What Do You Wear Under A Motorcycle Race Suit?

Motorcycle race suits are highly technical pieces of gear designed for one particular purpose: motorcycle racing. Outfitted will special features and design components, these suits are safe and effective for racing, but what do you wear under them? Is there special gear to be worn under a race suit, or can you wear your street clothes? We have researched this topic and have the answer for you.

There are a few select pieces of gear that you should wear under your motorcycle suit. This gear helps to make the outer suit more comfortable and provides extra protection. Under your motorcycle race suit, you should wear:

  • Airbag Vests
  • Undersuits
  • Spine Protectors

Keep reading to learn what these items do. Each piece of gear listed above has a specific purpose for keeping you safe and comfortable while racing a motorcycle. We'll also look at what MotoGP riders wear, talk about why motorcycle gear is leather, and touch on motorcycle boots' importance.

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What Goes Under A Race Suit

What you wear under your race suit can often be just as important as the race suit itself. While each of the items we're about to discuss is important to have, make sure to get the right size and find the gear that is compatible with your race suit.

Airbag Systems

Airbag technology has undoubtedly saved many lives since its invention. Every modern car comes equipped with some type of airbag system. However, airbags don't always make sense on a motorcycle, though. Motorcycle riders often end up off their bike during a crash, so racers wear their airbags inside their suits.

Check out this motorcycle airbag vest on Amazon.


The only clothing that a rider should wear under their race suit is a well-fitting undersuit. Whether or not you wear underwear is a matter of personal preference, but you don't need teeshirts, hoodies, or any other type of "street clothes." Undersuits usually work with the outer suit to wick moisture away from your body and keep your body's temperature comfortable. 

Check out this undersuit on Amazon.

Spine Protectors

Sometimes, spine protectors are built into the race suit along with shoulder, chest, elbow, and knee armor. Even if they aren't, riders should still wear them. A spine protector could prevent a significant injury to the rider's spinal cord or nervous system in a crash. 

Check out this spine protector on Amazon.

What Do MotoGP Riders Wear?

MotoGP riders wear very specialized racing suits. Unlike suits worn by other types of racers that prioritize flame resistance, MotoGP race suits focus on impact protection, abrasive resistance, and rider comfort. MotoGP racers' suits are similar to those worn by racers in other motorcycle racing tiers, so the undergarments are pretty similar as well. Let's look at some of the specifics of high-end MotoGP suits.

Rider Comfort

MotoGP suits are made from leather ranging from 1.2mm to 1.4mm in thickness. While most of this leather is cowhide, leather from kangaroos is becoming popular due to its being more flexible and light-weight than cow leather. 

These suits have a decent amount of flex to them to accommodate an airbag system, protective armor, and a hydration pack. The leather has perforation throughout to allow for airflow through the suit. These suits need to keep the riders comfortable, cool, and hydrated during a race.

Impact Protection

Most proper motorcycle gear has removable protective armor built into the elbows, shoulders, and knees. Spine armor and chest armor are also included for its added benefit to protect the rider further. MotoGP suits have built-in armor as well.

Additionally, MotoGP riders also wear airbag systems inside their suits. This airbag will take up space inside the suit when it is uninflated, and take up even more room after it inflates. The leather of the suit stretches just enough to accommodate the airbag system even while it's inflated.

Abrasion Resistance

As stated above, the leather used for racing suits and general motorcycle riding is highly resistant to abrasion. Considering that MotoGP riders actually drag their legs, and sometimes elbows on the pavement in turns, this is a crucial feature even outside of crash situations.

MotoGP racing suits have sliders on the outside of the rider's calf, near the knee. These sliders wear down as they drag against the pavement and get replaced as needed.

MotoGP racers will have several suits per race. Damaged suits are sent out for repair, and undamaged suits can be worn again as is. Leather is much easier to repair or replace than textiles, which adds to the long list of reasons why it is preferred.

Why Do Motorcycle Riders Wear Leather?

Motorcycle gear is made from many different types of material. However, you will find that the majority of race suits on the market are leather. As it turns out, there are some excellent reasons why leather is so popular among motorcyclists no matter what kind of riding they do.

Leather Is Durable And Flexible

The leather that motorcycle clothing is made from is typically 1.3mm in thickness. This is the preferred thickness for one piece race suits as well as more casual jackets for street riding.

Leather of this thickness is thick enough to be durable while being just soft enough to flex around the padding, armor, and the rider's body. Thicker leathers will be even more durable, but they will also have less flexibility and, therefore, be less comfortable.

Leather Can Survive A Crash

Leather is the preferred material for motorcycle race suits because it holds up well in a crash. In a motorcycle crash, the rider is usually going to end up skidding across the pavement. The material of their suit needs to hold up to such an event without tearing or falling apart. Leather that is at least 1.3mm thick is proven to be highly effective at resisting tears and heavily abrasive slides.

After a crash in leather motorcycle gear, you can continue using that gear depending upon the extent of the damage. Granted, the next time you crash, the material will be more likely to fail. However, it is not uncommon for more causal riders and racers to continue using their leather gear post-crash. On the other hand, textile gear, which is the category that most weather-resistant gear falls into, does not usually survive a crash to ride another day.

Do Motorcycle Racers Wear Boots?

Many consider it perfectly acceptable to wear regular street shoes while riding a motorcycle in a casual or recreational urban setting. These riders aren't putting themselves in the same type of situation as a racer, though, and they aren't going nearly as fast. 

Motorcycle race boots have a lot of specially designed features that make them a necessity for race settings. These boots include shin plates and ankle and toe protection to keep the rider's feet safe from high-speed contact with the track. Like race suits, these boots are also generally made from leather to take advantage of its many benefits.

Check out these motorcycle race boots on Amazon.


What goes under a motorcycle race suit can be just as important as the race suit itself. You shouldn't wear street clothes. Get an undersuit that fits well with your suit and wicks moisture away from your body to keep you dry and comfortable. Leather race suits have a lot of protection built into them. However, wearing an airbag vest and spine protector will add even more protection from impacts in a crash situation. 

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  1. One thing you guys forgot to mention on the reasons for kangaroo leather is it’s abrasion resistance is MUCH better than cow hide. I also think its much lighter and breathes better but, that could be a mental placebo when comparing and justifying my $900 RST cow hide to my $3800 Dainese kanga hide.

    One thing I kinda don’t like is the rider position of the kanga leather. Unlike my RST which keeps me in the “rider position”, the Dainese lets me cheat a bit and doesn’t roll my shoulders forward and hold them there against their will. I can flex more etc. Maybe this is me being old school and liking that tight hold but, anyway it’s different. It smells different too. With a good one piece, not the cheap chinese-made ones, you get that amazing leather smell that I find SOOO attractive. The kanga doesn’t have that but, damn does it stink faster after you sweat and get it wet.

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