Compulsory motorbike equipment
What equipment is compulsory for motorcycling?
In the UK, motorcyclists are only required by law to wear a safety helmet. On all journeys, motorcycle, scooter or moped riders and pillion passengers must always wear a protective helmet. However, this does not apply to followers of the Sikh religion if they are wearing a turban. Helmets must comply with regulations, and they must be fastened securely. Riders and passengers of motorised tricycles and quad-bikes are also advised to wear a protective helmet (but this rule is only required by law in Northern Ireland). Before each journey, check that your helmet visor is clean and in good condition.
All helmets worn on UK roads must meet one of the following conditions:
- British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark
- UNECE Regulation 22.05
- European Economic Area member standard, offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985 and carries a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.
Motorcyclists caught not wearing a crash helmet could receive an official warning or be fined up to £500.
The Highway Code also advises motorcyclists to wear eye protectors, which must comply with the regulations. Scratched or poorly fitted eye protectors can limit your view when riding, particularly with bright sunlight and during hours of darkness. If you ride with a visor or goggles, they must either:
- meet a British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark
- meet a European standard that offers at least the same safety and protection as the British Standard and carries a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark (UNECE Regulation 22.05).
Riders should also consider wearing ear protection. If you are involved in a collision, the Highway Code also advises that wearing strong boots, gloves, and suitable clothing may help protect you.
Safety first: what other equipment is recommended?
In addition to a helmet, it is advisable to have other equipment at hand to improve your safety. As well as the front and rear, the Highway Code rule 86 suggests that riders should make themselves as visible as possible from the sides, and they should wear “a light or brightly coloured helmet and fluorescent clothing or strips”. Rule 87 states that you should “wear reflective clothing or strips to improve your visibility” when riding in the dark.
The DVSA also provides suggestions regarding suitable clothing for motorbike riders, which include:
- Motorcycle boots or other sturdy footwear that provide support and ankle protection
- Textile and leather motorcycle trousers or heavy denim trousers
- Textile and leather motorcycle jackets or a heavy denim jacket with several layers underneath
- Motorcycle gloves.
While the law doesn’t insist that riders must wear additional safety gear, motorcyclists are expected to know the potential hazards of not wearing protective kits. If they don’t, and the rider has an accident, the other party involved in the accident has an opportunity to make a claim and seek a reduction for damages caused by contributory negligence.
We advise you to adhere to the advice provided in the Highway Code and never ride without wearing safety accessories: safety is priceless!