6: Pants or Chaps
Lots of riders don't feel the need to invest in special riding pants or chaps; jeans or other heavy pants will protect your legs from most of the bugs and dirt.
However, if you plan on riding over a long distance, or you have a dirt bike, or you're going to race, you're going to want something tougher covering your legs. Old-school riders will probably go for leather pants or chaps (fringe is optional). In either case, a pair of riding pants will also keep riders dry in a rain shower.
Dirt bike and race riders will find that there are pants made specifically for their sport, with protective knee caps built in and pads at the hip and lower spine. If taking a spill in the dirt is a likely part of your weekend, a pair of protective pants could save you a lot of pain.
Speaking of the lower half, let's take a look at boots while we're at it.
Again, there are classic black leather boots and more modern boots made for specific riding purposes. The classic pull-on motorcycle boot generally reaches mid-calf and has a bit of a heel for hanging on the pegs. It does not have laces, but sometimes has a Y-shaped harness for style points.
For dirt track riders and racers, there are higher boots that protect more of your leg and often integrate with pants or a full riding suit to offer as much head-to-toe protection for taking corners - or spills - at speed as possible.
If the boots you choose to wear on your motorcycle have laces, make sure to tuck them inside the top of the boot. The last thing you need is for the wind to unlace your boot and the long laces to get caught while you're riding. Yikes.
Now for something you might not have considered protecting: your hearing.
Even with a padded, Snell-approved helmet that wraps your noggin from chin to crown and covers your face with a shield, you can still hear the engine of the motorcycle and the rush of the wind. Which is great - for a while. But if you've got a long distance to cover, that noise can be literally deafening.
Cut down on the wear and tear on your eardrums with a simple set of foam earplugs, the same kind you might wear to a rock concert. Earplugs might not seem cool, but the alternative is hopping off that cool bike, taking off your helmet, shaking out your hair, and screaming " What?" at the girl or guy who just asked you about your ride.
Commuters especially will want to take note of the next piece of equipment, a visibility vest.
3: Safety Vest
Motorcycles are already a challenge for car and truck drivers to see, it seems. Commuting in the morning, at dusk, and in the fog or drizzle can make it even harder - and that's assuming everyone's had their coffee.
Make it easier on motorists by wearing a reflective, brightly colored vest. These are available at many motorcycle shops these days. They are, admittedly, not the coolest piece of safety equipment, but the fluorescent orange and yellow colors will catch almost anyone's eye, which is exactly what motorcyclists need in less than ideal lighting conditions.
A vest with reflective strips on it will also catch the light from headlights for even more visibility. For that matter, reflective tape is available that can be added to anything, from helmets to boots. While it's a shame to mar a great paint job with sticky tape, placing a few strips on clothing for foggy mornings could prevent much worse things happening to the paint.
Off-road riders need a little extra protection, which we'll talk about next.
2: Chest Armor
We've already covered the fact that all riders could use a little armor, often in the pads of a jacket. Off-road riders, though, are pushing the boundaries further than many street bikes. You may not go as fast in the dirt, but it's more likely you're going to fly off the handlebars.
For this reason, experts recommend wearing chest armor, which can be bought either as pads or as a vest that covers front and back. Either way, the armor is usually made of dense but flexible foam to protect the body's most vital organs if you go head over heels.
One last piece aimed at off-roaders is extra padding for the joints.
10: Knee and Elbow Guards
Knee armor often covers more than the joint, though the knee is the focus of the protective pads. Some knee protection will cover the knee and shin; others hinge with the knee in the center, offering coverage for part of the thigh as well as part of the shin.
Elbow guards work in much the same way and serve the same purpose. Think about taking a spill on a dirt track: It isn't always a life-threatening situation, but it will almost always result in the rider taking the force of the fall on his knees or elbows. Protecting them from rocks and abrasions could save you a trip to the emergency room after a low-speed slide.