The Best Budget Motorcycling Kit | Is expensive always better?

There’s an old saying that states; ‘You get what you pay for’. And, to an extent, this is true of motorcycling kit. You can pay upwards of £1,000 for a jacket or a helmet and they will excel when it comes to performance and comfort, for example.

However, you can also buy jackets or helmets for a fraction of that price and it will be plenty good enough for the average rider. So the question is how do you know a ‘goodun’ from a ‘wrongun’?

Related:

We’ve tested some of the cheaper items on offer to see what’s worth the savings and whats just cheap and poor quality, to save you wasting your money.

Best budget kit, three riders on 3 budget bikes

Helmets

A helmet is the only piece of gear that is required by law in the UK, so you will need to invest in one. This does not mean though that you have to spend a fortune to get a good quality safe helmet.

Tried and tested by Ben Clarke for 500 miles

"The Bell MX-9 ADV is a cracking helmet for a bargain price. You can tell that the design started out in life as an off-road model - the MX in the name is a giveaway - as it's a lightweight helmet that's low on features with a huge view port.

"It's quite drafty on the road thanks to this off-road pedigree but not so much that it ruins the riding experience.

"I've been testing the MX-9 on a Triumph Scrambler with no wind protection at all and the peak is stiff enough to resist flapping around but has huge cut-outs that let the air pass through, so it doesn't try to rip your head off either.

"For the price, it really is a great piece of kit."

Full review coming soon

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Nice wide field of vision
  • Peak copes well with the wind
  • Well ventilated

Cons

  • Quite noisy compared to market leaders
  • No drop down sun visor
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Visor
    5.0
  • Ventilation
    5.0
  • Noise
    2.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight 1730g
Construction Multi-composite
Chin strap type Double D-ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor No
Pinlock Not needed
Interior Removable
Shell sizes Three
Warranty Five years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Fog free visor
  • Flow ventilation
  • MIPS liner
Price: £89.98 (was £99.99)
Tried and tested by Emma Franklin for two months and 1,000 miles - "If you’ve got no more than £100 to spend on a helmet, you won’t be disappointed with the HJC C10. Although it doesn’t have many bells and whistles, as a basic helmet its performance is impressive. It’s good quality, very quiet and looks classy. It definitely doesn’t feel – or look – like a cheaper lid. It’s also available in youth sizes which make it a really good option for a first lid."

Read Emma's full HJC C10 review

Pros

  • Brilliant value
  • Very quiet
  • Comfortable
  • Good ventilation

Cons

  • Nit picking here, but visor is a little stiff to open
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Visor
    4.0
  • Ventilation
    4.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    3.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    5.0
Weight 1550g (measured)
Construction Polycarbonate
Chin strap Ratchet
Intercom ready? Yes
Drop down sun visor? No
Pinlock Sold seperately
Interior Moisture wicking, removable/washable
Shell sizes Four
Warranty Three years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Wide visor opening
  • HJ-34P Anti-fog Pinlock ready visor
  • Advanced channelling ventilation system
Tried and tested by Justin Hayzelden - "It may have a few negative points, but as a good looking, day-to-day lid that’s easy on your wallet, the AGV K1 S has a lot going for it. It’s comfortable, functional and durable, with a high end feel to the interior and ventilation is superb – even if the vents are hard to operate. Ok, it doesn’t have a drop-down sun shade, but it’s so easy to change the main visor that it’s barely an issue, and what it loses in convenience it makes up for in EPS - and I know which I’d rather have."

"Starting at just £159.99 for a plain colour, the AGV K1 S is pretty punchy in terms of value. It well made, nicely finished and feels good to wear, plus comes with AGV’s 2 year warranty and dealer back up, which is standard across the range."

Read Justin's full AGV K1 S review

Pros

  • Fits well
  • Feels light
  • Easy visor change
  • Well ventilated

Cons

  • Vents are stiff to operate
  • No visor lock
  • Specs are a tight fit
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Visor
    3.0
  • Ventilation
    4.0
  • Noise
    5.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Weight 1,500 grammes
Construction Polycarbonate
Chin strap type Double D ring
Intercom ready Yes
Drop down sun visor No
Pinlock Visor prepped, but insert extra
Interior Fully removable
Shell sizes 2
Warranty 2 years
Safety standard ECE 22.06
  • Thermoplastic shell
  • High density EPS
  • Collarbone safe profile
  • Dry-comfort liner
  • Integrated spoiler
  • Adjustable vents
  • 190 degree horizontal field of view
  • Quick release visor
  • Pinlock prepared
  • Double D ring strap
  • Removable and washable interior

Jackets

Your choice of jacket is likely going to be affected by the type of motorcycle that you ride, for example if you ride a sportsbike, you may go for a leather racing style jacket, however if you ride a cruiser you may prefer an armoured flannel shirt.

Price: £99.99 (was £189.99)
Tried and tested by Justin Hayzelden for three months and 1,600 miles - "When it comes to textile touring gear, we’re all looking for that go-anywhere, do-anything outfit – the Swiss Army knife of riding kit, that we can wear year-round and face any weather with total confidence. That’s a tall order, but my time spent with a jacket that costs just a fraction of the class leaders, has proved genuinely surprising. I’m not claiming that the Pharao Cedar is the ultimate all-rounder, but it certainly ticks a lot of boxes. More than most in fact, and there’s one area in particular where it has outshone everything else. More of that in a moment. On the safety front, the Cedar is certified to a reassuring CE AA rating and comes with Level 2 ‘Safe-Max’ elbow and shoulder armour. "

"The outer shell is genuine Cordura, made from 100% recycled polyester, with rip-stop reinforcement panels at impact points. It feels durable, without any stiffness, and is as flexible as you’d expect a robust single layer, non-laminated fabric to be. The fit is true to size – I’m usually a 42in chest and the large is spot on. There’s scope for fine-tuning comfort, with adjustment at the waist and hem plus two on each arm. A zipped gusset at the wrist is a nice touch, making it easy to get the sleeve over gloves. Where the Cedar really got my attention though, was in its wet weather performance. It’s essentially two separate jackets, with the outer taking care of protection, whilst the inner deals with temperature and moisture. "

"Pharao call the breathable, waterproof part a membrane, but it’s so much more than a liner and could be worn on its own off the bike. The key is how the two fit together. There are minimal attachment points, which means that although the outer layer quickly gets sodden, there’s no wicking of water up the sleeve, at the neck or around the waist because the openings are kept separate. It even has a built-in hood that goes under your helmet and seals around the chin, but in use I found that too restrictive. Paired up with the similarly spec’d matching trousers the Pharao Cedar has been subjected to some truly horrendous conditions over winter, and I have remained bone dry. It’s currently on offer at £129.99, with trousers at £99.99 and for a full textile suit that works in the wet, that’s incredible value."

Pros

  • Exceptional water resistance
  • Good protection
  • All day comfort

Cons

  • Not as warm as others
  • Outer pockets are not waterproof
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Practicality
    5.0
  • Looks
    3.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Protection
    4.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Verdict
    4.0
Construction Durable Cordura® textile
Type Touring Jacket
CE Rating AA
Armour CE level 2 to elbow and shoulder
  • Removable, breathable 2-layer thermal lining with integrated hood and reflective details
  • Direct ventilation and MVS-1 ventilation zips at the chest, upper arms and back
  • Pocket for optional back protector
  • Seven external pockets with two hand, two zip close chest, two waterproof waist and rear pocket
  • Two internal pockets
  • Width adjustments at the waist, upper arms, wrist, cuffs and collar
Tried and tested by Ben Clarke - "As far as plodding around on a cruiser or roadster goes, the Oxford MS Shirt is perfect. It’s got all the styling of a casual shirt with the added peace of mind of that AA rating and level 2 armour. I specifically tested this product because I was riding an American roadster on long-term test but it wouldn’t look out of place on any naked bike or retro you ride. I will continue to chuck it on to nip into town on sunny days for many rides to come."

Read the full Oxford Original Approved Riding Shirt Review

Pros

  • Comfy
  • Great looks
  • Cooler than a full jacket when it’s hot

Cons

  • Fairly impractical
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Practicality
    3.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Protection
    4.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Construction Armourlite outer shell
Type Protective casual wear
CE rating garment AA
Armour Level 2 shoulders and elbows
  • Back protector pocket
  • Belt attachment loops for a secure protective fastening with jeans
  • Press stud and YKK zipper centre front opening
  • 2 x external chest pockets
  • 1 x internal pocket
Price: £199.99 (was £329.99)
Tried and tested by Jim Blackstock - "I’ve used this suit almost exclusively this autumn and into winter and so far, have found no real fault with it at all. It is comfortable, snug and doesn’t have any additional flapping material, it’s warm and has kept me dry in some proper nasty weather.
It’s AA rating breeds confidence in the kind of conditions it excels in and though the armour is only Level-1, it can be upgraded is required. I haven’t tried it in warm weather yet (there hasn’t been any for some time) but have no reason to think it will be any less able than it is in cold and wet."

Read Jim's full Oxford Hinterland review

Pros

  • Tri-laminate provides excellent waterproofing
  • Warm in cold weather but cool when it's hot
  • Flexible design for a snug comfortable fit

Cons

  • Stiff initially but loosens up
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Practicality
    4.0
  • Looks
    3.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Protection
    4.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Verdict
    4.0
Construction Durable, abrasion resistant nylon outer
Type Casual touring
CE Rating AA
Armour CE elbow and shoulder
  • Dry2dry breathable and waterproof membrane
  • WarmDry removable thermal lining
  • Water resistant YKK zips
  • Zip vents with exhaust vent on the rear for optimal airflow

Jeans and trousers

When it comes to trousers, you have a few options; leather, textile or jeans. Jeans will offer a more casual lightweight option, leather tends to offer the highest level of protection but is generally cold in winter and hot in summer and textile will offer more versatility, often with waterproof membranes and larger pockets.

Price: £99.99 (was £149.99)
Tried and tested by Ben Clarke for three years and 5,000 miles - "This pair of riding jeans from Oxford manages to walk the line between comfort and protection perfectly – they don’t look strange when you’re off the bike, keep you cool in hot weather but still have an AA safety rating. Over thousands of miles on various test bikes, these have remained comfortable and in good condition, aside from a little discolouration on the knees from crawling around securing chains and padlocks. They have CE Level 2 armour at the knees and hips, although for most of the time I must confess I do without the slightly bulky hip armour. The knee armour is in a fixed position but it sits in the right place for me."

Pros

  • Keep you cool in hot weather
  • Look good off the bike

Cons

  • No adjustment for armour position
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Practicality
    3.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Protection
    3.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Construction Lightweight single layer Armourlite denim
Type Jeans
CE rating AA
Armour Level 2 knee and hip
  • Triple needle stitched
  • Lined back pockets
  • Reinforced and lined yolk
Tried and tested by Saffron Wilson for five months and over 2,000 miles - "These trousers do what it says on the label: they are waterproof, comfortable and warm. Although I’ve not yet ridden much with
the detachable thermo liner fitted as it works too well, but the D30 knee protectors are comfortable even on my Harley, and the zip-open vents prove ideal for wet-but-humid conditions. The other zip pockets are useful for a phone and other small items, too."

"I like the subtle styling, and the contra-glide tech fit was effective at stopping saddle slip without making the trousers too bulky, meaning you could easily wear them to walk around in once you hop off the bike. Although the zip-attachment to Richa jackets is a nifty feature, I did forget to detach the jacket more than once, but I’m definitely to blame for that one!"

Pros

  • Genuinely waterproof
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Keep you warm

Cons

  • Shorter boots will leave you with soggy ankles
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Practicality
    4.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Protection
    3.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Construction 600D high-density nylon Cordura
Type Touring/ commute trousers
CE Rating A
Armour D3O armour to knees
  • Fixed breathable taffeta membrane
  • Detachable thermal liner for colder rides
  • Adjustable waist tabs for improved fit
  • Two storage pockets ideal for smaller items
  • AVS zips on upper legs allow for increased ventilation
Tried and tested by Alison Silcox for three months and 1,500 miles - "With aramid reinforcements, knee protectors and pockets for hip armour, they are CE approved but only to the lowest level
(A) so they’re best used for lower-speed urban riding. However, being made from stretchy material means they fit perfectly. There’s a high waistband, so no awkward gap between jacket and jeans, plus no fear of a muffin top. You can also purchase a belt connector so that you can zip them to your riding jacket."

"Front pockets are large enough to stow keys or a phone when you’re off the bike. The leggings look stylish and can be worn with either short baseball-style riding boots or touring boots. They’ve been through the wash a few times and they haven’t lost shape or colour. They don’t claim to be waterproof and I can absolutely confirm this is true. When I got caught in a shower, they absorbed water like a sponge. They come in a full range of sizes and three leg lengths, I opted for long and, for once, they’re slightly too long. Also available in khaki, grey and burgundy"

Pros

  • Great fitting
  • They are comfortable

Cons

  • Not very protective
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Practicality
    3.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Protection
    3.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Construction Stretch fabric with aramid lining
Type Leggings
CE Rating A
Armour Level 2 knee
  • Pockets for hip protectors (sold separately)
  • Reinforced stitching on belt loops
  • Option to add jacket attachment

Boots

Boots are going to be designed around the type of riding that you do, from casual urban style boots to adventure boots to race boots. Ideally they want to be comfortable and offer protection to your ankles and shins.

Tried and tested by Gareth Evans for 3,000 miles - "These Richa Blade WP waterproof sports boots have served me will so far this year. Together we’ve weathered some impressive weather; most notably massive thunderstorms, both on road and on track. I can confirm Richa’s claim that they’re 100% waterproof. At one point I found myself standing in the pitlane at Brands Hatch with water sloshing over my feet as it ran down the pitlane. Not a drop made it inside."

"These boots are smart and sporty but more than that, I love how comfy they are considering their rigidity, which contributes to their protective capabilities. They’re rated as CE-approved EN 13634:2017 certification. Granted, you might expect that from the most expensive boots in the firm’s racing line-up, however. "

Read Gareth's full review here

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Good protection
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Practicality
    4.0
  • Looks
    5.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Protection
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
  • Overall
    4.0
Armour Ankle, Shin, Toe Sliders, Heel
Construction Synthetic Leathertex construction
  • Waterproof lining
  • Stretch instep for additional comfort
  • Replaceable metal toe sliders
Tried and tested by Simon Brown for six months and 1,000 miles - "The grippy sole ensures a cosy connection with the pegs and has decent flex for comfort when you are walking about – particularly handy in my case because I stash the bike in a rented lock-up about a quarter of a mile from the house. Some retro boots incorporate a zipped closure but I prefer standard laces like these because you can get a nice secure fastening every time and it’s hard to argue that doing up your laces is any sort of hassle. Double knot, naturally. Don’t want them coming undone."

Read Simon's full DXR Bernie Boots review

Pros

  • Sensible price
  • Comfort
  • Look good

Cons

  • Scuffing on the gear change pad
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    4.0
Armour Ankle
Construction Cowhide leather
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • Leather overlay for gear shifter
  • Non-slip sole
Tried and Tested by Emma Franklin for 8 months and 3,000 Miles - "An excellent pair of boots for anyone who wants comfort and ease of use. Absolutely spot on for daily use, they’ll keep your feet dry, warm and happy on the daily grind or during UK touring trips. With the Velcro ankle closure and mid-length style, they’re absolutely ideal for those who may struggle getting side opening boots on and off, or for riders with large calves who struggle with the fit of a regular length boot and don’t want to compromise on shin protection. Top quality at a brilliant price – you can’t go wrong, really."

Read Emma's full RST Axiom Mid Boots review

Pros

  • Supreme comfort
  • Easy access
  • Assuring protection

Cons

  • Not the best looking boots
  • Comfort
    5.0
  • Looks
    3.0
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Protection
    4.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Verdict
    4.0
Construction Microfibre upper, rubber sole, Sinaqua waterproof/breathable membrane
Type Mid-length touring boots
CE Rating EN13634:2017 2/1/2/2 IPA WR
Armour Soft armour at shin and ankle
  • Velcro closure
  • Non-slip sole
  • Reinforced toe box
  • gear shift pads

Gloves

There aren’t too many variations in the various types of motorcycle gloves. The main choices are gauntlet or short cuff and summer or winter, beyond that it generally comes down to style preference and level of protection against the elements.

Tried and tested by Emma Franklin for six months and 3,200 miles - Whereas many winter gloves can be a total compromise – warm but lacking feel, comfy but lacking protection – the RST Pro Series Paragon 6 prove that you can have a bad weather glove that does it all. It’s clear that they’ve been very thoughtfully designed, with features such as zoned leather in key areas, silicone grips on the palms, pre-curved fingers, and visor wipes, too.

Read Emma's full RST Pro Series Paragon 6 Gloves review

Pros

  • Warm
  • Waterproof
  • Some thoughtful features

Cons

  • The main chassis of the glove feels a little floppy
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Looks
    4.0
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Protection
    3.0
  • Value
    5.0
  • Verdict
    4.0
Construction HTC and full-grain leather outer. Internal lining brushed polyester with Sinaqua waterproof/breathable membrane
Type Winter/touring
Ce Rating EN13594:2015 1KP
Armour Hard external knuckle protection with memory foam inner
  • Drawstring cuff
  • Hook and loop wrist
  • Visor wiper
  • Smart-touch leather

What to look for when buying less expensive gear

When it comes to buying inexpensive riding gear, a good place to start is with brands that are well known. Most of these brands will have a full range of gear from lower level through to the top notch race replica type stuff. The lower end of the range should be plenty good enough for the average road rider.

The price difference over the more expensive items will be the details, things like weight, breathability, comfort perhaps. So, you might be looking at a helmet that may be a bit heavier than one costing far more or it may not as quiet but the difference in price might be worth it.

Safety Ratings

It’s generally considered a good idea to buy the safest gear that you can reasonably afford to, but it isn’t always that clear what is safe and what isn’t.

Motorcycle gear in the UK should be certified to a safety standard, for jackets trousers, gloves and boots, this is the CE rating. There are two types of ratings, one is for the abrasion resistance of the garment, rated from B to AAA and the other is for the armour. This will be rated at either level 1 or level 2, depending on the impact protection it provides.

The latest helmet safety standard is ECE 22.06, which has replaced the previous standard (ECE 22.05). The ECE rating is a minimum safety standard that all helmets should meet, however this standard does not give any indication of relative performance. It is worth checking the safety of a helmet on the SHARP website. SHARP is a scale rating of safety, displayed in a star system from one to five and will give you a better idea how how the helmet would perform in the event of an incident.

Bike boots on a shelf

How we test kit

At MCN, our team of expert journalists have decades of experience gained over hundreds of thousands of miles. We don’t test our kit to destruction, we use it exactly how you do; in the real world and in all conditions. That means we can deliver impartial buying advice you can rely on.

Each of our writers has an in-depth understanding of the needs of today’s biker… because they are one.

All of the jeans in this page have been tested in the real world by a member of the team and scored at least four stars overall.

Motorcycle jeans are tested against comfort, practicality, looks, quality, protection and value before being awarded an overall score out of five.

To find out more, head to our dedicated page explaining how we test motorcycle products

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