Originally Posted by dpancerz
.... [Snip] .... My specific question is this: What sort of riding protection should I be considering? Understanding that flip-flops, shorts and a tank top are sheer lunacy what should I be pondering for a future rider with these requirements:
• I live in Texas where we mostly have two seasons: hot & hotter. Today it's in the low 30's with sleet & snow, and even a fully optioned BMW with heated grips/seats won't get me out in this weather. I wish to ride mostly during the more pleasant months.
• I want to take long trips discovering this fine nation but plan on doing a fair amount of in town riding at first.
• Will be riding alone as the wife has no desire to get near any bike.
• Will likely refrain from riding at night and in the rain until a bit of experience is under my belt. I see all you out there shaking your head about my intention to try and stay out of the rain…
• Would like to buy garments of quality that will last but I hardly need nor do I think it’s appropriate for me to score the Rolls Royce of anything.
With that in mind I’ve been looking at two piece leathers such as Vansons or Alpinestars. Overkill for a fortysomething white guy who is a father of two? I’m certainly not considering the wild race suits, but would an understated Vanson ventilated coat simply be useless during a Texas summer?
What about Aerostich? Perhaps not the most flattering look but the idea is to ride comfortably with the proper protection in case of a fall. Goodness, their catalog alone is enough to overwhelm this inexperienced rider…
Sorry to go on for so long. Your direction and opinions are most appreciated.
Since you live in Texas, and only plan on riding in mild weather, I'd recommend that you do NOT buy leather gear at this time. It's only the best protection if you WEAR it, and in that heat you probably won't! If you're SURE that you will, go for it.
At MINIMUM, I'd recommend a mesh jacket, with armor, a good helmet, good boots, and gloves. Here's some economy ideas for starters, that should last you quite some time, at least until your riding habits outgrow it.
For a helmet, I'd recommend a full face or a flip face helmet, NOT a three quarter or half helmet. DOT approval is fine, Snell not needed. Snell adds to cost. You can buy a decent helmet for a hundred dollars or so, a flip face version will likely cost twice that or more. I'd recommend that you shop locally for a helmet, and really take your time. Fit is VERY important for a helmet. Make sure it is pretty snug, but no real "hot spots", especially at the forehead or around the ears. Snug around the cheeks is OK, that'll loosen up. If it hurts in the store, it will only get worse when you are wearing it all day. Once you find one that fits, fasten the chinstrap, and pull up HARD on the back of it to see if you can roll if off your head, towards the front. If you can, try another brand or style. When you find one that fits, then select the color you want. For hot weather riding, I like light colors, although I'm not sure that it really matters.
For a mesh jacket, you can get some decent protection for a hundred dollars, plus or minus a bit, if you shop around. Check out online places to shop like www.newenough.com
or someplace like that that has discontinued specials. First Gear and Joe Rocket are a couple of economy brands that provide decent protection, and should last for several years. These jackets look hot, but as long as you're moving, they are quite comfortable in sub ninety degree heat. Above that, you can splash some water on the jacket once in awhile, and still be pretty comfortable.
For boots, my first choice would be an over the ankle lace up boot. Red Wing makes a waterproof lace up work boot that works great for a riding boot. With care, it could last you many years, and many Long Distance riders swear by them. I use Cruiserworks slip on boots, but they are not nearly as safe, and they are about twice the cost.
For gloves, visit your local big box store (Home Depot, Lowe's, Sam's club, etc) and buy some work gloves. The gloves with leather palms, and mesh back are perfect. They won't give you as much protection as real riding gloves, but they are cool in the heat, and they'll take the hit of a minor tumble. They are fairly inexpensive, and thin enough to give a good feel of the controls as well as being very comfortable.
As soon as you can, I'd plan on picking up a pair of Frog Toggs, economy rainwear, sized large enough to fit comfortably over you jacket and pants. They aren't especially durable, but they are light, compact, and breathe well, which vinyl and such don't.
That should get you started, without breaking the bank too bad. I'd like to recommend mesh overpants too, but that's up to you. Many riders get by OK by just wearing heavy jeans. Designer jeans don't qualify!
If money is no object, by all means buy the Aerostitch (or Darian) from Riders Wearhouse. That is first class clothing, and priced to match, although then you wouldn't need the Frog Toggs. My concern here, is what if you find out that you don't like riding? Having two or three hundred dollars invested in a helmet and clothing that you'll never use again isn't too big of a deal, considering what value that it provides while your learning the ropes. Having a thousand or two invested might be a whole different story!
I agree with your decision to start with a lighter bike. If you can find one, a twin in the 650-800 cc range might be a good choice. There are several good reasons why a K1200GT wouldn't make a good first motorcycle. Among others, it has so much power, it could quickly get you into trouble before you knew it, and if it fell over, because you forgot to put the kickstand down or something, you could easily do a couple of thousand dollars damage to the painted plastic, even with it not moving!
This hobby is hugely fun, but it can get to be a bit expensive. Worth every nickle to me though!