Suzuki DR650 Rider Clothing Page
It is important that DR650 riders are properly clothed, because if they are not, they are naked - which is just wrong. That said, clothing serves or fails to serves several functions.
Protection from the Elements
If you are riding in the cold or in the rain, it is vital that the rider is protected as no matter how tough he/she is, the cold slows responsiveness both physically and mentally. This can be deadly.
When in the cold, one should dress in layers with an outside windstopper layer. This can be easily done without having to spend a lot of cash, as long as you have clothing that fits appropriately, not too tight, have enough of it and don't care what you look like. Of course, a full helmet will protect you far more from the cold freezing wind than an open faced helmet.
Nothing sucks energy out of your body like the wet and cold, except possibly an evil wife. If you are riding in a wet and cold or temperate area, you should make sure you are properly protected. Beyond the multiple layers if needed, you will need a waterproof layer. This can be either a vapor barrier or waterproof/breathable layer. A breathable layer will allow you to feel much drier and more comfortable than a vapor barrier layer which will trap moisture next to your skin and make you feel muggy, especially at stops.
Gore-Tex Cordura and similar products works great at keeping you dry and somewhat protected but tend to be very pricey.
If you are frequenting a rainy environment on your bike, you should also do what you can to help you see. A full face mask is easier to wipe off than a set of sun glasses and will protect your face against the stinging rain drops hitting you at high speeds as well as the occasional tidal wave thrown at you. You may also want to treat the outside of you face shield with a bit of Rain-X and treat the inside of the mask with an anti-fogging solutions or thin layer of hand or dish soap and then buff if out. If you added a windshield to your DR650, you will want to treat that with Rain-X also.
Films such as those sold by FogCity can do a great job of preventing fog, but can create some ghost images at night.
There are heated vests, gloves and socks available for riders out outdoorsman. Many of these can run off of your existing electrical system if you don't over do it. It may also be beneficial do an LED conversion on all accessory lights as this buys you a couple of watts.
There is more than one way to regulate the temp from heated clothing. One such way is to use a dropping, series or variable resistor such as a rheostat. These methods place an unnecessary load on your electrical system and draws away power that may be better used for your lights. A better less wasteful method of temp control is using an electronic or bimetallic strip thermostat.
Some riders use a separate battery (even lithium ion ones) to power their warm gear which can be worn on one's belt, packed in your luggage or mounted separate from the bike's battery. The separate battery allows you to stay somewhat warm without overloading you electrical system or stay warm after you dismount your bike. These can be charged separately at home or with the battery's charging system.
Warm and Safe Heated Gear - auxiliary belt mounted battery and heated gear
Widder USA - heated gear - going out of business?
Aerostich - Heated gear and digital thermostats
Dennis Kirk - battery packs and heated gear
They can really help keep you hands warm for comfort as well as safety. For those who have ridden in the cold to the point that their hand either lost feeling or quit working will know that this is important to keep this part of your body warm while riding.
Handlebar Muffs (aka Hippo Hands)
These can be made to be wind and waterproof and even with insulation. The are an artic snow machine necessity and can be easily made if you can find one during the winter season. The can make a big difference in regards to hand comfort, but also also make it slightly cumbersome for hand signaling.
A slight compromise would be to use an extended handlebar brush protector. This should stop some of the wind and rain from hitting your hands, offer some protection against random brush, give you another place to mount reflective tape and can even look cool without getting in the way.
Protection from the Road and Rocks
If you like your skin, then you'll want to protect it. There are a lot of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) options out there the the following is just a brief list of some of them.
Look at the pro racers on the cement tracks. They all have form fitting race leathers on.
Leather is the industry standard for protective clothing. It offers superb abrasion protection and a little bit of padding. It is also important to note that leather comes in all types of thicknesses and quality. Some are only good for showing you goods at he local disco, while others are more suitable for stopping steer horns from gouging you at the local rodeo.
Leather also doesn't breath all that well and can make you sweaty in the summer. It will repel rain for a short period if treated, but will eventually suck up the water like a giant sponge. Leather takes a long time to dry out and isn't very dryer friendly (it shrinks).
For hot weather riding, they do make perforated leather and hybrid leather gear that has more breathable material making up the less critical areas of the garment. And for wet weather riding, the best choice is to put a waterproof layer over you leather, but you can also treat and retreat your leather or get a suit from one of the few folks that make Gore-Tex waterproof leathers.
Leather is often graded by weight, which can give you rough idea of it's thickness and potential for protection against abrasion. As a rule of thumb, anything thinner than 1.2 millimeters is only good for women with very nice figures that don't need protection from concrete.
Relative Thickness vs. Weight Chart
Pig, lamb and goat skins are great for making sexy leathers for strippers, but aren't effective for the abrasion resistance needed for motorcycle riding. Cow, buffalo and elk skins are generally better suited for protective clothing. Of note, the Aussies feel that the combination of kangaroo hide's "highly uniform orientation of fiber bundles in parallel with the skin" and lack of sweat glands allows this leather to be one of the strongest yet lightest leathers available.
The "Grain" can be a helpful aid in identifying the type and thickness of a leather.
Inner most layers of hide
More fragile than full-grain leather
typically used in form of suede
Split leather that has been buffed and brushed to form a fuzzy surface texture
Top Grain or Corrected Grain
sanded to remove scars and imperfections then sprayed for a uniform texture
not the same quality as full grain or naked leather
very strong and durable riding material
Full-Grain or Naked Leather
hand picked unblemished hides
transparent dyes only
surface will wear better than other leather
ultimate riding grade
most expensive grade
This is a Dupont special nylon fabric made with a basket-weave and was originally used in flak jackets of the US military. It has excellent abrasion resistance and tear resistance and offers good protection against road rash when thick enough. The composition of this material allows it to slide instead of catching on asphalt and throwing the rider like leather. But as a synthetic, it also melts when it gets hot enough and can burn the rider after his/her slide.
This can be a good durable economical option that can provide protection against the elements if it is bonded with a vapor barrier or waterproof/breathable membrane.
Unfortunately the term "Ballistic" is often used to describe riding and outdoor gear that isn't actually made from "Ballistic Nylon." Much of the gear out there made from ballistic fabric will not survive a crash and offer inadequate protection to the wearer.
Aerostich 500 Denier Roadcrafter Jacket
Cordura is a high tenacity, air textured nylon fiber, made exclusively by Invista. It has superior abrasion resistant qualities over other nylon fabrics and comes is couple if different thicknesses. Clothing made from 500 Denier Cordura should be durable enough from most activities but one layer of this by itself is generally insufficient for rider safety against road rash. For at the least the high contact areas (knees, elbows, shoulder, etc), a minimum thickness of 1000 Denier Cordura or comparable material should be considered for rider protection.
Ultra Cordura 1000 Denier
Ultra Cordura 1000 Denier is an exceptional special weave Dupont fabric that has superior strength compared to other nylon fabrics including1050 Ballistic Cordura. It also doesn't have a polyurethane coating which makes it extremely breathable.
Kevlar is one of the strongest and abrasion resistant fibers around. It is often weaved with other material to give it some flex and make it more useful. In it's blended form it can be breathable, wearable and extremely abrasion resistant. It's used to prevent chainsaws from cutting off logger legs, stop bullets from penetrating cop thoraxes and for fire juggler props since it doesn't burn.
Draggin' Liner Pants
It is still somewhat new to the biker scene but is available as underlayerment in riding gear (even some leather gear), in gloves and more recently as fabric for complete riding gear made by Cycleport (which unfortunalty looks a little gay). Suite made of Kevlar are the only non leather gear approved by the F.I.M., the A.M.A., the W.E.R.A, and a few other racing organizations.
Kevlar underliners, whether sewn into garments or worn as undergarments off riders the option of wear clothing that doesn't look like riding gear, while still offering some abrasion resistance. This is an option for short distance commuters who don't want to overdress, want to look casual and don't feel like crashing.
Of note, when Kevlar is mixed with outer synthetic materials, these materials will melt when they come in contact with heat (exhaust) or when tested against the road (heat from friction).
Polyurethane is used on the inside shell of most nylon. It seals the nylon woven threads, drastically increases the fabrics strength and make the fabric waterproof. This is great if you need to make tarps or other outdoors gear, but it turns clothing into vapor barrier sauna suits that traps your body heat and moisture next to your skin. It also likes to melt into your skin after a slide on the pavement.
There are many types of soft armor on the market today. This armor gives you some impact protection and limited increased abrasion resistance as it will sacrificially grind down during a slide like an eraser over sandpaper. These come in wrap around knee and elbow unit as well as pads in undergarments or placed in special pockets in the riders outer layer.
Thor Motocross Impact Rig
This is used for impact resistance against rocks and trees that your body may come into contact with. It is more of a motocross item as these riders are more likely than street riders to get thrown off their bikes into very uneven and uncomfortable obstacles and then be run over by another motorcyclist.
Metal, various plastics and carbon fiber are items that have been used for hard shelled armor in cycle protective gear.
Denim Rider Jeans
As a popular clothing fabric, this has received a lot of real world testing. It is generally more durable and thicker than most clothing made for everyday wear. It therefore offers much more protection from road rash than lets say a pair of polyester slacks or sheer stockings.
Denim Rider Jeans Inside-Out
Because of it's fashion popularity, many companies offer denim riders gear made from thicker than normal denim and/or reinforce high contact areas with Kevlar or ballistic pads.
Comparison of Fabrics
Tear and Abrasion Strength by the Numbers
|Denier Measurement||Material||Pounds of Force Until Tear||Abrasion Cycles Until Failure|
|Stretch Kevlar Blend||420||1800|
|Air Mesh Kevlar||1260||970|
|NEW Competition Grade Leather||80-110||1200-1700|
CE-approved Body Armor & Protective Gear
In much of Europe, protective gear for motorcyclists must meet a minimum standard to be sold as protective gear. It must be CE (Conformité Européene) approved or marked. The "CE-approved" labeling found on cycle gear means that the particular device has exceeded the European Union's unified testing standards and procedures for CE certification for that particular standard. It's nice that the EU has minimum standards for motorcycle protective gear, but unfortunately, many feel that these standards are pretty low and should be revised. And if you are in the US, there basically isn't any governmental standard of any kind for protective gear (other than helmets) and just about anything can be sold as protective gear. In the US helmets must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard no. 218 to be Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) approved, and many states require the use of a D.O.T. approved helmet for for motorcyclists when riding on public roads under certain provisions. That said, you can still purchase a non D.O.T. approved helmet in the US.
True CE Mark
For body armor, the CE-certified or CE-approved protective device must meet the EN 1621-1:1998 (shoulder, elbow and forearm, hip, knee and lower leg regions) or EN 1621-2:2003 (spine) standard for absorbing impact shock for a single event. This certification or approval relates only to the individual protector and not the garment as a whole.
For a garment to be CE-certified or CE-approved, it must meet the EN 13595 standard Part 1-4.
CE for China Export - "Fake CE Mark"
Since a true CE mark means something in Europe, there are actually fake CE marks. One such mark used actually means that it is a product of China.
Like will all clothing, this differs widely between manufactures who choose to use strong or economical threads and choose to do simple/economical stitches vs more durable stitch patterns that take more time and thread. This is often overlooked and can be difficult to evaluate if you don't know what to look for. And just remember that it doesn't matter what kind of space age material you are wearing or what the cow you are wearing ate before it died is after you take a spill the garments you are wearing tear apart at the seams and leave you looking like Hulk after he wakes up the next day.
A helmet is the only thing that is going to protect your head other than throwing your arms out in front of you during a crash. And its during or after a crash that you may regret not wearing one or not having a full coverage helmet. Because as cool as scars on the body are, having a large asymmetrical bald spot and a missing ear doesn't always get you in with the ladies...at least the ones you might want to take to a party.
Helmets also protect you from the wind, which enhances hearing while riding (as well as permanent hearing) and decreases rider fatigue.
Non DOT Approved Helmet sold in USA
In the US, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard no. 218 is used to determine if a helmet can be Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) approved. This is a minimum requirement needed to legally use a helmet for protection in many states and although the standard used to evaluate helmets may be quite low, judging by the some of the helmets that get DOT approved, you would not want to waste your time with a non DOT helmet unless you are just wearing a helmet for show (i.e. Nazi era German combat helmet).
Riders usually don't need to be told about this issue and will be reminded should they forget with road debris or bugs in their eyes. If you aren't using a full face shield then protective glasses or goggles will be necessary. If you don't have a face shield and are using sun glasses, you should pack extra clear eye protection for night time riding should you unexpectedly end up doing some riding in the dark.
If your hands are important to you, then a good pair of riding gloves will be important. They not only protect you from the wind, and other elements, a good pair should save your skin in the event of a crash and of in when your hand comes in contact with a trail obstacle while riding.
Lee Parks Deerskin Gloves
Rider preference varies in regards to using a full leather glove versus synthetics and/or leather with hard armor. And depending on where you are riding, water proofing and insulation may play a large role in glove preference.
A good pair of leather boots should provide a good amount of wind protection (bugs and gravel included) and abrasion protection in the event of a crash. And as there are different styles and types of riding, there are different types of specialty riding boots.
For motocross wanabee riders, protection against crush injuries and torsional forces of the foot and ankle is important. Since motocrossers and dirt riders may use their feet for stability and as a rotor on tight turns and slides on dirt they are more prone to tearing ligaments and/or break bones in their feet. So to enable protection against crushing and torsional forces, many motorcross boots incorporate hard plastics and steel plates to create a stiff boot that is less stiff than ski boots but far more stiff than regular boots.
Track and street racers may encounter high-speed slides that could wear through regular leather boots. These boots may incorporate sacrificial and replaceable protective guards on the foot, heel and ankles that will protect the riders feet and boots from severe road rash.
For the rest of riders, a good pair of full leather boots with quality soles will allow for adequate protection against wind, bugs, road debris and road rash, while still allowing the rider to dismount the bike and comfortably walk around town or through the outback as needed. Regular leather boots also generally don't draw as much attention as "Power Ranger" fashion motorcycle boots sold as many bike shops.
Conspicuity - Getting Seen
Olympia AST Jacket
If safety is more important to you than looking cool, then you may want to go with bright colors and reflective tape. There are many companies out there that sell fluorescent clothing for motorcyclists and if you are doing any night time riding, you really should have reflective tape on your jacket.
Safety Hi-Vis Vest
Reflective fluorescent safety vests are easy to come by and can be economical, sturdy and sometimes both. They pack up nicely so you don't have to trot around town or in the local grocery store wearing neon.
Aerostich Jump Suits
There are also a few companies that will be happy to custom make you a bright and obnoxious armored ballistic suit. You'll look like a homosexual clown, but it will be hard for others on the road (or side of the road for that matter) to miss you.
Also see DR650 Conspiuity for more info on motorcycle and rider conspicuity.
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