This is my second season riding. I was just pondering this question in my mind.
I bought HJC helmet, SS gloves & Jacket (Fit great!), Tourmaster overpants (cheap) and a pair of steel toe boots (because I’m size 4E and motorcycle boots aren’t made for my feet unless I go up 2 full sizes!). All gear came from local dealers (except the boots, but I knew my size). Each piece had it’s own lesson.
1) HJC CL-15 Helmet has been great, but you get what you pay for. Since I don’t ride a lot, I haven’t noticed the helmet getting any looser, but those wind vents in the top reduce air flow, not increase it in my experience. On a hot day in California I close them to get circulation around my face. Can anyone confirm this experience? Also, a tinted visor costs a little extra and is a MUST HAVE.
2) Gloves and Jacket must fit well and I tried everyone in the store. I bought Speed and Strength on fit alone and toss pocketbook caution to the wind. That same jacket is now on clearance for $300+ less than what I paid on some websites. But having not tried the jacket on, I would not have bought from a website not knowing my size. Its a fair price for knowing it fits and not waiting whole season for a great deal. What was I gonna do, wear a T-shirt and shorts during my newbie phase? My other observation is that I have lost weight, roughly 1″ off my chest and waist. The Jacket still fits well, but I have now dropped a size and if I were to shop again I’d rather go to the store and test fit it before buying to see which size I’d rather have wrapped around my body. I am also more open to the idea of textile now that I have learned more. Even if leather can be used after a crash, would you want to ride around with a damaged jacket and wondering if the seams are still good for one more? I figure it’s all one use and replace under ideal circumstances.
3) I didn’t think I needed pants till I meet a one legged motorcyclist. I rather like my legs. Not sure what to get, as I did not have the money for matching leather pants for my wonderful jacket, i picked up a pair of inexpensive textile tourmaster pants. They fit fine, but lack any attachment for the jacket. I added a belt for confidence. They are waterproof, but don’t have a removable liner and don’t breath on hot days. My leather jacket is cool and refreshing compared to my pants on a hot day. They will be replaced, but my first trip out I melted the inside of the leg on the exhaust pipe. The benefit of my first pair being inexpensive is that I did not cry!
4) For boots, i’ve spent years wearing oversized shoes and hating them. I finally got sized as 4E wide and now can’t bring myself to go back to buying multiple sizes up. However, this leaves me with a limited choice of hiking and industial work shoes. I choose steel toe electrician boots, but while the soul and toe are sturdy and offer a 6″ top, ankle protection is modestly minimal with only leather between my joint and…. I don’t know what I’m gonna do yet, but I can tell you this. As a teenager I was in a dirt accident and my tennis shoes wear torn off my feet, so boots are a must have.
I think as far as doing things differently go, as I learned my lessons with each piece I buy, my only regret is that I still haven’t got myself a bike yet. I had visions of SV650’s or Ninja 650r’s when i started. But my wife’s S40 has been my loyal steed. I wonder if I look silly in a SS sport jacket riding her crusier? I’ll never know, since all I see is the open road!