Gear 101: The Essentials of Riding

August 1, 2023

We all love gear. Trying gear. Buying gear. Looking forward to new gear coming out. It’s one of the great things about motorcycle riding.

But when you’re first starting to ride, all the possibilities can feel overwhelming. We get it, mostly because we’ve been there too. Fortunately, you’re part of the kind of community where we help each other out, so here’s a look at the gear essentials every rider needs.

1. Helmets

A lot of important stuff happens inside your head, so you want to protect it. Besides, in most parts of the United States it’s the law.

You’ve got some choices when it comes to helmets, what kind of riding are you doing? For on highway, a full face helmet is the only way to go. Off-road helmets provide protection for your head, face and ears and usually come with a sun visor that’s part of the helmet’s construction. When wearing an off-road helmet, you have to pair it with goggles, nobody wants a rock in their eye. Helmet technology evolves all the time and there are some great innovations that you may want to look into (like MIPS, heads-up displays, Bluetooth, etc.) Your dealer or aftermarket retailer will have great information about features AND how to get a helmet to fit you perfectly.

When you’re choosing a helmet –both on an off-road- look for the Department of Transportation label and take a few moments to be sure it fits snugly, securely and comfortably. Don’t even think about using a bicycle helmets or sports helmets — they just won’t provide the level of protection you need.

2. Gloves

If you’re doing some street riding, you’ll want textile or leather gloves with reinforced knuckles. Look for a proper fit without areas that are too tight or too loose.

For adventure/dual sport riders, seek out gloves that are armored over the knuckles and impact areas with carbon fiber, hard plastic or metal. Weatherproofing, ventilation, insulation and a good fit over the fingers and palm are essential.

If you’re a sport rider or hitting the track, look for reinforced gloves that are resistant to abrasion. These gloves are usually made from cool materials like carbon fiber and titanium.

Dirtbike and ATV riders: you’ll look for gloves with reinforcements around the knuckles and all other impact zones. A good fit through the fingers and palms is essential, and so are good ventilation and weatherproofing. These gloves should be thinner and flexible for maximum performance.

3. Boots

Don’t settle for any kind of footwear — even if you’re just riding around town. You’ll want to wear over-the-ankle boots.

Street riders will find that an impact-absorbing boot with reinforced ankles, heels and toes works best. A reinforced instep helps with positive shifting engagement, and non-slip soles and proper lacing will keep you from getting tangled up in your sprockets and chains.

For the adventure/dual sport riders out there: look for boots with armored ankles and heels. Material should be breathable and weatherproof. Expect a higher calf-length and heavier tread on these boots.

Your sport/track boot has extra reinforcement through the heel, toe, ankle and shin. Good riders seek boots with features that minimize excessive ankle twisting. A good fit is key; you’ll want accurate feedback from the boot so you don’t miss gears or lock your breaks. Look for a pair that’s waterproof.

As for dirtbike and ATV riders, you’ll want good shin and joint protection, along with safeguards against hyperextension. Thermal shield plates, shin and calf plates and absorbent heel pads are all a plus. Get a good fit and make sure the boot is the appropriate length from insole to gaiter. You should be just as comfortable standing in these boots as you are riding in them.

4. Jackets & Pants

The right jacket and pants will do more than help you look the part. Riding in shorts and a T-shirt is out of the question.

If you’re a street rider, comfort is key, and so are breathable, durable materials. Don’t think it’s just heavy black leather. Jackets and pants can be light and breathable making them comfortable to wear, even in hot temperatures. Bright-colored gear will also help you be seen on the road.

Adventure and dual sport riders: you’ll want a jacket with armored shoulders, elbows, back and forearms. Make sure you’ve got a full range of motion and that everything is well-ventilated.

Sport/track riders need the latest in protective technology. There’s no room for compromises here. You’ll need reinforced shoulders, elbows, back and forearms in the jacket you choose. Don’t be afraid of a tight fit, but ventilation is important.

Dirtbike and ATV riders are best served with lots of safety gear like a neck brace, chest protector and a jackets with armored shoulders, elbows, back and forearms. Ventilation, fit and mobility are all critical — you may be riding where it’s hot, so consider a hydration pack, too.

So now you’re just about ready to gear up and hit the road. For a deeper dive into gear essentials, cruise through our website. And the next time we see you out on the road, we know you’ll be looking sharp.


Let’s talk. Then let’s ride.

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