What Are Motorcycle Racing Suits Made Of?

Motorcycle racing is an incredibly exciting yet dangerous sport. The specially designed racing suits are essential in protecting the racer during spills and accidents. But what are they made of that keeps the rider safe? Whether you are a fan of the high-speed sport, a leisurely rider, or a beginner in the world of motorcycle racing, we've researched to explain the safety behind the suit. 

Most suits are made of heavy-duty, tear-resistant cowhide leather that includes padding and armor for the racer. Although this may be the most common choice in the world of racing, it is not the only one. Race suits can be made from a variety of materials and can be blended to meet the needs of any racer. Standard options in suit material include:

  • Leather
  • Kevlar
  • Cordura

Keep reading below to find out the benefits of the different suit materials. We will also explore the pros and cons of one-piece versus two-piece suits, talk about what MotoGP suit materials, and learn what racers wear under their suits.

motorcross rider wearing motorcycle suits on dirt, What Are Motorcycle Racing Suits Made Of?


Racing Suit Material & Padding

The suit material isn't just about style or preference; they need to be durable and safe for the racer. All racing suits are typically vented to allow for breathability and are created as lightweight as possible to ensure maximum speed for the racer.

Durable, Breathable Materials

Cowhide leather is the most common choice, although kangaroo leather and synthetic materials have been used. Leather is often used due to its durability provides excellent protection for the racer.

Click here to see this bovine leather racing suit on Amazon.

Kevlar is a strong synthetic material that tends to provide more flexibility for racers.

Cordura is a synthetic fabric made of nylon and is usually the lightest option for suits. 

Protective Padding

Motocross rider on track, strong grain added to create atmosphere

Padding is placed in removable pockets throughout the suit. Areas of protection most often include the spine, shoulders, knees, and elbows.

Padding and armor in the suit are made of high impact foam or viscoelastic materials which help absorb the high impact during an accident. The added safety of these materials is essential for the rider's protection when potentially crashing at speeds over 100mph. 

Which Is Better; One-Piece Vs. Two-Piece Motorcycle Suits?

One-piece suits, like everyday clothing, come in standard sizes. Unfortunately, most people don't fit perfectly in a standard size to create discomfort for the rider. On the other hand, one-piece suits provide less drag for the racer and are often more ventilated in the chest, allowing for more breathability.

Professional racers will often have these suits custom made to their size. One-piece suits are considered safer because the suit is one continuous piece of material, whereas a two-piece suit is only held together by a zipper. During a high impact, a zipper is more likely to break.

Click here to see this one piece, bovine leather suit on Amazon.

Two-piece suits include pants and a jacket. This type of suit generally offers more flexibility and comfort for the rider. Although most professional racers tend to have custom made suits, for most people, a two-piece suit allows for a more comfortable fit. Two-piece suits may separate when riding if they do not zip together. Openings can expose your stomach and cause more injury during an accident. 

Click here to see this two-piece, cowhide leather suit on Amazon.

What Are MotoGP Suits Made Out Of?

MotoGP suits are custom made for every racer to ensure a perfect and comfortable fit. Most suits are constructed of the best leather available, usually cowhide, although kangaroo hide has been used. The high-quality leather offers the best protection to the racer.

Specially formulated thermoplastic offers the racer increased protection around the knees, elbows, and shoulders. The dual-density protection also includes gel pads, which help cushion the blow during accidents. Most suits are designed to expand to allow for an airbag system. The system inflates inside the suit about 4 centimeters, protecting the rider's torso and collarbone.

Suits are vented in the front and back to help airflow and keep the rider's temperature regulated. A unique hydration system is located in the hump of the suit. It allows for fluids to be held and fitted with a tube that runs through the suit to the helmet so the rider can sip on water as needed. 

What Do You Wear Under A Motorcycle Race Suit?

"Street clothes" are not needed for racers. Regular clothing is not worn for two main reasons. One, they don't offer any added protection. Two, regular clothing may overlap and create lumps and discomfort under the suit. There are several things racers wear under their suits to add more protection when racing, including airbag vests, undersuits, and spine protectors. 


Undersuits help regulate the temperature of a rider. The suits are designed to insulate riders in colder climates and help whisk moisture away in warmer climates. The suits increase protection for the rider, and some come with extra padding. They also help create a more comfortable barrier between the skin of the rider and the leather racing suit. 

Airbag Systems

Essential for safety, airbag vests are worn under the suit and deploy when the racer crashes. The airbags help protect the racer's collarbone, ribs, and torso. 

Spine Protectors

Although some suits are fitted with spine protectors, most racers will choose to upgrade for better protection. A Spine Protector is often made of foam or plastic and designed to either be strapped or inserted into the jacket.  

Please read our post, "What Do You Wear Under A Motorcycle Race Suit," for details about how this type of protective gear works and some great examples for you to check out.

What Is CE Certification For Motorcycle Gear?

motorcross rider wearing motorcycle suits on dirt, What Are Motorcycle Racing Suits Made Of?

CE Certification is a certification of safety for motorcycle gear set by the European Committee for Standardization. The CE certification is a requirement for all riders in Europe but only required for professional racers in the United States and not the general public.

One can identify certified gear by checking for the CE mark on the tag of the suit. Be cautious of imposter CE marks.

Need help telling the difference? Check out this guide to distinguish real or fake CE marks


High tech, well-designed suits are more than just clothes. Leather is the most common choice in the racing world, but durable synthetics like kevlar and Cordura are used to create these incredible suits. From the outer suit to what the racer wears underneath, the equipment and materials are essential for keeping the racer safe. 

Ready, suit-up! Check out our post, "Where To Buy Motorcycle Gear [Top 40 Online Stores]."

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One comment

  1. Very interesting info about moto racing and I enjoy this article. Thanks for sharing your idea about motorcycle racing. Please keep sharing!

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