I’ve gone through a lot of riding gear over the last 30 years. When I bought my first bike in 1987, I had no clue as to what riding gear consisted of. There was no internet and TV pretty much showed Hells Angels and racers. I didn’t even know that there were motorcycle gloves available.
The second challenge is that new riders often don’t know how they will ride. Are they going to race bikes, offroad, ride to work, cross the continent, or do short rides on the weekend. The weather you encounter while riding has to be countered with gear as well. Each type of riding has different needs for riding gear.
It took a long time for me to recognize the type of riding I enjoy – long distance riding. I went through a lot of different gear trying to find things that worked. In the early years, I had to rely mostly on motorcycle magazines and friend’s experiences. Today, the internet puts more choices and information closer at hand. Motorcycle forums can then narrow your choices through personal endorsements. Luckily, gear manufacturers have stepped up the challenge and there is some great gear out there today.
I wear either a merino wool based sock or a synthetic substitute. Your socks have to keep your skin protected from your boots, provide warmth in cold weather and wick moisture away from your skin at all times. Merino wool is non itchy and a natural fiber for doing so. The synthetic socks do a wonderful job as well. They are thick and it’s a bit counter-intuitive to wear them in 100F weather, but they do work and your feet will not overheat. In cold weather, silk sock liners under your regular socks help keep heat in. I am currently using a Drymax Sock from LD Comfort.
I use an undershirt with wicking action to keep the moisture off my skin. In super hot weather, I can soak the shirt in water and use it as a cooling device with the venting in my jacket. I have been using LD Comfort long sleeve mock turtleneck shirt for the last 15 years. They are comfortable, the full coverage provides a friction barrier against the inside of my riding jacket, they wash out and hang dry in a hotel sink and they wick moisture away from my skin.
I use full length tights made of the same material as my undershirt for the same reasons. I have been using LD Comfort riding tights for 15 years. I use the tights rather than the shorts as a barrier against my riding suit to eliminate chaffing. They also tuck into my boots to eliminate chaffing there as well. I wear them summer and winter.
I use a helmet liner made of the same material as my undershirt and tights for the same reasons. It wicks moisture from my scalp, is easily cleaned in a sink and air dried, is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
I use a neck sock to keep the sun off my neck and to reduce wind burns. It’s warm in the winter and helps keep me cooler in the summer by keeping the sun and wind off my skin. When it gets really cold, I can pull it up over my lower face and ears under the helmet. I have several, so no brand preference.
I wore Sidi On Road boots for many years. They are great boots for long distance riding and completely waterproof. However, they do not make them in wide sizes and I have wide feet. They are comfortable for me on the bike, but not comfortable for me while walking. It is very inconvenient to have to change up from boots to shoes for a hike while riding.
My current boots are made by TCX who makes motorcycle boots in wide sizes. They wick moisture away from the skin, are decent to walk in for a hike, and are waterproof. They no longer make the style I wear, but I will buy another pair of TCX boots when it comes time.
I have had 6 consecutive Arai Signet helmets. I have a long oval skull and there are few helmets made for that shape. The Signet line fits me out of the box and is comfortable for days at a time on the bike. Unfortunately, Arai doesn’t make a modular helmet with an opening front piece, a feature which makes it easy to snag a snack at a stop without taking the helmet off. A modular helmet also makes snacking and drinking water on the bike while riding much easier.
The Shoei Neotec has an Moderate Oval shape that can accommodate my head with some minor adjustments to the liner. With the flip up face, I can leave the helmet on at stops, saving me time. This is the helmet I use most often now.
Outer Layers: I finally put enough money together to buy the suit I wanted from Aerostich. these suits are made specifically for long distance riders. They are waterproof, protect my skin from the sun weather and wind, have good ventilation behind a bike fairing, and will last for a long time. They offer proven crash protection.
I have the Darien Jacket and Pants. Expensive and worth it.
Cold Riding Gear:
I ride year round. Living in New Mexico makes that easier than for those who live up north, but it still gets cold. I have Warm and Safe Heated Gloves and jacket liner. I will likely add socks as well.
I use three pairs for gloves for different riding.
- Warm n Safe Ultimate touring heated gloves. They do a decent job of staying dry in most wet conditions and they keep my hands warm down to about 35F. At that point, I usually add hand warmers to my fingers and toes
- Aerostich elkskin ropers with gauntlets. These are my cool to moderately warm weather gloves. Used when I want to keep air out of my sleeves.
- Aerostich elkskin ropers without gauntlets. These are my hot weather gloves. I can open my sleeve zippers, closing the underarm and back zippers on the jacket, and let the air run up my arms and out my neck. Helps keep me cooler. Add water to my underlayer for a swamp cooler effect.