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  • Writer's pictureCharles Pennefather

Purchasing Motorcycle Riding Gear – A Few Thoughts

Riding gear is important when you ride a motorcycle. This is beyond doubt. However, a lot of information I see tends to be of the ‘get the most expensive gear’ variety, and I don’t feel like that is always the best approach. So here’s what I like to do.

(Please bear in mind that this is born from my own experience of riding, and has no scientific methodology to prove that my method is better than anyone else. Who knows, a few years down the line I might know better!)


Buy one item at a time

You’re probably going to get the helmet at the same time as the motorcycle, so it makes sense to start off with the helmet. What kind of helmet is open for debate, but know that the more expensive they get, the more convenient they get, up to a point. What this means is that they fit better, they are designed with padding that can be removed easily for a wash or with cutouts for a Bluetooth system, there is less wind noise, changing the visor is quicker and easier, the anti-fog features are better… like with most things, you will only ever realise the value of a good helmet in an extreme circumstance. So if you plan to ride all day or for multiple days, invest in an extremely good helmet, invest in a dark visor, and definitely invest time in learning how to swap them and remove the liner for a wash.

Footwear dilemmas.

Riding boots are the second most expensive items of motorcycle riding gear after your helmet, which is why they’re usually last on the list. It is also why it is important to get what is right for you – a mistake will be a very costly one! To begin with, you can start off with high-top trekking boots, or better yet, safety shoes. They’re not safe per se for motorcycles but they’re better than any other footwear from your wardrobe. Safety shoes also have steel/hard plastic toe caps, anti-skid soles, and chemical-resistant materials.

When you progress to proper motorcycle riding boots, always opt for the long ones for more safety. Short ones are easier to walk in but the long ones make it much easier to ride with confidence. With the kind of conditions we have, touring boots seem to be the best compromise for most riders. If you have a sportbike and plan to stick strictly to tarmac you can look at boots made specifically for them – they are lighter, more comfortable, and you can get ones with great ventilation. The flip side is that they will not be usable in the monsoon, because they aren’t waterproof, and they will slip on anything but tarmac, especially if the conditions are wet. The other extreme, offroad/dirt boots are unmanageable for regular use. They are like wearing ankle weights, and they wouldn’t allow you to shift gear on a sportbike because of how bulky they are.

Short gloves or long?

Again, the answer depends on your use. If you ride consistently at high speeds or in cold temperatures, gloves with gauntlets help, since they stop sleeves from flapping around in the wind at speed, and prevent cold air from rushing up your arms. Short gloves offer less protection, since the gauntlets of long gloves help hold the sleeves of the jacket and therefore the elbow armour in place in case of a fall.

Mesh, textile, or leather?

I’m against leather in our weather simply because it is too hot even for MotoGP riders here – Jorge Martin lost consciousness at the end of the first Bharat GP because it was so hot. I doubt any of us reading this are quite as fit as him. Mesh seems to be the answer for hot days, but the protection that textile offers is very attractive. Again, it boils down to your use. If you’re using it for low speed commuting the risk is lower, as are the speeds. So you need the ventilation more, which points you in the direction of mesh.


Remember to add things to your riding kit one at a time, meaning get the new helmet, put in a few hours of riding with it in until it becomes second nature, then add the next piece of kit, say, a jacket. Wear that for a couple of rides or at least hours. Then add the gloves, and so on and so forth. What this does is it will give you time to adjust to the new gear – if you’re uncomfortable, you’re distracted, and that’s the opposite of being safe.

Oh, and if you buy riding gear, you’ve got to use it. All of the gear you buy will have an expiry date, from top to toe, and all the gear will give up the ghost earlier if it lies unused for a long time, and fail you when you need it the most. Glove knuckle armour will get brittle, as will knee and elbow inserts. The glue of your boot soles will get hard and the sole will separate instead of flexing – things like this. So factor your usage in before you splurge on the best that money can buy, because you’re going to have to replace everything in a few years whether you use it or not.

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