The sport motorcyclist demands performance. Of course, all the sport-oriented moto gear out there claims to deliver. But which products are truly up to the task? Only one way to find out.
Top Street & Sportbike Gear 2020
We’ll start with the beginning, or at least with a beginner. The allure of sport riding brings lots of folks into motorcycling each year. Whether these riders are starting on salvage-title Ninja 250s, used 600s, or brand new RC390s doesn’t matter. The beginner sport rider’s gear focus will be covering all the basics with protective, affordable gear. As they get more serious, they can always upgrade. Who knows? Maybe, one day, they’ll hit the track. For now, it’s all about staying safe and under budget.
|Helmet||AGV K1 Helmet||$200-$210||
|Jacket||Sedici Niccolo Jacket||$300||
|Pants||Sedici Niccolo Pants||$250||
|Gloves||REV’IT! Metis Gloves||$130||
|Boots||Astars SMX 6 v2 Boots||$79||
When AGV launched the K1 helmet in 2018, they brought a healthy serving of Italian style to the beginner sport helmet class. With some clever design choices, AGV was able to infuse the K1 with safety and style from helmets twice its price. The end result gets two big thumbs up from the RevZilla team. It’s about time an entry helmet looked and performed like the K1.
The helmet starts off with its HIR-TH (High Resistance Thermoplastic Resin) shell construction, designed in AGV’s sport attack style. The shell wears five front vents and two rear extractors to keep airflow moving. Comfortable riders ride more, and riding more is what it’s all about, right? AGV’s especially effective system was developed in a wind tunnel. The massive rear spoiler, which is derived from the flagship Pista and works to stabilize the helmet at speed, is evidence of a fully refined design.
The K1’s excellent face shield also helped land it on our list. The XQRS (X-tra Quick Release System) visor mechanism makes for easy shield swaps. Look, Ma, no tools! The face shield itself is scratch-resistant, anti-fog, and Pinlock-ready. We especially liked the K1’s ability to crack the face shield open a little while riding. Sometimes a little fresh air is all a rider needs. Congratulations to AGV for delivering a thoughtful lid that exceeds expectations.
The K1 has an intermediate oval profile, which means it should fit most riders in North America. However, AGV likes to make the cheek area pretty narrow, so it simply won’t fit some riders. Consider the Scorpion EXO-R710 for similar specs with more room at the cheeks. The EXO-R710 also offers a SNELL rating, so if you’re unwilling to compromise on that, get the Scorpion over the K1.
Sport riders gravitate towards leather, and for good reason. Leather offers excellent slide resistance on the street or track. And while you’ll see some street sport riders wearing mesh in the summer months, almost all track organizations require leather out on the course. Leather tends to be pretty expensive, unfortunately, which means the beginner doesn’t have many options.
That’s where the Sedici Niccolo jacket comes into the picture. For affordable sport leather, the Niccolo just can’t be beat. That’s why we’re recommending it to beginner sport riders for 2020. The Niccolo’s full grain leather, perforated for comfort, feels comparable to much more expensive jackets. CE-certified armor rides along at the shoulders,, and elbows. (Optional back protector sold separately.) The jacket has a precurved, ergonomic fit that reduces bunching while riding. This is the full sport leather jacket experience at a price that won’t send beginner sport riders running.
For the street, we imagine a beginner rider would pair the Niccolo with a good pair of riding jeans, like the REV’IT! Lombard 2s. They offer very good slide resistance and a sporty cut that won’t cause undue discomfort while riding in a sport position.
Need full leather coverage? Sedici also offers Niccolo pants, which zip to the jacket to create a full suit. In our experience, a two-piece setup is a lot easier to live with than a once-piece for the casual track day rider. Two-piece leathers are plenty for the street or most tracks, so this setup should last well into your intermediate career.
All in, the jacket ($300) and pants ($250) have your body covered for the price of a premium sport jacket. We’d rather see a new rider spread their protection dollars out than spend it all on one piece.
It would be nice to see the knee sliders included with the pants.
If you’re thinking leather pants are a bit too much for the riding you’ll be doing, we recommend
Sport riders don’t just need gloves. They need protection at both high and low speeds, plus excellent feel at the controls. That’s a tall order, and REV’IT! delivers with the Metis gloves. They feature a goatskin main construction with a water-resistant coating. Goatskin is renowned for its flexibility and durability. Of course, the Metis gloves wear the obligatory hard knuckles and palm sliders. Foam reduces impacts translated through the protectors if you hit the ground.
What really sets the Metis gloves apart is how they perform like race gloves, but don’t limit the rider to the track. These gloves are outstanding on the street, even for hours at a time, and they’re just as well suited to a track day to build your skills. That versatility is just what a beginner sport rider needs.
Nitpicks: A little more airflow would be nice, especially on hot rides. Still more comfortable than a full-on race gauntlet!
Where to start with the SMX 6 v2 boots? Alpinestars’ SMX line has been a sport favorite for years, and with the latest iteration, they’ve delivered the most refined SMX yet. These boots will be plenty for the beginner to intermediate rider, on the street or the track.
Much of the boot carries over from the previous SMX 6. It uses a microfiber construction with TPU elements throughout: hinged ankles, shin protectors, and heel cockpits. The hinged ankles in particular are a huge deal with these boots, because hinges provide far more protection than unhinged or short boots, and yet the SMX 6 v2s can fit under jeans while riding. It’s a win-win.
Inside, there’s an antimicrobial liner to keep the boots as fresh as possible. Regular, vented and Drystar (waterproof) versions are available, so consider what your average ride will be, and take your pick.
The new changes for the v2 include an improved accordion stretch pattern to aid flex, more TPU at the shins and calves, and an integrated steel shank to ensure rigidity. Alpinestars also added new dual density Internal Safety Protectors on the medial side. That adds up to a well-balanced boot that offers plenty of protection as you learn your way around sport riding. The SMX 6 v2 is simply the benchmark for its class.
Nitpicks: The toebox could be more low-profile to better fit under a shift lever.
Not sold on full sport boots for your ride? Consider Alpinestars’ Faster 3 Rideknit boots. They are a shorter, lace-up style with much more ventilation. And they’re $100 less.
Best Premium Sport Motorcycle Gear
Let’s turn our attention to the experienced sport motorcyclist. Whether on the street or the track, these riders have honed their abilities to take advantage of a sport bike’s potential. Think canyon carvers and track junkies, geared up in the latest and greatest. These riders demand top quality gear that does not compromise. If you want the best, this section is for you.
|Helmet||Bell Race Star Flex DLX||$735||
|Jacket||Astars Missile Air Jacket||$600||
|Pants||Astars Missile v2 Airflow Pants||$470||
|Gloves||Dainese Steel Pro Gloves||$280||
|Boots||Astars SMX Plus v2 Boots||$370||
Bell’s top-of-the-line Race Star won our choice as the best premium sport motorcycle helmet for 2020. Why? Well, let’s start with its drastic ten percent weight loss over the old model. That’s a huge change that we don’t often see at this level. The Race Star Flex DLX sports a 3K carbon shell, with three intake vents and four exhaust vents for superior rider comfort.
A huge win for the Race Star Flex DLX is the ProTint face shield. Bell’s photochromatic shields are among the best in the business, and they used to be a $150 option to install. Now, they’re included with the helmet. RevZilla approves! Another upgrade is the inclusion of speaker pockets for your Bluetooth communicator.
Bell’s innovatice Flex impact liner is carried over from the old model, along with the Virus Cool Jade interior liner, Magnefusion cheek pads, and DOT/SNELL rating. Simply put, the Bell Race Star Flex DLX is one impressive lid. It also won our best overall helmet choice in the helmets gear guide, if that’s anything to go by!
Nitpicks:Our only dislike is related to one of the big upgrades for the Star. The only shield that comes with the helmet is the ProTint, so riders who don’t want any tinting (racers) will have to buy a separate shield.
An experienced sport rider needs a jacket and pants of equal caliber. We’d suit RevZilla’s fastest riders up in Alpinestars’ Missile Air jacket and Missile v2 Airflow pants without hesitation.
The jacket is a beautiful example of sport leather. Constructed from 1.3mm race grade cowhide, the jacket is fully CE certified as a Safety Garment. That’s a big deal. The Missile Air gets Dynamic Friction Shield sliders at the elbows and shoulders, new four-way HRSF (Hyper Resistant Stretch Fiber), and a colossal accordion leather stretch panel from the hip to the top of the shoulders. This jacket moves with the rider while taking protection seriously. It’s even compatible with Alpinestars’ airbag system. (More on that later.)
The Missile v2 Airflow pants are the perfect companion for the Missile Air jacket. The perforated design makes them ideal for warm-to-hot riding conditions. A tight race fit keeps the pants moving with you on the bike. It features 1.3 mm cowhide throughout, just like the jacket, plus four-way stretch material and plenty of accordion stretch, especially at the preformed knees. Alpinestars took care to reduce the number of seams along the hips. That’s a classic slide area, and a rider has a better chance of coming out unscathed if there aren’t any seams to catch. The pants also get a double layer of leather at the seat.
Zipped together, the Missile combination is totally capable of a technical tour through the fun roads or a day at the track. Nice work, Alpinestars.
If anything, we’d like to see Alpinestars lose the back hump on the jacket. It’s really not necessary for street riding, and the dedicated track rider probably has a one-piece suit. Looks cool, though!
Dainese’s premium gloves have a reputation to uphold, and with the Steel Pro gloves, it’s in safe hands. For warm weather sport gloves, we’d definitely grab a pair of these goatskin marvels.
With the latest revision, the Steel Pro gloves picked up better ulna protectors and improved foam. The leather now wraps fully around the pinky finger; that part of the glove often takes the brunt of a slide. In practice, the Steel Pro gloves provide excellent tactile feedback and a fantastic range of motion. As the name suggests, those flashy plates are stainless steel. A sport glove should look sporty too, right?
We see these gloves at the controls of fast street bikes and any track bike. It’s easy to take uninjured hands for granted. If a crash is going to happen, a proper glove is your best defense against complicated hand injuries, and we’d trust the Steel Pros to protect our delicate digits.
Nitpicks: These gloves would be even better with smaller leather panels at the fingers. The large ones Dainese uses aren’t the best choice for ultimate flexibility.
The Steel Pro gloves are also available in an “in” variant if your jacket/suit’s sleeves are designed to slip over the gloves.
We featured the SMX 6 v2 boots as the beginner sport rider pick, and this is its big brother. The SMX Plus v2 boots are as capable as anything on the market today, with a few advantages that make them our choice.
Alpinestars designed the SMX Plus v2s to be sport track boots that are also suitable for the street. Its intentions are track-biased, however. Go any higher up the ladder, and you’re into race-only territory.
The v2 gets new ankle support, an updated hinge system, and reduced bulk overall. It also offers better torsional protection than its predecessor, the plain SMX Plus. Grip has been improved, along with ventilation. A large swath of the front of the boot is perforated for comfort.
Winning parts of the SMX Plus’ DNA remain. It still uses a synthetic leather main construction with a reinforced toe and heel. (Both are replaceable.) Your feet slip into inner booties, which aid entry and help to lock your feet into the boots. Close ‘em up with a trick speed lacing system, then ride to your heart’s content. We found that the SMX Plus v2s give excellent control and feedback. The revised hinge plate system makes shifting and braking feel more natural. The reduced size of the boots means rowing gears is effortless.
Nitpicks: As great as the original SMX Plus was, we’re hoping they go for a clean-slate redesign with the next iteration. All the ingredients are there for a juggernaut sport boot that nothing on the market could touch.
Buying the best Sport motorcycle gear... for you
There you have it! From the rookie sport rider to the seasoned vet, we’ve rounded up all the best sport riding gear of 2020. Sport gear is truly one of the most interesting segments to watch. Competition improves the breed, as they say. We’ll see what the next year brings us, but for now, the gear in this article is as good as it gets.