Beginner's guide to motorcyclist gear
Tony Walters of RideTo shares his essential kit list for any bike
So you’ve decided to learn to ride and have booked your CBT training. The next step is to kit yourself out for life on two wheels, but what should you buy?
This, of course, goes without saying. It’s the only piece of protective equipment that is required by law in the UK. You must wear a helmet that conforms to the ECE 22.05 standard.
Most helmets sold in reputable shops will comply with this. Some helmets made in the USA will only have a DOT rating. Although that doesn’t mean these are unsafe, they’re not legal on British roads.
SHARP is a government-backed testing facility that independently puts helmets through rigorous tests. They then give a star rating to each helmet, along with a full breakdown of the test results.
A very important part of buying and wearing a helmet is its fit. We recommend always buying from a reputable retailer where you can have the helmet professionally fitted.
Getting a good fit is vital as a poorly fitting helmet can prevent it from doing its intended job. If you need to cut back spending on any of your gear, the helmet is the last place to cut corners.
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As a new rider, you’ll have a lot of choice when it comes to protective clothing. So you can base your decisions around the style and look you want.
We would always recommend a jacket fitted with armour, that means shoulder and elbow protectors at the very least. A back protector is a good idea too.
A new system of CE ratings for clothing has been recently introduced for manufacturers. CE stands for Conformité Européenne or ‘European Conformity’. It’s a European safety testing process for safety equipment including bike gear and it lets you quickly see the rating a garment has.
It’s not a legal requirement for your gear to be CE rated to a certain level, but it could give you more protection.
AAA is the best rating, dropping down to a single B. The type of riding you do could also have an impact on the type of jacket you choose. For example, if you’re going to use your bike for commuting then a waterproof jacket will be high on the list of your needs.
For all-year-round use it's also worth considering a jacket with a removable thermal liner and some form of venting.
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A very important piece of kit. We often cringe here at RideTo when we see people riding without them. What’s the first thing you instinctively do when you fall? Yep, put your hands out. Again, where and when you do most of your riding will determine what kind of glove to go for.
Having a waterproof glove is always useful, especially in Britain’s weather conditions. Look also for knuckle and scaphoid protection if possible.
As with any clothing, fit is key to use and comfort. Find a glove that fits close without being overly tight. Floppy fingers that are too long can affect your use of the motorcycle controls.
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A real key piece of clothing that can often be overlooked by new riders. We would always recommend a boot that covers the ankle. Many motorcycle training schools will insist on these for use in lessons.
Normal boots will be fine, but a dedicated motorcycle boot will offer much more protection in the event of a crash. Look for features like armour for both the inside and outside of the ankle and a reinforced toe and heel. A shank in the sole will provide great protection too.
Again, it’s also worth considering a waterproof boot. You’ll find many on the market that have a breathable membrane built into the boots construction.
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A word of warning, normal denim will wear through in an average of half a second when it makes contact with the road. Even a low speed spill could cause nasty ‘road rash’ so abrasion-resistant trousers are a very important safety feature.
There's a huge choice in the market. Leather, textile or denim with an aramid lining are all good options. Some riding jeans look and feel like normal denim, but can offer up to 11 seconds of ‘slide time’ before wearing through.
We’d also recommend trousers that have or can accommodate knee protection at the very least. If you can add in hip and even coccyx protection then that’s even better. The style of clothing you choose is up to you, but safety features really are a must-have.
If you’re choosing a full textile kit, or buying gear that looks more casual, make sure it protects you from the elements and from injury.
Thankfully these days there’s heaps of choice and you don’t need to break the bank to kit yourself out properly. Ride safe!