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There’s nothing as vital as having the best safety equipment when riding. However, some of these pieces are often bulky and can be uncomfortable when worn for hours at a time.
Luckily, there’s a way to protect some of the most critical parts of your body without wearing a full-on jacket. Instead, you might want to consider wearing motorcycle armor.
Armor is sometimes a reinforced jacket or just a few implants installed in the one you already use for riding.
Stay tuned to discover the top motorcycle armors, how to pick among them, and what you should consider before buying one.
9 Highest Rated Motorcycle Armor Insert Reviews
Jackets 4 Bikes Store – Removable
This is one of the best options if you’re looking for removable armor to install in your riding jacket. It includes five pieces that are meant for your elbows, shoulders, and back.
One of the best things about this one is its resistance and durability. These are made from triple-density foam that absorbs shock, vibration, and impact. It’s also quite comfortable to wear for hours on end.
It’s important to note that it’s a universal fit so that you can use it with pretty much any jacket with armor pockets. Use scissors to cut any piece that’s too big to fit in your jacket.
Another thing worth noting is the overall weight of these five pieces. The entire pack weighs just 8 ounces, so you probably won’t even notice you’re wearing it.
D3O – for Elbow Protection
D3O is among the best choices if you only need elbow protection when riding. It’s a CE-certified elbow protecting insert certified to EN1621-1:2012.
This one has a Level 1 certification, so it’s safe to use in cold, wet, and ambient conditions. This makes it versatile and suitable for a wide range of riding conditions, which is great if you ride every day.
It’s a removable piece, so it’s meant to be used with a riding jacket. Make sure the one you’re wearing has a pocket for the elbow protector.
The material is soft and flexible but strong and resistant to shock, impact, and vibration. It’s meant to prevent or at least soften any potential impact.
It comes in pair, meaning that you’ll receive two inserts for protecting your elbows.
First Classic – CE Approved
First Classic is a Level-2 CE-approved armor for your elbows. It comes in a package of two pads that you’re supposed to insert in your jacket’s armor pockets.
Much like most elbow pads, these are made from a memory foam material. It’s a soft yet strong material ideal for absorbing shock, impact, and vibration.
One of the best things is that you can cut the pads with scissors if you find them too big for your need. They’re ergonomically designed, featuring a standard shape of an elbow for maximum comfort.
It’s worth noting that these are unisex, which means both men and women can wear them. Also, you can easily remove them if you ever want to wash or replace them. Washing is easy to do with soapy water or a quick rinse under the tap.
Alpinestars – for Chest Protection
This Alpinestars chest armor is an excellent choice if you need some extra protection in the chest area. It comes in a pack of two pieces certified to prEN 1621-3:2013 standard.
These are highly ventilated, which is always important for chest armor. They’re lightweight and won’t weigh you down when riding, even if you wear them for hours at a time.
Both pieces are ergonomically designed and meant to improve your overall safety in case of a crash. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll have to wear a riding jacket since it’s the only way to make these pads work.
They fit most Alpinestars jackets and race suits, although they might fit other brands as well. Also, these are meant for men only and are somewhat difficult to alter with scissors.
Alpinestars Nucleon – for Back Protection
Nucleon is a hybrid back protector insert CE certified to Level 2 EN1621-2:2014. It’s a single piece that weighs around 15 ounces, depending on the size you go for. It comes in three sizes for you to choose from based on your needs.
Since it’s a hybrid back protector, it has a perforated hard shell resistant to shock and impact. Still, it’s flexible enough to endure these impacts without breaking under pressure.
The inside is filled with absorbing foam that gives it flexibility and comfort.
Another thing worth noting is its ergonomic design. It enhances comfort and makes it easy to wear the protector during long-hour rides.
Nucleon has an innovative cooling system, allowing sufficient airflow to keep you cool during hot weather. This adds to its overall comfort during street riding.
Surlim – for Knee Protection
This Surlim pair is one of the best choices for everyday knee protection. It’s a removable armor you can use with riding jeans and pants.
Surlim has excellent impact resistance and a high level of cushioning. It’s a comfortable pair suitable for frequent riding even if you spend hours on your bike.
One of the best things about it is its CE certification to EN1621-1:2012 Level 1. Both pieces are lightweight and breathable, allowing sufficient airflow to keep you cool during hot weather.
These pads are soft, and you probably won’t even feel you’re wearing them. The shock-absorbing material is also quite flexible, meaning that it won’t break or rip under pressure.
Although it’s soft, the material turns hard under the strong impact, dissipating most of the impact energy.
Surlim SR – for Hip Protection
This Surlim is meant to protect your hips when riding. It’s a removable armor featuring two pieces that go into the unique pockets of your pants.
Both pieces are ergonomically designed and suitable for long-hour use. They’re comfortable and lightweight, so you’re not adding any unnecessary extra weight.
These have excellent impact resistance and are tested to CE EN1621-1:2012 Level 1 standards. It’s important to note that these fit most pants, but it would help if you checked the size to confirm they’d fit.
Much like most Surlim protectors, these are made from comfortable and soft material that turns hard under heavy impact. This helps to dissipate impact energy before becoming flexible and soft again.
These removable pads are easy to install and take out when you no longer need them.
GES – Ergonomic
GES offers a pack of four protectors for your knees and elbows. Much like most inserts, these are made to work with your jacket and pants, making sure that the sizes match.
Each piece has a pre-curved design to fit your body comfortably. They feature a PE plastic shell that’s strong and resistant to impact and shock.
The plastic shell is durable and resistant to wear, ensuring that these last you a long time. On the inside, the shell features foam and mesh materials to provide breathability, comfort, and some flexibility.
The fabric is skin-friendly and unlikely to irritate you even if you wear these for a long time. Plus, they’re ideal for hot weather, thanks to the airflow they allow.
Each piece is easy to install, featuring a quick-release strap system for easy application.
SHIFT Store – Adjustable
This Shift Store pair is meant to protect your knee and shin area in case of a crash. The two pieces are made from strong plastic combined with soft foam for some added comfort.
These are easy to put on and take off, thanks to the dual elastic adjustment straps. The straps feature hook and loop closures that are generally considered simple to use.
One of the most critical things to keep in mind is that there’s only one size available. These are also meant for motorcycle riding, but you can use them for cycling and other similar sports.
They’re designed to move along with your legs so you won’t feel like they’re limiting your range of motion. The back of the pads has ventilated foam and abrasion-resistant binding.
What to Consider in Buying an Armor for Motorcycle Riding
As you may have noticed, there are various types of motorcycle armor. While some are meant for specific areas of your body, others differ in how we use them.
Choosing between these falls to your needs and preferences since it’s hard to tell which type is the best.
These are the pads you fit inside your motorcycle jacket, suit, pants, or any other motorcycle apparel. It’s a specifically made type that you can replace any time it wears out.
It’s among the best ways of replacing stock pads you received in your gear.
This is a less commonly used type but still popular in track racing and off-road riding. Strap-on pads have straps and bands for you to attach directly to your body.
These are easy to put on and remove in only a few seconds. The bands and straps included are usually adjustable.
Most motorcycle armor pads are certified under CE standards. You can use this standard to measure how protective any piece is under impact and pressure.
The standards are created in the European Union, but companies from all countries can certify their products this way.
Armor that has already passed the testing is then tested some more. This is done to certify whether it’s resistant to more or less impact.
A Level 1 certification means your pad can endure less impact than that with a Level 2 certification. Still, although Level 1 armor isn’t the most protective, it’s better than nothing.
Level 2 certification means your armor can endure nearly double the pressure and impact Level 1 can endure. This means that these are more resistant and durable, making them more suitable for off-road riding and track racing.
Level 2 pads are bulkier and more cumbersome than others.
This is a unique CE certification that’s decided based on the size of your armor. It stands for small, meaning that your armor covers only the necessary area.
Again, Type A might not be as attractive as Type B certification, but it’s still better than none.
Type B certification means your pad is large and will cover more than just what it has to. These are typically bulkier and more cumbersome, so they might also be trickier to use at first.
If you can choose, Type B is typically more recommended than Type-A.
Motorcycle armor can also be tested in extreme temperatures under the CE standards. A hot condition test includes an armor being tested at 40°C.
Those that pass the test are CE-certified as T+, and you can find that symbol somewhere on the armor pad itself.
The cold condition test consists of an armor being tested at -10°C. Those that have a T- mark are CE-certified to perform under cold weather conditions.
One thing you should keep in mind is that these tests aren’t obligatory. They’re optional and only meant to certify a specific armor can still perform equally as well under these temperatures.
Size and Fitting
Size and fitting are crucial for various reasons. For this reason, you should do some measuring before opting for any particular model.
Check your jacket, pants, or any garment you want to use the pads with. Ensure that their pockets are big or small enough to fit the size of the armor you’re interested in.
Also, check the size of the armor to see if it fits your garment. If you’re going for strap-on armor, ensure its size fits your needs and preferences.
Getting the size and fit right is vital if you’re looking to achieve the best protection, comfort, and ease of use.
The primary purpose of armor is to enhance your safety in case of a crash. This is precisely why you should focus on the protection level each model offers.
While it should be comfortable and easy to use, it’s always most important that your pads are protective. For this reason, check their build quality, resistance to impact, and overall durability.
One of the best ways to figure out if you’ll get enough protection is to check the CE certification. Also, you can read customer reviews and see what other people have to say.
Durability is crucial since the last thing you want is an armor that breaks or wears out quickly. However, it’s not always so easy to tell if a product is durable before you try it.
Again, the CE certification does indicate the overall durability level to a certain degree. And, customer reviews can help with this too.
For general guidance, check what the armor is made from. Some materials are stronger than others and can endure higher levels of impact and pressure.
It will also help if you stick to reputable brands that make quality, long-lasting products.
The prices vary, and you can find both expensive and cheap models. And while you should have some idea of your budget, you should first focus on other buying factors.
In other words, the price isn’t always a good quality indicator. The most expensive models aren’t always the best, so make sure to check its CE certification and other buying factors we discussed.
It will help if you think about your budget and how much you’d be willing to pay for motorcycle armor. This way, you narrow your options a bit and make it easier to pick one among as many.
Categories of Motorcycle Body Armors
Armored under-layers include armored underpants, undershirts, undersuits, and undershorts. It’s a good choice for cheap motorcycle apparel that doesn’t do much in terms of protection.
Armored under-layers have all pads safely positioned, enhancing the protection of all the most important parts.
These are large and bulky, and you might take some time getting used to wearing one if it’s your first time.
Back armor has a protective pad that covers a wide area of your posterior torso. It’s not the most flexible because it doesn’t have to move as much as limb protectors.
It’s meant to be worn on the inside of your motorcycle jacket or suit, staying closely positioned against your back.
Strap-on back armor is available as well, which means you don’t necessarily need a compatible jacket.
Hip pads aren’t as common among motorcycle riders, and you’ll usually see these on track racers. Still, it helps to wear some since they can prevent injuries.
One thing that makes these armors stand out is that they’re rarely ever designed as strap-on pads. These are meant for you to place inside the pockets in your pants.
This one is to be placed against your thorax, protecting your chest in case of any accidents. It usually comes as a split or single piece.
These are also meant to be replacement pads, and it’s unlikely you’ll find them designed as a strap-on. Two-piece chest armor is slightly more comfortable than single-piece.
Knee armor is placed at your knee joint. It’s usually ergonomically designed so that it hugs your knee, offering the best protection.
Best models protect the side of your knees as well to the top of your shin. These can be both replacement and strap-on, allowing you to choose based on your needs.
The shoulder armor is placed atop your shoulder girdle. These come in various sizes and shapes, protecting more or less of the area around your shoulder.
In most cases, these come as pads meant for you to place them inside your riding jacket.
This one is meant to protect your elbow joint. It has to be comfortable and flexible so that it doesn’t limit your range of motion.
The best models wrap the sides of your elbow and upper forearms. Many people prefer strap-on models because they’re easier to remove than replacement pieces.
Why You Should Use Motorcycle Armor
Motorcycle armor has a clearly defined purpose of protecting a rider against impact. Its purpose is to absorb and dissipate the impact directed at you.
It can prevent scratches on your skin and possibly even broken bones, depending on how protective it is.
You should wear it to enhance your safety during riding, mostly if you ride in variable road and weather conditions.
The armor for your elbows or knees is the same as the helmet for your head. Nobody can guarantee 100% protection, but you have higher chances of coming out of an accident without serious injuries.
See our article on Safety Tips for New Riders.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I know the right fitting?
Some pieces are easier to fit than others, but you should always make sure you get this right. You’ll know that armor doesn’t fit you well if it’s uncomfortable to wear.
Most models are ergonomically designed and pre-cupped to fit, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Can you wear armors under your jacket?
Motorcycle armor is meant to be worn under your jacket. However, not all jackets can fit these, so make sure to look for a specifically-made model.
Those that have special pockets are meant to be used with replacement pads. You can still wear armor under your jacket even without these pockets, but you’ll have to go for strap-on pieces.
Are motorcycle armor shirts as safe as motorcycle armor jackets?
Any armor is better than no armor, so you should go for as much protection as possible. With this said, jackets are almost always more protective than shirts due to thicker materials being used.
Still, it all falls to the overall quality of the garment and its padded areas.
At this point, you probably found yourself some great motorcycle armor to use when adventuring on your two-wheeler.
The many types and models available allow you to choose what area of your body you want to focus on. Plus, these are easy to use as it usually takes no more than a few minutes to install or remove them.
It’s possibly the easiest way of upping your riding apparel, reducing the chances of injury, and improving your comfort when riding.
It’s up to you to pick among these armors after you’ve considered your needs and preferences along with factors from the buyer’s guide included.