How we test bike kit

The team at Motorcycle News (MCN) think of ourselves as bikers first and foremost. With a vast wealth of knowledge and experience ranging from racing to off-roading, with all types of road riding in between, we are the very best people to test and help you choose your bike kit.

There’s nothing like first-hand experience when it comes to rating bike gear and so we put our kit through its paces – whether that’s summer touring, winter commuting or anything in between – to make sure it performs as it should.

And with thousands of test miles getting racked up every week across the team, it doesn’t take us long to work out what is and isn’t worth you spending your hard-earned money on.

MCN fleet KTM 1290 Super Adventure R wheelie

Our scores explained

When we review a product, we award it a score out of five. In the ratings tab of a given product, you may also find more specific scores for the different aspects of a product’s performance to help you make an informed decision. Here’s a guide to what each number score means:

  • 1 star – Poor performance in this category or overall. A product with a single star rating has fallen below the expected standard and should be avoided.
  • 2 stars – Basic performance in this area or overall. A product with a two-star rating has managed to perform to a barely acceptable level and there is room for improvement.
  • 3 stars – An average performance in this area or overall. A product with a three-star rating has achieved a basic level of performance and is deemed adequate.
  • 4 stars – A product has performed over and above the accepted averaged in this category or overall. A product with a four-star rating has surpassed expectation and delivered in a particularly impressive way.
  • 5 stars – A product has performed at the highest possible level in a particular category or overall. A product with a five-star rating has delivered to the highest possible level, impressing the tester with its performance. We would happily spend our own money on it.
Testing bike kit in wet weather

How do we get products to test and review?

Products generally find their way to team members because they have been requested or called in by us from the companies that make them. Sometimes, this works in reverse and the companies send in new or upcoming products they would like us to test.

No matter how a product finds its way to our experts, we make sure that the final review is honest, unbiased and fair. Our opinion of kit is based on nothing more than whether it is any good. If it rains and we get wet, we say so. If tyres feel vague or wear out quickly, we tell you. It’s as simple as that.

As one of the biggest publishers in the world, we have the freedom to give products unfavourable reviews without worrying about what the manufacturer will think – unlike some smaller operations or influencers, who must walk the tightrope of maintaining relationships or guaranteeing a pay check at the end of a review.

A pair of motorcycle boots for testing

Sometimes we receive commission or other compensation from purchases made through product links, but we will only ever recommend products we genuinely believe in and would use ourselves. These commissions allow us to keep doing what we love to do: creating meaningful and valuable product advice for consumers. We never allow potential compensation to influence our reviews.

If a page on our site includes paid promotion or advertorial, it will ALWAYS be clearly labelled as such.

How do we test products?

The testing process varies from product to product, but everything from bike cleaner and chain lube to airbag leather suits and FIM helmets is used in the real world before a review is written.

Sports-touring motorbike tyre test

There’s no point giving a review of kit before it’s been used for its intended purpose, so we won’t review a waterproof jacket without using it in the rain (or if we get desperate, under a pressure washer).

The MCN fleet of long-term test bikes is always in need of cleaning kit, tyres, maintenance sprays and crash protection so lots of our reviews are written on the back of these experiences.

Occasionally, we will run a product group test under controlled conditions to find out what the best option on the market is. For example, we recently teamed up with sister title RiDE Magazine to discover what the best sports-touring tyre is.

Product Specialist Justin Hayzelden

Who tests the products?

Anyone on the MCN team who rides can and does test products for us. You can find more detail about specific testers by clicking their by-line on a page they’ve written. Our resident Product Specialist is Justin Hayzelden, and you’ll see his name a lot in the bike kit section.

Though our testers have years of experience, we’re also human and mistakes can happen. If you spot anything that doesn’t look right in any of our reviews, please let us know so we can fix it!

You can find out how to contact us here.

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us.