Inexpensive Gear Guide: The art of gearing up without spending a lot of money
A lot of people when buying their first motorcycle spend every cent on the bike itself, but leave barely any left to buy some decent motorcycle gear. This article will show you that you can get some good gear for only a few hundred bucks.
Helmets: Protect your dome!
Most people if they have any gear will at least get a helmet. I recommend getting a full face helmet because I personally wouldn't want half my face tore off, I'm too damn handsome! Plus full face helmet when combined with a dark face shield just make you look cool.HJC makes some decent quality helmets for really cheap. The good thing about starting off with an inexpensive lid is after you wear it for a few months you will know what feels right and what features you are looking for in your next helmet, so when you get it you will now have a spare that you can use for passengers!
Another option for cheap helmets is the Scorpion brand. When I first went helmet shopping lots of people said to try out scorpion because they were really inexpensive compared to the quality yourecieved, in fact they were regularly considered on par with Shoei brand helmets. Scorpion offers lots of features and lots of cool designs for not very much dough, so if your head shape fits it (which mine didn't! boo!) then I would highly recommend them.
A solid motorcycle jacket is the first line of defense when you crash since when you are sliding on the pavement you may be tumbling on your elbows, forearms, shoulders and back. Not only is a jacket good for protection but generally they look cool and it lets people know you are a motorcycle rider even when you are off the bike. This might sound kind of egocentric, but most people want to ride motorcycles not only because of the experience of riding, but also because of the image associated with it. I know wanting to 'look cool', was one of the main factors that got me interested in riding. Nothing is cooler than a badass motorcycle jacket, just ask the Fonz! When you first start looking at jackets you will notice that the ones made out of textile and mesh materials are significantly cheaper than the ones made out of leather. A good textile jacket will hold up almost as well as a leather one in a crash, but unlike a leather jacket you won't be able to use it after that crash. Pretty much the rule for textile is after one pretty bad crash it will be too torn up to use anymore. Here is an example of a pretty darn good textile jacket by Cortech (a subdivision of Tourmaster I believe).
Another jacket that combines a textile base but incorporates leather where you really need it is the Shift Streetfighter Hybrid jacket. I own a Shift jacket and I found that the leather they use is much easier to break in than Joe Rocket or Icon, it just seems more supple. Make sure when you get a jacket you get a proper fitting one. Normally racing jackets aren't super comfortable off the bike, but on the bike they feel much more natural, this is because of the way the leather is cut and sewn together and where they place the shoulder and elbow pads in the jacket. The jacket should be snug, but not so tight that it is uncomfortable. It definitely shouldn't be too loose or else when you crash it will move around on your body and it won't protect as well. Generally textile stuff is slightly looser than leather stuff, but it should still feel secure on your body.
Another way to get a cheap leather jacket is if you pick an unpopular design or color. Notice this Joe Rocket race replica jacket is about $200, a screaming deal. I would also check outebay and other places online to see if you can find last years model, or a design they are discontinuing. That is how I got my Shift jacket that is normally around $300 dollars for only $150!
One thing to mention is just because a jacket is made out of leather doesn't mean it would make a good motorcycle jacket. I have had a leather jacket for a while that looks great, but it is definitely not fit for sliding on the pavement at anything more than 10mph. It is made out of 'fashion leather' which is considerably thinner than motorcycle jackets that are usually made of leather with a thickness of 1mm-1.5mm.
I don't know about you but I love my hands. They let me play guitar, violin, massage my girlfriend, give thumbs up, give the finger, and they let me ride my motorcycle. It would suck not having hands. I once read about a motorcycle rider who went down without gloves and he basically ground his hands down to a couple of stumps while trying to slow down. Once again, I love my hands and I feel like keeping them. For that reason I wear gloves every time I ride, plus most gloves now come with knuckle protectors that look like they could dominate if I ever got in a fight with them :) I normally recommend full gauntlet style gloves, but sometimes when you are lacking in money it is ok to sacrifice a little and just get gloves that protect the hand and not necessarily the wrist. These Joe Rocket stage one gloves are about the price of a large pizza and they could save you a lot of pain and hospital time if you crash.
These Shift racing gloves (can you tell I like shift racing yet?) offer more protection than the Joe Rocket gloves I just listed, but they are about 15 dollars more.
These Alpinestars gloves are a decent compromise between the Joe rockets and the shift racing. The great thing about these gloves is they are ventilated on the top so you will get some nice airflow while you are riding. That can be a double edged sword if you are riding in the winter though!
Riding pants are one thing that most weekend warriors ignore, while the pro's would never ride without. If you crash your motorcycle you will most likely hit your knees and if you are lucky then you will slide onto your back and your butt. If you are wearing a jacket that can help with limiting the damage done to your skin, but if you are just wearing jeans then you are going to find it very tough to sit down for a few weeks at least! If you are dirt poor and you aren't doing too much aggressive riding, and you feel like you can take the risk in jeans, then at the very least you should get some knee pads to protect against road rash and broken knee caps.Alpinestars offers some pretty cheap knee pads that you could put on over or under your jeans, the only problem with them is they are a little bulky.
If you wanted some more expensive kneepads that are slimmer and would fit under the jeans better then I would suggest going with these Icon Field Armor Knee and Shin Guards. They come in at nearly 70 bucks, so if you are going to get them then you might as well through in a little bit more money to get some decent riding pants.
Firstgear offers some really great riding pants, in fact I have a pair of firstgear overpants that I ride in every day. The over pants are a bit more pricey coming in at nearly $170, too much money for this list, but these Mesh-Tex pants would be a great substitute.
If you really wanted some cheap overpants then I would take a look at Icons new ARC textile pants. They are pretty baggy which means you can wear them over your clothes if you want, or you can rock them by themselves. The best part is they come with some CE rated armor, so in my opinion they are the best buy for your money (plus the white ones look awesome!)
When riding a motorcycle you should definitely avoid sneakers or tennis shoes. I have seem multiple crashes on youtube where the rider was wearing some Vans or Nike's and as soon as he crashed his shoes flew off his feet like they had a plane to catch. At the very least I would recommend getting some decent work boots that go over the ankle. Ankle support is very important because that will often be the only thing keeping your ankle from snapping. Also keep in mind that when you crash the bike might be land on you making your foot the meat in a Motorcycle / Pavement sandwich traveling at 45 mph. That definitely wouldn't feel good, so try and get some leather boots that go over the ankle. If you don't already have some boots, here are some good boots that would work well on or off the bike.
If you go to http://motorcycle-superstore.com where I have linked to in this whole article be sure to check out the Close Out section. I found these icon boots in there that are normally $150 dollars for only $59.99. They obviously aren't super popular, but they offer much better protection than tennis shoes, or even those Set Up boots I just linked to. If you view this article a month or two from now they probably still won't be on sale, that is why I recommend checking out the close out section for the current deals.
So for $250-350 you can get suited up and be prepared for a crash that will most likely happen. There is a saying in the riding community that there are two types of riders: Those who have crashed, and those who haven't crashed yet. Out of all the riders I have met every single one of them has laid their bike down (crashed) at some point. For the lucky ones like myself it was alow speed crash only going 10-20mph, but I know a few that have gone down at 60-100mph! The ones that keep riding for years on end know the importance of the proper protection. Hell if you think about it, by spending a few hundred dollars now you will be saving yourself potentially thousands in surgery and rehabilitation ! Chicks may dig scars, but having huge chunks of scar tissue up and down your thighs as well as all over your hands and arms...That's just not sexy, period. The worse part about road rash is not actually the act of your skin being sanded off by the hot pavement, it actually happens when you get to the hospital. You see when you get road rash you will have bits and pieces of debris in your skin, and to prevent infection the nurses and doctors have to clean the wound.... with steel brushes. And no I'm not joking! Steel brushes scraping away on that nice fresh open wound. "Oh that's ok Ben," you say, "I'll be so high on morphine it won't matter!" No no my friend, one of the effects of pain killers is thinning of the blood, which the doctors don't want while cleaning your road rash, so they won't give it to you until AFTER it is all bandaged up. Just think about that for a second. Do you remember skinning your knee as a kid? That probably hurt pretty bad, now imagine if you skinned your whole forearm, and they have to rub steel brushes on it. That would suck! Maybe I'm a wuss, but I like my skin, so even if I am getting hot in my gear I would always rather sweat than bleed.