Gear... in general. Really. - Kawasaki KLR 650 Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Gear... in general. Really.

I'm a new guy... as new as new can get. I can't even get my license until late April!
Plus I'm a 38 year old adult, so I'm not the sort to just jump out there with his wallet and start buying stuff on impulse.

That puts me in the position of being a guy who didn't pass on a great opportunity to buy a nice bike, and now needs a lot of stuff that I don't know anything about to actually use it.



HELMET:
So far, I've bought an Icon helmet with the assistance of a local shop - this one I believe (I only paid $190):
http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/537/22...et-Review.aspx
Seems good, I think it's a keeper.


JACKET:
I've also [tentatively - making sure I knew their return policy] bought an Alpinestars textile jacket:
http://blog.revzilla.com/2012/01/alp...ir-jacket.html

This is something I have some questions on, since I bought this bike with the intention of commuting on the highway, and also doing some off-road exploring. Not mudding, but railroad beds, powerline service roads, etc.

My concern is it being protective enough (this one is armored)...
Being visible enough (I got the one that was white and black, since my bike and helmet are black, I didn't want to be all black-on-black-on-black at night on the roads)...
and the tricky part-
Is it warm enough for spring and fall, but cool enough both on the highway at high speed, and bopping around off-road at low speed?

This one wasn't cheap at $250, but also wasn't $400 like where the leather ones with good ventilation seem to start.

But I thought I'd ask, how do you guys pick a jacket?


BOOTS:
I want something that doesn't look like a space cadet freak show, maybe even casual-office appropriate, hopefully with some hiking-boot abilities for when actually out exploring. I don't want a boot that comes up to my knee, but the idea is protection... otherwise I'd just wear some off-road running shoes around. Or hey, commute to the office in casual/dress shoes. They are leather, right?
I could get these from a local dealer for about $100:
http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/409/88...ot-Review.aspx
Which to me is expensive for footwear, but I see some of the freak-boots cost upwards of $200.


GLOVES:
Do I even need them? The bike has the [stock] hand guards, which will at least block wind, but that won't do much for my falling off the bike.
I saw a set of gloves at a local dealer that were all fabric, and thought "that won't do much against road rash", but do I want to spend ANOTHER hundred bucks on carbon-kevlar-leather-vented-dynamic-unobtanium gloves?


ANYTHING ELSE?
ANY suggestions are appreciated, thanks!




I'm hoping there's some objective "things" to look for in these products, so that I can make some wise "bang for the buck" decisions.

This stuff is adding up lol... And I really want to buy a set of crashbars as bike insurance against my newbie self, definitely adds up!
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post #2 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 01:43 PM
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You've already bought the helmet and jacket....good....but now you need good ankle protection, this coming from someone who broke his left leg just above the Kodiak work boot in 3 places and split the main bone up to the knee! Work boots don't work when you do get into a Oh No! situation. Anything will work when you are upright and moving, anything even flipflops......but in that one in a thousand chance...buy a semi motorcross boot, even a $100 pair is better than what you posted up. Sorry. It takes very little force to twist or snap an ankle. How much is it to fix that? Not to mention the pain!
I will admit after riding for god knows how many years now with only one off and a few leg snags by my panniers I still wear semi unprotective boots. But I do have a set of cheap MX boots to wear IF I know I will be riding on anything other than tarmac.
Gloves are the same sort of thing. The first thing that hits the road is your palms.....think about it.....it will hurt. You can go either way with these too. Buy cheaper gloves and have to replace them more often of buy good and they will last longer. I buy cheap gloves if I need them or if I find a good set on clearance I will pick those up and keep the cheap pair for seconds.

It all comes down to pain versus money versus risk.
You are thinking right with crash bars also.....plastic is expensive and so is that rad. For one off you could spend more on that stuff than all of your safety gear!

Hope this helps.

Willys
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post #3 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 02:00 PM
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First rule of gear - YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!!
Second rule of gear - If you go down it's the openly thing between your skin and the ground.

So ya you can buy cheap stuff but if you slide down the road do you want it to protect you or become part of your skin as it melts into it??

The jacket you bought is vented. I don't know what your climate is like but for me I never wear my vented jacket on my KLR. I find a jacket such as an Olympia or Tourmaster Transition with its sleeve and other vents open is cool enough on a KLR. The plus side is that it is warm when it is cooler and the vents are closed. It will also keep out the wet.

I also prefer a slightly longer jacket than the Alpinestar you show.

You actually could have got the Tourmaster from Revzilla for less than the Alpinestar you bought.

http://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/t...ition-3-jacket

I would also go with the high vis colours. These days everybody is doing something else beside concentrating on their driving.

Boots - I only buy Goretex boots. Nothing worse than having wet feet. I currently have a pair of Alpinestars.

http://www.revzilla.com/product/alpi...gore-tex-boots

Gloves: You asked:
Quote:
Do I even need them?
Think about this. When you trip walking on the sidewalk what's the first thing you do when you are going to the ground?? You put your hands out in front of you. Same on a bike. I see so many people riding without gloves or with those stupid nose picker gloves thinking they are invincible. Google road rash and look at some pictures. Want that to be you??

Quote:
This stuff is adding up lol... And I really want to buy a set of crashbars as bike insurance against my newbie self, definitely adds up!
Forget about the crash bars if it comes ahead of buying quality gear. A bike you can always buy parts for, fix or replace. A human body not so much.


That's my 25Ę worth.

My Kaw Barn - 2004 KLR, 2006 Concours (sold), 1997 Bayou 400.

"It's a friggen motorcycle, it's not supposed to be comfortable, quiet or safe. The wind noise is supposed to hurt your ears, the seat should be hard and riding it should make you shit your pants every now and then. "

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Last edited by klr4evr; 03-22-2013 at 02:05 PM.
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post #4 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 02:23 PM
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When talking about gear, I always encourage people to get familiar with Brittany Morrow.

If you're in an accident, the gear has to hold up for several seconds. Leather may be re-usable, textiles may not. Skin definitely won't hold up and will have to be replaced, which is far more expensive than the most expensive gear and, I hear, rather painful.

Pants - get some. Decent ones with armor in them. Jeans won't protect you.

Gloves - even a pair of $10 deerskin work gloves from the home improvement store will wear better on asphalt than the palms of your hands. I don't know what kind of work you do, but have to wonder how well you could do it if you had no skin on your palms for a few months. I am currently wearing either Held Air or Icon Pursuits, both about $70.

Boots - I'm a big fan of the Gaerne Explorers not only for their function as an on/off-road boot but for the fact that they fit my wide feet. These boots have a Vibram sole and give good traction off-road and they are pretty comfortable for a bit of a hike. Not so comfortable as a true hiking boot, but they offer good shin protection. Any similar boot would be good. I would advise staying away from a short road boot as there is no shin protection, and away from a road boot in general as the tread is somewhat lacking and useless in loose terrain.

The helmet you've bought is a good one, being a full-face and not a flip up or 3/4. It will serve you well.

The jacket is a good one and will afford good protection, though I prefer one with a bit more length and more pockets. I use Olympia gear. My cold weather jacket is Airglide, my warm weather a Transformer, which is no longer made. My pants are also Olympia.

Hearing protection - use, at the very least, some disposable ear plugs. There are many varieties available and the cost is pocket change for a pair that will last for a few days. Better is custom earplugs. Unless you are very lucky with your head shape and how it goes into our helmet, you'd be surprised at the noise level from wind. You'll suffer hearing loss if you do it long enough. I started riding in '72 and began wearing hearing protection 5 years ago. Should have done it sooner.

A final word - stay away from bargain gear like Bilt. It's cheap for a reason. The gear itself will protect you in a get-off, but it won't hold up over time - zippers and closures will fail, seams will fail, armor will deteriorate. Think like a smart poor man - a poor man can only afford to buy top quality, as he can't afford to keep buying cheap stuff.

Look for brand names in your gear - Genuine Cordura, 3M ScotchLite, YKK zippers, Velcro, GoreTex, etc, and be wary of imitations.

Tom

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post #5 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 02:30 PM
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You already got the jacket, but I look for a "multi-purpose" jacket with removeable inner liners so it can be worn both when it's warm and when it's cold. I also usually buy a size larger than called for so I can put more clothes on under it if needed and that's something I usually do when it gets really cold out. I've found that mesh jackets are no cooler in the Summer than a solid jacket and most likely provide far less abrasion resistance in the event of a crash. They are, however much colder in the Winter.

I like jackets with CE-approved elbow and back armor. Is it effective? I don't know. Does it cause the jacket to take up more room when stowing in a container on the bike? Yes, but I like having it there.

I don't have any waterproof boots, but I do have waterproof socks. The boots get wet, but your feet won't.

Gloves. Good advice above. They're very important. I would prefer not to have to ask somebody to hold my beer can or wipe my ass because my hands are all mangled up.

Remember, if you're not a slave to fashion and buy good-quality, serviceable gear and don't have any accidents, with proper care it will last for years and years.

It took me two years to save up for it, but I finally ordered the jacket I've always wanted. I'm planning on it lasting me the rest of my riding days, so it's a long-term investment. I went with Hi-Viz.

The selection of gear/clothing is quite mind-boggling and I feel your pain trying to figure out what to get.

I'll also throw in my usual pitch: buy some earplugs and wear 'em when you're riding. Your ears will thank you in the future.



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post #6 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 03:46 PM Thread Starter
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These are all good suggestions, thanks for the thoughts so far.
I'm not hesitant to spend money, I'm just looking to follow a model like what I did for my helmet...
I could have bought the $100 HJC helmet with DOT certification.
I could have bought the $200 Icon helmet with DOT, Snell, European certification
I could have bought the $900 Arai helmet with DOT, Snell, European certification.
I don't just want to spend more in one category, I want to hit the sweet spot so that I can afford to spend more elsewhere in other important areas as well, and have good equipment all-around, without bankrupting myself.

So, I figure it's good to determine what experienced riders use-

I used to autocross race - the experienced guys weren't running Lamborghinis and Ferraris, and in fact most often not even cars modified sports cars like kids on the street do.
It's often interesting where "most effective" and "most practical" intersect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by klr4evr View Post
Think about this. When you trip walking on the sidewalk what's the first thing you do when you are going to the ground?? You put your hands out in front of you. Same on a bike. I see so many people riding without gloves or with those stupid nose picker gloves thinking they are invincible. Google road rash and look at some pictures. Want that to be you??
That's a good sidebar on a safety topic actually-

The sentiment is understood, I actually try to teach this out of people-
I've had some interesting experience here - after a lifetime of skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX-riding, and other sorts of sports like that, if there's one thing I've achieved blackbelt status in, it's falling when unexpected and the world feels it's yanked out from under you. I've had almost every bit of the panic reflex worked out of me -
I actually volunteer in my local town to teach small children skateboarding lessons, and "how to fall" is one of those things. You should see my demonstration

If you can accomplish it - relax (sounds odd) and roll with it. Literally, roll, let whichever end is down hit first, and roll with it. Try to stay aware. It slows time down, you can actually think through the unexpected as it transpires, rather than panicking, stiffening up, and thinking willpower will somehow overcome physics. When you stiffen up - things get broken!

Of course, coming off a skateboard or snowboard is different than a several hundred pound motorcycle crashing with you, but it's something to think about - although without 25 years in these crazy sports I'm not sure how you mentally condition yourself to that sort of instinctual state to replace "panic" with "relax, roll, think", but it's probably related to why I'm trying to think through these scenarios before I end up in them...
So for someone like me, this beginner stuff is frustrating not being able to close my eyes and even picture the "going right" scenario, much less the potentials for "going wrong" scenario. I'm not used to the "just buy safety gear and let IT do the work of protecting for you." passive approach.

My apologies if it seems that I'm putting too much thought into these, I definitely appreciate all the advice.
"Reckless" isn't how I'm accustomed to approaching any sort of risk scenario -
This one I'm actually more fearful of, because there are more variables than those in my control, at least on a road/highway. Yike!
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post #7 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planalp View Post
You already got the jacket, but I look for a "multi-purpose" jacket with removeable inner liners so it can be worn both when it's warm and when it's cold. I also usually buy a size larger than called for so I can put more clothes on under it if needed and that's something I usually do when it gets really cold out. I've found that mesh jackets are no cooler in the Summer than a solid jacket and most likely provide far less abrasion resistance in the event of a crash. They are, however much colder in the Winter.
Interesting. I definitely can see how that would be true, I suppose that's part of my hesitation to take the tags off, and for this thread.
However, I'm surprised when you say that a leather jacket is not warmer in the summer? That's what led me to this one.

This one has a removable inner liner - versatility is important. We obviously get real snow in the winter in Buffalo, we also get up into the 90's in the summer months. Four real seasons.

I'm not tied to it. Still has it's tags, it's returnable.
That being said - until I have experience to really "know what my preferences are", I'm going to feel really stupid spending big money on a jacket until I'm at that point.
There's a good argument to be made on that side that this first jacket I'm buying, I should consider "disposable", because my preferences might turn out to be somewhere completely different.

Quote:
Originally Posted by planalp View Post
I like jackets with CE-approved elbow and back armor. Is it effective? I don't know. Does it cause the jacket to take up more room when stowing in a container on the bike? Yes, but I like having it there.
I believe this jacket has that... I'll check. I've also seen replacement armor, that seems generic to upgrade existing jackets with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by planalp View Post
I'll also throw in my usual pitch: buy some earplugs and wear 'em when you're riding. Your ears will thank you in the future.
Maybe it'll also help explain my "overthinking" tendencies, but I've spent several years doing audio engineering work, primarily on the side, but for a few years as my primary career when I was younger (I'm pretty sure if you googled my username, you'd probably end up with a list of audio forums that I either frequented or moderated, which would be a pretty exhaustive list lol).
I definitely want to protect my ears. I own plenty of hearing protection.
I'm hoping this Icon helmet is on the "quieter" side as well!
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post #8 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geolemon View Post
I'm not tied to it. Still has it's tags, it's returnable.
That being said - until I have experience to really "know what my preferences are", I'm going to feel really stupid spending big money on a jacket until I'm at that point.
There's a good argument to be made on that side that this first jacket I'm buying, I should consider "disposable", because my preferences might turn out to be somewhere completely different.
Return it and get the Tourmaster Transition.

My Kaw Barn - 2004 KLR, 2006 Concours (sold), 1997 Bayou 400.

"It's a friggen motorcycle, it's not supposed to be comfortable, quiet or safe. The wind noise is supposed to hurt your ears, the seat should be hard and riding it should make you shit your pants every now and then. "

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post #9 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 04:10 PM
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I know these guys are trying to steer you in the right direction and are, but, if money is a concern and for most it is.......buy what you can afford and are happy with. After you have been riding for a season you may decide after that time that you really don't like what it is you have bought, and want to change. We all do it, search it out, none of us use the same jacket for long, or any other piece of clothing, it's just human nature to want something either different or better.
Just keep this in the back of your head. There is no need to go out and buy the best on the market when something at a lower price break will work just as good to start with.
Personally I would buy what you can and also budget the crash bars into your equation. As said before, the costs of the broken parts are not going to be cheap. Don't get me wrong and buy the bike protection before your own, just think about the possibilities before emptying your wallet on expensive clothing and then find out there is nothing left to fix your bike with.
What are you going to do, wear your expensive clothing to the office after driving your car to work?


Either way is your choice, neither is wrong....just think before hitting buy!

Willys
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post #10 of 37 Old 03-22-2013, 05:19 PM
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Last time I didn't wear ATGATT (just going to the store), I dropped my bike in the parking lot. I attribute the drop mostly to carelessness AND feeling weird without my gear. Get it. ALWAYS wear it.




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