
  • Durable cowhide leather used in construction
  • Reflective stripes added for improved visibility
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  • Best Motorcycle Armor Vest
  • Spine protection included that moves with your body
  • Will easily fit under your jacket
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  • Best Motorcycle Pants Armor
  • Full-length leg for better protection option
  • Low-profile protection with outer thigh pads
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  • Best Motorcycle Armor Shirt
  • Available in a wide range of sizes
  • Impact foam can be removed to clean
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  • Best Motorcycle Full Body Armor
  • High-density EVA and PVC pads for better protection
  • Can be used for a variety of protection applications
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  • Best Mesh Motorcycle Jacket With Armor
  • Comes with removable thermal liner for all-weather use
  • Protection added to shoulders and elbows
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  • Best Womens Motorcycle Jacket With Armor
  • Air ventilation and breathability with improved grid construction
  • Special protection added for vital body parts
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What to Look For When Buying a Motorcycle Armor 

When buying motorcycle armor, be sure to keep an eye out for the following.

CE Rating

Motorcycle armor with CE certification will tell you that it’s passed rigorous safety standards. Armor without CE certification might not be as protective, although this isn’t always the case - the manufacturer may have simply opted not to go through the testing process.

Breathability

Breathability is essential in motorcycle armor, whether you’re wearing it alone in the summer or under layers in cooler weather. Good airflow will prevent chafing as well as overheating, keeping you comfortable on long rides.

Movement

Find armor that moves with you so it doesn’t affect your performance. Look for articulated spine padding that bends when you do, pliable foam inserts that conform to your body, and stretchy material that stays in place even when you shift position.

Fit

High-quality motorcycle armor will fit like a glove without riding up or restricting movement. But you have to get the right size - it’s not unheard of for armor to run large or small, so be sure to read an item’s reviews. Adjustable straps go a long way towards ensuring a proper fit.

Quick Take - Best Motorcycle Armors

Hoping to cut to the chase? Below are the three best motorcycle armors:

  1. Icon Stryker Vest
  2. Alpinestars Bionic Freeride Shorts
  3. Klim Tactical Shorts

Review of the Best Motorcycle Armors

There’s a ton of motorcycle armor on the market these days, and it can be hard to tell which products offer real protection. Below are our favorites.

Best Overall:
Icon Stryker Vest

PROS

  • Straps make it quick and easy to put on
  • CE rated D30 back insert for extra protection
  • Can be worn alone or over or under your jacket
  • Comfortable articulated design is suitable for long rides
  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking materials make it ideal for hot weather

CONS

  • Limited size options
  • No shoulder protection

What Recent Buyers Report

The consensus among reviewers is that this vest is lightweight and breathable, making it an excellent choice for hot weather riding. Its low profile design also allows riders to layer it under a jacket for additional protection. The Stryker is equally comfortable worn alone or as a layer.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Icon Stryker Vest offers riders CE rated protection without restricting movement. If you don’t feel like gearing up completely but do want some level of security, this vest is a stylish solution.

The vest’s hard plastic chest plate is surrounded by breathable mesh, and the articulated back armor features D30 inserts. That means it’s as comfortable as it is protective, keeping you safe without causing uncomfortable distractions during long rides. It even features a moisture-wicking liner to keep sweat at bay. 

Adjustable shoulder and side straps ensure an excellent close fit, so the vest stays in place no matter what your size.

Bottom Line

To describe the Icon Stryker Vest in two words: efficient minimalism. If comfort is just as important to you as protection, this vest has you covered. We love the chest and back protection; it would be nearly perfect if it took the shoulders into account.

PROS

  • Fits comfortably under most pants
  • Silicone leg ring to prevent riding up
  • Reinforced polyurethane inserts for added protection
  • Protection where you need it: hip, thigh, and tailbone
  • Comfortable and breathable thanks to the mesh and lycra material

CONS

  • Sits low on hips
  • Runs small, so size up

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers of the Alpinestars Bionic Freeride Shorts tend to be surprised at how comfortable they are, even with the hard tailbone protector. The majority of reviewers report that these shorts run small, so take that into account when ordering. Overall, people are happy with the level of protection provided.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The polyurethane inserts in these shorts will give you peace of mind with added protection around vulnerable parts like the hips and tailbone, but it’s streamlined enough to fit under most pants. The tailbone piece is articulated, so you won’t even feel it during the ride.

You’d think that armored shorts would constrict movement, but thanks to the stretchable, ultrathin lycra material, these shorts move with you throughout the ride. They also breathe incredibly well, minimizing sweat and chafing.

The lycra is reinforced with mesh, making these a durable pair of shorts that will hold up for ride after ride.

Bottom Line

The Alpinestars Bionic Freeride Shorts offer comfortable lower body protection that can be worn under pants you already own. Owners of these shorts report that although they run small, once you get the right size, you’ll forget you’re even wearing them. 

Best for the Money:
Klim Tactical Shorts

PROS

  • Articulated design moves with the rider
  • Mesh and Klimatek cooling fabric keep you cool and dry
  • Padded chamois increases comfort and absorbs moisture
  • Antimicrobial material reduces odors caused by sweat and bacteria
  • Protection panels made from Poron XRD material remain flexible until impacted

CONS

  • Chamois could extend further back 
  • Little hip protection except on sides

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers appreciate the comfortable fit and moisture-wicking material of the Klim Tactical Shorts, as well as the padded chamois. Many reviewers report that while the soft padding is comfortable, it’s hard to imagine it offering much protection - but the nature of Poron XRD material is that it’s soft until it’s impacted, which is the beauty of it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Riders looking for more thigh and tailbone protection than their pants offer will do well to consider the Klim Tactical Shorts. State-of-the-art Poron XRD material offers protective padding where you need it most - the thigh and tailbone.

Designed with comfort in mind, these shorts also have a padded, moisture-wicking chamois. Klimatek cooling fabric and mesh pad pockets will keep you cool even in summer months, and antimicrobial technology keeps odors at bay.

The tagless tactical shorts feature a silicone leg ring to keep them in place and a soft elastic waistband for added moveability.

Bottom Line

The Klim Tactical Shorts might not offer the highest level of protection on the market, but we love the comfy yet protective Poron XRD padding. Additional features like the chamois and odor-free technology make these shorts a good option overall.

Best Leather Motorcycle Jacket With Armor:
Jackets 4 Bikes Mens Leather CE Armor Jacket

Mens Track Biker Motorcycle Leather CE Armor Moto Riding Racer Black Jacket L

PROS

  • Curved sleeves to accommodate rider position
  • Removable armor protects the back, shoulders, and elbows
  • Reflective stripes on chest, back, and arms to increase visibility
  • Removable quilted liner for added insulation during cooler months
  • Thick cowhide leather protects against the elements, impact, and friction

CONS

  • No front vents
  • Pockets are too small and few

What Recent Buyers Report

Owners of the Mens Leather CE Armor Jacket report that the thick leather is quite stiff when new and takes a good deal of breaking in. Some buyers say that the neckline is uncomfortably high, but the fit is comfortable overall. The removable armor, in addition to the thick leather, offers an impressive level of protection.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you’re looking for an armored leather jacket that will be as cool-looking as it is protective, this one from Jackets 4 Bikes has what you’re looking for. This thick leather jacket has removable armor made of injection-molded plastic padded with foam to safeguard the vulnerable back, shoulders, and elbows.

Reflective striping will keep you safe at night without looking excessive during the day, and zippered front pockets will keep your valuables safe during the ride. The jacket’s quilted lining will provide added warmth during cold weather and can be removed during warmer months, and the back vents can be opened to allow extra ventilation.

Bottom Line

The Mens Leather CE Armor Jacket has just about everything an armored jacket needs: thick, protective leather, impact-resistant armor, visibility features, and a removable liner for comfort. If anything can take a spill from a bike, this jacket sure can. 

Best Motorcycle Armor Vest:
EVS Sport Vest

PROS

  • Ultra-breathable material prevents overheating
  • Interior pockets to keep phone and credit cards safe
  • Complete articulating spine armor moves with the rider
  • Adjustable kidney belt and shoulder straps for a secure fit
  • Can be worn alone but is thin enough to fit under most jackets

CONS

  • Not CE rated
  • Straps could be more adjustable

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love the comfort and airflow on the EVS Sports Vest, reporting that it keeps them much cooler than similar armored vests. People also appreciate the interior pockets, although some wish the chest protection were a bit more robust. Reviews of this vest are overwhelmingly positive.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Pretty much any armored vest is going to be cooler than wearing all your gear, but we’re incredibly impressed with the airflow on the EVS Sports Vest. Riders looking for a cool option in hot climates will appreciate how cool it keeps you for the amount of protection it offers.

A foam impact chest protector and wide articulated polyurethane spine are complemented by an adjustable kidney belt, keeping all your vitals safe. The well-thought-out design fits under most jackets, looks great, and includes additional features like the interior pockets and adjustable straps that add to the vest’s value.

Bottom Line

The EVS Sports Vest offers the convenience and protection that only an armored vest can, keeping riders cool and protected on days when fully gearing up is too much work. It doesn’t offer CE rated protection, but the polyurethane armor will withstand impact.

Best Motorcycle Pants Armor:
Troy Lee BP 5705 Hot Weather Armored Pants

PROS

  • Designed to accommodate riding position without shifting
  • Cushioned chamois designed explicitly for motorcycle seats
  • Strata foam and Shock Doctor technology offer impact protection
  • VENT-TRAK keeps riders cool in hot weather by using airflow channels
  • Low profile protection fits nicely under most pants without noticeable bulk

CONS

  • No knee protection
  • Protective padding could be thicker

What Recent Buyers Report

Some reviewers love the low profile of these pants, but others question how much protection they offer on their own. Buyers generally agree that they stay cool in hot weather and are incredibly comfortable, decreasing discomfort during long rides due to the padded chamois and chafe-resistant material.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Troy Lee BP 5705 Hot Weather Armored Pants will keep you protected during summer rides without causing you to overheat. The low profile of the outer thigh pads won’t add bulk, so they’ll fit under your leathers with no problem.

Reinforced lycra with sweat-wicking and antimicrobial technology will keep you dry and odor-free, plus the VENT-TRACK moves air over the skin to create a cooling effect. Designed to conform to a rider position, you don’t have to worry about these slipping down or restricting movement. The padded chamois keeps you comfortable on long rides.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a low profile addition to wear under other protective gear, the Troy Lee Hot Weather Armored Pants will do the job. If you’re looking for complete lower body protection, you might want to keep looking.

Best Motorcycle Armor Shirt:
Leatt 3DF AirFit Body Protector

PROS

  • Neck brace connection that works with all Leatt neck braces
  • CE certified protection of back, chest, shoulders, and elbows
  • Protective impact padding can be removed for easy washing
  • MoistureCool sweat-wicking fabric helps to keep riders cool and dry
  • Lightweight, comfortable design with adjustable straps for a better fit

CONS

  • No side rib protection
  • Less protection for shoulders and elbows

What Recent Buyers Report

Riders love the protection that they get from the Leatt 3DF AirFit Body Protector, with many reporting that it holds up to minor crashes well. Users say that it’s comfortable and doesn’t get too hot, even in warm climates. They also appreciate that it integrates with Leatt neck braces.

Why it Stands Out to Us

With CE certified chest, back, elbow, and shoulder protection, the Leatt 3DF AirFit Body Protector is not short on safety. The soft impact foam is soft and pliable during regular use but stiffens instantly on impact, safeguarding you from injury. Straps positioned on either side of the ribcage ensure a snug fit to keep the padding where you need it.

The body protector integrates with Leatt neck braces, but it can also be worn without one. The thin, perforated material keeps riders comfortable during hot-weather rides, and the compression-tight fit maximizes evaporation. It’s hard to find an armor shirt with a better-thought-out design.

Bottom Line

The Leatt 3DF AirFit Body Protector is a strong choice for those looking for full upper-body shielding without wearing a jacket. The pad’s CE certification lets you know this shirt means business and the well-fitting design will conform to your body. 

Motorcycle Full Body Armor Protective Jacket ATV Guard Shirt Gear Jacket Armor Pro Street Motocross Protector with Back Protection Men Women for Off-Road Racing Dirt Bike Skiing Skating Black M

PROS

  • Multiple vents allow airflow to keep riders cool
  • Protective pads can be removed for easy washing
  • Protection of back, chest, and arms down to the wrists
  • Durable PVC, Lycra, and EVA material for lasting protection
  • Articulates spine moves with the rider to ensure full mobility

CONS

  • No pockets
  • No reflectors

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers report efficient protection against minor impacts but say that it doesn’t hold up well to repeated abuse. Some question whether the padding will protect against high impacts since it’s pretty thin. Users say the GOHINSTAR jacket lives up to its claim of being lightweight and breathable, keeping them cool while riding. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

The GOHINSTAR Motorcycle Full Body Armor Protective Jacket offers riders full upper body protection without the heft of a leather jacket. If you’re torn between getting a heavy-duty leather jacket or a lighter armored shirt, this jacket’s a great compromise.

Made of EVA, PVC, and lycra reinforced with durable mesh, this jacket is lightweight as it is - adds in multiple air vents, and you’ve got comfortable rides all summer long. 

Removable pads cover the spine, chest, and arms, and adjustable straps ensure a snug fit. Fashion-conscious riders will agree that the futuristic design adds style points, too.

Bottom Line

The protective jacket is an excellent alternative to a leather jacket, especially for riders living in warmer climates. Removable padding protects the chest, back, and arms all the way down to the wrist, while the vents in between allow cooling airflow. 

Best Mesh Motorcycle Jacket With Armor:
Vance Advance Lightweight Mens All Weather Jacket

Vance Advance Lightweight Mens All Weather Season CE Armor Mesh Motorcycle Jacket (Black, 4XL)

PROS

  • CE rated armor is removable for easy cleaning
  • Removable thermal liner for insulation during winter months
  • Multiple pockets inside and out, including a gun, carry pocket
  • Reflective piping for subtlety during the day and safety at night
  • Durable mesh liner for increased airflow keeps riders cool in warm weather

CONS

  • Flimsy pocket snaps
  • Holster pocket not at an ideal angle

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report that the Vance Advance Lightweight Men’s All Weather Jacket is comfortable in varying temperatures and breathes well when the liner is removed. Some report disliking the angle of the conceal carry pocket and the buttons on the liner’s snap pocket. Users like the heavy-duty material the jacket is made of.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The Vance Advance Lightweight Men’s All Weather Jacket uses CE certified protective pads for the shoulders, arms, and chest. The back protector isn’t CE certified, but it’s removable, so you can easily replace it with one that is if you want.

Reflective piping offers increased visibility at night without being obvious during daylight hours. The durable mesh shell is uber breathable and comes with a removable thermal liner for colder weather.

Multiple interior and exterior pockets make this jacket ideal for wearing while out and about - it even includes a conceal carry pocket inside the liner.

Bottom Line

Riders looking for a motorcycle jacket they can wear year-round will appreciate what the Vance Advance Lightweight Men’s All Weather Jacket has to offer. This jacket combines safety features like CE certified protection and reflective piping with the convenience of multiple pockets and a removable liner. 

Best Women's Motorcycle Jacket With Armor:
Alpinestars Stella Bionic Jacket

PROS

  • Adjustable kidney belt fits securely to prevent internal injury
  • Integrates with Alpinestars’ BNS neck brace for added safety
  • CE rated protective pads on back, chest, elbows, and shoulders
  • Mesh design with arm cutouts keeps riders cool even in summer
  • Designed to fit a woman’s silhouette comfortably regardless of size

CONS

  • Can be bulky under other layers
  • Relatively short length can ride up

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are impressed with the fit of the Alpinestars Stella Bionic Jacket, which includes a chest plate designed to fit a woman. The robust protection that the jacket offers is nothing compared to the comfortable fit and breathable material. Riders report that it fits so well they forget they’re wearing it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Women motorcyclists are used to having to make do with armor designed for men or that claims to be unisex, so the Alpinestars Stella Bionic Jacket’s fit is impressive. It’s also adjustable, ensuring that a vast number of body types can wear it.

The durable grid technology provides a jacket that’s lightweight and well-ventilated, minimizing overheating. The jacket features removable sleeves, locking zippers, and a kidney belt system for internal protection. It’s also compatible with Alpinestars’ BNS neck brace.

Most importantly, this jacket offers full CE certified protection of the chest, back, shoulders, and elbows. It can be worn over or under other layers.

Bottom Line

The Alpinestars Stella Bionic Jacket gives women full CE certified protection with a fit that won’t pinch or constrict. The low profile design makes it an ideal piece for layering under layers in cold weather.

How Does Motorcycle Armor Work? 

Motorcycle armor is clothing with protective pads that cover body parts most susceptible to injury: chest, back, torso, pelvis, and limbs.

Some people wear it as a lighter alternative to wearing leathers, while others layer the two together for additional protection.

Can You Really Find Motorcycle Armor That’s Affordable? 

Motorcycle armor comes in all price ranges, and it’s possible to find affordable items - just make sure to read reviews first to make sure it’s a reliable product.

A higher price tag doesn’t necessarily mean better quality, but more expensive name brands do often use premium materials and state-of-the-art technology.

Types of Motorcycle Armor 

Motorcycle armor comes in all shapes and sizes, with something to suit every rider. These are some of the most common.

Vests

Some motorcyclists consider motorcycle vests with armor to be the bare minimum protection after a helmet. They usually feature hard protective pads over the chest and back with breathable material along the sides.

Jackets

Jackets with armor are more often made of leather or durable mesh with protective padding along the spine, chest, shoulders, and elbows.

Shorts

Armored motorcycle shorts can add additional tailbone, thigh, and hip protection under leathers or regular pants. They often feature a chamois for added impact protection.

Pants

Pants with armor are similar to armored shorts, except they extend down the leg rather than stopping above the knee. Their protective pads are generally focused in the same areas as shorts, though they may also include knee pads.

Comparison Review

Here's what you need to know about the different types of motorcycle armor, and how they compare to each other.

CE Level 1 vs Level 2

What does it mean when motorcycle armor is labeled CE level 1 or 2? Which does the average motorcyclist need?

The main difference is that CE level 1 gear is lighter and often more flexible, making it useful for shoulder and elbow protection where a lot of mobility is needed. On the other hand, it offers less protection than level 2 does.

That’s why armor that focuses on the chest and back is more often level 2 since those areas need the most protection.

GOHINSTAR Motorcycle Full Body Armor Protective Jacket

Motorcycle Jacket vs Armor

If there’s one thing that’s synonymous with motorcycles, it’s leather jackets. Wearing a leather jacket while you ride is a decent first step in protecting yourself against road rash, but it won’t do much to prevent breaks and internal damage.

That’s where body armor comes in, which offers additional protection for the most vulnerable parts of the body: the spine, chest, torso, and joints. Body armor is usually a combination of padding and protective shields that withstand impact.

Conclusion 

Motorcycle armor is useful if you need extra protection, but it can also be used alone if full leathers are too much for our climate. Be sure to do your research and read customer reviews before purchasing so you can be sure to get the best protection for your money.

People Also Ask

If you’re new to the world of motorcycle armor, it can be overwhelming trying to keep all the terms straight while trying to remember every recommendation you read. Below are some of the most common questions we get asked about protective motorcycle armor.

What is CE Armor? 

CE armor is an armor that has been tested and meets the European Union’s safety standards, called European Conformity (or Conformité Européenne, which is where the CE acronym comes from). CE level 2 armor offers the most protection and is usually used for the back and chest. Level 1 is more often used for limb protection.

What is Level 3 Motorcycle Armor? 

Level 3 motorcycle armor is a marketing ploy that some companies use to imply that their product offers more protection than CE level 2. CE level 2 is the highest certification available, so if you look closely, you’ll find that these products usually aren’t certified or are only certified at level 1 or 2.

What Should You Wear While Riding a Motorcycle? 

Because motorcycles offer no protection during a crash, it’s crucial to protect the most vulnerable parts of your body. While riding, you should wear a helmet, goggles or glasses (unless you have a face shield), boots that support the ankle, and leathers or other protective clothing with armor.

Troy

Hi, my name’s Troy. I started riding motorcycles with Clay mid-2020 and soaking up his vast knowledge of bikes. I have been writing for a few years and decided it was a good time to start writing about what I’m passionate about - motorcycles. No matter how bad your day is, a bike will always make you feel better, that’s my motto.