A motorcycle license and a bike, is a good place to start when you want to hit the wide-open road. But before you can do that you’ve got to get yourself geared up.
You want clothes and gear that will not only keep you safe, but will keep you comfortable on long rides. You’ll need gloves, pants, boots, jackets and let’s not forget the helmet. Withing each of these items you have even more choices.
What style of gloves? Armored, no armor, gaunlet?
What type of helmet? Full face, Open face?
If you’re ever unlucky enough to be in a crash, there is little about a motorcycle that will offer your body safety or protection. Most experts go by the rule that for every mile per hour over 30 you’re traveling when you crash, you’ll lose about 1 millimeter in depth of flesh and muscle. That means that if you’re zooming down the highway at 70 miles per hour, you’ll lose a shocking 1.5 inches of skin and muscle.
You want to keep your body safe each and every time you get on your motorcycle. Even more, you want to enjoy your rides. That’s why this motorcycle riding gear is so important; it keeps you protected and comfortable.
We’ll take a quick look at the different types of gear you’ll need and give you a jumping off point to go check out gear we’ve reviewed on the site.
We’re big on gloves around here.
Have you ever had a small rock bounce into your finger or hand?
You need your hands to be safe in order to steer your motorcycle. Taking a stone or bug to your finger at highway speed will make grown man cry for his mom!
A good pair of motorcycle gloves will completely cover your palms, the backs of your hands and even your wrists. The best gloves will be tucked into your jacket sleeve so that your skin is never fully exposed.
Look for gloves that are snug over your hands and that feature some grip on the fingers and the palm to help you control your bike. A non-slip material, such as Kevlar, will give you a firmer handle on your accelerator and on your flip switches. You also want a retention strap around your wrist to keep your gloves safely in place throughout your ride.
Know right up front that you have several different styles of helmet to choose from depending on personal preference, style of riding and even the weather. Each type offers varying degrees of protection.
Here are the choices:
The first and best choice here is the full face or modular. If you are unfamiliar with what a modular helmet is, it’s a full face helmet that the entire front opens up (not just the visor).
Many riders own two different styles of helmet. A full face helmet for long distance and cold weather and a half helmet for warmer weather and short rides.
Do you need two helmets? No, just pick a style of helmet that fits the type of riding you’ll be doing and start with that. If you’re new you’ll find that your helmet tastes will evolve and you can make other decisions later on.
Look for a helmet that gives you high-quality materials, but it doesn’t have to be horribly expensive. Try on several different helmets to find the one that will best fit on your head shape and size. It should fit evenly around your head, providing no pressure points and not rotating independently from your head.
While your head is arguably your most important body part, wearing a jacket will protect your ribs, internal organs, back and arms. Wearing a fashionable leather jacket may look cool, but it’s not the best option for safety.
Your best choice is either a motorcycle leather jacket, designed for riding, or a high-quality textile jacket. If you want the classic leather jacket, look at the thickness of the leather and the stitching of the seams. These two qualities will point you toward a quality jacket.
For a textile jacket, choose 500 denier or 1,000 denier Cordura, which is as strong as leather and which typically features Gore-Tex or another water-resistant covering for bad weather. These jackets are typically lighter in weight than leather and more versatile. They’re also more affordable.
Many jackets have CE-rated protectors built into the shape of the clothing, or you can have body armor sewn into the liner. You’ll especially want elbow, shoulder and chest protectors in your jacket.
Make sure that the jacket fits snugly, but you should also be able to move your arms freely. Think about your position on your bike, and make sure that you’re comfortable to sit that way in whatever jacket you decide to buy.
You may think that ordinary street pants or jeans are a great idea for motorcycle riding, but remember the road rash that you’ll get if you go skidding off your bike. Like riding jackets, you can find pants in both leather and textile materials. Also like jackets, you’ll want CE-rated pads or armor in the knees, hips and shins of your riding pants.
You want your pants to fit snugly to provide you with the most protection, but you also need to be able to move easily to get on and off your bike and to be in control of your driving. Measure your true waist size and your inseam to get the best idea of your size rather than relying on your current jeans size. Make sure you try your pants while in position on your bike to determine whether or not they’ll work for you.
Of course many people forgo the pant route and do leather chaps. Chaps afford the rider good protection for their legs and also help to keep them warm in colder weather.
Because most motorcycles weigh at least 350 pounds, a strong pair of boots will provide you with the support that you need to handle the bike. You want a pair with non-slip soles and strong ankle support to help you keep your balance on uneven and unpredictable surfaces.
The ankle support is also important because your feet and ankles are very vulnerable in a crash. Test a potential pair of boots by grabbing them by the toe and heel and by twisting them violently. If they retain their shape, your feet will be well-protected.
Ok, so it’s a lot of stuff to be familiar with if you are new to riding.
So where do you start with all of this stuff?
Due its importance in protecting your head and to abide by the law in most states, the first and obvious piece of gear you need to purchase will be your helmet. You can pick the other gear as you feel you need to and as your riding needs change, although we strongly recommend a pair of gloves.