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Discussion Starter #1
Lucky for me, Kawasaki didn't make it too hard to choose which bike to get (would you like the red or the green?)

But gear, that's a whole different story. I've just been looking the past few days and I feel overwhelmed with choices? Where to start?

I've got the helmet taken care of. So should the next things be jacket, gloves, and pants? I want the best protection money can buy. What are the pros & cons of leather vs. textile? What should I look for in a jacket? What type of armor or reinforcement inside jackets and pants?

My riding will be mostly for commuting, but I ideally want something warm as I'll like to commute year round as long as there is no snow or ice on the ground.

Should I scour craigslist for some deals on "full sets" (as long as they fit), or should I go to the Kawasaki superstore and spend hours trying everything on?

Lastly, boots. Can I get away with leather work boots for the time being? (I have had these for a few years in brown, they are in good shape and I wore them in my MSR class)

Any other safety items you suggest? What about "hi-vis" apparel? I'm convinced they work b/c I've spotted many bikers right away in my truck mirrors when they are wearing 'hi-vis'. Are there some jackets with the 'hi-vis' fabric on them, or do most people just wear a 'hi-vis' construction vest over their regular jacket. What about reflective tape for the helmet or bike itself.

Sorry for all the questions but I feel like I'm going to end up getting totally fleeced by some salesmen and come out of the store looking like Harry & Lloyd in Dumb & Dumber after they spend thousands of dollars on goofy-ass clothing in Aspen.
 

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A great question actually. I started out with a full face, textile jacket, some work gloves and basic boots. Then I got a little smarter and started adding things. First, armored gloves. Next, kevlar long johns from dragginjeans. Next, got a decent leather jacket with armor. Then I got armored boots. Finally, good overpants with armor. I wear it all all the time. ATGATT. Sometimes I don't wear the overpants and just wear the kevlar long johns under pants. This is stupid, because I have seen a chunk taken out of a knee pad by a lane marker in a relatively normal crash. But I only do it when around town. Enough rationalizing. :18:

I would say you should get as much gear as you can afford (which should be everything). And as high a quality as you can afford. I would check out newenough.com. I have gotten almost all my gear from them. They are good folks. Good about returns (although they describe everything well and it has always fit). And there is a commentary about each item. Save you some bucks too. If you have tons of money, Aerostich may be more your speed, but I can't even afford a sticker on there.

So, I'm currently rocking:
Joe Rocket Leather Jacket with CE Armor
Armored leather gloves (thick) - Have several pairs
Full face
Armored tourmaster overpants (most of the time), Kevlar undies if not
Tourmaster armored boots

A lot of people wear regular boots. I don't. The reasoning behind this is that I do not want my foot to be crushed. Ever. Seen it. Bad news. I wear my riding boots every time I ride and they are comfortable enough that I wear them all day. They also feel better riding as they are designed for it. I used to wear engineer's boots.

I used to wear a reflective jacket and I definitely think it is a good idea. When I ride my old Honda I wear it. The KLR is covered in enough 3M reflective tape that it can be seen from space. Same with my helmet.
 

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Tried to edit. Wanted to add:

Re: Leather vs Textile. Good textile stuff works well. It is pricey. And good MC quality leather is tough to beat against asphalt.

The questions I would ask myself to start narrowing things down:

1) How important is abrasion resistance? (Armor should be a given)
2) How important is rain resistance?
3) How much can you budget for EVERYTHING (Jacket, Pants, Gloves, maybe boots)
4) How important is visibility?
5) How important is style (sounds stupid, but you are more likely to wear gear you don't hate)

Sounds like you're in the same boat I am. I would have a lot different gear if I went offroad a lot. For what I need, what I have is good.

PS - Layering and a good scarf/balaclava will go a long way towards warmth. Most jackets have liners that zip out, too.
 

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Adam_R -

Everything Lockjaw said is spot on.

What I'll add is that, back in the day, the choices in riding gear were either denim or leathers.

I was poor, but spent money on good boots (and they were Durangos!) and gloves while I road in Levis.

I think that boots and gloves should be first on the list and then you can add to your wardrobe when you can. Nowadays there are motorcycle specific boots that are designed to protect your shin and anklebones from impact and that have enough structure to ward off fractures. Denim can do a fair job of protecting you in a lay-down, but nothing will protect your hands and feet like good boots and gloves.

I ride in textile, with a winter suit that has waterproof and insulating layers that zip in. I have a summer suit that is mesh (Olympia Recon Transformer) that I really like. Both, of course, are armored.

Tom
 

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You made the question quite simple.. "Best money can buy". There is only one choice... Aerostitch. They make everything for cool and warm weather and the best quality and service you'll ever find. I heard a guy went down once pretty bad and messed his suit up pretty good and Aerostitch gave him a replacement suit for free. I wouldn't expect any company to do that on a regular basis, but they will go out of their way to repair stuff and keep their customers happy. I've never heard anything bad about them.

http://www.aerostich.com/catalog/US/index.html
 

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Not much to add, except personal experience over the years.. (riding motorcycle on the road since 1981)(man, I'm old:mad0235:)

I've tried most everthing over the years, and as much as it pains this KLR rider to say this, spend the extra money to get the best stuff you can..

My current riding gear is:
Helmet- HJC AC12
Jacket- Aerostich Darien
Pants- Aerostich Darien
Gloves- Held Steve gloves
Boots- Gaerne Strada

Now the reasons..
I wear HJC helmets because they're well built, cheap, and I dispose of helmets every other year. I buy a helmet a year, trade off between 2 during the season, and throw away the older one after two seasons. This is because the foam degrades and compresses with use, and the foam is what protects you in a fall.. I know others who wear them longer, but my personnal choice is 2 seasons. (I average 15-20K a year)

Jacket and pants, my choice is Aerostich.. They vent well, are good for 10+ years of use, are waterproof, and Aerostich is an American company that builds excellent motorcycle gear. They're not cheap, but I consider them the best stuff out there.

Held Gloves.. Again, not cheap, but built with the best materials, with racing quality leather, and they fit.. Well, like a glove.. :)

The Gaerne Boots are something I picked up years ago.. I keep waiting for them to die, but they just keep lasting and lasting.. I think I've had this pair for almost 10 years. Comfortable, excellent protection, and they fit.. When these finally are worn out, I'll be going to Aerostich Combat Boots for the same reason as above, except that the Combats are actually built in Italy by Sidi..

I guess what I'm pushing is that you get what you pay for.. I've had $150 jackets that fall apart after a season or two.. Doesn't seem cost effective when I can spend $450 for a Darien, or better yet, buy a used one on eBay for $200.. (yes, my current Darien was an eBay purchase. $125 and I'm on my 5th season with it, and my pants were $100 on eBay)

Get the best you can afford.. It might seem like a lot of money up front, but you'll be wearing it for years and years.. My favorite gear is Aerostich, but I've also seen Olympia gear hold up extremely well, also.. If I didn't have the Darien, I would more than likely wear a Olympia AST jacket..

If you're on a budget, check out NewEnough.com and MotorcycleCloseouts.com for very good closeout gear..

Good luck with your purchase, and just remember that you don't want to buy the Batman outfit in this topic.. :) http://www.klrforum.com/showthread.php?t=6770
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks all. As I suspected a lot of different opinions on brands and models of gear, but there seems to be a consensus on what type of gear is most important.

As for the jackets, lets say I want something to ride in the hot weather for the next few months, and then something to ride in the cold weather after that...but only want one jacket? Should I get a heavy warm jacket and suffer through the heat for a few months, or get a lighter mesh jacket layer up under and over it in the winter? I've got plenty of skiing and hunting gear that I think I can get creative with when it gets cold, so I really just want the jacket for the protection.
 

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As for the jackets, lets say I want something to ride in the hot weather for the next few months, and then something to ride in the cold weather after that...but only want one jacket? Should I get a heavy warm jacket and suffer through the heat for a few months, or get a lighter mesh jacket layer up under and over it in the winter? I've got plenty of skiing and hunting gear that I think I can get creative with when it gets cold, so I really just want the jacket for the protection.
Here's my recommendation..

Get a jacket (non-mesh) that is waterproof without a liner. By this, I mean a jacket shell that's abrasive resistant and waterproof. If it comes with a liner, great, but don't rely on a liner for waterproofing.. You'll find that with limited storage, you'll want to leave the liner at home and then find you need it when you run into a rain shower.
A $15 fleece jacket is as good as any $80 "motorcycle" liner, and you can get them anywhere.. Most shells have excellent venting and you'll be comfortable in most riding.. The trick of course is to be moving.. :)

And, also grab a mesh jacket for those hot days.. Mesh jackets are CHEAP and it's nice to have one for a super hot day that no rain's expected.. And if it does rain, it's hot out and will actually feel good, anyway..

You'll find yourself wearing the shell and layering it with something for 90% of your riding.. Zip it closed and wear fleece for cooler weather, and when it warms up, unzip the venting and toss the fleece in a tank bag..

The reason I don't like waterproof liners is that you have to wear the liner in rain, no matter what temp you're riding in.. I hate tossing a liner on when it's raining and 85 degrees out.. You'll end up wetter from sweat than you would have been just riding in the rain without a jacket..:mad0235:

In time, and if you're riding in very cool temps, or night riding when it's damp out (not much of an issue in Denver, but) kick around an electric vest.. I often end up riding longer in the day or early in the morning when it's 40 degrees out, and an electric vest makes the difference between comfort and being chilled for half the day.

I also like it when I'm riding to work and it's 10 degrees out..:) Like being in a warm shower, but not getting wet.. Ahhhhh...
 

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I'm with Paper... one jacket won't cut it. I originally thought the same way about one master jacket/pants and then work with layers, but it's not feasible unless the temps you ride in don't go to one extreme or the other. I have a winter jacket that is wind and water proof and warm down to the 40's by itself for maybe 3 hours. With the fleece liner that came with it, I can ride to lower 30's for 3 hours or higher temps for more hours. The matching pants have a liner I can't remove so they are always warm. In summer, even the jacket by itself with all vents open is just too hot. I ended up getting a mesh jacket and pants. I can use my liner from the other jacket and the windbreaker from the mesh together for those cold nights after a hot summer day. I really don't find winter riding very fun because of being so covered up that it's hard to even move around so I don't do much of it anymore.
 

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I really don't find winter riding very fun because of being so covered up that it's hard to even move around so I don't do much of it anymore.
Same here.. Other than early winter rides to work before snow (and salt) hits the roads, the only winter riding I do is on a 600 Polaris snowmobile..
 

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The best gear is whatever you'll put on whenever you ride. In 2003 I wrecked a bike and slid down the road at about 60 mph. I discovered that the textile riding pants that I had didn't hold up well to abrasion. The leather jacket that I was wearing was barely scuffed. So I bought a set of Alpinestars two-piece leathers and wear those whenever I'm doing any "serious riding" or going very far.

But I've found that I don't usually bother with the leather pants for trips of less than 50 miles, so those leather pants aren't protecting me for those rides.

Just last week I finally gave in and purchased some textile pants and jacket from NewEnough.com and I'm hoping that I'll be more likely to use the overpants for shorter rides, since I don't have to change clothes to put them on. The textile jacket will likely be used only when there will be dirt riding involved.

Rather than being an ATGATT guy, I've been more of a MOTGMOTT (Most of the gear, most of the time) rider. I'm hoping to change that.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Good advice, all. Its been a week and I'm wearing a DOT & Snell approved full face helmet, a joe rocket mesh jacket w/ zip on textile over material for cooler weather, leather baseball gloves, jeans, and over the calf leather harness boots. I am also wearing a high-vis construction safety vest. I think this will do me for now while commuting 30 miles each way. By the time October rolls around and I head out 200+ miles for my hunting trip, I should have enough money for textile pants and riding boots.
 
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