Shopping for motorcycle gear
One of the best ways to shop for motorcycle gear would be to walk into a store to get your correct "snug" sizing/fitment and then purchase from said store, or take your sizing chart and shop online for better pricing/availability.
Expensive = Higher quality & overall protection
1. Jackets - Leather & Textile, it is highly recommended to own a leather jacket over textile. Leather is abrasion resistant and will protect your skin much more efficiently than textile material ever could during a slide. Leather jackets tend to come with higher quality CE rated armor in the shoulders and forearm area. Most jackets these days come with armor inserts for the back and chest protectors, though they are usually filled with foam padding that is considered "garbage". When possible, remove the foam inserts and upgrade them with CE rated chest pad & back protectors. The difference is phenomenal. CE certified is a European standard and it basically means replace after one use, although there have been cases where CE certified lasts longer than the first initial impact, regardless CE certified is better than a T-shirt or foam padding, and is affordable. However, if you choose textile you can at least upgrade the armor in most of the jackets and it will be much cooler to ride in, temperature wise.
2. Riding Pants - There are various options to choose from, leather, textile, and armored jeans. For your average commuter leather pants may be too much hassle to deal with but will offer the best protection. Textile pants and armor jeans are the way most people tend to go, they are most comfortable and you get a good breeze. Some textile options will come with armor in them, but this is most likely more foam padding. The armor jeans will actually have decent hard armor in the knee and possibly hip area as well, all while looking like normal jeans. Most leather pants, unfortunately, do not have inserts to upgrade the armor, they are as is, but depending how you buy, the armor should be good to go.
3. Gloves - These are important when it comes to riding in order to protect the hands that operate the main controls. There are many types of gloves you can buy from leather with no armor to leather with many armor and slide features to leather gauntlets. Typically it is a good idea to invest in gloves with a decent bit of armor to protect your knuckles and palm in case of debris hitting your fist or sliding across the asphalt. There are short sleeve gloves, very convenient to have, and there are gauntlet style gloves, longer on the wrist to add more protection. Gauntlet style are usually more expensive but offer more protection and comes with better features, such as stitching to connect the pinky finger with the adjacent finger preventing separation, wider wrist protection, palm sliders, and finger padding. Always try to buy leather gloves because if you are sliding, you're most likely going to be grabbing at the ground to slow yourself down.
4. Riding Shoes & Boots - Whether its riding shoes or riding boots, either one works well for standard riding conditions. Riding shoes are more realistic for the commuter rider, they are more comfortable to walk around in all day and offers decent protection incase of a fall. Riding boots offer better protection than riding shoes, such as toe sliders (some riding shoes have toe sliders), a tougher constructed shell, leather material all around, but are not as practical as riding shoes if the intended purpose is to go to work, school, then gym.
5. Helmets - It goes from bucket style to full face. This will be the most important purchase you can make because a helmet is required in most areas as well as protecting your head. Depending on your riding style you can shop for your style helmet, people who ride Cruisers tend to shop for the bucket style helmet which only covers the top half of the head, however, there are many Cruiser riders that wear full face as well. Almost every single Sport Bike rider in the world wears a full face helmet. There is a misconception about full face helmets. Some people will argue that you lose your ability to hear your surroundings in a full face, not true. You will have poor visbility of your surroundings, not true. A full face does not protect your head efficiently, seriously not true. While wearing a full face helmet you are able to hear and see perfectly fine as well as having protection around your entire head. Helmets can get very expensive but the more expensive a helmet is due to the options, example; helmet design, carbon fiber material, etc. As long as your helmet is D.O.T. approved you are fine and can buy a brand new helmet as cheap as $80, bucket or full face. The obvious pros to choosing a full face over a bucket are; no bugs/debris hitting your face, if you fall and your face happens to roll right over an object like a rock, the full face will protect you as opoosed to the bucket, and your chin and every single part of your lower face is protected.
- If you shop the popular brand names such as Alpinestars, Dainese, Spidi, you will pay a decent price for the gear but remember you still get what you paid for. Popular brands tend to have excellent quality as well as style and customer service.
Average minimum to maximum price ranges;
- Textile Jackets ($150-$280)
- Leather Jackets ($340-$699)
- Textile Pants ($100-$180)
- Leather Pants ($150-$480)
- Armor (Kevlar) Jeans ($80-$280)
- Plain Leather Gloves ($25-$50)
- Leather Armor Gloves ($70-$115)
- Leather Gauntlet Gloves ($100-$400)
- Riding Shoes ($90-$275)
- Riding Boots ($100-$290)
- Helmets ($80-$3,600)
Track/Race Gear Breakdown
The gear mentioned above are suited well for casual/commuter/spirited rider type people, does not mean enthusiast/track riders cannot manage in them either, but this segment will separate the more casual gear from track gear.
1. Track/Race Helmets - Helmets that were designed for the track differ from your normal sport tourer helmet, due to the savings made in weight, and a wider visual range. When in a full tuck a rider must have a higher visability on the horizon of his helmet, this is a feature in a track helmet that you will not find in a standard helmet.
2. Track/Race Jackets & Pants- These race jackets & pants have all the best in them as well as an aerodynamic speed hump on the back of the jacket. These can come in a two-piece or one-piece race suit. The two-piece is able to zip together to form a one-piece. The pants come with better armor placements around the knee as well as knee sliders so that the rider may drag his/her knee on the ground through a corner at an extreme lean angle. It is crucial when shopping for race suits that you get accurate sizing/fitment, a wise bearded man said, "too loose and you aren't properly protected, too tight and you slide wrong". Be sure to try one the suit before purchase.
3. Track/Race Gloves - Track gloves will always be a gauntlet style glove with all of the best protective & flexible features on that it can offer. There really is not much to say, they are fitted with nearly the best when it comes to palm sliders, knuckle protection, wrist cuffs, superior leather stitching, finger padding, finger to finger connection. They fit like a glove and are comfortable to operate the controls with whilst offering the highest protection you can have at the same time.
4. Track/Race Boots - These boots will cover more than your feet and ankle, they offer protection all the way up your shin leg area. They have a very solid construction and can also aid the rider with gripping onto his bike while leaning far over for a corner. There isn't much to say they offer great protection.
Track/Race Gear Price Breakdown:
Average minimum to maximum price ranges;
- Track/Race Helmet ($500-$3800)
- Track/Race Suits 1-2 Piece ($750-$2800)
- Track/Race Gloves ($250-$450)
- Track/Race Boots ($160-$500)
Once again, there is a lot of information left out, this is just entry level-ish to get an idea of which angle you want to lean in. There are obviously way more brands than the ones I mentioned that have much to offer as well. Each person will have their own experience of what they buy, you may end up spending a lot of money and not get entirely what you paid for. Sometimes you just happened to get a bad batch. These things happen, however, most companies tend to have excellent customer service and will gladly replace your defected products free of charge, in my experience at least.