I got lucky when I bought my first bike.  The dealer I bought the bike from asked me if I had a helmet.  I was so excited about buying my first bike that I hadn't given safety much thought.  He came out with not one but two Arai Signet helmets - very expensive - and gave the to me for free.  To my eternal wonder today, they fit like a glove, never had any hot spots and the Signet continues to be the helmet that fits my head perfectly every time.  I am currently on my 6th Arai Signet full face helmet.

I did try a Shoei Neotec for a couple of years.  I really like the convenience of the flip front.  While the helmet fits, it just isn't quite as comfortable as the Signet.  So, I'm back with the Signet as long term comfort is more important than the convenience of the flip face.

 

 

Hi Viz Darien Jacket.jpg

I have had three main jacket brands over the years.  I started with the First Gear Kilimanjaro.  I had three of them and survived my only crash so far in one of them.  A great jacket.  Unfortunately, as I became more pear shaped, the slimmer fit of the early Kilimanjaro's didn't fit me as well.  Their prices also continued to rise to the point that I started looking for alternatives.

My seconds set of main jackets were the Tour Master Transition series.  I've had three of those.  A great price point vs the First Gear and a good year round jacket.  I've had gen II, gen III and gen IV versions.   The main shape and function of the jacket remains the same, but the features keep getting better and the price stays reasonable.  The jacket vents well in the summer and is reasonably warm in the winter.  It isn't totally waterproof, so doesn't work if you don't want to stop to put on rain gear in a downpour.  It shrugs off light rains.  It's not a winter jacket, but electrics take care of that.  By this time, I'm riding 15,000 mile or more a year.  The Transition jackets would typically last about 3 seasons.

I finally saved my pennies and bought the jacket I've wanted for a long time - an Aerostich Darien.  Well crafted, good fit, waterproof and very durable.  I've put around 10,000 miles on this one so far and it's still not entirely broken in.  It has pockets where you need them, seals up nicely against the wind and has great ventilation on a full faired bike.  It isn't lined, so you have to layer for winter.  They are expensive, but experienced riders get many years out of them.  

I have been using Aerostich Darien pants for a few years now.  Middle age spread has meant that I had to get a larger waist size this last year.  My original set was in great shape after three years and over 50,000 miles of riding.  I find the newest version of armor to be comfortable in the Darien pants, but the original armor chafed.  They are certainly waterproof, but unlined.  You have to be prepared for cold weather and your pants should be sized large enough to put your warmer gear underneath.

 

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warmnsafe jacket.jpgUltimate Touring Gloves Warmnsafe.jpg

I ride a lot.  It gets cold when I ride but that doesn't have to stop me from riding.  You need to stay warm to stay out when the temperatures dip below about 50.  You can layer down to about 40, but after that you need to add heat to the mix or you start to get so many layers that you cannot move anymore.

The answer:  Heated Gear!

I started with a Widder vest and heated grips on the bike, which was OK for awhile, but that leaves the back of your hands cold as well as your legs and arms.  Widder is now out of business.

My new electrics are from Warmnsafe.com.  I bought one of their 3rd generation windstop jackets 2 years ago and have been using it from about 50F and down.  It's got a bit of uneven heating that is noticeable at times, but overall it keep my torso and arms warm.  You plug the jacket into the bike and it distributes power into two channels.  I have my gloves plugged into channel two.  The wireless controlled is velcroed to the master cylinder for the front brake.   Warmnsafe also has heated chaps and socks as well.  Haven't gone for those yet.

My ST1300 doesn't have heated grips, so I need a good pair of heated gloves.  My first pair was a set of First Gear gloves I bought used.  They worked at first, but have slowly been losing their warmth.  I just bought a new pair of Warmnsafe Ultimate Touring Gloves.  I haven't had a chance to use them yet, but will report once winter is over.  I will see how they work before adding heated grips to the bike for supplemental heat on the hands.

For now, I'm using long johns, wool socks and Toe Warmers to keep my feet and legs warm enough.  With the good wind protection from the ST1300, my legs don't get as cold as they used to.