Before you read this. Remember, this list is not exhaustive, and is also a reflection of my own values of not skimping on gear, as well as ATGATT (all the gear, all the time). You should calculate the cost of gear into the bike purchase price. You can spend as little as $400, but if you want the best protection, be prepared to spend at least $800. I myself wear over $1,500 of gear, every time I ride. A typical medical bill, depending on severity, can be $20,000 and up, don't be that guy riding in flip flops and a wifebeater.
Here is a extensive guide on what gear to get, WHY you should wear gear, and where to get your life saving clothing.
Let's start off with the basics. You will want to following pieces of gear:
- Full Face Helmet - Don't even question this, full face or say goodbye to your chin. Your noggin' is the most important part of your body, do you want to risk reduced mental capacity or death for a few bucks or a little comfort? All helmets are DOT rated, the price difference comes in the form of comfort, airflow, and noise reduction. Another consideration is the fit of the helmet, any helmet, whether it is DOT or SNELL rated cannot protect your noggin as well if you don't have the right size! Refer to the size chart here. If you are between sizes, go for the next one down, it should break in slightly, and if not, you can always get different cheekpads. A well fitted helmet should not be able to move on your head, both laterally and side to side, and when you talk, your teeth should be rubbing against your cheek! FOR THOSE IN TEXAS AND OTHER STATES THAT DO NOT REQUIRE A HELMET, PLEASE, JUST WEAR ONE. Here are some recommended brands/models:
- Scorpion EXO
- Anything Arai or Shoei
- DO NOT GET A HALF OR 3/4 HELMET. DO NOT GET A HALF OR 3/4 HELMET. Did you get it yet? DO NOT GET A HALF OR 3/4 HELMET. We call half helmets "brain buckets" for a reason.. Take a look at this chart, and think about whether that helmet you are looking at with protect you in those areas.
- Jacket - Leather is best, but textile and mesh are pretty good as well. Make sure the jacket has CE rated armor in both elbows and shoulders. A CE rated back protector is also highly recommended as the foam pad that comes with jackets is completely useless. Another thing about jackets are the fit. If it doesn't fit correctly, it will be less effective in protecting you. Sure, that jacket may be the best deal that's come along in a long time, but buying a XL when you need a M isn't the smartest choice. The armor can move around, and in case you go down, you want them to be in the right place. To determine the right fit of a jacket, put the jacket on, and cross your arms, you should have freedom of movement, but it doesn't be too loose as well. The following brands are all very good:
- AGV Sport
- Joe Rocket
- Boots - Always wear a boot that at least covers the ankle bone, work boots work, but don't be that guy with a pair of Converse, please. Lateral ankle protection (prevents ankle from twisting) and calf protection are even better. Remember, $400 for a pair of boots is better than $10,000 for surgery and rehab. They can also last you for a couple years at least, and the higher end models allow resoles so you can wear them even longer. Just don't skimp on boots, your feet are pretty important. These are all full length race style boots, feel free to go for low cut boots, but keep in mind they will not protect as much, nor offer crush protection or lateral ankle protection:
- Sidi Vertigo, ST, and Vortice
- Alpinestars SMX Plus and Supertech R
- Cortech Latigo
- Teknic Chicane
- Dainese TRQ
- Puma 1000 v3
- Pants - As pointed out, even denim jeans stand no chance against pavement. At the very least, Kevlar jeans should be worn. Then comes textile, and then leather. They all offer good abrasion resistance, but leather is best, albeit very warm in the summer. Textile is more in the middle, offering moderate abrasion resistance and 4 season capabilities. You WILL want knee pads/sliders for impact protection. Recommended brands are same as jackets, if you get the same brand, they will probably be able to be zipped together to make a two piece suit for the track (some tracks required 2 piece suits to be able to be zipped together). Some examples of pants are:
- Draggin' / Drayko Kevlar lined jeans (I believe these jeans are actually CE certified)
- AGV Sport Willow leather pants
- Fieldsheer Mercury textile pants
- Gloves - You want gloves. Hell, a pair of Mechanix gloves are better than nothing. However, I would highly recommend a glove with hard knuckle and wrist protection. I recommend the gauntlet style with hard wrist protection instead of the short street cuff style. Remember, if you drop the bike at speed, your hand WILL try to stop your body from moving, and you want something to protect your hand when it does that. Try to get a glove that is made out of leather so you get the most abrasion resistance. Most major brands have good quality gloves, such as:
A little aside on different motorcycle brands.. Dainese and Alpinestars are widely regarded as the top 2 brands of gear. Some prefer Dainese, some prefer Alpinestars, but the truth is you will not go wrong either way. I personally use a Dainese jacket, and Alpinestars boots. They are both top notch, and it really is a "Chevy vs Ford" debate. Just remember to get gear that fits correctly, and is comfortable, because if you don't want to wear the gear, it will never protect you sitting in your closet.
Now you're asking yourself, where do I buy this gear?! Here are a few places, with great customer service, prices, and selection:
Sportbiketrackgear.com (Site Vendor!) (Jason @ Ext. 210)
Hardracing.com (Site Vendor!)
Ridersdiscount.com (Site Vendor!)
Motorcyclegear.com (lots of closeouts to be had here)
You don't have to wear all the gear listed, but a hospital bill and rehab are a lot more painful than a slightly smaller bank account. Besides, most of this gear can be used for YEARS to come, so think about it more as a long term investment. Thanks for reading, go out and ride, and be safe whether you are ATGATT or in shorts!
I've been in an ACCIDENT, what do I do?!? Not taking into account your bodily injuries, some of your gear may be rendered useless. If your helmet took some impact, it is done, do NOT use it again, it's time for a new one. The reason for this is because the impact protection in a helmet is ONE TIME USE ONLY. If it takes some force from the impact, the styrofoam inside crushes to lessen the effect on your head, and it does NOT return back to where it was. If your clothes took a beating and they are ripped, they are usually done (not sure how strong restitching is, do you want to risk it?). Inspect and replace armor if needed, especially if you know you landed on the armor.
There is some really good info on motorcycle riding gear in this PDF from the Queensland Government Motorcycle Safety