Bike Brands for Newbie Gear
March 4, 2010 at 5:23 am #3737WetmelonParticipant
Do you guys have any general recommendations for beginner gear? I found a good list of places online that have deals in one of the other threads, so the plan is to go to the store, try it on, then buy online. But what brands are quality, which are cheap, and which are good for beginners? I’ve never heard of any of them!
I’m 6’2″ with large hands and feet (12.5 shoe) and I wear glasses if that makes any difference for the helmet.
I need a DOT approved helmet, long sleeved jacket, long pants, leather boots over the ankleMarch 4, 2010 at 7:25 am #24769kirkParticipant
I’m 6’0″ and I like Joe Rocket for gloves and jackets. Not too expensive and they fit great. I usually get my gear at a local shop but I also go online through Kneegraggers.com
As for helmets I’m partial towards HJC. Again, affordable and they fit great.
While Icon makes some nice gear, their sizing sucks. It tends to run too small. Happy ridingMarch 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm #24773
Their gear is not the absolute highest quality and won’t last forever, but the price is right and it WILL protect you. One unique thing about their jackets is that other brands don’t offer is a lot more adjustment, enough to allow the jacket to grow or shrink a LOT if you happen to gain or lose weight. I bought a Joe Rocket Atomic 3.0 textile jacket (their lowest-end textile jacket–currently on sale at newenough.com for like $70.00) as my first riding jacket. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money because I was planning on losing weight which meant going down a size. At the time I weighed a whopping 335 lbs and the jacked fit me ike a glove with all of the adjustments on max. I still have that jacket today despite the fact that it has protected me through two low speed crashes and it is still in remarkably good shape overall. The best part however is that despite the fact that I have lost 60 pounds since then, the jacket with all its adjustments tightened up STILL fits me well (although I am now getting to the point where it’s starting to get too big for me even with adjustments tightened up).
All Joe Rocket gear is built with lots of adjustment and lots of ventilation in mind. With the vents on that jacket opened up I can ride comfortably in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees.
That being said, they won’t last forever. They use cheap zippers and the stitching is, lets just say, far from premium. But they are the best in entry level gear.
Also, ICON, a higher-end gear manufacturer who makes gear specifically for the street rider, has a textile jacket called the Merc textile jacket currently on closeout for like $85.00 from virtually any online gear retailer. It doesn’t have the versatility or adjustability of the Joe Rocket jackets but it’s far better where raw safety is concerned.
For helmets I would go with a Scorpion EXO-700. If you’re anything like most beginners then you probably can’t afford to spend more than $200 or so on a helmet (although if you can, that’s great) and the Scorpion EXO-700 is THE best helmet in the under $200 price range. HJC and KBC (the other two major budget helmet brands) don’t even come close in quality to the Scorpion helmet line.
My recommendation if you’re on a budget:
Joe Rocket Atomic 3.0 or ICON Merc textile jacket (both under $100 currently on sale). OR if you are willing and able to spend more, newenough.com and sportbiketrackgear.com has some nice Scorpion LEATHER riding jackets on sale for just a bit over $150.00. The Stinger and All-In specifically.
Scorpion EXO-700 helmet (roughly $200.00 or less if you get one of the color patterns currently on sale from sportbiketrackgear.com)
You can find good quality gloves from any reputable manufacturer on sale for undr $50.00 if you know where to look. Newenough.com has some nice Joe Rocket warm-weather riding gloves with knuckle protection on sale for less than $20.00.
Footwear won’t be as easy because whenever they go on sale, the ‘common’ sizes sell out REAL quick. You can expect to pay anywhere from $90.00 to $150.00 for a decent pair of riding boots if your shoe size is anywhere from 9-13 US (the common sizes) because you’ll never find sale items anywhere in that size range. I personally use Tourmaster Solution WP waterproof boots (roughly $130.00) but I have found that when it comes to footwear, anything that’s waterproof will roast you in hot weather. It’s best to forego waterproofing for ventilation if you ride mostly in temperature exceeding 85 degrees. Personally i feel that the ICON Field Armor boots (roughly $130.00) offer the highest degree of protection and all-day comfort for the price. Sportbiketrackgear.com has some Teknic boots for pretty cheap too, with the Violator boots (roughly $180.00) being probably the best deal in riding footwear going right now.
Finally we have leg protection. Let’s face it. If you’re a street rider and you ride often, then buying dedicated riding pants which you only own one pair of is not the most practical solution, although it is the safest. A good compromise would be to buy leg armor such as the Icon Field Armor leg armor or the Alpinestars leg armor and wear it under your jeans. You won’t QUITE have the same degree of protection as you would with dedicated riding pants, but it’s a good compromise between protection, affordability, and practicality.March 4, 2010 at 4:50 pm #24774briderdtParticipant
But… I see that what you’re listing there are generally the requirements for the MSF basic class. That’s pretty much all they require, as your max speed in any drill is 20mph, and most of the time a fair bit less. The long-sleeved jacket required for the class is NOT defined as an armored motorcycle jacket (same with the pants). They just want your skin covered with SOMEthing.
But when you get out on the street, wear full gear.March 4, 2010 at 5:16 pm #24775stuParticipant
don’t be afraid to buy from the local shop, it helps keep them in business and you never know when you might need themMarch 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm #24776
I do buy from the local shop when I’m in a pinch, but the problem is that dealers often charge 30% or MORE than online retailers or even Cycle Gear. The day after I bought my Joe Rocket Atomic 3.0 jacket from a local dealer for $180 I looked online and saw that it sells for only $120.00. That feeling of knowing I paid too much for it SUCKED.March 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm #24779JackTradeParticipant
For the MSF, they just want exposed skin covered, mostly for liability reasons. Speeds are pretty low, so a fall won’t USUALLY seriously hurt you (though it DOES happen…I’m sure Allen has some stories that will shock/dismay us).
But for the real world, you need real protection.
Fortunately, as Briderdt says, there’s no such thing as beginner gear…provided you keep certain things in mind, most name-brand, made-for-motorcycling gear is a good choice for ANY rider.
Some basic, overall hints (others have covered the details very well so far):
Helmets: Recommend full-face, and don’t buy anything that isn’t DOT rated at the least. Always buy new, never used.
Jackets: Look for jackets with internal amor, preferrably CE rated. Textile is good, leather is better.
Pants: A good solution for everyday riding is to buy overpants that you can wear over your regular pants.
Gloves: All leather is the best choice.
Boots: Look for boots that have internal protection for your ankle. Most motorcycle-specific boots will.March 5, 2010 at 12:39 am #24783SantaCruzRiderParticipant
I’d wager that you’ll find proponents of nearly every brand carried by the big MC web sites. A lot will have as much to do with fit and style, as anything else. There are some brands that are higher end (Aerostitch, Shoei, Olympia, maybe Alpinestars). Then there are value leaders. like First and some of no-names on LeatherUp.
I’d recommend ignoring the brand until you find one that fits, and instead focus on how it feels when you try it on, how it fits you, and whether it’s something comfortable enough so that you will wear it ALL the time.
Ultimately, an $80 jacket you wear for every ride is much better than a $500 one that sits at home. Of course if the luxury label inspires you to wear it and show it off, then the example will be reversed.March 5, 2010 at 2:22 pm #24786IBA270Participant
Really good advice here, for sure. There is no such thing as beginner gear. While I understand that gear is expensive, and you may or may not become addicted to motorcycling like many here, you really DO want to invest in good, comfortable gear AND WEAR IT!!!
JackTrade; every now and again, you see some pretty wacky stuff! Weirdest was a woman coming into the braking zone on the test…she started screaming and pulled her hands off the bars to cover her eyes as she comleted a spectacular low side. I saw it unfolding…I was of course powerless to do anything. Bike and rider survived with no damage.
“;-o>March 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm #24787
But if you’re anything like I was, and like almost everyone I know was, you didn’t have much left over after buying the bike itself and the helmet to invest in top of the line gear, and you probably don’t have the patience to save up for it either knowing you have a perfectly good, ridable bike in the garage/driveway. That will only encourage you to ride without gear at all. That being said, there IS such a thing as “entry level” gear for people who want the basic protection necessary to learn in safety but don’t want to invest lots of money into gear before they truly know whether or not riding is for them. It is for those people, and for the people who don’t have much left over after buying the bike, that I put my list together for. it sure beats the hell out of riding without any gear at all which is exactly what will happen if you try to hold off on buying the gear until you have enough money for the *good* stuff.
The basics are: A DOT/ECE approved full-face helmet (I still say Scorpion is the best in the entry level price range), an affordable textile jacket (leather is better but if you’re considering leather, stick to what’s on sale/closeout at this point), gloves with knuckle protection, leg armor or overpants, and boots.March 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm #24792eonParticipant
I agree with everything WZ says (part from the part about gloves needing knuckle protection). Buy what you can afford and upgrade as you go along. But don’t spend all your money on the bike and leave nothing for gear.
About those gloves, my Steve Held gloves are considered to be in the high end bracket but do not have knuckle protection, or at least hard protection. Plenty of touring gloves do not have the hard parts on the back. Does this sacrifice protection for comfort? I don’t think so, or at least not significantly.March 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm #24794briderdtParticipant
I wasn’t saying that “there’s no such thing as beginner gear” to say that you had to spend a lot of money to protect yourself — far from it. I got head-to-toe protection for less than $250, and none of it was used. Shop the closeouts and online (though the helmet may be a sticking point for that). Newenough.com, Leatherup.com, MotorcycleSuperstore.com, ComptetitionAccessories.com… all good places to check.March 5, 2010 at 7:29 pm #24795Gary856Participant
My theory on glove protection is that hands and fingers are “soft parts” that are knocked out of the way upon impact, so soft armor is enough to cushion the initial impact and protect againt the subsequent light abrasion force. On the other hand, “hard parts / pivot joints” such as elbows/hips/knees tend to stay in place and grind against pavement, so hard armor is needed for heavy abrasion force.March 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm #24797eonParticipant
Never thought of it that way before but it sounds about right, though I would replace “abrasion” with “impact” in most of what you said. I think hard parts (with padding) do a great job of spreading the initial impact across a wider area. Areas like your knees, elbows and shoulders are going to hit hard with a lot of weight behind them. Just can’t see that scenario with the back of your hand (unless your bike falls on you). More important for gloves is abrasion resistance. I can easily see a situation where your hands are palm down sliding down the road. In that case you want gloves that are not going to come apart at the seams after 2 seconds.
Working with computers for a living my hands are important to me so my Steve Held gloves were actually part of my initial outfit. At around $170 they might have been the most expensive single item I bought. I shudder at the thought of wearing $25 gloves. I now have two other pairs of gloves that do have hard knuckle protection and while they help my fantasies of punching the cager who cuts me off, I don’t think they offer much more in the way of crash protection.March 5, 2010 at 8:47 pm #24798RabParticipant
Tourmaster/Cortech make decent gear for good prices.
HJC make highly rated (DoT & Snell) inexpensive helmets; look for a CL-15 on close-out.
Gloves? I’ve had two unscheduled get-offs. On the first, the hard knuckle protector on my gloves was dented leaving my own knuckle unharmed. On the second, I was wearing Winter Gloves with no hard armour and injured my finger. I’d go with the hard armour.
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