You can spend as much or as little as you want on your riding gear. There’s a school of thought that says the more you spend the better it gets. But there are also riders who spend as little as possible on their gear, thinking “it’s got the safety rating so it’s just as good”.
We fall somewhere between the two. We know there are brands who charge a premium for premium gear, but we also know there are companies who strive to offer the best protection at an affordable price.
The point is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to kit yourself out in great looking, top-performing gear. To prove it, here’s our guide to Going ATGATT in the Cafe Racer Style for Under $1500.
Our ATGATT Budget Breakdown
We’ve split our $1500 budget up and spread it out according to how we’d allocate it. We set aside more cash for high-price items like helmets and jackets and scrimped a bit on smaller items such as gloves. In each of the categories below, you’ll find gear that costs less than the allocated budget. This means you can go full ATGATT for less and still put together a good quality protective riding outfit.
Helmet = $500
Jacket = $400
Pants = $300
Shoes = $200
Gloves = $100
Our choices are based on our own gear experiences and rider reviews from some of the top online retailers. We always recommend trying on gear first or buying it from a store that has a good return policy.
Cafe Racer Helmets Under $500
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You can spend anywhere from $50 to upwards of $1500 on a cafe racer style helmet. For the purposes of this list, we’re looking at helmets that cost up to $500 and offer the level of quality and protection we’d choose for ourselves.
Shoei Glamster – from $558.88
Yes, Shoei has a retro-styled helmet. Yes, it is unfortunately called the Glamster. Don’t let that put you off though. The Glamster is a great-looking helmet that boasts the tried and trusted Shoei name.
As with most retro-styled helmets, the Shoei Glamster doesn’t offer as much ventilation or suppress wind noise as well as some sports bike helmets. What you do get, though, is a great-looking lid with a carbon/kevlar/fibre shell, multi-density EPS liner, Emergency Quick Release cheek pad system, and an ECE 22.05 safety rating.
The Bullitt has been around for quite some time now and continues to be a favourite amongst cafe racers. This helmet redefined the retro helmet market and has become somewhat of an icon in the custom motorcycle scene.
Since its release in 2014, the Bullitt design has remained essentially untouched, aside from a huge array of colourways and a few carbon fibre editions. This tells us that they obviously did a good job with the helmet in the first place, but don’t just take our word for it. Over 370 people have contributed to this helmet’s 4 out of 5 star rating on Revzilla.
Another staple in Bell’s range of helmets is the open-face Custom 500. Similar to the Bullitt, the Bell Custom 500 has withstood the test of time. It also boasts a very long list of Revzilla user reviews and has come out with an incredible 4.5 out of 5 rating.
As far as features go, this is a “what you see is what you get” offering. Add a visor using the press studs along the brow for a bit of wind protection, or simply throw on a pair of protective sunglasses. But with a starting price well under $150, you won’t find many decent helmets cheaper than this!
The XG100 Racer helmet is the work of Spanish helmet manufacturer Nexx Helmets. If you haven’t heard of them, never fear—they know their stuff. Nexx offers a full range of helmets for everyone from sports riders through to adventure tourers.
The XG100 Racer is Nexx’s premium offering in their retro helmet range. It features a carbon composite shell, a wide field of view visor, and a soft touch suede look interior, and is both DOT and ECE certified.
The AGV X300 uses an almost identical shell shape to the 1960s helmet it was based on. That helmet was the one worn by none other than 15-time world championship winner Giacomo Agostini. But don’t worry; this helmet offers much more in the way of safety than Agostini’s helmet ever did.
That’s because AGV has injected decades of learned expertise into the X3000 to achieve ECE 22.05 homologation. Add to that a premium finish using premium materials and you’ve got yourself a very attractive helmet offering. Plus, if you’re into race replica designs, you can fork out a bit more cash and secure a helmet with the same livery as Agostini’s original helmet.
Cafe Racer jackets vary greatly depending on their purpose. Generally, they are tailored to a particular season. Some offer excellent insulation and waterproofing, while others are designed to keep you cool. Here you’ll find a mix of both—as well as a couple of 4 season jackets offering year-round wearability.
Cortech Voodoo Riding Shirt – $139.99
Going full ATGATT doesn’t mean you have to be dressed in leather from head to toe. These days, many gear manufacturers are producing protective gear that looks just like casual streetwear. A great example of this is the Cortech Voodoo Riding Shirt.
The Cortech Voodoo Riding Shirt features a waxed cotton exterior that’s backed by an abrasion-resistant Syncromesh liner. The waxed cotton has basic water repelling properties, while the Syncromesh wicks moisture and provide abrasion protection. Additional panels of Kevlar in high impact areas beef things up even further.
The shirt secures with a hidden zipper and press studs and comes with both elbow and shoulder CE Level-1 armour. Add a back protector, and you’ve you’ve got yourself one seriously tough shirt.
Alpinestars probably isn’t the first brand you think of when you think of café racer gear, but the Warhorse Jacket was designed to exude a kind of unassuming charisma that’s perfect for your naked bike or classic custom motorcycle.
Made from handsome premium leather with a nubuck finish, this jacket offers a versatile fit via strategically-placed stretch panels and comes with a fully removable thermal liner to keep you comfy in a range of riding conditions. As for protection, you get CE level 1 armor in the elbows and shoulders, plus pockets for optional chest and back armor—awesome value for a leather riding jacket priced at under 400 bucks.
It might look casual and lightweight, but the Merlin Hurley Riding Hoody is perfectly capable of protecting you while you ride. This garment comes with a full DuPont Kevlar lining, and removable CE Level 1 shoulder and elbow armor to protect those vital joints if you take a tumble. It also has reflective detailing to help keep you visible at night.
This hoody is proof that you don’t have to look like an anime character or a Sons of Anarchy extra to stay safe while riding. Not to mention, it’s comfortable as all hell. Ride on; ride free.
Leather jackets and cafe racers go together like peas and carrots. True to its name, the First Manufacturing Top Performer jacket scores a respectable 4.5 out of 5 stars on both Amazon and Revzilla. That’s because this classically-styled leather jacket features a long list of smart features that potentially make it the only jacket you’ll need in your riding gear collection.
Made from First Manufacturing’s 1.2mm diamond skin leather, the Top Performer offers excellent levels of abrasion resistance. A fully removable liner provides seasonability, as do the wide ventilation pockets on the chest, back and biceps.
Additional features include a comfort-focused snap-closure mandarin collar, padded shoulder, kidney and elbow details, zippered, slash-cut cuffs, and 4 storage pockets. If you’re after even more protection, the Top Performer jacket can be fitted with optional armour.
These days, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t have a pair of riding jeans that fit and feel just as good as your favourite Levis. However, unlike those Levis, these riding pants are designed to keep your skin safe should you find yourself sliding down the asphalt. Here are 3 different style options for under $300.
Klim K Fifty 1 Jeans – $299.99
If your days of wearing stovepipe jeans are over, then the Klim K Fifty 1 Jeans are for you. These best selling, wide leg, loose-fit jeans have won many riders over with their relaxed, no fuss styling. But there’s much more to these jeans than comfort and looks alone.
The K Fifty 1 jeans are woven using a tough Cordura Denim blend, which is backed up by panels of Kevlar in high impact areas. Klim has also thrown removable D3O armor for the hips and knees into the purchase price.
If you’re chasing something a bit less baggy and with more of a classic straight-leg Levi 501 cut, we’d also suggest taking a look at the Klim K Fifty 2.
If you’re more of a regular fit kind of guy, these Rev’it! Lombard 2 jeans are just the ticket. If you want a true any-occasion riding jean, then a single-layer construction is the way to go. Kevlar liners add bulk and heat in summer.
The Lombard 2 pants wear just like regular jeans, thanks to a 12.5oz Cordura blend construction. Low-profile Seesmart CE-rated knee protectors are included in the purchase price, and you can also add optional Seesmart hip protectors, which are virtually undetectable when installed.
As an extra line of defense, there’s also double layers of highly abrasion-resistant PWR | shield at the buttocks and knees. Trust us; your ass is covered in these jeans.
These slim jeans from Knox feature all the abrasion resistance you’ll want from a pair of riding jeans, with the added benefit of water resistance. The Knox Spencer Slim Jeans are constructed from a 10oz Cordura denim that has been treated with a Durable Water Repellency coating, which is meant to withstand regular washing.
The seamless design of these jeans has been achieved by lining the interior with stretch cotton. This also helps to prevent the wearer from getting caught on the internal Kevlar panels when pulling the jeans on.
Another design benefit of the Spencer Slim Jeans is that the included knee armour is installed externally, allowing you to fit and remove it easily. Hip armour is also included in the price of these smart looking 5-pocket jeans.
It’s easy to spend $200 on a pair of stylish boots that don’t offer any rider protection. The good news is that you can also buy a great looking pair of protective boots with the same budget. Here are a few of our favourites on the market right now:
Falco Aviator Boots – $154.89
If you’re after a smart-looking boot that’ll fit right in at the office, check out the Falco Aviators. These Italian-made boots offer impressive quality for their price point, but there’s a lot more going on here than good looks alone.
The Falco Aviator boots feature an impressively hard-wearing oil-resistant, non-slip sole (trust me, mine are still going strong after 2 years of regular use). Both the heel and toe are reinforced, and there’s D30 inner and outer malleolus armour.
The boots’ footbed is also specially designed to absorb vibration through your motorcycle’s footpegs, and the full-grain leather construction is 19cm high to cover your ankles. To top it all off, the Aviators are fully waterproof, thanks to their specially-developed liner.
Another appealing feature of these smart looking boots is their double zip easy access design, which makes fitting and removing them a cinch.
All the cool kids are wearing moc-toe boots these days. If you’re looking to step up your style at an affordable price, the Icon 1000 Truant 2 boots are the solution.
These great-looking boots are packed with smart moto-life features including D30 armour, hard-wearing shifter panels, a specially-engineered lasting board in the sole, and a full grain leather upper for longevity and safety. As we’ve come to expect from the Icon 1000 range, the Truant 2 boots are CE certified—proving that form and function can go hand in hand.
Want a more of a casual-looking riding boot with more protection than your Vans? Take a look at these Core Trainers by Stylmartin.
Despite their relaxed demeanor, the Core Trainers are a CE Certified EN 13634:2015 protective garment. These lace-up boots feature a high-quality full-grain leather upper, a waterproof/breathable liner, an anatomic footbed, and an anti-slip rubber sole.
Additional armour at the ankle bones protects against hard knocks, and the sole is designed to withstand crushing. Best of all, these functional riding boots are designed with comfort in mind—so they’re all-day wearable, too.
Believe it or not, you can pack a fair bit of protection into a pair of gloves. Generally speaking, cafe racer style gloves sacrifice some of that protection to achieve the right look. That said, there are still plenty of options available that go the extra mile in order to keep your precious digits safe. Here are what we consider some of the best options for under $100.
Dainese Blackjack Gloves – $99.99
We’ve written about these gloves before, and we’re happy to do it again—because they’re freakin’ awesome. You get high-quality leather construction with subtle detailing that creates timeless and effortless Italian café racer style, all in a package that costs less than $100. Mamma mia!
Dainese didn’t skimp on protective features for these gloves, either. They’ve got a leather palm reinforcement to save your skin in a slide, and soft inserts on the knuckles and back to help prevent impact damage.
The Borrego Gloves are Biltwell’s first EU CE-certified riding gloves. These long-cuff gloves come in a wide range of colors, allowing you to pick the style that suits your ride best.
The classic look of these gloves comes from the use of both standard and suede leather finishes, diamond stitched details, and tuck-and-roll-style accordion flex panels. Designed to see you through summer and well into the cooler months, the Borrego Gloves feature perforated palm and knuckle zones for breathability.
Touchscreen fingertips add on-the-go convenience, while an adjustable wrist closure allows you to adjust the fit to suit. To secure the safety rating for these gloves, Biltwell used an all-leather design and added internal high-impact plastic padded knuckle guards for good measure.
With French palm overlays made from cow and goatskin, these gloves aren’t just perfect for protecting your hands in a slide—they’d also be ideal if you were to challenge someone to a duel the old-fashioned way (i.e., with a glove-slap across the face).
You get extra protection from D30 inserts, while classic café racer styling comes from the black-and-tan color scheme and the diamond-stitched palms. En garde!
Last—but certainly not least—we recommend protecting your hearing. You don’t need to crash to cause permanent damage to your hearing. Worse still, you won’t notice your hearing’s been compromised until after it’s already happened, so prevention is key to preservation.
These motorcyclist earplugs from EarPeace offer great protection at the very affordable price of $24.94. What makes these ear plugs especially valuable is their ability to modify how much hearing protection they offer.
Each pair comes with a set of 3 different filters that can be easily interchanged to suit your preference. They also come in a handy carrying case, which contains one spare ear plug in case you misplace one.
The topic of how much protective riding gear you should be wearing each time you get on your bike isn’t one we care to get into. I see squids in my neck of the woods on a regular basis, but personally, I’d never ride without being covered head-to-toe in high-quality gear.
At the end of the day, though, every rider is responsible for their own safety. Every decision you make—whether it’s what gear you wear or how fast you ride—is your own.