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Discussion Starter #1
My wife approached me with a request the other day...one of her co-workers is a newer rider and he wants to be as safe as he can. And he's on a tight budget. She asked if I would write up some riding gear suggestions she could share with him.

A few years ago on another forum, I used the term 'Gear-Volution' to describe how my riding gear changed (and continues to change) since I started. I thought I would share the advice I sent in case it was helpful to anyone else.

Gear-Volution Defined

Before my wife blessed my crazy idea to get a motorcycle, I had to agree to some rules. Two of those were that I keep my expenditures within a budget, and that I always ride wearing protective gear. When I got my first bike, I had very little money for riding gear. So I began a process I dubbed ‘Gear-Volution’.

The First Law of Gear-Volution: Any Protection Is Better Than No Protection.
My first helmet was a 15-year-old garage sale find I paid $15 for. My first riding jacket was a leather jacket I think I picked up in the 1980s, with leather thinner than some nylon jackets. My first foot-gear were an old pair of hiking boots. My first gloves were hardware-store leather work gloves. Luckily, none of that gear was ever put to the test, but I’m confident it all protected me better than having nothing at all.

The Second Law of Gear-Volution: Always Be Looking For The Next Deal.
Especially early on, I was constantly checking Craigslist, Ebay, garage sales, etc. for sweetheart deals on riding gear. My first purpose-built riding jacket was a CL find for $45. It was over 10 years old, but it was extremely well-built and spent most of those years hanging in someone’s closet. For a long time, I had a $50 rule: If it cost more than $50, I had to get spousal buy-in. That meant debating whether I really needed it. Who needs that? >:) So I found a LOT of riding gear (pants, boots, gloves, etc.) for under $50. Even though our disposable income has increased since those early days, I still find it hard to pass up a great deal – my current helmet is a Shoei Neotec. You typically couldn’t touch one of those through a retailer for under $600. I was hanging out in an online MC forum late one night when a fellow forum member posted that he was selling his Neotec, used only 3 times, for $300. It was my size and the exact color I wanted. Plus, I’d been saving up money for a new helmet and had just over $300 available. I couldn’t type my ‘dibs’ fast enough.

The Third Law of Gear-Volution: Safety Trumps Ego.
I don’t really care what my gear looks like, if it matches, or what brand name is emblazoned across it. The most important thing to me is whether or not it will help protect me if put to its intended purpose. My current cooler-weather riding jacket is a TourMaster Transition 3.0 in Hi-Viz Yellow. It’s a great-looking jacket, that I bought on closeout for around $150 at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show in Chicago a few years ago. It replaced the Transition 2.0 that (literally) saved my hide when I slid down the road at 50 mph the previous fall. But the jacket I wear most of the riding season is a Hi-Viz mesh no-name I picked up from another forum member for $50. And here I’ll interject a quick note about Cycle Gear. I see a lot of riders crap on CG because their stuff isn’t the highest quality. Refer to The First Law…a person can walk out of a Cycle Gear with a helmet, jacket, pants, boots, and gloves for under $300. It may not be the gear you use for the rest of your riding life, but it’s good enough to provide protection until you can find or afford something better. My warm-weather riding gloves are a pair of CG house-brand perforated leathers that fit well. When I noticed the stitching on one was fraying after a couple of riding seasons, I took it to CG and they gave me a new pair for no charge. Hard to throw shade on that.

The Fourth Law of Gear-Volution: ‘Tis Better To Sweat Than Bleed.
I’m lucky enough now to have complete sets of warm-weather and cool-weather riding gear. The mesh gear is nice in the summer, but for those early years, I made do with the single riding jacket and pants I had. For all that was good about that first jacket I mentioned above, its one downfall was that it had no venting. The same went for my first pair of riding pants. A ride on a 90-degree day would have me sweating profusely within moments. But, no matter how hot I got, I never went without. These days it seems a bit easier to find at least vented gear for a decent price. But if all you can afford and/or find is non-vented gear, so be it. And the same goes the other way – if the deal you get is on mesh gear, you can always add layers underneath when the temperature starts to drop.


If I had more time and inclination, I could probably add to my 'by-laws'. But at least it's a good starting point for someone who's serious about rider protection but doesn't want to break the bank.
 

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Started in the 60's with Levi denim jacket. Now I have the Helite airbag jacket and Aerostitch and BMW stuff and more in the collection.
Yah it changes over the years and the disposable income level.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Following the Second Law, I saw a mesh jacket in my size on Craigslist for sale by someone who stopped riding. The price was 'make me an offer'. I offered $35; I'm picking it up on Tuesday.

I don't really need another mesh jacket but it looks to be better than my current back-up mesh jacket. At $35, why not?
 

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Yes your riding gear gets better with a disposable income increase. I always try to go for an upgrade when getting new gear. I have no problem buying from Cycle Gear, they have store brands and better brands in their stores. Sedici jackets are quite feature packed for the money. I have a 3 season jacket from them. The Tourmaster mesh jacket I got there is great. Maybe some day the budget will allow for Aerostitch but not right now. So many brands and styles of gear...


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