RETRO RIDING GEAR: Classic Style with Modern Protection

Five sets of cool gear that offer high-tech protection and comfort.

rider on a Harley-Davidson

Riding gear offering contemporary technology in materials, construction, and crash protection doesn’t need to look like something RoboCop would wear. Some of the coolest-looking gear today melds classic vintage style and comfort with modern safety features. We’ve assembled five sets of kits spanning a broad price range that wear well and look great on or off the bike.

iXS Elliott jacket and Cassidy II jeans


Quality and craftsmanship in these items from Swiss apparel producer iXS had us hard-pressed to find a stitch out of place. The soft and supple bovine nappa leather Elliott jacket celebrates the brand’s late ’70s origin, has a polyester mesh lining, zip-out thermo vest liner, shoulder and elbow armor, with plenty of pockets inside and out. “Super duty” best describes the stone-washed Cassidy II jeans, featuring aramid fabric in seat, thigh, and knee (the last with adjustable armor cups). Goatskin leather with thin polyester lining throughout makes the Taran glove ultra comfortable. Don’t let the court-shoe look fool you. The nappa leather Strada riding sneaker has a soltoTEX membrane that’s waterproof and breathable.

iXS Taran gloves
iXS Strada boots
iXS Sizes Price
Elliott jacket 38-50 $409
Cassidy II jeans 26-48 $439
Taran gloves XS-2XL $69
Strada boots 4.5-12 $209
Roland Sands Design Ronin jacket and Diamond Gusset Jean Co. Defender V2 jeans


Of all the leather jackets I've worn, none gets comments like the Roland Sands Design Oxblood Ronin. Its rugged hand-finished, washed, and waxed Airborne cowhide exterior is contrasted by a satin lining. Rotated, pre-curved sleeves, internal slots for acces-sory armor, and plentiful pockets have you covered. Signature forehand flex ribbing/zipper, padded finger knuckles, and the pre-curved fit make the RSD Dezel glove a knockout hit and fit. Premium denim with DuPont Kevlar in the knee, hip, and seat make the Diamond Gusset Defender V2 jean a safe choice, and its unique gusset crotch design improves comfort on and off the bike. The full-grain leather TCX X-Blend boots have a vintage look with modern waterproofing and reinforcement in ankle and heel. They felt properly broken-in right out of the box.

Roland Sands Design Sizes Price
Ronin jacket S-3X $620
Dezel gloves S-2X $90
Diamond Gusset Jean Co. Sizes Price
Defender V2 jeans 32-46 $165
TCX Sizes Price
X-Blend boots 6-12.5 $220
Alpinestars Ray canvas jacket and Charlie denim


This outfit pays homage to the prestigious Italian fashion and design “Oscar” awarded to Alpinestars in 1972–’73. The Ray jacket features a super-comfortable water-repellent heavy waxed-canvas cotton and nylon outer shell with shoulder and elbow cups and internal pocket for add-in back protection. Charlie jeans have a regular/slim fit and are made of heavy denim incorporating stretch elastane for comfort and fit with aramid reinforcement in seat and knee areas and removable knee armor. Rayburn gloves are made of goat’s leather with synthetic suede reinforcements on the palm and outer hand, along with molded polyurethane knuckle protection. Rayburn riding shoes are constructed of supple full-grain leather with heel/toe/shank reinforcement and dual-density ankle protection pads.

Alpinestars Rayburn leather gloves
Alpinestars Rayburn riding shoe
Alpinestars Sizes Price
Ray canvas jacket S-3XL $299.95
Charlie denim 28-38 $259.95
Rayburn leather gloves S-3XL $99.95
Rayburn riding shoe 6-14 $249.95
Speed & Strength Rust and Redemption jacket and armored jeans


As the name implies, Speed & Strength Rust and Redemption textile jacket and denim jeans plus Cruise Missile leather boots are a retro-inspired ensemble for the rat bobber rider. The jacket has a lightweight water-resistant AR-700 (polyester and nylon) shell with reflective trim and microfiber-lined collar and cuffs, perforated panels, and a removable insulated vest liner. Shoulder, elbow, back, and knee armor and Kevlar panels in the seat and knees enhance protection. The gloves have hinged knuckles, reinforced palm, and a pre-curved fit that feels great from day one. A bit biker in style and design, the Cruise Missile boots feature an outer-calf stretch panel and inner-ankle zipper for what I like to call a ballistic entry.

Speed & Strength Rust and Redemption gloves
Speed & Strength Cruise Missile boots
Speed & Strength Sizes Price
Rust and Redemption jacket S-3XL $199.95
Rust and Redemption armored jeans 30-40 $149.95
Rust and Redemption gloves S-2XL $69.95
Cruise Missile boots 8-13 $139.95
Icon 1000 Vigilante jacket and Royal Drive pant


Icon 1000, a brand within the brand, caters to the cruiser and retro segments. The Vigilante jacket has a herringbone textured nylon torso, pliable cowhide sleeves, and a zip-out insulated vest liner. The outfit includes D3O impact protection for shoulder, elbow, back, knuckles, and knees. While water resistant, the relaxed-fit waxed-canvas Royal Drive jeans do not have aramid reinforcement. Traditional work glove styling meets modern moto protection with the studded palm cowhide Rimfire. A personal favorite is the mid-height El Bajo boot constructed of heavy-duty top-grain leather in Goodyear welt fashion. Inside ankle zipper allows easy entry, while cast-metal buckles, stamped heel plate, and embossed leather lend vintage style.

Icon 1000 Rimfire gloves
Icon 1000 El Bajo boots
Icon Sizes Price
Icon 1000 Vigilante jacket XS-4XL $300
Icon 1000 Royal Drive pant 28-44 $100
Icon 1000 Rimfire gloves S-4XL $90
Icon 1000 El Bajo boots 6-14 $190