ATGATT On A Budget

Gear -


ATGATT On A Budget

High-End — Just Under $3,000 Gear Package

Schuberth SR1
Schuberth SR1

Helmet: Various — $900

Vying for whizz-bang helmet honors right now are the Schuberth SR1 and AGV Corsa. Both are ECE-certified, incredibly light, offer excellent ventilation and peerless vision. Try them on and see which fits best. If you want something a little more touring or commuting oriented, check out the Schuberth S2 full-face and C3 Pro flip-front.

Racer R-Safes
Racer R-Safes

Gloves: Racer R-Safes — $260

If you’re riding a sportbike, go straight for the Racer R-Safes, which provide superior protection to anything else out right now. Whatever you ride, you’ll likely end up with a variety of gloves designed to suit various conditions. Again, think about palm protection and try to stick with full gauntlets that provide impact protection for your wrists, too.

Dainese Manis
Dainese Manis

Back Protector: Dainese Manis — $210

Like the crumple zone on a car, this back protector is designed to be crushed in an impact, absorbing forces that could injure you. It’s also unprecedentedly flexible and comfy, so it’ll work no matter what you’re riding and whatever you wear it with. Also consider adding chest protection, which covers important body parts like your heart and lungs.

Aerostich Roadcrafter
Aerostich Roadcrafter

Suit: Aerostich Roadcrafter — $967+

Have yours custom made so it fits you perfectly and add the chest and hip protectors to maximize comfort. Also tick the box for the “competition back pad” which provides a huge area of coverage. This suit will last a lifetime and provides massive protection that zips on and off in 10 seconds.

If you’re sticking to sportbikes, check out our Best Value Leather Race Suits Guide and pick the one that strikes your fancy.

Dainese Carroarmatos
Dainese Carroarmatos

Boots: Various — $500

If you’re into ADV riding, check out the Dainese Carroarmatos. If you’re riding a sportbike, we like the Dainese Axial Pro Ins, you can’t beat their protection and they fit under jeans. If you’re commuting and touring, we like the Aerostich Combat Touring Boots, which like that suit, are going to last a lifetime and just get the safety and comfort job done in an understated, low key way.

What gear at a budget price do you recommend for safety and value?

  • Ian Betts

    FWIW – you’re showing the Dianese Super Speed Textile, not leather. MSRP on the textile is $350 us vs $800 for the leather version

  • Justin McClintock

    You know, I’ve never really added up the cost of all my gear. I started to after reading this article. Then I stopped. I don’t think I want to know. Might scare me. You get into motorcycling realizing that it’s not the cheapest hobby in the world, but once you’re in with both feet, you usually don’t realize just how much money you’ve actually got tied up in it.

    • Joe Bielski

      LOL, I did the same…. it’s worth more than my bike….

    • Doug Herbert

      I didn’t really notice how much gear I had accumulated till it was time to clean the garage. I feel like I’m just now getting to where I have a decent set of gear. Looking around, I saw that I have four jackets (probably about $1000 total), three helmets (roughly $300), two sets of boots ($250), two sets of gloves ($100), and a rain suit ($60). Total amount is roughly $1710.

      My wife has a helmet ($150), two jackets ($300), gloves ($60), boots ($80), and a rain suit ($60). Fortunately with her, we bought pretty good stuff the first time around, but have still spent $650 just getting the basics.

      So between the two of us, we have spent $2360 on gear over a period of about 5 or 6 years. I don’t feel bad about it at all. We put a bike down at about 20 MPH, doing ATGATT, picked ourselves up, picked the bike up, and rode home. Pretty sore the next day, but two or three days later we were just fine.

      Not really gear, but we have added GPS to two of the bikes ($150 for one bike, $650 for the other), and we bought Sena communicators ($275). I also carry about $200 worth of tools on long trips. This brings our “money spent on biking that wasn’t bikes or gas” total up to about $3500. This is an expensive hobby!

      As far as continuing to improve gear, neither of my sets of boots are fantastic, and I was thinking about a new helmet in the next year, jumping up to a Shoei, Arai, or Schuberth.

    • Ayabe

      Yeah it’s kind of sickening, definitely not something you want to volunteer to the wifey/gf/whatever.

    • Justin McClintock

      Let’s see…..5 helmets, 2 mesh jackets, 3 textile jackets, 1 leather jacket, two pairs of pants, two pairs of boots, a couple of balaclavas, and more gloves than I can even begin to count. Yup, not gonna put a dollar figure on that. Don’t want to, don’t want to know.

      • Wes Siler

        It’s kinda crazy. I often forget how much stuff costs. Put a buddy in a head-to-toe setup a while back when he was first starting out. Everything came out of my closet and had been worn for a year or so, but I totalled up the MSRP in my head afterwards and thought to myself, “holy crap, that was a $3,000+ present!”

        • Rameses the 2nd

          Can I be your buddy, Wes? :)

    • Luke

      I think my gear now cost more than my bike… (which was a used $2700 TU250, so the bar wasn’t THAT high…)

    • taba

      Just checked my revzilla Order History…

      Turns out I’ve a third again the cost of my bikes (two) in gear.

    • Clint Keener

      There is a high barrier to entry, but once you get over that hump, it’s not bad.

      When you go riding all day, you only pay for fuel. =)

  • Arsinol

    Right now if your looking for a good first helmet or even a second i would go for the Shoei RF-1100 its a 500$ helmet for half price although they are going like hotcakes. I also agree with Wes for a regular priced first helmet Icon has the best Bang for your buck. I would go for the Airmada rubatone awesomeness. I am a little bias I own two Shoei RF-1100, but they fit my head soo well (they have five different shell sizes so your head doesn’t bobble)

    • TechGuy5489

      RF-1100s can be had dirt cheap since the RF-1200 is out. I’ve seen the solid color scheme 1100s for as little as 280 bucks shipped.

      • Wes Siler

        And the Alliance is still a nicer helmet.

        • Chris McAlevy

          But also fits a different head type. My RF-1100 fits me perfectly, and I tried on two sizes of Alliance and had hot spots that were obvious after ten minutes.

  • Ryan Kiefer

    What, no $500 budget?

    Surely even cheap gear is better than no gear. What about products from Bilt and First Gear? Does anyone ever bother testing those for those of us who are on a truly tight budget?

    FWIW, I geared up with a $90 GMax helmet, some $90 Castle textile pants with a removable liner, secondhand motoGP jacket and gloves exchanged for a case of craft beer from a friend who no longer rides, and I decided that my Doc Marten over-ankle boots would do for my feet. Among all of this, I only wish I’d spent more on the helmet, because fog has been a serious issue for me on mornings when the temps are below freezing. I think I might need to spring for that Icon helmet.

    Honestly, since I rarely ride aggressively, my biggest safety concern is being seen, so I consider my most important bit of gear to be my yellow high-vis vest with retroreflective stripes.

    • Michael Howard

      I was going to agree with you until you thought riding aggressively was the primary danger and that being seen is more important than being well-protected. My friend, you need the best gear you can afford.

      • Ryan Kiefer

        Every single mile I cover is in congested traffic — I’m a commuter, not a weekender or casual rider. I haven’t covered a single mile exclusively for pleasure, but because I need to get somewhere.

        Therefore, I’m geared up AND wearing high-vis. What I meant by “more important” is that I feel pretty damned confident in my ability to keep the dirty side down, but whether others behave themselves in traffic is not under my control. Therefore, I feel it is of great importance to make myself seen, so it’s less likely that someone will decide to invade my lane. That, combined with behaving myself, looking ahead, and paying attention to what the four-wheelers surrounding me are doing, is what I trust as my primary form of safety. The gear is backup in case all else fails.

      • John Ogren

        Yep. Agree they need an “extreme budget” option, and agree that “being seen is more important than being well protected” is idiotic.

        That said, my “new to biking extreme budget” list includes: Doc Martin boots ($100; yeah, yeah – how many motorcycle boots are available in 15 US though?), a used First Gear Kilimanjaro 4.0 jacket ($125), a HJC CL-33 helmet thrown in when I bought my bike and Mechanix gloves I had lying around.

        Yes, the cost to upgrade is intimidating, but at least I’ve got something. I plunked $1700 on my bike, and I’m not about to go out and spend another $1000 on gear. For a couple hundred, I’m in the game – and started in the right direction. Better than thinking I “don’t need” anything more down the line. Will I get armored pants? Eventually. Just not today. Will I get “real” motorcycle gloves or boots? Eventually. That’s why an extreme budget option would be so valuable. There are so many of us who can barely scrape enough cash together to ride that the bike itself is a luxury, let alone extras. Hopefully RideApart hasn’t forgotten that not everyone gets paid to ride motorcycles all day long…

        • Wes Siler

          Let me know how that goes when you fall off.

        • Ryan Kiefer

          This is really all I was trying to say. I feel like I’m being raked over the coals here for not being loaded.

          Jesus Christ, this bunch is coming off elitist. I just want to fucking ride and be at least a better protected. I feel like I’m being told I should just park it and ride the bus instead of riding with cheap gear.

          • Michael Howard

            I totally understand being limited in what you’re able to wear. Other than my tattered old Roadcrafter (which I finally bought after telling myself 30 years ago I’d someday have one), my gear is all “lower tier” or budget items. I just disagreed with the notions that riding aggressively is more dangerous than riding in traffic and that visibility trumps protection. Yeah, it’s really important to get noticed – but I feel it’s even more important to be protected for those times you’re not.

          • Stuki

            Ride in whatever you can afford. But seriously prioritize upgrading your basic protective gear when money becomes available. Skip a movie and put the money aside for a good pair of gloves. Eat at home rather than go out; until you have a decent pair of gloves and boots. Don’t stop riding, and don’t take the bus since the ticket money is better spent setting aside for some better gear….. :)

            Everyone who have spent time around motorcycles and riders; know several people that are maimed for life due to bike accidents. Not all the harm could have been avoided no matter how much gear they had been wearing; but come of it certainly could. Obtaining, and wearing, good gear ought to be a priority for everyone who rides.

        • Justin McClintock

          Seriously, if nothing else, get some gloves. Those mechanix gloves WILL come apart if you go down. They’re not even a one-and-done piece of gear. Some people say that something is better than nothing, but I really don’t think that’s the case with those.

          • Stuki

            Second that. Whack your hands bad enough, and you may lose a primary ability to ever make enough money to upgrade the rest of your gear…..

    • E Brown

      For someone on a truly tight budget, the best option is probably used gear on eBay or Craigslist. Trying to squeeze under the $500 limit with new gear would still have you coming up short on equipment.

      • Ryan Kiefer

        Everyone has to make do with what they can afford. It isn’t as though I’m in a hoodie, jeanshorts, and sandals — a combination which I have seen (usually combined with a mohawk’d helmet, right?).

    • michaelse

      My gear comes in at less than $450, but I have no riding pants, and my gloves leave a bit to be desired. I’d say the starting point would be around $700 for a budget ATG set.

    • Wes Siler

      There is no head-to-toe solution worth buying at a budget less than then $1k mark. If that’s too much (which I totally get), then it’s time to beg, borrow and steal. The really cheap crap just isn’t worth the trouble.

      • Ryan Kiefer

        I suppose I’d be better off wiping out in skinny jeans than heavy textile pants, then?

        No thanks, I like my ass-skin where it is, not scraped over the pavement.

        • Wes Siler

          No, you’d be better finding a brother/uncle/father/friend/forum buddy who will loan you stuff that’s actually going to do something if you fall off and to keep the weather off you. That’s what most people who are young and skint end up doing and it’s worth the effort.

    • Justin McClintock

      Some of the Firstgear stuff is okay, but it’ll definitely be one-and-done. Some of the ADV gear falls into that category. But then again, most textile stuff isn’t going to hold up to repeated offs (with the possible exception of an Aerostitch suit). Having handled Bilt stuff myself and hearing stories from others who have given it the benefit of the doubt….I won’t.

      I will say that I do very much like Firstgear’s cold weather gloves, and that those WILL stand up to repeated abuse. I have unfortunately tested that myself with their Tundra gloves, which sadly they no longer make.

      Once upon a time the Mesh-Tex jacket from Firstgear was one of the best mesh jackets you could get. Thing is, everybody else moved forward. Doesn’t seem that Firstgear has.

    • Scott T

      Just a comment about anti-fog coatings: eventually you will have to clean your shield, and the factory coating will soon be gone. I use Novus plastic cleaner/polish (has anti-fog and anti-static properties) as a cleaner, then apply a coat of PJ 1Fog Blocker. Depending on the weather, you should be good for @ a week. I also carry the PJ1 and a microfiber cloth with me in the winter and reapply as necessary. The best thing to invest in would be a Pinlock of course, but for people on a tight budget most helmet manufacturers make a “breath box” accessory, usually $10-15, specific to each helmet. It’s a facemask that attaches to the inside of your chinbar, which directs your breath away from the visor. Between the PJ 1 and the breath box, fog is not an issue even well below freezing. You can also check out the Foggy Respro, but I have no experience with it.
      Also a word about cheap gear – when I first started riding I bought an inexpensive 4 season jacket that has held up well, even after I’ve been hit by cars twice – the sun is doing more damage than the crashes. You can always start saving for better/more expensive gear and upgrade one item at a time, if money is tight.

    • Stuki

      Any old DOT helmet, properly fitted and with a tight chinstrap, is probably 90% as naively “safe” as any other. The percentage of accidents where the outcome would have meaningfully depended on whether your helmet was $90 or a Schubert, has got to be rather small. Fogging is, as you say, probably a bigger deal, if it affects your focus and awareness. The being seen part is, again, good judgement.

      But still, even if you ride non aggressively, try to load up on as much armor and abrasion resistance as you can afford. I would tend to follow Wes’ trend, and focus particularly on your hands/gloves. And thereafter, boots. Both feet and hands have tonloads of small bones and ligaments joined together in intricate fashions. They pretty much never grow together correctly is sufficiently smashed up. And both are so darned important for basic functioning these days. A screwed up hand, wil really handicap you in most jobs and life in general. While a messed up foot, will cause imbalances that will over time manifest itself in every part of the body. So, high quality boots and gloves trump titanium shoulder inserts, collarbone pads and other track derived high end protection fashions any days.

      Also try to stay in shape. A strong, muscular, flexible body can take much greater impacts while suffering less damage, than a weak, frail one. Just imagine some pencilneck being hit by a 350lb NFL lineman at full gallop……He’d literally break his spine. While the NFL guys do it for a living; over and over.

    • Campisi

      Anyone who purchases Bilt gear after being within three metres of it shouldn’t be buying gear without supervision.

      • C.Stevens

        Not all Bilt gear is bad – I have the leather Trackstar pants. They are on sale all the time for $99, I paid $80 with a coupon – I love mine, they are solid.

        • Campisi

          My youngest brother bought that $180 suit, only for the zipper to break the third time he attempted to put the suit on. The Alpinestars Carver suit he found to replace it (at a deep discount) has served him well.

  • Ed Hunt

    WOW – your LOW range is $1000? Yikes. I ride ATGATT but I did it by smart shopping and clearance sales. (January is the best time.) My gear isn’t the best and doesn’t match my motorcycle, but it works great and I came in way less than $500 — and that includes two jackets and two sets of gloves! I picked up an armored, cafe style Trojan leather jacket that was brand new, but with a mislabled size on it for $80 on ebay. I didn’t find out it was Trojan leather until it arrived. GREAT jacket. Some of the on-line retailers (Cyclegear) has some great sales and decent leather products – I’ve got summer gloves and armored winter gauntlets for less than what you paid for one pair of gloves. My First Gear Kilimanjaro jacket was half price on a winter clearance sale at my local moto store ($120) and they threw in the matching pants for $50 because the zipper stuck. (fixed with industrial velcro – actually easier to use). Don’t knock used as a lot of people get into this business with deep pockets and little commitment. I found barely used armored boots are plentiful at used gear stores and on-line. As for the helmet – I bought one online to start with after trying the same model on in the store for proper fit – but i can’t argue with the price or the quality of the icon lid. (I shop for ECE not Snell, BTW) Bottom line is, if you are poor college student, or a mid-lifer saving for your kids to go to college, you don’t need to drop a ton of money to ride safe – you can do it by being smart.

    • PattonStrength

      Right, but “go buy stuff on sale and on Craigslist” isn’t that instructional or informative. For off the rack brand new, this stuff is all really good, and great value.

      • Ed Hunt

        As an Emergency room nurse, I see a lot of people riding without gear. My priority is to get people into gear. While this is good value and good quality, it is still financially out of reach for many.

        • anthony

          then take the bus

    • enzomedici

      Buy nice or buy twice. You can get some good gear for reasonable prices, but most cheap gear is just cheap gear and won’t hold up in a crash. How gear is stitched together can make all the difference in the world when you crash.

  • Jack Meoph

    With some diligence, you can cut that $1,100 in half. There are so many sites on the net that sell last years kit at discount, that there is no reason to buy new unless you just have to have it. If you’re on a budget, and you’re paying retail for your kit, you’re doing it wrong. I have so much gear, and never paid retail for any of it.

    • Justin McClintock

      Definitely true. I think the prices listed above are probably accurate for MSRP. But if you’re on a budget, you’re shopping clearances. Shoot, I only paid $120 for my Scorpion EXO-1000. But they’re not gonna post up stuff like that because deals like that aren’t an everyday thing.

  • Scott T

    Wes, thank you for this article, very helpful. I have never thought of oiling my gloves, could you tell us what you use? Should you oil leather jackets/pants/ suits as well?

  • Ayabe

    You can also go with a full textile two piece and save a few hundred there.

    Yes leather is better but a nice cordura setup is pretty good.

    Plus depending on where you live, leather, even perf just isn’t going to cut it in the summer. 95 degrees and 90% humidity – yeah, no.

    • Justin McClintock

      My experience has typically been that a well vented leather jacket usually works better than a cordura jacket in hot weather. Yes, mesh is going to beat either of them, but that’s a whole different ballgame there and is very much a 1 season piece of apparel. That and pretty much every single mesh jacket is a one-and-done piece. 4 season gear is going to make more sense for most people on a really strict budget.

      • Wes Siler

        Yeah, leather’s the most versatile material out there for gear. In the summer, wear a sweat-wicking summer undershirt from Underarmor or something. In the winter, add layers. In the rain, just make sure it’s oiled and you’ll be fine for an hour or so, which covers most commutes.

        • HarshManRai

          Wes, leather doesn’t cut it in India for riding except for two months in a year perhaps. A good textile jacket that vents we’ll works well for me all year round

          • Wes Siler

            Oh man, I bet. Hot and humid is always a challenge.

          • Ulysses Araujo

            It sucks most of the nicer gear is too hot for warmer climates. Mesh jacket = 3.5 season jacket here in São Paulo. Gloves are the real pain, they never flow enough air.

        • motorock

          If you live in other conditions where temperatures are hotter (think above 90 most of the year) or more humid, textile is the most versatile- and allows for different types of layering (like the 4 season jackets). And for people who are not moto-journos, the flexibility offered by textile apparel is unmatched by leather esp when it comes to daily commutes.

      • Ayabe

        I’ve been able to stretch this jacket to 3.5 seasons with a hoodie and the water/windproof liner. But that’s 3.5 FL seasons, which means not really under 40F.

        It flows, way, way more air than my perf leather because of the mesh panels in the chest. Coupled with a nice summer riding shirt and you’re very comfy except at a dead stop.

        But yeah getting as much as you can out of one set is the way to go.

      • Piglet2010

        I wear a textile mesh jacket at times while scooter riding, and with a windproof jersey underneath, it is a 3½ seasons piece of gear (here in the Upper Midwest).

  • HarshManRai

    It’s even more expensive to gear up in India where shipping and duties will add approx 50 percent to the actual price. I find it more expensive to replace cheap gear every year than buying tried and tested products that lasts much longer

  • Stuki

    I’d say, if you’re ADV riding, get the Combats. The first time you ford a puddle deeper than your waterproof goretex lining on other boots, you’ll realize waterproofness works both ways. While, with Combats, once in more open terrain, the airdflow from the bike moving, perhaps aided by big, 1200cc aircooled footwarmers, will have you back to comfort in no time. And the Combats are cheap, when compared with the Euro competition. And they last reasonably close to forever.

    And the WW1 era approach to making a safe boot (make the leather and the seam thread thicker and use fewer pieces) is less prone to “malfunction” from mud, sand and gravel than exoskeletons, plastic hinges, or even goretex liners. Ford a stream, get a sharp rock in your boot, and over time, it could puncture your waterproof wonder. I haven’t seen it happen with boots, but I’ve seen Goretex shells suffer a similar fate. On the Combats, your entire foot will be ground into hamburger before a sharp rock manages to puncture the half inch thick leather.

    They only work on bikes not dependent on ankle flexion, though; like dualsports, ADV bikes and tourers. The Euros don’t put hinges on their boots just for show…..

  • Clint Keener

    The really cheap gear (Bilt) SUCKS though. Look at it this way: Do you want to THINK about your gear as you are riding, or do you want to forget about it and just focus on the task at hand? If you ride a lot, think about this:

    A cheap helmet will have a visor that’s distorted. EVERY time you move your head, you will see the distortion, reminding you that you should have spent more money.

    Cheap gloves: fold up under your palm. Most annoying thing ever.

    Cheap boots: Ok until you crash.

    Cheap jacket: stiff and heavy. Constrict your movements on the bike. Not last long. Zippers and seams come apart.

    Cheap Pants: Schwetty balls. =P

    If you are a newbie, find good used gear instead.

    • Michael Howard

      None of that is always true. I have some “cheap” (under $100) helmets with visors that are clearer than helmets costing twice as much. And other gear isn’t necessarily trash. Yes, in general, less expensive stuff is lower quality and a lot of it IS trash. But some of it’s not bad and is definitely better than nothing.

      • Clint Keener

        True. I should say “in my experience” that every single time I bought something that was in the low end of the spectrum, I came away disappointed.

        I don’t want to buy three (insert gear) when I can just get one nicer (insert gear). My dad ONLY buys things for the lowest cost possible. He also has 6 pairs of boots he doesn’t wear.

        I did like a cheap scorpion helmet that was $130. But it had a strange chemical smell. But the visor was crystal clear.

    • Mr. White

      I have to agree with you statement and it applies to any “gear-oriented” sport. I’m also into cycling and snowboarding and the old adage you get what you pay for has been a hard-learned lesson.

  • E Brown

    “Where’s the $500 option?” In the words of the philosopher Barney Stinson: “Challenge accepted.” First selection for sport bikes, alternate for standard/cruiser rider.

    Helmet: Icon Alliance – $110 Alternate: Bell Vortex – $110

    Jacket: Shadow Maelstrom – $120. CE-rated armor, 1.2-1.3mm cowhide, reflective piping. Alternate: River Road Laughlin – $120

    Leg Protection: Icon Device Overpant: $100 Alternate: AGV Sport Corsica Kevlar Jeans – $100

    Gloves: Olympia Digital Protector – $50 Alternate: Olympia 450 Full Throttle – $50

    Boots: Tourmaster Solution – $117 Alternate: Joe Rocket Orbit – $110

    • Wes Siler

      Right. So instead of just listing awful garbage, we listed gear we feel comfortable recommending. And the Alliance is $150, not $110. The Vortex is $180.

      • E Brown

        The Icon Alliance (Solid and Rubatone) is $110 on Competition Accessories’ web site right now, where you’ll also find the Bell Vortex (Solid) for $120. I didn’t want to offend you guys’ sponsors or affiliates by naming names but hey, if you’re calling me out… All of the prices I quoted are readily verifiable.

        And while I respect that Ride Apart only recommends stuff they like and are willing to defend, that doesn’t make those choices the be-all and end-all of riding gear, motorcycles, or anything else. I treated the calls for lower-priced gear as an #AskRideApart question and offered some suggestions, and I hope others here will do the same. Maybe by crowdsourcing the question, we’ll happen across some gear that is both inexpensive AND doesn’t make your gorge rise. We’ve got the cheap helmet choice sorted – this site has recommended both. There could be more out there and we’ve still got $390 to work with.

      • E Brown

        The Alliance is cheaper on another web site, as is the Vortex. The $100 Icon Device Overpant pairs with a jacket this site chose as a Gear Pick five days ago. Swap the gloves for the Icon Pursuits (also recommended here) for $75 and we’ve got $215 for jacket and boots.

  • Ross McCurdy

    Be weary of the Icon’s prolock system, a plastic piece on one side broke on a visor flip after 4 months. Yes its only 10 dollars to replace, but still 4 months is not very long. But for 90 dollar previous year special it is still worth it.

    • Campisi

      I really want to like Icon, but I think my current Airmada will be the last helmet I buy from them (at least for a while). I likely won’t miss the $100-300 more I’d spend on a higher-end helmet after a month or so, but I’ll appreciate the material, construction, and engineering quality every day I ride.

  • Rameses the 2nd

    I didn’t realize before reading this article, but I too have ~ $3,000 of riding gear and that doesn’t include any track riding suits. The problem is that Motorcycling, in the US at least, is nothing more than an expensive hobby. It’s not a need; it’s a want. Ever wonder why a basic motorcycle service costs more money than a basic car service? Need a new set of mirrors for your bike to match your style? Be prepared to spend $200 to $300 on that. Need a new exhaust? $1,000+ is not out of the question (I paid $1200 for Arrow exhaust for my bike). It is what it is and I don’t think it will change anytime soon. Sure, there is cheap gear available, but unfortunately most cheap motorcycle stuff is so signficantly inferior in quality and comfort that it’s not worth the trouble.

    • Paul Cypert

      It’s too bad too. In Thailand things are much less. Of course most things are cheaper, but a lot of the bike economy is down to how many of them are out there. About 3-5 bucks an hour for repairs! I drove a rental scooter off a cliff (I hit a tree which kept me nicely alive) once and full repairs including replacement parts were about 50 bucks.

      The first step is getting more people riding. More people buying the things and prices come down. We’ll never get the cheap labor, but we can push retail prices down by getting more people riding.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    Ok so I gotta get this off my chest. I’m a huge Aerostich fan, but the combat touring boots are so homely for a Sidi product it’s scary. I mean by far the ugliest boot on the market. Ok – ready to take my licks now.

    • Stuki

      The older they get, and the more wear they see; the better the Combats starts to look compared to any other boot. They’re the Toyota Corolla (or perhaps Hilux) of boots. Every other boot wears out. The Combats wear in.

  • taba

    $500 budget (after rezvilla cash back)?

    I’d start looking here: (They have the Icon Alliance for $100, for example.)

    $75 helmet:
    $170 jacket:
    $30 back protector:
    $60 gloves:
    $50 pants:
    $150 boots:

    Add armored shorts and knee protection and you are probably pretty good for cruising/commuting, I’d think.

    • Justin McClintock

      To be fair, you just picked a textile jacket versus the leather they showed, a pair of jeans that are not even motorcycle specific and certainly aren’t in the same neighborhood as protective as leather, and a back protector that covers a much smaller portion of your back and must be inserted into the jacket. And you found most of it on closeout…meaning you won’t be able to find any of that stuff at that price in two weeks…meaning the whole article would be junk in two weeks if they took that approach. What the article has is a decent set of kit for generally riding around town or even attacking the canyons. Throw in some different boots (you may even be alright with the ones they picked) and you could probably even do a track day in it. The stuff you picked might be alright around town. That’s pretty much it. If you’re on a budget, getting stuff to cover as many bases as possible is definitely a better approach, or you wind up wanting to do your first track day and needing ANOTHER $1000 in gear.

      • taba

        To be fair, a budget of $500 requires compromise, yes? I assumed someone “just getting into motorcycles” isn’t looking to go canyon carving or the track, but rather cruising or commuting (they’d otherwise already know the entry cost of gear). The gear is alright for that.

        If on a budget, I’d think it less expensive to get gear you like and can live with rather than stuff you’d like to replace.

        Prices always change. The revzilla closeout link gives someone a starting point. There are others, but I don’t know them.

        Not sure I understood the categories anyway – isn’t the Alpinestars Supertech-R the more serious boot than the SMX-6, rather than a boot that fits under jeans? How different are the Sicuros and R-Safe gloves? More than $20? I think of the Alpinestars $190 GP Plus and $300 GP Tech as representing the two categories. And what’s the difference between $1000 and $967+ suits?

  • Dave Mason

    If we are going to take ATGATT literally perhaps chest protectors should be part of the equation?

    • moppedfahren

      I’ve been riding with a Dainese Chest since last fall. It’s a Pr-EN 1621.3 certified hard protector and simply inserted between jacket and whatever you’re wearing below that. Good for commuting, so I don’t need to strip down to my underwear in the office to remove a chest protector. Does not move at all under properly fitting leathers, does move slightly (2-4cm downwards in my case) under my textile jacket. You should be able to pick one up for $50 to $60. It’s quite convenient in lower temps, so I’m wondering a bit how it will be like in summer.

      • Dave Mason

        I’ve worn a Knox chest protector under my leathers at the track for years. I’m considering a “shirt” like the Leatt or Forcefield that integrates one along with other protection for the street.

  • Kr Tong

    The $0 budget: You know when you think about it, you’re MADE of leather.

    • Stuki

      If you don’t mind ending up looking like Leatherface, I guess……..

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Wow, the only non squid gear you have put only old timers and baby boomers wear and afford. But I liked the fact you generalized Brands

  • Piglet2010

    Why only back protectors, but no vests that combine chest and back protection?

    • Wes Siler

      We reference chest protection several times in the article. Personally, I find torso protection vests to be terribly inconvenient. I wear them with my race leathers and while dual sport riding, but they’re not the kinda thing you’re going to be wanting to take on and off every day.

      Really didn’t like that Astars Track Vest. It was just so bulky and hot with all that cheap foam. Much slimmer, lighter stuff is available (Dainese Norsorex etc) that works a lot better, but is equally inconvenient to wear.

      • enzomedici

        I wear my Icon Stryker vest under my jacket every day commuting. Easy to get on and off and offers reasonable protection with D30 armor.

  • motorock

    Great article and I too have spent hundreds of dollars in gear over my short motorcycling experience of just above 10 years. However, my experience with different brands at different price points threw a lot of nice surprises- expensive is not always better but like with anything, people tend to think otherwise. For example, for winter riding, cheaper Slider gloves turned out much warmer and comfier than Alpinestar ones that cost nearly 4 times. One of my Fieldsheer jackets fit better and have better protection than a $500 Dainese whose collar can give anyone a neck rash. $110 Tourmaster WP boots are comfier even while walking on street than some high sticker ones which barely have any tread or day-log comfort. As for helmets, Scorpion makes some great ones, have great fitting systems and never fog even on the coldest days (think 0 degree F or lower)- I wish my glasses had that same coating! Mind you, all this testing has been done in different weather conditions in India and the northeast (including Polar vortex days). Gist- lower priced stuff of “high-end” brands will not be as good as their higher-priced stuff but higher priced stuff of “lower-end” brands will definitely be very good and sometime exceed what these “high-end” brands have to offer. I hope the OP has actually tested all these “lower end garbage” before relegating them as non-recommendable- in different conditions, for a length of time and as a normal commuter/tourer and not as a moto-journo who can wear leathers every day to work. I have a normal-ish day job, I commute and I believe in ATGATT but I wont discard something just because it is considered “low-end” by some people without testing it.

  • atomicalex

    This is the biggest diffence between the US and the EU. You can get a good Cordura suit with full CE protectors for 250€ in the EU. Boots with decent protection for 100€ all day. If you spend more than 500€ on your first gt-up, you are doing it wrong. And if you can get to one of the factory stores, bargains are stupid.

    +1 on Spartan. Dave is a great resource. Inexpensive good quality made to measure is basically a dream come true.

  • Colin Samuel

    Inexpensive textile gear (the stuff available for less than the stuff cited in this article) is totally worth consideration. The difference is that most of it is going to be one-and-done. Suffer a crash and you’ll be throwing the discount textiles out and replacing them. Where the up-market stuff will survive to serve another day.

    I’m with all the other commenters here. I’d much rather have the discount, one-and-done gear than none at all.

    But I do agree that-if you are serious about riding-don’t skimp. Anything cheap you buy, you’ll eventually drop in the back of the closet and wind up buying the premo gear to replace it anyway. (Ask me how I know.)

    • Wes Siler

      Cheapo textile gear is a false economy. As you suggest, one little crash and it’s done. What if you’re only halfway through a long trip?

      Cheapo stuff will also have cheapo armor and compromised safety. All of the products recommended above will genuinely keep you safe and comfortable. You won’t achieve either at lower price points.

      • Colin Samuel

        Lots of the ‘cheapo’ stuff have CE rated shoulder and elbow armor. No different than the up market stuff. And as you guys point out, everyone should upgrade the back protection over the cheesy foam pad common to even the expensive stuff. (Although I’d love to see a statistic of how many riders actually wear a back protector all the time, even the die hard ATGATT types.)

        If the bike and I go down hard enough to ruin a textile jacket or overpants mid trip, I am probably not riding the bike home anyway. I probably have bigger problems.

        New riders simply aren’t going to drop $1k on gear. It just isn’t gonna happen. I been there, I done that.

        • Wes Siler

          There’s CE Rated and there’s CE Rated. The armor in decent equipment tends to absorb considerably more energy than the basic stuff. Also consider area of coverage. Does the forearm armor cover only your elbow and only over a relatively limited curve or does it cover the entire outside of your forearm and wrap generously around your limbs?

          What I did when I was new was see what I could borrow or beg from older friends, then only bought the pieces I wasn’t able to get that way. Understanding that quality gear was worth the premium, I built up an entire set by buying one piece at a time, over a year or longer. I bought my own helmet of course (a fancy-for-the-time Shoei), then borrowed an old suit, gloves and boots. I bought my own jacket a while later, then my own pants, then my own boots then, a little while later, I saved up and bought my first one-piece leathers. My existing boots, gloves and helmet worked with that. A little while later, back protectors were starting to be a big trend so I saved up and bought a really good one of those. I rode around in confidence knowing that I would probably be ok if I fell off and rode comfortably in all weathers (this being in rural England). I believe that sped my pace of learning and helped equip me to become a lifelong motorcyclist. I was able to do this while working manual labor jobs and going to school.

          Now, because I know that I’m both saving friends money, facilitating their new lifestyle and helping keep them safe, I make a point of helping any friends that are starting riding get into their first set of full gear. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I just give them my old stuff (which I admittedly have a greater ability to do than your average guy), but that I sorta hold their hand through the whole process, help them spend their money wisely and provide first-person guidance on with stuff like determining if a helmet fits. That’s also sorta what I’m trying to do with this article. Obviously a beginner will be budget limited, but they’re still going to want stuff that works and its good advice to show them the good stuff is worth saving up for.

        • RandomGRK

          I spent over $1000 when i first got my bike…but the problem is that I had no idea what I was buying. I ended up selling all that gear except for the gloves and helmet and proceeded to make many more mistakes along the way. Ive probably spent about $3000 on gear and everyday I find stuff that will work better. Ive had to put a ban on buying gear because I realise that there will always be something better out there.
          I currently have
          -A* TGPR summer mesh jacket
          -Spidi Factory winter leather jacket
          -A* TZ1 Reload leather jacket (too big and for sale)
          -Spidi furious jeans
          -A* oxygen air overpants
          -Dainese Torque boots
          -TCX X Cube air boots (too
          -A* short gloves for summer
          -Fiver gauntlent gloves for winter

          And damn…Im still not happy and I want another leather jacket, a new pair of riding denims, street riding boots like the new Revit range and a Kriega backpack, better summer gloves, and winter overpants…FML.

  • Michael Howard

    What about [url=]these boots[/url]?

    • Wes Siler

      As stated plainly and repeatedly in the linked article, boots like these are great for riding in jeans around town, but will always be a compromise compared to real motorcycle boots. Nothing beats the safety, comfort or weatherproofness of the real thing.

      • Michael Howard

        Should I have used a bigger emoticon? ;) ;) ;)

      • Send Margaritas

        Those are actually great boots for riding. Sure some are better, and you can take things to extremes, and get wearable air bags. But the Corcorans offer pretty good protection, and don’t make you look like a ‘Power Ranger’ or ‘Sportsbike-Racer-Poser’..

        • forking

          “Pretty good protection” – I agree, I wear my Chippewa Apaches for riding around town. They’re thick leather with a heel cup and sturdy sole, but I wouldn’t trust them in a high-speed crash. There’s no malleolus protection, no hard sliders, no padding under the hard sliders, and no ankle twist prevention. I prefer my feet stay intact, so I use proper boots on the highway.

          • Send Margaritas

            I’m with you on the reasoning. The Corcorans make sense to me, for the street. For the track, or more spirited riding, something with more protection would be better.Then again, riding a Motorcycle is a life-affirming activity with some risk, and I’m sure that even the best of boots won’t protect you completely from everything that could befall your foot in a crash.When you ride a motorcycle you accept a certain degree of risk, and it is wise to wear decent gear as a precaution. There is a continuum of risk to be weighed, and a continuum of protection to be worn to mitigate that risk.There is a point at which a ‘tad better protection’ coming in ‘tad heavier/uglier/hotter/more-uncomfortable’ isn’t a clear cut call for more protection.And yes. Call me vain. Even if it protects me better than semi-pirate gear, I won’t wear something like this:×387.jpg Admit it. Some folks just want to wear the red boots and cape. ;)

  • IRS4

    What’s with the black helmets? I owned ONE black helmet in SoCal. Never again. White (cooling) Power!

  • octodad

    wondering if anyone is using the Bohn Armor equipment? just became aware of their pants and shirts. advertisement states pants can be worn under jeans, and they have a mesh shirt for hot weather. I currently wear two pair of canvas pants, do not mind looking a little baggy. was thinking about adding padded compression shorts. The Bohn pants look like a nice fit with good protection. would appreciate input from a current user…