Can I get fined for riding a motorbike without protective clothing?

LEATHERS and a crash helmet are common attire for any motorcyclist – but do you need to wear all the gear to ride a motorbike?

Many riders may wonder – particularly on a hot day – if they really need to don layers of protective clothing before they hop on a bike.

We explain what the rules are for what you can and cannot wear on a motorbike -and which bits of safety gear you need to have to avoid a fine. 

When could you be fined?

For motorcyclists in the UK, it's a legal requirement to wear a safety helmet on the roads.

You can get fined if you are caught not wearing one – even if you’re just popping to the shops or around the corner. 

Police are also likely to issue warnings or fines if you are seen causing a distraction to other drivers and cause an accident – and that could include with inappropriate clothing.

This is under The Road Traffic Act 1988, which says it's an offence to drive without due care or attention. 

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What are the different fines?

Those who fail to wear a helmet will be hit with a hefty fine of £500. 

Helmets are mandatory and fall into the level two maximum fine limit under The Road Traffic Act 1988 – meaning fines cannot be more than £500.

Under The Road Traffic Act 1988, you can also get a £100 fine and three penalty points on your driver's licence if you are deemed as a distraction or are guilty of careless driving. 

What should you wear?

The government’s SHARP scheme (which stands for the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme) helps motorcyclists pick the correct head wear. 

The scheme has a list of approved helmet models, rated according to how much protection they give to the motorcyclist. 

When picking a helmet they must meet at least one of the listed criteria’s from the site. 

Criteria include a British Standard BS 6658:1985 with a BSI Kitemark, the UNECE Regulation 22.05 or an equivalent European Economic Area standard.

According to the government website, you must also wear a visor and goggles that meet British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark.

Likewise, your helmet and goggles should meet criteria.

Under Rule 86 of the Highway Code, you must make yourself as visible as possible to other drivers when riding a motorcycle. 

This could be by wearing hi-vis clothing and helmet, or fluorescent strips on your bike. 

Rule 87 also states when riding in the dark you should “wear reflective clothes or strips to improve your visibility”. 

Protective clothing, such as trousers and jackets, are not compulsory but are recommended by the Government to ensure safety when out on the road.

What should you never wear when riding a motorbike? 

Second-hand helmets

It is advised not to wear used or expired helmets when riding a motorbike. 

Although it may seem like a cheaper option, you just don’t know much damage and wear they have had by the previous owner. 

If the helmet had been dropped or involved in a collision beforehand, it can cause wear and tear which makes it less effective. 

The protection gear and glue inside the helmet tend to wear out over time due to general use as well as heat and sweat from the driver. 

Loose Clothing

You've probably seen motorcyclists wearing tight clothing when riding – this isn't a fashion statement, it's because it's much safer than wearing loose fabric.

Before you start riding your motorbike, check your clothing and if anything appears to be loose – this could be billowing trousers or a gaping t-shirt, for example.

Loose clothes can be a distraction for other drivers and yourself while riding, and could easily be hazardous if they got snagged on something as you ride past.


Similar to loose clothing, a scarf might keep you snuggly but can be a major hazard on a motorbike so are best avoided. n general, scares can be a big hazard when riding a motorcycle so it’s best to avoid wearing them. 

The scarf could easily get caught or tangled on another vehicle or anything else while you're riding – potentially pulling you back and off your motorbike. 

They can also be a major distraction while driving as they can blow up into the face and stop you from seeing out on the road. 

Scarves can also come undone when riding and could hit another car or get tangled in your wheels, causing a distraction and lead to an accident.

Open and heeled footwear

It is probably a given that the wrong footwear can cause more harm than good.

Open footwear such as sandals and flip-flops will give no protection to your skin if you ever end in a collision. 

Meanwhile, heeled shoes or boots will put your feet off-balance making it uncomfortable and dangerous to ride. 

Opt for a pair of flat, covered comfortable shoes that will give you more protection when riding your motorcycle. 

We take a look at how riding a motorbike on the pavement is illegal – but there is an exception

We also take a look at if it is illegal to drive in the bus lane and how you can learn to ride a motorbike in one day with anyone being able to do it

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