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Leather versus textile: Which type of motorbike clothing is right for me?

The fire is burning inside you - you are passionate about riding a motorbike. But besides choosing the right bike, you will soon be faced with another important decision: leather or textile?

  • Choosing leather or textile clothing is not only a matter of taste, but it also depends on the intended use and required functions.

  • Leather offers a close fit.

  • The benefits of textiles are comfort and suitability for everyday use.

  • At the end of this article you will find practical advice to help you make this somewhat difficult decision.

No easy decision: leather versus textile

The right motorbike clothing is an important decision. Why? Quite simply: in the best case, you will spend many hours in your gear, for many years to come. Function is also essential. After all,  choosing correct clothing can literally save your life. That’s why many people rightly ask themselves: leather or textile? Opinions differ greatly, this is why we want to take a closer look at both materials and offer some assistance in making that decision.


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Held GmbH

Which material offers greater protection?

Leather naturally shields against abrasion. This means it offers good protection in case of falls and accidents. Leather clothing also fits tightly, which has two further advantages. First, the protectors sit exactly where they should be, which further increases their ability to protect. Second, it prevents the clothes from flapping and thus improves aerodynamics.

In terms of safety, however, modern textile clothing is in no way inferior to the natural product leather: for example, KevlarⓇ threads are woven into the fabric to equip it with the necessary abrasion resistance. Many different layers are used in textile clothing to create the desired properties for the material. If the jacket and trousers fit perfectly, you can be sure that the protectors are exactly where you want them to be, if  worst comes to worst. Conclusion:  we can say that it's a tie between leather and textile outfits when it comes to safety.

Motorbike clothing needs to fit correctly.

No matter which material you choose: it is the perfect fit that is important. If the clothing is too tight, you can quickly feel uncomfortable. If it is too loose, it can flap. And what is even more important: if the outfit does not fit properly, the protectors can slip out of place in case of a fall. So the fit is not only a question of comfort, but also of safety.

What’s best in summer?

Textile motorbike clothing is usually cut a little wider, it is not as tight-fitting and is more breathable than its leather equivalent. In leather gear, you can sweat a lot in summer, that's especially true if it's black.

The weight of textile clothing is also usually less than that of a leather outfit. This makes this type of clothing suitable for everyday use, it is light and it can also be worn comfortably for a short walk between rides. Thus, textile garments offer a considerable advantage, especially in summer.


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Which material is more comfortable on long rides and tours?

Leather motorbike clothing is available as one-piece leather suits or as two-piece sets with leather trousers and a leather jacket, and therefore it can be flexibly selected according to personal preference. Thanks to the tight cut, nothing can slip out of place during long rides, but in terms of comfort, textile clothing offers a clear advantage. But again, it is a matter of taste. Ideally, just try it on, because everyone has a different perception when it comes to comfort. And you shouldn't forget: leather is a natural material and adjusts to the body over time.

Which motorbike outfit suits my riding style?

Bikers who like to ride at a faster pace and also occasionally take their bike around a racetrack will probably feel more comfortable in a leather outfit. It simply offers more protection in case of a crash and better aerodynamics.

Those who spend longer periods of time on their bike, love tours lasting several days and are not only on the road in bright sunshine will probably go for a textile outfit.

As far as properties are concerned, both materials are almost on a par with each other. It is - more than anything else - a question of personal taste.


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Which type of motorbike clothing protects best against rain and wet conditions?

In its natural form, leather is not suitable for riding in the rain. In this case, most people use thin rain jackets and trousers worn over the leather outfit. However, there are also specially treated or multi-layered leather clothes that offer appropriate protection against wet conditions. Here, however, textile clothing has a slight advantage: for longer tours during which you might get caught in the rain, it is usually the better choice. Special waterproof materials like GORE-TEX®, Reissa and others offer reliable protection against wetness and are breathable at the same time.


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Held GmbH

Leather or textile: a practical piece of advice to help you decide.

If you want to spend a lot of time on your motorbike and go on long-distance tours, you want to be safe along the way. Anyone preferring asphalt and speed enthusiasts will probably go for a leather outfit.

For touring riders and casual bikers, textile clothing is probably the better choice because it is usually more versatile, no matter if the sun is burning or the rain is pouring down.

By the way, some manufacturers also combine leather and textile in their outfits- the best of both worlds, so to speak.

A perfect fit is key.

No matter what you ultimately decide on: the most important thing is a perfect fit. Because only then your motorbike outfit is truly comfortable and, above all, serves its protective function.

By the way, you can find 5 useful tips for riding in the rain here on our blog.

5 useful tips for riding a motorbike in the rain