Best Motorcycle Gear For Daily Riders

Evans Brasfield
by Evans Brasfield

Motorcycle commuters have specialized needs

Updated March 2021

Let’s consider the daily rider for a moment. Those hardy souls who choose to ride their bikes year ’round represent a small but important group of motorcyclists. Without them, many commuters wouldn’t know that motorcycles exist. These most frequent of all motorcycle flyers have needs that go beyond what your typical weekend warrior requires (though they, too, could benefit from the items listed below). Many of the recommendations are for combatting the elements, but others address common issues like flat tires and carrying things on a motorcycle. Read on to see our picks for the best motorcycle gear for daily riders, and you may find the special thing you are looking for.

Table of Contents

Aerostich R-3 Suit

What can we say about Aerostich Roadcrafter suits that hasn’t been said already? So, we’ll stick with the usual superlatives. Designed back in the Pleistocene Era as the most functional suit for everyday motorcyclists and anyone who values moto-function over the fickle finger of fashion, the Roadcrafter suit is the great-grandfather of most, if not all, of today’s modern textile riding suits. While always constructed out of Aerostich’s exclusive American-made mil-spec 500d Cordura Gore-Tex fabric, the R-3 expands on the previous generations by including rain-proof zippers, for full waterproofing – even in the vulnerable crotch area. Impact protection comes from Aerostich’s own TF-impact armor with optional back protector mounting. The beauty of the R-3 for daily riders is that it allows the rider to wear street clothes underneath, allowing the transition from biker to civilian to occur in mere seconds. The US-made Aerostich R-3 Suit is available in American sizes 34-54, starting at $1,197 and is only available directly from Aerostich.

Aerostich Kanetsu Airvantage Electric Vest

Want to keep your core warm when the temperature really drops? Providing an external source of heat is the most efficient way. The Kanetsu Airvantage Electric Vest is constructed with a windproof outer layer to fend off cold drafts. The inner layer of the vest consists of the nylon liner that holds a wired heating element. Sandwiched in between those layers is a clever air bladder to provide insulation and a means of pressing the heating elements right up against their torso to more efficiently transfer the heat. A side benefit of the bladder is that it helps to apply an even pressure across the heated wires, eliminating hot spots. (Read our review here.) For those with jackets that don’t seal as well as they should, the Kanetsu Airvantage has optional sleeves ($97) to help block the breeze. Order your $247 Aerostich Kanetsu Airvantage Electric Vest direct from Aerostich. Those who live in truly bitter climates may want to go for the full-monty Aerostich Kanetsu AIRVANTAGE Electric Liner ($377).

Innovv K5 Motorcycle Camera

Here at MO, we’ve been fans of Innovv’s motorcycle cameras for a while. Commuters especially need the protection of an always running camera in case someone does something stupid and then tries to lie about it. The new K5 takes everything we love about Innovv cameras and steps it up even more – including 4K Ultra HD recording. (You can read our full review of the K1 here.) For $458, you receive a DVR unit that powers two cameras (front and rear), a GPS receiver, remote control, external microphone, power converter, DVR/remote control mount, and even a card reader and an assortment of tools.

With the 8-megapixel Sony camera in front, you can capture 4K Ultra HD footage at 30 fps. The DVR is waterproof, and riders can access the video files via a smartphone app and wifi connection, making the management of files much easier. The DVR has a great auto-looping feature that writes over the oldest files once the SD card is full, so that you always have the latest recording. Another cool feature is the Smart Parking mode which triggers automatically once the motorcycle is turned off and monitors your bike while you’re away.

Oxford Heaterz Grips

Daily riders know the importance of keeping the digits warm and limber when navigating commuter traffic. This is where heated grips prove to be worth their weight in gold. The Oxford Heaterz line of grips is built for different classes of motorcycles, from cruiser to touring to adventure to whatever you ride. The grips are constructed of rubber with all-silicone wiring to prevent cracking in the cold. The key to the system is, however, the variable settings (five of them!) to tune the heat to your environmental needs. Additionally, the switch will power down if the battery’s voltage drops below 10.5 volts (though we recommend wiring it to switched power to prevent the possibility of killing your battery by failing to turn off the grips). Oxford Heaterz Grips range in price from $70-$100, depending on the application.

Photochromatic Visor

Although more and more helmets feature internal visors, which eliminate the need to carry tinted and clear visors, photochromatic visors offer the ultimate convenience for helmets with only external visors. Recent releases have advanced to the point that the tinting of the shield is dramatically faster than it used to be. To date, there are only two major manufacturers of photochromic visors that we know of.  We recently reviewed the $150 Bell ProTint Visor with very positive results. (Read the review here.) The ProTint fits Bell helmets with the Panavision eye-port (Pro Star, Race Star, Star, SRT and SRT-Modular). Order one from Amazon.  The Shoei CWR–1 Transitions Shield is equally effective and is available for the RF-1200, X-Fourteen, and RF-SR helmets for a $170 retail price. (Read our review here.)

Stop & Go 1001 Pocket Tire Plugger with CO2

Flats happen. And they usually happen at the most inconvenient times. Just ask the bike commuter sitting on the side of a divided highway at peak traffic. However, you can take some of the sting out of it by carrying a Stop & Go 1001 Pocket Tire Plugger with CO2 kit in your tank bag. The CO2 cartridges don’t take up much room and can get you home in a pinch. Just be sure to check on the kit from time-to-time. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting on the side of the road with a flat tire and a patch kit that has had its vulcanizing glue vulcanize inside the tube. (Read our review of the Stop & Go 1001 Pocket Tire Plugger with CO2 here).

Tank Bag

Back in the day, you could only strap tank bags to your bike. Then magnetic bags changed everything. However, as aluminum tanks or plastic tank covers over airboxes became more common, straps came back into fashion. What hasn’t changed is how useful tank bags are for carrying stuff on motorcycles. The advent of Adventure styling with the sharply sloped tank back has also created a challenge for tank bag manufacturers. Wolfman has addressed that issue with the Blackhawk Tank Bag, a moderately-sized tank bag that allows you to stand on your adventure bike without hitting your knees on the bag. (Read our review here.) 

Touring riders who want a massive tank bag for larger flat gas tanks should take a look at the Tourmaster Elite Tri-Bag ($199 strap mount, $229 magnetic mount). This versatile 1680-denier ballistic polyester tank bag has a removable lower compartment that can be used as a mini-tank bag. The main compartment holds up to 20L of your gear and features convenient side pockets, a removable map pocket, and a weatherproof GPS compartment. (Read our review here.)

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Evans Brasfield
Evans Brasfield

Like most of the best happenings in his life, Evans stumbled into his motojournalism career. While on his way to a planned life in academia, he applied for a job at a motorcycle magazine, thinking he’d get the opportunity to write some freelance articles. Instead, he was offered a full-time job in which he discovered he could actually get paid to ride other people’s motorcycles – and he’s never looked back. Over the 25 years he’s been in the motorcycle industry, Evans has written two books, 101 Sportbike Performance Projects and How to Modify Your Metric Cruiser, and has ridden just about every production motorcycle manufactured. Evans has a deep love of motorcycles and believes they are a force for good in the world.

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2 of 7 comments
  • TC TC on Dec 18, 2018

    Lots of good ideas to keep warm, but here in SoCal, my issue is trying to keep cool. I like my Alpinestars Valparaiso jacket with the big mesh panels.

  • Scat Scat on Jan 06, 2019

    Missing from this article: I'd have to say a Modular flip-up style helmet is a real benefit for commuting, the safety and convenience factor cannot be beat by any other helmet design. I'm currently enjoying an HJC RPHA 90 modular, and it's actually reduced the hassle of my commute as well as quick stops on the way home to pickup groceries or brews....