A Beginners Guide To Motorcycle Gear

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A Beginners Guide To Motorcycle Gear

A jacket covers the other stuff on your body that’s fragile and important. Arms, back, ribs, organs, all that fun stuff. You absolutely must choose a motorcycle-specific jacket for purposes of both safety and comfort. “Fashion” leather jackets and similar are not made to withstand either the windblast or crashes that real motorcycle jackets are built to deal with.

Motorcycle jackets fall into two categories: leather and textile. High quality textile materials like 1000 denier Cordura are able to resist abrasion as strongly as leather, while typically coming equipped with Gore-Tex or other water-resistant membranes capable of keeping you dry in bad weather. Leather looks the way you’d expect a classic “biker” to look though and jackets made from it typically last longer and fit more closely to the body. Textile jackets are often more affordable.

Both motorcycle-specific leather and textile jackets come with all sorts of features you won’t find elsewhere. Seams are doubled up multiple times to protect the stitching from abrasion and increase strength against bursting. They’re designed to fit snugly in high-speed wind blast. They can seal out cold air or let in cooling air via vents.

They also have body armor — impact absorbing material that cushions your most vulnerable parts in a crash. In order to be effective, that armor should come with a “CE” safety rating. You want it in the elbows, shoulders and back. Some jackets also fit chest protectors to protect your ribs, heart and lungs. Again, look for that “CE” rating, many jackets cut costs by simply including a piece of foam in place of a real back protector. Often, there’s a pocket shaped to fit a real back protector sold by the same company.

You want that jacket to fit snugly, but leave your arms free to articulate fully. Consider the style of bike you ride and choose a jacket cut to work in its riding position. Sport Bikes require you to hunch over, requiring some extra articulation for a jacket to be comfortable on them.

Then, think about what kind of weather you’ll most frequently be riding in. Jackets made from mesh, perforated leather or with lots of zip-open vents are good for warm weather, but not the cold or wet and vice versa.

Some jackets feature zippers around the bottom enabling them to connect to a pair of riding pants, forming a suit. Doing so better seals out the elements and helps the whole thing stay on in a crash, but those zippers often require matching tops and bottoms from the same company, sized correctly, to work.

Regular denim jeans will not protect you in a motorcycle accident.

Jeans that are either made from or include Kevlar panels offer slightly more abrasion resistance, but are still a compromise, offering nothing like the protection of a true pair of riding pants.

Like jackets, pants are available in leather or textile materials and should be equipped with CE-rated armor in the hips, shins and knees. They should fit snugly, but comfortable and allow full leg articulation. Try them on a bike, in a riding position close to that of your own to determine if they’ll work.

If you want to zip pants to your jacket, make sure the manufacturer advertises the compatibility of the pair. Identical names are a good hint here, but look a the circumference of the zipper (does it wrap fully around your waist or only partially) for a good idea of whether or not it will work. Again, you’ll typically need pants and jacket from the same manufacturer for this to work.

Beginner Motorcycles

Most street bikes weigh more than 350lbs. Frequently, they’re much heavier. You’ll need to support that weight and your own through your legs, ankles and feet on slippery, uneven, unpredictable surfaces. For that reason alone, a sturdy pair of boots with oil-resistant, non-slip soles and good ankle support should be considered a minimum.

Your feet and ankles are also very vulnerable in a crash, so you’ll want to protect them. To see what will happen to your feet in a crash in a given pair of footwear, grasp them by the toe and heal and twist. If the result doesn’t look like your foot would survive intact, then it probably won’t.

In a riding boot, you want soles that prevent that twisting. Frequently, that’s accomplished with a metal plate running through the sole. Strong heal and toe boxes also help lock your feet in and reduce the force of impacts to those areas. Armor over the ankle and shin protects those areas.

Any boot considered for riding a motorcycle should lace tightly to a point above the ankle. Anything less and it will likely fly off in an accident, offering zero protection.

Your hands are an awesome combination of extreme fragility combined with utter necessity. You need them to do stuff and they’re also the first thing to touch down in any crash. So you need to protect them. Motorcycle gloves should fully cover your fingers, palm, the back of your hands and your wrists. There should be significant overlap between glove and jacket so that you never see any skin exposed between the two.

In order for a glove to remain on your hand in a crash, it needs a retention strap around the wrist. Consider this feature a minimum entry point for any riding glove. After that, you want to look for strong, abrasion-resistant materials and strong, protected stitching. Materials like Kevlar are often spec’d for the stitching for their ability to resist abrasion and bursting.

Last, but not least is armor. While most motorcycle gloves spec armor for the knuckles, it’s actually the base of your palm that will impact in nearly any crash and which needs protection the most. Look for materials here that will slide rather than catch on the pavement and which can provide some impact protection. Armor anywhere else is welcome, but can cause the glove to bind or pinch your hand as you grip the controls. Make sure any glove you chose allows you to operate the controls on your bike unimpeded.

There’s nothing like a full, head-to-toe motorcycle suit for comfort and protection from both crashes and the elements. But, they also tend to be very expensive.

A good way to get started on a budget, is with a jacket and pants that zip together. This will allow you greater flexibility in the way you wear it, for instance allowing you to wear the jacket alone for a short trip, or zip into the full suit when it’s more appropriate.

One-piece suits typically allow more flexibility and movement than two-pieces, but at the expense of that versatility.

Same advice on armor and materials as the above items.

The most versatile, highest quality suit on the market is the Aerostich Roadcrafter, which, aided by a head-to-toe zipper, allows you to zip into and out of full protection in under 15 seconds, all while wearing your regular street wear underneath. It’s appropriate for commuters, tourers, adventure riding and pretty much everything else, but isn’t as appropriate as a one-piece leather suit for sport riding. Starting at just $727, it may even be more affordable than some jacket/pants combinations. Aerostich uses proprietary armor which isn’t CE-rated, but is an exception to the rule in that it’s still as safe as can be.

As mentioned above, motorcycle body armor protects you from impacts by absorbing energy that would otherwise be transferred to your joints, limbs and body.

Whether purchase separately or included in an item of riding gear, you want it to fit snugly in a manner which won’t see it shift or move around in a crash. It should be comfortable and not restrict movement in any way. Also think about its area of coverage, you want it to cover as much of you as possible. Some cheaper elbow protectors, for instance, don’t extend very far down your forearm while the real quality stuff does. Back protectors should cover everything from your coccyx to the base of your neck.

Those back protectors are available in two levels of safety: CE1 and CE2. CE1 is the less safe of the two, but protectors made to that lower standard are often lighter, more flexible, cheaper and breathe better. Protection you wear more often is better protection.

You can often upgrade the armor in an item of riding gear by ordering superior, but more expensive items and retrofitting them. To do this, check to see if the item of clothing features removable armor in Velcro pockets or similar. Because not all armor is of the same shape and size, ordering it from the same manufacturer as the item of clothing is typically necessary.

The most frequent upgrade you’ll perform is to the back protector. If you feel that your jacket or suit’s is sub-par, you can fit a better one in the pocket or simply opt for a strap-on item which you wear separately, under the jacket or suit. Strap-on protectors typically cover a greater portion of your body.

Everything Else
Other things to consider when thinking about riding gear are long underwear, earplugs and eye protection.

Long underwear is available in both summer and winter versions, the former working with your natural cooling process to better facilitate moisture wicking, keeping you cool and sweat-free. If you’re trying to stay warm, look for long underwear made with a wind-resistant membrane such as Gore Wind Stopper. You’ll be surprised at how many drafts get inside your gear in cold weather. Extend this protection to your feet, hands and head and neck to reap its full benefits.

The inside of a motorcycle helmet is as loud as a jet engine at highway speeds, so you’ll want to wear earplugs to maximize comfort and preserve your hearing over time. The RideApart staff swears by Howard Leight Max Lite earplugs, which are both comfortable and affordable.

You’ll likely also want to protect your eyes from glare and the sun. Wearing sunglasses inside a helmet can be tricky, so a tinted visor is the best option. You’ll need one specifically designed to fit your helmet. Always carry a clear visor with you if there’s even a slight chance you’ll be out after dark. Wearing a tinted visor at night is extremely dangerous, reducing your vision to an extreme degree.

Riding a motorcycle exposes you to extreme risk, variations in weather and requires your full concentration and physical ability. Luckily, motorcycle gear is available that can keep you safe in a crash, comfortable in any weather condition and it even reduces fatigue. As such, it should be considered a vital necessity when riding a motorcycle. Factor its cost into the overall price of purchasing a bike. There’s no such thing as not being able to afford good gear, reduce the price of the bike you’re buying until you can afford to buy the helmet, jacket, gloves, pants and boots necessary to ride it.

One of the things you’re buying into is also the motorcycle family. We’re here to help. Consider the comments section below an open invitation to ask us anything related to motorcycle gear. No question is stupid, no question is unwelcome, just ask it and we’ll help. Have we forgotten anything? Let us know about that too.

  • C.Stevens

    CycleGear sells a full leather one-piece riding suit for $200. I’d definitely look into one if I was just starting off riding.

    A Roadcrafter? When I started riding at 18, $800 was stupid money. I get that lots of new riders are professionals in their 40′s, though.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Yeah, I’ve seen as many people start out on F800GSs as I’ve seen on POS Ninja 250s. There’s a range of gear out there for that reason. And that $800 nets you a lifetime of safety and comfort and convenience.

      • Davidabl2

        $800? Helmet+gloves+armor+ boots AND abrasion-resistant body coverings? If & only if you’re a really, really good shopper. And in a place where the climate isn’t much different in winter and summer..is L.A. like that?

      • karlInSanDiego

        I wish motorcycle gear was lifetime. But it gets funky (or saturated with two stroke mung). Doesn’t mean I don’t pay top dollar for some gear, but 4-5 years is really long for most gear. Good news is, after 4 years, gear’s evolved, or you’ve changed your opinion about which gear you want/need, so this gives you the excuse to upgrade or try something new. Also, remember leather loses its tear resistance when it gets soaked (or so all the textile manufacturers like to say), so research your leather, condition it regularly, and don’t assume it’s still perfect 10 years down the road if you wear it in torrential rain.

    • Neon Mullet

      I’ve seen the suit you’re referring to – do you own one? I’ve been curious whether it’s any good

    • Davidabl2

      For somebody that doesn’t already have gear I think I’d advise them that they might think about getting gear that they’ll still wear when it’s hot, and add to it when it’s cooler. Full leathers and Roadcrafters may not cut it in warmer climes. Except for commuters with 10 hr. shifts who go in before it’s hot and leave work after it cools down.

      If in doubt, I wear mesh gear with a layer of Draggin’Jeans Kevlar underneath. I don’t trust the mesh, by itself but if it’s too damn hot to wear more at least I know I’ve always got something that carries knee/shoulder/elbow/back armor. Eye/chin/cranium/hands/ankle protection go without sayin’. Vitals and joints can’t do without ‘em. except maybe hips–protecting them gets too hot–and

      it’s a simple joint anyway. Unlike knees. Or neck–but I can’t quite bring myself to wear one of those Leatt braces on the street. Bottom line; If it’s too hot for gear it’s too hot to ride.

  • David

    What makes riding with sunglasses and a full-face helmet tricky? I have done this for years without ever having issues.

    Though I do agree that a tinted shield is nice, as it keeps the sun off the rest of your face as well.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      You have to go to all the trouble of finding glasses and a helmet that work together. Why bother when a $40 tinted visor works better?

      • Davidabl2

        Style? Necessity to carry a tinted shield for day and a clear at night? While there’s photo- chromatic sunglasses there don’t seem to be photo-chromatic visors. Though I don’t doubt
        that you’d be among the first to get them if there were :-)

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Bell has a license on that technology. It works super well, but Bells are a bit pricey for what you get.

      • Afonso Mata

        IMHO, buying a helmet with an integrated internal sun visor is the best option. On a lot of brands, it doesn’t add that much to the price of the equivalent helmet without it, and add versatility.
        For exemple, if (like me) you live on the West side of your city, on the back-home-commute, you’ll ride with the sun setting right in front of your eyes, so you really need a tinted visor. However, if the sun sets in the mean time, the tinted visor makes the night darker :P

      • Michael Howard

        I’ve never had much trouble wearing sunglasses with any of my helmets. So long as the bows are relatively straight they slide in pretty easily and I’m even able to remove them while I’m riding. Once a year or so I might snap them near the hinge if I’m careless.

      • Chris Cope

        Tinted visors are pretty much illegal in the UK. We’re stuck searching for sunglasses that work. I find a good place to start is at a place that sells gear for mountain bikers.

    • Lourens Smak

      Ehh, riding through tunnels maybe? the Alps for example have many tunnels, and it’s also a region where you would definitely want to wear sunglasses on sunny days…

      I have a Nolan N85 helmet that I like a lot (I seem to have a Nolan-shape head) and it has an extra sun-visor built-in. Works great! There are many other helmets with this feature, these days.

    • runnermatt

      I am near-sighted and don’t ever ride or drive without my prescription glasses. I also were a full face helmet (Shoei Quest). So I can provide a bit of insight. My temples (i.e. ear pieces) on my prescription polarized sunglasses are somewhat long and the inside of the back of the helmet tends to touch them and push the glasses forward so the nose pads are not tight to my nose. The problem with my normal prescription glasses is that the temples bow out and then back in at my ears. Obviously this also causes problems, worse than the sunglasses even. Depending on the day I either have to crack open the visor several times to adjust my glasses OR I never have to touch them. When I get new glasses I will take helmet fit into account.

      As for transitions lenses, I don’t like them. Depending on who made them they may not darken or lighten fast enough. Also, the ones I had years ago actually started to cause my eyes to suffer from light sensitivity. I would walk out of work to go to lunch and if the sun was bright and shiny I would get sharp pains in the corners of my eyes. Just my personal experience, I know many people who love their transition lenses.

      I love my polarized sunglasses though. They manage to cut through headlight glare and fog remarkable well. It has something to do with the way the polarizing of the lens filters light. In fairly dense fog my polarized glasses have made a difference between barely being able to see a car 50 yards way to being able to clearly see the same care (experimented while driving my car).

      If I am riding home and have my sunglasses on and it starts getting dark (1:15 one way commute time average) I simply find a spot to pull over and change glasses.

  • John Goddard

    What helmet is that in the lead image?

  • karlInSanDiego

    Glad you covered back protectors. Most riders either think it’s over the top or settle for that thin foam insert in their jacket that is a sad excuse compared to a full Knox protector with CE2 armor. I use the Gillette in the extra long factor. I was impressed by a track doctor who pointed out next to a helmet, the back protector is most likely to stop the accident from changing your life/ending your riding. If you buy a real protector with thickness that covers your shoulder blades and tailbone, it may fill your jacket to the next size up (especially considering layered shirts under in the winter), so I recommend researching your back protector, snag that, then use it when purchasing your jacket/suit. I also have the chest protector that came as an option with my Knox, that I wear more in the winter. When I wear all that, women pull their small children to the side as you walk past in the hardware store, as you start to look like a SWAT team member.

    • Davidabl2

      Some years ago I was told by a EMT in San Francisco that the two leading causes of motorcyclist’s death (from single injuries) were head trauma and chest compression, with the chest compression injuries stopping the heart. Anecdotal evidence maybe, I don’t know. I’ve never researched it, but if true it would seem that the track doctor was giving track-specific advice, rather than general street advice.

      • karlInSanDiego

        Interesting. So how to ward off chest compression with gear? My Knox Gilet does have a ~1 3/4″ chest guard, intended, like the back protector, to distribute the force from an impact. Not sure if that prevents compression.

  • Davidabl2

    re the above an analogy I sometimes think of is RPG computer games where the characters have those life-force gauges, and after the character takes a certain number of hits the gauge runs out, and the character dies.

  • Afonso Mata

    Great post!
    I just have 2 things to add:

    -On the ETC section, I think you guys forgot to mention Balaclavas. It’s one of my (and most European riders’) main pieces of gear: you don’t wanna ride without it when it’s cold. No matter how good your helmet is, your face will be frozen :P But since you guys are California based, i’ll let it slip ;)

    -On the Beginner Motorcycles section (and on the RideApart Buyer’s Guide, for that matter) you’re missing some of the best beginner bikes money can buy: Scooters.
    Yeah, I know, scooters are kinda whimpy and only kids, girls and pizza delivery dudes should be allowed to ride them. But no only they’re great for commuters and running errands ’round town, there are already some that you can almost ride like a “proper bike” on twisty roads and stuff, due to some improved chassis designs.
    Ok, ok the twist-and-go is not the riding experience you get from a proper gearbox, but you guys in America drive mostly automatic gearbox cars, don’t you? ;)
    Also, Scooter’s maintenance is usually cheaper than “proper bikes” (smaller tires = cheaper tires, drive belts are cheaper than chains/sprockets).
    For example, Yamaha’s T-max 500, Majesty 400 and X-Max 250, Suzuki’s Burgman 400/650, BMW’s C650 are great examples. Not to mention Italian stuff like Vespas’s GTS 300, Gilera Nexus 500 or the “almighty” Aprilia SRV 850.

    I know this may sound too much of an European point of view, and I’ve heard some hate comments like “Look at the ATGATT squid on the whimpy scooter! Ridiculous!”. I’m ok with that.
    I just think those corporate-three-piece-suit-guys that buy K1600GTs just for their 15 mile daily commute (believe me, you see a lot of those in Lisbon) would look a lot less ridiculous (and save some money) if they rode one of the scooters I mentioned ;)

    Anyhow, i’m missing the point: Great post helping beginners figure out some gear ;)

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      we love scooters!
      but after you respond to “what kind of motorcycle should I buy?” with “dude, you should totally get a scooter, they’re awesome!” a few dozen times, you learn that it’s the LAST thing people want to hear.

      • Martin Cron

        I really think that scooters should be included in the RideApart guide. They are at least as relevant to broader motorcycling culture as that freaky chopper thing that was featured last week.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          And they will be as we iterate our product over the coming months.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          you’re absolutely right and we’re working hard to get them included. I was more referring to why they might not make it into a “top 3-5 beginners motorcycles” list.

          • Afonso Mata

            Just for fun, and even if no one cares, what scooter/scooters would you include on your “top 5 beginner’s motorcycles” list? ;)


            • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

              Vespa GTS 300 is prob my top (if I wasn’t considering cost). It’s absolutely beautiful, can get up and go, and still gets pretty good mpg’s. The honda pcx150 is really impressive for the price.

          • Martin Cron

            Good to hear it. Looking forward to reading “Suspend Your Disbelief: Roman Holiday”

      • Tony Zimmerman

        I ride a Suzuki Burgman 650. While some may make fun of it, it goes like stink and I dare any motorcyclist to carry home a large 16″ pizza, bread sticks, and soda on a motorcycle without an addition of a trunk. As a matter of fact I have had more compliments and positive comments about my maxi-scooter than I ever did with my motorcycles. What I like the most is with its low center of gravity it is the most forgiving ride anyone could hope for. I also prefer having both brakes work from the handle bars as I can modulate the brakes better, though if you have ABS that probably wont matter.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          Getting one in later this week!

    • http://www.mikemchargue.com/ Mike McHargue

      I stared out on a 125cc Yamaha Zuma. I rode it for a year before moving into anything bigger. I’m glad I did it–scooters are a great way to learn the fundamentals.

  • stever


    There, now I feel like a pro internet commenter.

    Really tho I have ear canals like the Chunnel, so I need the fat blue Hearos to fill them up. If you do, too, it’s worth the extra twelve cents or whatever per plug to always have a good seal.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      you just made my day

    • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

      California Tight-pants Obama is going to by my new internet nom de guerre

  • Stacey

    What about the padded armour shorts that I see for sale on Revzilla ? Won’t those do anything for protection if its worn under a pair of jeans?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      You won’t fit them under a correctly sized pair of jeans and they still won’t give you abrasion protection.

  • david forsythe

    Let’s talk boots. I’ve been riding for about 5 years now and I’ve been wearing full grain leather combat boots for many more years than that. I ride scrappy, lightweight cruiser types mostly for leisure, so they’ve been fine for the most part. Fights tight, up over the ankle, decent ankle support, thick sole and I don’t give a shit if it scuffs the toe on the shifter.

    Recently, I was taking a Lee Parks clinic and got into much steeper lean angles than I was used to and forgot step 1, so my boot was hanging a bit over the side of the peg when I dragged the peg. This pulled my foot off the peg and twisted it around a little. The bike stayed up and got through the , but I ended up with a decently painful high ankle sprain and some mild ligament strain.

    Would a pair of proper motorcycle boots have anything in to prevent that? I don’t see what could possibly be that different between my Bates boots and some Sidis with the plastic bits on the outside, but I’ve never even tried any on.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      you used the phrase “decent ankle support” and I think you were probablyt referring to the amount of ankle support we typically need for activities like hiking.
      As you experienced, you need quite a bit more ankle support when dealing with an object 2, 3, and 4 times your body weight and speeds far faster than your body is supposed to move…oh, and concrete.
      A real motorcycle boot is going to offer, if my math is correct, about 1.48 million times more support to keep your foot from doing that (they feel like wearing ski or snowboard boots to me).

      • Zach

        In my shopping experience, anything from a major boot maker that retails for under $250 seems to be lacking the structural components necessary to prevent serious lateral or torsional movement of the ankle. Furthermore, and I know you guys touch on this often, you will often end up with an ostentatious or gimmicky looking boot for that price. Why do I have to wear a race boot to get real ankle protection?

        • david forsythe

          Agreed. I keep finding boots that say they are motorcycle boots, but they don’t look that much different than my good old combat boots.

          I’m going to see if I can get some eyes on some Sidi On-Road boots. They don’t look like much, but the blurb says “Internal ankle protection” but I don’t know if that’s impact, torsional or both.


          • Zach

            I ended up with the Dainese TRQ Tour. Maybe a bit overpriced, but they serve me well.

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          we were saying the same thing about jackets two years ago. all I can say is that I hope this area starts getting some more attention.

  • Piglet2010

    OK, if Snell is so bad, why do I have to have a Snell 2010M lid for most track schools and track days?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Because DOT is only a minimal legal standard and something more is needed for anything track-like. You’ll find they accept ECE 22.05 as well.

      • Piglet2010

        In that case I can remove the visor from my $125 Fly Racing Trekker lid and use it at track days. :)

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Yes, you could.

  • Geoffrey

    Is it preferable to remove remove armor in a jacket and wear something like a forcefield pro shirt that also protects your chest and back? http://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/forcefield-pro-shirt

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      No. Wearing a separate under garment is extremely inconvenient. Just strap on a back protector and install chest protectors in the provided jacket pockets.

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Sorry, but most riding pants that are not leather are pretty much snowboard pants that fit better with armor. I do not want to look like a Fooking power ranger on my daily commute. The only time I want to look like a Power Ranger is when Im at the track

    • specialist8

      I feel the same way. I wish there were better options that didn’t look like you were going to Aspen on your Chicago commute.

  • Wolfgang Romero

    So, no Draggin’ or Maple Motorcycle Jeans (Fitted with really nice forcefield armor I understand) as a daily commuter pants??

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Nothing beats real motorcycle pants. Nothing.

      • Wolfgang Romero

        Got it! Thanks

  • Geoffrey

    Have you guys ever thought of doing something like, best motorcycle gear for street/touring/adv/moto-x/commuting/etc at $300, $600, $900+

    A good example of this is perhaps thewirecutter.com

    I feel with all the options available, it could be overwhelming. Just tell us the best gear to get, and we can be done with it. A fun category could be, best gear to get laid with. This could be stylish gear that looks normal, Roland Sands jacket with armor inserts, dainese jeans, TCX converse looking boots.

  • JerseyRider

    Is $280 for a 3 year old aerostich on craigslist a good price?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Does it fit you? Is it in good condition? Has the previous owner pissed himself in it?

      • JerseyRider

        To be honest I never got a chance to find out. The guy ended up being super shady. He wanted me to go to some apartment complex in the middle of the night to try on the suit. I’ll be the first to admit that you guys here at RideApart have me completely sold on the riding with full gear thing. But I didn’t want to risk my life just so I could say, “Wes isn’t the only one with a super cool riding suit” lol.

  • Geert Willem van der Horst

    You guys really made me think about the icon Airmada. The only options I used to consider were Arai, Shoei en Schuberth. I wasn’t set out to limit my budget on something as important as a helmet. But if the Airmada is as good as you say it is, it just seems silly to spent the big bucks on something like a Shoei GT-Air or an Arai Quantum ST.

    Still not entirely confinced though… does it really stack up to these helmets?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Well, it has a plastic shell so the vents and whatnot don’t feel as fancy. Other than that, yes, it is right up there with those helmets in terms of comfort and quality and all that stuff.

      • Geert Willem van der Horst

        Thanks Wes. But what about lifespan?

        It’s my understanding that you should replace a plastic shell helmet after 3 years where you can stretch the use of a fiberglass helmet to more than 5 years. That means that a part of the price advantage will evaporate….

        That said, I’ve been using my Arai for way too long now (over 8 years)… but every new helmet feels weird.

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          No. The 5-years lifespan of a helmet is determined by the glue used to bond the layers of styrofoam to each other. It’s irrelevant to use, but plastic will actually last longer than fiberglass due to UV decay in the latter. Carbon fiber will degrade even sooner. But, in all three cases, we’re talking 10 years or more for the shells.

          • Geert Willem van der Horst

            And how much for the glue? Does the quality of the glue (and/or the styrofoam??) differ within the different brands? Or would you say that every helmet has the same life span of approximately 5 years?

            • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

              All helmets are made pretty much the same. That’s one of the reasons we don’t see a lot of value in the high price brands. Five years is a good rule across all motorcycle helmets.

              • Geert Willem van der Horst

                Thanks! As far as I can tell there’s only one shop in the whole (…) of The Netherlands wich sells Icon helmets, but I will definately try an Airmada.

  • Daniel

    Hopefully someone reads this…but I need some advice on the Icon helmets. Since I’ve realized ECE is the way to go (over Snell) I’m trying to decide between the Alliance and the Airmada. Making the choice harder…they aren’t too different price wise. Fit aside, I understand the Airmada will flow a bit more air…but the materials seem to be just about the same. Is it down the style and the “aggressiveness” of the fit on these? Any other notes to help me narrow it down?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The Airmada is a little better ventilated, uses a new style visor and its fit is slightly updated over the Alliance. Both are great helmets.

      • Daniel

        Thanks for the input Wes! I went ahead and ordered up a Alliance Dark (purely for value reasons) that should be getting to me at the end of the week. If I end up enjoying it, I’ll pick up a Airmada as well.

  • KatKat

    Just one question – Do you know of any companies that make boots from synthetic leather or other materials only (preferably in Australia)? I’m getting a trail bike for my first bike but the only boots I can find all have leather in them.

  • Giff

    I find #8 a little odd.

    Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t want to take narcotics, then don’t. But to write them off and categorically advise others away from them isn’t really fair.

    First off, there’s a reason there’s so many narcotic pain killers on the market. They might all be classified as narcotic, but that doesn’t make them the same at all. They’re all chemically unique and therefore work differently. And since everybody is a little different, they work differently on everyone, too.
    I’m no expert on usage, by any means. I don’t abuse pills but I’ve required a few surgeries in my time so in rare cases they’ve been available. Codeine has almost no effect on me. Morphine has absolutely no effect on me. Vicodin does little and makes me feel slightly ill. Percocet is a gift from god himself as far as I’m concerned.

    Like I said, I’m not explicitly endorsing the use of narcotic pain killers, I’m just not supporting their across-the board condemnation. If anyone has a reason specifically they dislike them (hypersensitivity, prone to addiction, etc) that’s fine.

    But if you’ve had specific bad experiences with specific prescriptions, you may just need an alternate prescription.

  • http://www.phnxboards.com/ James McAllister

    Safety is one issue that I have no problem being heavily regulated. Those fellows with the little skull cap style helmets are asking for trouble… why would you wear cheap snowboard gear while traveling at high velocities? Come to think of it, why don’t snowboarders wear helmets either? Thanks for providing some good, safe options!