Revolutionizing rider safety: The protective jacket every e-biker should consider

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If you’ve followed my writing or videos, you’ll know I’m a “life on two-wheels” kind of guy. If there’s an electric motorcycle, e-bike, scooter, or anything else remotely rideable out there, I’ve probably thrown a leg over it at least once. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to learn how each type of vehicle comes with its own unique personality and enjoyment, but also its own risk profile. And without the benefit of 5,000 pounds of murderous steel around us, out of necessity we motorcycle riders become masters of balancing risk.

But could the perceived risk of different types of rides, such as e-motorcycles versus e-bikes, cloud our judgment on personal protection? I think it might, at least for me. And so I’ve been on a hunt for the right gear to fix that.

To put it a different way, when I’m on my motorcycles, I prescribe pretty heavily to the ATGATT doctrine of All The Gear, All The Time.

You’ll never find me on a motorcycle without a quality full-face helmet, and 99% of the time I wear motorcycle-specific armored jackets and gloves. I’m talking full back armor, shoulders, elbows, and sometimes chest armor or even built-in airbags depending on the jacket. I take safety fairly seriously on motorcycles, I ride conservatively, and I gear up.

That being said, I’ll sheepishly admit that out of convenience I often skip my armored riding jeans in favor of my vulnerable Levis. And to be fair, I do frequently forgo my armored riding boots while opting instead for my daily work boots. But I’m never in shorts or sandals, that’s for sure.

There’s just something about my motorcycles that instills that sense of important adherence to safety gear, to (mostly) sticking to ATGATT. Though here’s a little pro tip: I learned the hard way not to fly on motorcycle trips while wearing armored jeans when I ended up standing in an airport in my underwear with two TSA agents poking around the knees of my pants looking for drug bags. Damn body scanners instead of metal detectors. Anyway, I digress.

So yeah, motorcycles always equal “gear up” in my mind.

Zero FXE electric motorcycle ridden by Micah Toll
Technically those are Levis and steel-toed work boots, but I’m mostly ATGATTing

Then there are my scooters. I’m not talking cute little Razor scooters. I’m talking faster machines, like my 60 MPH Gogoro electric scooter. Or the even faster Gogoro Pulse I just tested in Taiwan.

They’re every bit as fast as my motorcycles when riding in the city or even on urban highways. Yet for some reason, they seem to give me some false sense of security. Stepping through my scooters causes me to allow myself a looser interpretation of my own safety gear rules. I’ll don a 3/4 helmet instead of a full-face sometimes. I’ll roll out in a T-shirt instead of leathers or an armored jacket. I’ll ride in khaki shorts instead of pants. And yes, I’ll even wear sandals sometimes in the hot Tel Aviv summers.

Just a couple days ago I was bombing down a mountain road on an electric scooter in Taiwan – the same road motorcyclists would love to carve up – with nothing but my signature black tee between me and the Taipei asphalt. And for some reason it didn’t strike me as strange, even though I’d surely be in an armored jacket if I was doing that run on a motorcycle.

I don’t condone this type of nearly-nude riding (especially not the sandals thing, even though they’re practically the equivalent of dress shoes here in the Middle East), but I’m also going to be honest with you about how I ride. As someone who doesn’t own a car and thus rides daily out of necessity, it’s a big part of my life and I want to be transparent about what that means.

micah toll gogoro scooter
Somehow I couldn’t even be bothered to put my visor down on either of these Gogoro scooters, whoops…

And then there are my electric bicycles, where for some reason it all goes out the window. Sure, I’m at least almost always wearing a bike or skate helmet, but that’s pretty much where I’ve drawn the line for myself. If I’m wearing a t-shirt, that’s an upgrade over a tank top. Hell, sometimes my sandals are there just so the summer asphalt doesn’t burn my feet.

I’m not saying this is a good idea – in fact I know it’s a terrible idea. That’s why you may notice I never film my videos like this to avoid showcasing poor protection practices – I almost always film my electric bicycle videos in pants and boots. And yes, I know about degloving accidents (please don’t google that). But for some reason, even though I know academically that being hit by a car on a motorcycle would be just as bad as being hit by a car on a bike or scooter, I never really think of it that way when I go out to ride. I allow myself to be a lot more laissez-faire with my gear when on a scooter and especially when on an e-bike.

Lately though, I’ve been giving this concept a lot more thought. Why do I gear up on one type of two-wheeled vehicle but not another? I’m riding the same streets with the same obstacles and at the same speeds (at least while in the city). For a while now, I’ve been wondering why there isn’t a better solution. Sure, it seems a bit silly to mount my e-bikes wearing all the same massive gear from the motorcycle end of my small section of the closet that my wife permits me to use. But why isn’t there gear that can protect me like my motorcycle gear without making me look like I’m a Valentino Rossi wannabe?

As it turns out, there already is. It’s called Beyond Riders.

Fortunately, I’ve finally discovered the answer I’ve been looking for. I found the gear that offers the moto-level protection I want on my electric bicycles without the same over the top moto-look.

Beyond Riders specializes in full-protection riding gear that looks like casual wear. They’ve got riding shirts that look like plaid hipster lumberjack shirts. They’ve got canvas jackets that look like a classic Carhart work shirt. They’ve got mesh jackets for full protection from a slide while still getting a breeze down to your cotton undershirt in hot weather. They’ve even got pullover hoodies for a soft, warm winter feel-good shirt!

And all of these have special pockets for holding motorcycle armor to protect different combinations of your elbows, shoulders, spine, chest, and more. Imagine that, a comfy winter hoodie that also protects you in a crash.

Many of the models have other important features too, like reflective panels that illuminate at night, belt loops to keep the jacket down in a slide, hidden pockets for gear, vent panels to avoid overheating, gussets to help the shirts expand at the shoulders when you reach forward for the bars, and more.

The canvas jacket I’ve been wearing lately even has a built-in microfiber cloth in the lower inside flap for a quick way to clean your riding glasses.

Level 2 armor can be inserted into hidden pockets to protect your spine, shoulders, elbows, and chest

The aramid fiber material is protective against sliding across the asphalt, (not to mention the hidden Level 2 armor pads I have in there for impact protection), but the jacket is also light enough that I can throw it over my shoulder or into the crook of my arm and walk into a coffee shop. My wife even likes the way it looks on date nights – a test none of my other motorcycle gear has ever passed.

Basically, the jacket gives me that convenient and comfortable protection I’ve been looking for so that I can convince myself to actually wear it while riding my e-bikes. That’s the key piece here, because it only protects me on my e-bikes and e-scooters if I’m actually wearing it.

And it’s not just jackets either, but Beyond Riders also has riding pants that look like normal pants, fingerless skate gloves, protective hoodies, and more.

Then there are the color and pattern options, which seem endless, and the size range includes XXS to literally 8XL and everything in between.

After I dug a little deeper, I discovered how they can offer what seems like a thousand combinations and permutations of sizes and styles. Beyond Riders produces its clothing to order, which means it takes a few extra days (sometimes up to a week), but each shirt or other garment is produced after you order it on the website, made to the exact specifications you selected.

That surely helps them be more efficient by cutting down on stocking massive inventory, yet they can still produce just about any color or size combination quickly.

The more I researched, the more I learned. It makes sense that there’s a big motorcycle community around these jackets, but it turns out they’re popular in other riding sports like electric unicycle groups and for high-speed electric skateboard riders. So it makes perfect sense to turn it into my e-bike jacket.

You’d never know all of these armor pads are hidden in this shirt, not to mention the abrasion-resist aramid fibers

Of course this stuff doesn’t come cheap, and compared to a distressed denim jacket from Target, the prices are significant. But if you’ve ever looked at the main motorcycle gear brands like Rev’it and Alpinestars, you’ll see the prices are actually pretty decent compared to leading motorcycle protective garments.

My favorite of the two Beyond Riders jackets I got is the canvas riding jacket, which was $179 with included Level 1 pads, but I chose to add the $59 Level 2 pad upgrade for better production. The canvas jacket is certainly not a winter coat, but it keeps me warm enough in the moderate Florida and Tel Aviv winter I’ve been testing it in.

But now that temperatures are rising, I’m getting more use out of my Beyond Riders reflective mesh shirt that costs $229. It’s black (see above photo), but the reflective layer means that it’s still visible at night. And for price comparison, my Rev’it Eclipse 2 motorcycle jacket I’ve been wearing up until now was just shy of $200, so these prices are fairly par for the course when it comes to protective gear.

I definitely prefer the look of the canvas shirt better, but the mesh shirt is great for getting the same protection in hot weather.

livewire del mar micah toll
The same jacket works great on my motorcycles and my e-bikes!

While this stuff ain’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination, frankly neither is surgery. And growing back a significant portion of skin on your back, sides, or arms is something that most people would gladly have paid a few hundred bucks to have avoided once they are in the thick of it. I’ve still got some scarring from going wheels up on an electric skateboard back in 2018 – my most serious crash of my career that fortunately only left me donating more skin than I would have preferred to the asphalt. But you never forget that feeling, and so having those aramid fibers of the jacket around me (not to mention the armor) adds some significant peace of mind that my black cotton t-shirt just doesn’t provide. 

And the beauty is that while I’m comfortable wearing this gear on my electric bicycles, it’s found its way onto my motorcycle rides too since it’s built with that level of protection in mind.

My tried and true Rev’it motorcycle jacket has spent a lot more time on its hanger now that I’ve got the Beyond Riders gear in my quiver.

After years of dismissing protective clothing on my non-moto rides, I’ve finally found a way to take my appreciation for safety gear on my motorcycles and apply it to my electric bikes, scooters, and other rides in a way that is convenient enough that I actually do it.

To me, that’s the real kicker. You can have the best gear in the world, but if you don’t wear it because it’s too bulky, hot, or otherwise feels like overkill on your bike, then it’s only going to protect your coat hook.

The gear that you’ll actually wear because it’s comfortable and looks good (even on a bicycle!), that’s what will truly protect you.

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