When you are starting out riding and looking to buy gear, it can be hard to know exactly what you need and how much you should spend on it. This makes it all too easy to get swept up with the moment and end up spending too much money on things that are not worth it or are simply not needed. That’s the whole point of this post, to help give you a guide and make it all a bit easier.
So, how much should you spend on motorcycle gear? To be fully protected when riding, you are going to need to buy a helmet, gloves, jacket, boots and pants. For medium quality gear this is going to cost around $1500. You can spend less, but you run the risk of buying subpar quality gear which might not last as long or provide proper protection.
While this might be a good ballpark figure to get you started, there are ways to save money and still get good quality gear. The key is to be informed and know what you need and don’t need. If you want to know more about this, read on.
How much should I spend on motorcycle gear?
When you are buying gear it is best to start off making a list of each type of gear you are interested in buying, then work through each piece and select the best one for the amount of money you are able to spend on it. I would strongly recommend you get a full set of gear. This would include a full face helmet, jacket, gloves, pants and boots. But what you decide to get is up to you.
When it comes to gear, it’s best to follow the “ATGATT” rule. ATGATT stands for “All The Gear All The Time”. This means whenever you hop on your motorcycle, regardless of the length of the trip (even if it is only for 10 minutes or less), you wear all your gear.
This means all, a full set (helmet, jacket, pants, boots, gloves). This is so important that I actually wrote a whole post all about it, check it out below to learn all about it and why you should always wear full gear.
First off is a helmet. When buying a helmet you are first going to need to decide what style of helmet you are looking for, options are: full face, modular, open face or a half helmet.
There are pros and cons to each type. But basically, full face and modular helmets are the only ones that will keep your face and chin protected in a crash. With a half helmet being only a step up from a “DOT approved” (read sarcasm) do-rag or bandana, meaning almost no protection.
That’s why it’s best to wear a full face helmet or a modular helmet. Don’t fall for the open face with a visor fantasy. This is not going to provide any protection to your face or chin during a crash, so unless you want to look like Harvey Dent or Two Face from Batman, skip it.
A good full face or modular helmet is going to cost you anywhere from $1600 for some fancy track designed lightweight carbon fiber piece, to around $75 for a basic no frills helmet. The best bang for the buck is going to be around $250 or so.
At this price range you have plenty of good options with many useful features. Look for helmets that have a DOT(Department of Transportation) or SNELL safety rating. These ratings mean the helmet has been tested and certified to keep you safe during a crash. Do not buy a helmet without this rating!
On top of that a pinlock system to prevent fogging is a great feature to have. Also a drop down fighter pilot style sun shield, to keep the sun out of your eyes is very convenient as well.
One thing many people tend not to do, which can unfortunately increase the chances of you being involved in an accident is wearing blacked out gear and helmets. Sure the whole blacked out look is cool, but it decreases your visibility on the road by quite a lot.
When you are riding a motorcycle the highest and most visible point is your helmet, if you wear a black or dark colored helmet you make it harder for other motorists to see or notice you. That’s why in order to increase and improve your visibility on the road, it’s a good idea to get a bright colored helmet or at the least a white helmet.
Next you are going to need a jacket. This can be a bit more complicated just because of all the different styles and types of motorcycle jackets out there. To make it a bit easier, just look for a jacket that offers slide protection and is fitted with armor in the back, elbow and shoulders.
The material whether it is leather or textile doesn’t really matter, so long as it has some sort of slide rating or protection. This is mostly an issue with textile jackets, leather naturally offers some slide protection.
If you cannot find out, or are not sure if the jacket you are interested in has any slide protection, then skip it and look for another jacket. There are tons and tons of jackets on the market which have guaranteed slide protection, so it’s better to go with one of those.
When it comes to how much you are going to need to spend, a decent jacket with all the safety features mentioned, is going to cost you around $200 for a budget jacket.
But for me, I would spend around $600 and get something a bit better with more features, better slide protection and a higher level of armor, maybe something made by Dainese or Alpinestars.
Motorcycle pants. These are next after you have got your helmet and jacket sorted. Many riders make the mistake of trying to save a buck here and just wear normal jeans, while jeans might be rugged enough for day to day wear, they offer zero protection in a crash from abrasion. This means if you crash and slide, you will get a nasty case of road rash. Not something you would wish on even your worst enemy.
Do your skin a favor and get some motorcycle pants. When you are looking for pants, you need to look for pants that offer a good amount of slide protection as well as armor for the hips, knee and buttocks if possible.
Just like with jackets, the material doesn’t matter. So long as it has some sort of slide protection rating. I prefer to wear motorcycle jeans that are lined with an abrasion resistant Kevlar material.
They look almost like normal jeans, except they are fully lined and offer slide protection just as good as leather. On top of that they also have knee and hip armor. A great stealthy gear option when you want all the protection without the obvious look.
So look around and make sure you check if the pants you like offer slide protection. If you are not sure, again skip it and move on to another pair of pants. It’s not worth the risk.
When you are budgeting for pants, you can get a decent bare bones pair of motorcycle pants for around $130. I tend to usually spend a bit more around $250 or so. This is more to do with styling and the slightly greater slide protection and better armor. So budget around $250 to give yourself plenty of good options.
The next piece of gear is going to be your boots. You want to make sure any boots you get are waterproof and slip resistant. This is important to keep your feet dry, and make sure you don’t slip if you put your foot down on an oil patch, which can cause you to drop your motorcycle.
You also want to make sure you pick a pair of boots that offer some protection for your heels, toes and ankles if possible. The sole should be still and not allow any lateral flex. This will help prevent your foot from getting all twisted and mangled if you’re ever in a crash. During a crash your feet can take a beating, so this is very important.
A good pair of motorcycle boots are going to cost you around $200. I have tried cheaper and more expensive boots. I found the cheaper boots just didn’t last as long, while the more expensive didn’t seem like it was worth the extra cost to me.
That’s why I stick to around $200, IMHO it’s the best bang for the buck. I’ve been wearing a pair of TCX boots for 3 seasons and they are still going strong, only costing me $199. Great quality boots for the money. So budget yourself around that amount.
You need to get a pair of gloves next. Don’t worry about spending too much on these, just get a pair that keeps you protected. I like to make sure they have full fingers and back with some sort of hard knuckle protection. For me the brand doesn’t really matter.
I like to spend a bit less and just replace them more often, if I get 2 seasons from a pair of gloves that’s good enough for me. After that they start to get a bit funky from all the sweat and road grime. I know you can clean em, but I never bother. You should look to spend around $50.
So now that we have gone over all the necessary gear, your helmet, jacket, pants, boots and gloves, there are few cheap bits and bobs that you are probably going to want to get.
Ear plugs. This is not mandatory, but if you don’t want to suffer hearing loss, you should wear a pair when you ride, even if you wear a full face helmet. Don’t worry, it won’t drown out traffic noise around you.
A few bandanas or a neck gaiter or two. These are good to help keep you cool in the summer and warmer in the fall or early spring. To keep warm, just use one around your neck to keep the wind and cold out. Then in summer you can soak one in cold water and tie it around your neck, this will help keep you cooler in hot weather.
So to sum it up. You are going to need to budget around $250 for a helmet, $600 for a jacket, $250 for pants, $200 for boots and $50 for gloves. This comes to $1350, on top of that you might have some shipping costs. So It’s best to just budget around $1500 for a full set of gear, to give yourself a bit of wiggle room.
There are ways you can lower this amount a bit without sacrificing quality. Try to look for close out sales and buy gear during the off season. Many retailers will run sales just after Xmas or during the winter. Keep your eyes peeled for these sales and you can save a lot of money.
The next way is hitting up Craigslist, eBay or some other place to find used or “pre-loved” gear. While this can save you some money, there are a few things you need to look for and be aware of when buying used motorcycle gear.
Let’s talk about whether or not this is a good idea.
Should I buy used motorcycle gear?
Motorcycle gear is not cheap, so many riders lower this cost by looking for used gear. For the most part there is nothing wrong with buying used motorcycle gear. Just like with any purchase you need to do your due diligence and check each piece of gear thoroughly before you buy it. If you do this properly, you can save a lot of money.
Here are some things to keep in mind.
First, never buy a used helmet. It doesn’t matter what the seller says, you will never truly know 100% what life that helmet has had. The main problem with that is that a helmet is a one use item.
If you are ever in a crash you are supposed to replace the helmet! On top of that, helmets also have a shelf life of only about 5 years. After those 5 years are up, you are supposed to throw out or retire that helmet and get a new one.
So that cool, gold flake 70’s vintage open face helmet at the flea market? It’s not going to offer much protection in a crash. Unless you just want to use it as decoration for your study, you should avoid buying it.
Motorcycle pants are perfectly fine to buy used. Just make sure you give the crotch and butt area a good look for wear spots, small holes and rips, if they are free of those you should be fine.
Also check for any stains, turn the pants inside out and have a good look. If the previous owner had a code brown emergency you are going to want to skip those pants and look for a clean pair.
Jackets are also ok to buy used. Just check for any rips or holes in the armpits. Give all the seams a good check and make sure the zipper is still good. If it has armor, pull it out and give it a quick check to see if each one is still in ok condition. If not, this is not a deal breaker, you can usually replace the armor in most gear. Just make sure you haggle the price down to cover the cost.
On a side note, if the jacket has any patches that were not put on by the manufacturer, you are going to want to make sure you know what they mean and represent.
You don’t want to run into a problem with an MC if any of those patches need to be earned or are “owned” by their club. If you do run into this problem, unless you’re Billy Badass on a mission, your best bet is to explain that you bought the jacket used, it was like this and that you didn’t know. Then offer to take them off.
Gloves. You can buy used gloves, but unless they are next to new I wouldn’t bother. You won’t really save too much money. Gloves can build up a pretty nasty funk from sweat and road grime over time. When they are dry you don’t really notice it, the moment you add some water or sweat, it’s another story. So make sure you check that they don’t smell too bad.
Boots. I have bought used motorcycle boots before, and didn’t have any problems with it. Just make sure they fit good, the treads are still good and that they don’t smell like death and you should be fine.
Do I need summer specific motorcycle gear?
When starting out you do not need summer specific motorcycle gear. If you are going to mostly be doing summer riding then it’s a good idea to buy all season or summer specific gear. You can easily extend the use of most summer gear into the fall and spring by adding thermal layers and a rain poncho for when it rains.
Why is motorcycle gear so expensive?
Motorcycle gear is expensive simply because of how well it has to be made in order to keep you safe during a crash. This means more expensive materials and increased R&D cost to design better and safer gear. Regular clothing doesn’t need to do this.
It’s best to think of motorcycle gear as safety equipment and not clothing you wear when riding a motorcycle. Besides, the cost of gear is a lot cheaper than the hospital bills you would get from being unprotected in a motorcycle crash.
Anyways, that’s all there is to the article. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions or feedback feel free to drop me a line using this contact form.
Until next time, happy riding!