Apex predators: Best motorcycle knee sliders as chosen by MCN

If you’re serious about fast riding, particularly on track, then you’ll already know you need a set of leathers; one-piece for full-on racing, though you can use two-piece for trackdays and they are a little more useable for road riding as well, where they will, of course, offer the same levels of protection as they do on the circuit. And part of the leather-clad rider’s wardrobe is a pair of knee sliders.

These are fitted to leather trousers so that riders don’t wear out the leather when they get their knee down on the circuit as they are riding. This is a rite of passage for any motorcyclist and few will forget the first time they got their knee down on a circuit.

Contacting the track surface with the knee is a quick and easy way to gauge how far the bike is leaning and what it is doing. You can use it to assess how early you are turning in, how far over you are leaning, get an impression of the speed you’re carrying through the corner and where and when in the corner you start to stand the bike up by this contact.

If you are a riding god, like say Marc Marquez, then you hang right off the bike and your knees are the first thing to hit the ground – quickly followed by the elbows and toes in Marquez’s case… And those knee sliders aren’t going to last long. That’s why they are backed with Velcro so you can replace them as they wear out.

But sometimes you might not want to refit plain, black plastic versions. You might want to change it up a little and go for something with a little attitude, or humour. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to you.

If you want a pair of functional, inexpensive and inoffensive replacement knee sliders, then these won't go far wrong. For just £15, you get a pair of slightly tear-drop shaped black plastic sliders with a dimpled surface effect. Velcro backed, they will fit your leathers and give you a subtle, smooth look.

Amazon describes these replaceable sliders as teardrop-shaped but they look more like ears to us. Part of the officially-licenced MotoGP range of products, they are hard gloss plastic with the MotoGP logo on the upper section. They feature relatively small Velcro patches - roughly the same size as the sliders and should help you emulate your heroes on track.

Price: $73.49

Many riders like to keep things in the family as it were, so if you wear Dainese leathers and you wear your sliders out, then replacements are available from the Italian firm. These are red but you can also get them in other colours, including yellow, white and black. Designed to fit your Dainese leathers perfectly, they are low-profile and shaped for contact and airflow.

UK company Wiz Racing has a vast array of slider designs, from unicorns to Batman and everything in between. This version, with the Caped Crusader's logo, can be ordered as a sparkie version, using titanium inserts to create sparks when rubbed against the tarmac. You can also add graphics to the backing and order with either hook or loop backing depending on your leathers.

R&G Racing produce a wide range of sliders and this version, intended for use in wet conditions, is taller than a usual slider, to offer the same levels of feel though at lower lean angles usually associated with riding in the wet. They're made from the same material as the company's dry range, used extensively in racing but just taller and are backed with Velcro hooks.

If you really want to change things up, then a wooden slider from German manufacturer Held could be for you. Available in either plain wood or painted, they are reckoned to last longer than plastic versions as they have better wear characteristics. At least they won't contribute to the plastic problem when finished with!

Price: $48.76

Designed to work with RST's own range of leathers, these sliders are mounted on a backing panel that includes a rubber pull-tab, to make changing them super-easy u2013 handy if you want to swap between wet and dry items on a changeable racetrack, for example. They are available in a range of colours, including this neon green, red, white, yellow, pink and blue.

Kit giant Oxford has a range of replacement sliders available and this one, using the head from Edvard Munch's The Scream - and latterly adopted in the Scream series of horror movies - made us chuckle. The company says they are ideal for track and road use and they include wear indicators to show when they require replacing.

These GP sliders from Alpinestars are available as both wet and dry versions, the former taller to give feel for lower lean angles in wet conditions. They state the Alpinestars ethos, of One Goal, One Vision (that sounds vaguely familiar) and are used by racers and trackday riders around the world. They are a standard fit for the Italian company's leathers.

Just as wood has lower wear rates than plastic, leather gives a different feel from plastic and some riders prefer it. These leather sliders from Wiz Racing come in natural or burned finishes with different backing options and even the opportunity to have the backing branded with your logo or text. A thicker version is also available for £56.

About the author: After qualifying as a mechanical engineer, Jim Blackstock began working on magazines in the early 1990s. He remains passionate about product testing to ensure readers know what products offer good value and why. He relishes torrential rain to see if riding kit keeps water out and an hour or two to tinker on a project bike in his workshop.

- 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.