Maybe you took the Motorcycle Ohio class with the minimum long pants and long sleeves and borrowed one of their helmets, or you’re just trying to be ahead of the game gear-wise, below are some basic suggestions on beginner gear. The myth that motorcycling is an expensive habit DOES have some basis in truth, just as any good myth does! Motorcycling gear can get rather expensive rather quickly, however, a beginner rider can certainly gear up relatively inexpensively without sacrificing safety.
While learning in a parking lot after taking my test, I still didn’t have a “real” riding jacket. I don’t recommend waiting to get one. I also wore a 3/4 helmet for a long time. I HIGHLY suggest getting a full face. Better protection, better wind reduction, and you get used to the slightly less peripheral vision thing pretty quickly. On short or lower speed rides, I may not wear my heavy duty riding boots, but I do still cover my ankles and wear sturdy shoes.
The general idea for motorcycling stems from “Dress for the slide, not the ride.”
Meaning, the gear that you wear should protect a ride in the event of a crash, not just be fashionable or comfortable during riding. This can become a toss up when its 90 degrees outside and you’re stopped at a long stop light in the sun. However, it is proven time and time again that wearing AGATT (All Gear All The Time) has saved many a rider when they go down, be in their brain case or their skin, etc.
There are some pieces of equipment that you can go cheap right out of the gate and there are some things that you should invest in right away.
HELMET: A helmet should be your first priority. A DOT (or better yet ECE)-approved helmet should be on your rider gear list. We suggest getting a full face helmet with a shield (or goggles) for a multitude of reasons, however, DOT-approved helmets do come in 3/4 face as well. Helmets can cost anywhere from $80-600 for various features, innovations, and styles. No matter your financial situation related to buying gear, you should NEVER buy a used helmet. Helmets are designed for one thing, taking a SINGLE impact and dispersing it. Once. You oftentimes cannot tell a helmet has been in a crash if there are no exterior signs of impact. Don’t buy a used helmet.
RIDING JACKET: The second gearing on your list should be a quality, and purpose built, riding jacket. Unless it’s real leather, fashion motorcycle jackets are not built to withstand the abrasions a sliding rider will endure in a crash. However, leather jackets are highly recommended if that’s your thing and in your budget. Textile jackets with protective inserts can be had for around $110 and the inserts can often be changed between jackets when you ride a different style or change sizes.
BOOTS/GLOVES: Unlike in a car, your feet and hands are doing a lot more “stuff” when riding on a motorcycle. So, they need more protection, coupled with functionality. With that said, buying motorcycle riding specific boots or shoes is important to ensure proper grip on the ground when you mean to put your foot down and protection in the event you didn’t. Decent boots start around $80. At the very least, you should be looking for footwear with a sturdy rubber sole and over-the-ankle protection. Your hands also need good grip during the operation of the bike and in the unfortunate event of a crash. Don’t skimp on gloves. Textile riding gloves that feature protection for your knuckles and palms can start less than $25.
EYE PROTECTION: Lastly, but not least importantly, one of the things you shouldn’t just use your “regular” version of is glasses/eye protection. Regular sunglasses might work to keep the sun and some wind out of your eyes, but the faster you go, the more wind your glasses are going to be trying to hold back, especially if you don’t have a full face helmet. And regular sunglasses don’t wrap, so wind can just find its way into your eyeballs. If you wear contacts, they will dry out fast. Buy shatter-resistant (again, for the slide) moto-specific eye protection in the form of glasses or goggles to protect your eyes. You can get decent fog-proof protection for around $20-80. If you wear prescription glasses, you should try to find a full-face helmet with a tinted visor/shield.
Going beyond “basic” is where you can really find yourself spending more than the minimum $250-400 on beginner gear.
BEYOND: Chaps, full body textile riding suits, rain suits, communication devices, riding specific jeans/pants, an upgraded gear are all things you might find yourself interested in after you do a deep dive into motorcycling!