Either you have been a motorcyclist for a long time or you have just bought your first motorcycle. All motorcyclists, regardless of their experience, have the same problem in choosing the appropriate motorcycle ride gear for their style riding. Whether it be motocross, dual-sport, sport bike, cruiser and of course Harley. I split out Harley into its own group since there is a common sheep mentality of most Harley riders to wear the same motorcycle ride gear. Despite all of this, how does one go about deciding which motorcycle ride gear they need and want?
Bottom line, in some states you do not need any riding gear. You will see motorcyclists riding in shorts and sandals sometimes. Or Harley guys riding without helmets or shirts. My stance on this issue is that you must wear appropriate attire for the crash you may have. Sure if you get hit by an S. U. V. no amount of ride gear will help you, but the common accidents like missing a turn, being cut off by an oncoming left-turning cager are survivable if you are wearing the appropriate gear.
Helmet laws confuse me. I personally believe everyone has a right to wear what they want. Again my point is that God gave us all common sense. It is our right to exercise this gift. While I lived in California, there was no helmet law. I chose to wear a helmet because it made perfect sense. My first reason was that it protected my face and ears from the windblast and bugs. The second obvious reason is that a good helmet may just save you from serious brain damage if you get dropped on your head. Now lets go a little further with this. You have decided to use the gift of common sense and wear a helmet. Not which helmet do you get?
The Arai and Shoei motorcycle helmets are very expensive. My rule of thumb is price out how much you think your head costs. The Arai and Shoei helmets are the top-of-the-line motorcycle helmets. I personally buy Arai full-face helmets. They meet both the DOT and Snell safety standards. Plus they are very comfortable and look sharp. Arai helmets can only be bought directly from brick and mortar stores. This makes sense since you really need to try on a helmet to get the proper fitment. Most helmets come in different models that are designed for different shaped heads. Also, these helmets have removable padding in the liner to adjust the fit. The helmets also come with various airflow venting for cooling and anti fogging.
But you say that helmets get too hot in the summer. This is true and it comes down to how much risk you are willing to accept while riding your motorcycle. I will wear a full-face as much as possible. But if the weather gets in the high 90s, I have been known to accept much more risk and wear an open-faced helmet while riding my cruiser. Again it all comes down to the amount of risk that you are willing to accept. Now this leads into other areas of motorcycle ride gear.
Leather is the best protection against road rash. Wear it! You can survive an accident and end up dying in the hospital from the infection brought on by server road rash. Once you see someone with road rash, you will start wearing your helmet and leather. Unless you choose not to use your gift of common sense.
Again you say it gets too hot to wear all of this gear. Again it comes down to accepting the risk of motorcycling. Dress for the crash you are going to have. Will those fingerless gloves really protect you if you fall? Will your jeans? No! For hotter days there are a number of high-quality leathers on the market from Icon, Teknic, Power Trip, River Road, First Gear, Shift, Joe Rocket and Fieldsheer that are designed to keep you cool while providing the most protection. I personally prefer the First Gear leather jacket products for riding both my Victory Kingpin and Kawasaki ZZR1200 motorcycles. First Gear makes jackets for the cruiser and sport bike crowds. They make apparel for all seasons of riding. I highly recommend their products. They are expensive motorcycle riding jackets. But you honestly do get what you pay for.
So far we have covered wearing a motorcycle helmet, jacket, and gloves. The options for motorcycle jackets are plentiful. Teknic, Icon, Power Trip, River Road, Joe Rocket and First Gear all sell lightweight summer riding mesh jackets. The protection is sewn into the jacket at key impact locations like your elbows, lower and upper back, and shoulders. The inserts are made of Kevlar and really do a great job protecting you when you fall. One note on motorcycle gloves, do not wear fingerless or gloves with metal bling sewn into them. The metal will overheat as it drags down the road giving you burns. Sure they look cool and get you noticed. But being cool is not about wearing the bling. It is about being smart enough to know what works.
Now if you are a serious rider and want the best protection that money can buy. You will want to consider buying full racing leather. Joe Rocket, Fieldsheer, Alpinestars, AXO, MotoGP and Teknic all make one and two piece riding suits. These suits are what racers wear and will save your hide every time. Over time the leathers form to your body and they become like an nicely worn set of jeans.
Now onto motorcycle riding boots. If you are a dirt and motocross rider you definitely need to wear the right gear for protection. The majority of motorcycle injuries are to the feet and ankles. I personally used to wear work boots. I caught my foot once and twisted my ankle. I know if I had wearing my Sidi boots, I would have been all right. Alpinestars, Joe Rocket, Fieldsheer, Icon, Teknic and Diadora all make high quality motorcycle boots.
I know a lot of readers may roll their eyes at my suggestion to wear all of this ride gear. One guy pulled up besides me on his Harley looked over at me and said that if he had to wear all of that gear, he would not ride. I am all about that. I am not suggesting this should be the law. What I am saying is that we all much accept and deal with the risk of motorcycling. I choose to wear very protective gear because I know the likelihood of me surviving an accident greatly improve. If you choose to ride a motorcycle in your T-shirt without a helmet, that is your choice and you have taken personal responsibility for that level of risk. The whole helmet and protective ride gear debate goes along the same lines of the older Hockey players that choose not to wear helmets, while the younger players do choose to wear a helmet.
Now that you are convinced you need some new motorcycle ride gear, where do you look. I suggest go through the trade magazines and visit a few of your local motorcycle shops. Try some things on to see what fits. Remember that motorcycle jackets should me snug so they do not balloon up while riding. Also note that the sleeves on a motorcycle jacket will be a few inches longer. This is so the jacket sleeves will still cover your arms while you are in the riding position.
For motorcycle helmets, please get the assistance of the shop clerk. They will be able to help you decide on the correct size helmet. I would also check the product review forums at Cycle Solutions . This site reviews several products and has testimonials from registered members on the Cycle Solutions forums.
Shopping online may save you a few dollars and give you a wider selection. But I strongly suggest you go to your local motorcycle shop and try on the product you want to buy first, getting the proper fitment, and then buying online to save a few dollars.