If you can afford a Dainese 2-piece suit, or a set of Alpinestars leathers, or an Arai helmet, nothing like it. However, most people who message me to ask for riding gear recommendations have extremely tight budgets.
I’ve always believed that it’s better to save for a while and buy something good that’s costly, rather than be impatient and buy something bad that’s cheap. And keep in mind that this is coming from a guy who has used absolute shit products like this, this, this and that.
I’ve also always believed that it’s pointless to buy products that claim to be usable in all-weather conditions, like these jackets that come with like 11 different liners. India’s weather remains hot for most of the year, so in my opinion it makes sense to be prepared for that, rather than worry about winter, rain, spring, autumn, and whatever else there is.
If you buy gear that’s usable in summer, you can use it in winter by wearing thermal stuff inside, and you can use it in rain by wearing waterproof clothing outside. Internal liners fail frequently and fuck with sizing.
However, you will notice that some of these gear recommendations below are a bit skewed towards comfort, and away from safety. Ideally speaking, we should all ride around with full leather suits, neck and knee braces, chest and back protection vests, motocross boots, leather racing gloves, and AGV Pista GPs, but we don’t. Even racers like Rossi and CS Santosh don’t, because of a number of reasons.
- You can’t protect yourself against everything.
- Comfortable gear is a big part of riding safety.
- Riding is risky, if you don’t want to get hurt, stay home.
The easiest way to put my thoughts is this: Buy the best riding gear you can afford.
Here are my recommendations for a set of full riding gears under 50,000 bucks. Some people might feel this is all too costly, and I hope you never crash and find it how much cheaper that is against hospital bills.
MT Revenge is my choice, because it’s available all across the country, so people can check for sizing and everything, which is extremely important when buying any helmet. Plus there are a number of swanky visors for it, which are all relatively cheap. They are imported in India by Spartan, so I’m sure you’ll get some level of warranty/support too.
Oh and another tiny little thing, it’s a SHARP 5* rated helmet.
I’ve been using a SOL Metal Man helmet since quite a while, and it’s great, no complaints. However, it’s nearly impossible to find one at a shop, they are available at only a few places, and out of stock most of the time. It’s even harder to find visors and stuff for it, I ended up buying an Iridium visor from AH Helmets at a rather inflated price.
Aspida Hyperion ticks all the boxes. CE Level 1 protectors everywhere, even the back, leather at all the important places, and great ventilation. It’s a rather understated jacket, not a looker by any standard, but does the job well.
I have recommended to a lot of people to buy the Aspida Helios, and switch the back protector with a Level 2 SAS-TEC one you can buy from Let’s Gear Up. However, the back protectors are rarely in stock, and Spartan for some reason has launched a different version of the Helios that confuses things even more. Makes life easier to just go for the Hyperion.
Also, TBG’s ADVBreed is probably the safest jacket you can buy at this point, with all CE Level 2 protectors. However, stock is a problem, and so is the ventilation. If you primarily ride in cold, or are looking for something specific to a Ladakh ride, look no further.
Aspida Proteus is what I’d buy if I had any money. Knox armors in the knees, great ventilation, and a nice ass patch that grips on the seat. The hip protectors are shit, but can be easily replaced with something better.
Rynox Advento pant isn’t too bad either, comes with CE hip protectors too, but ventilation is a problem.
TBG Sport gloves are by far the safest, most comfortable, and most versatile leather full-gauntlet gloves you can buy. Here’s my review of them. I’ve used them on the track, while touring, off-road, and in rain too. A friend crashed heavily in them and felt nothing. At 4950 bucks, they aren’t cheap, but they provide the same level of protection as some 15,000 Rupee gloves do, maybe even better.
Leather full-gauntlet gloves aren’t the most relaxing things you can buy, especially when compared to mesh gloves, more so in summers, but hands are kinda important, and fingers, wrist, that entire area is rather fragile. When you fall, most of the time you instinctively end up taking the first impact on your hands. Full-gauntlet leather gloves make me feel a bit safer, and I have no issues with sacrificing a bit on comfort for that.
The TBG people are setting up a website soon where you’ll be able to easily pick up the gloves. For now, message them on Facebook, transfer the amount, and get the good stuff.
I can’t tell you enough how awesome the Alpinestars S-MX 6 Vented boots are, I have never felt this level of foot comfort with anything, not even when those pervert little fish come and eat away your dirty skin.
There’s a normal version of the S-MX 6 that comes in many different colors, but the problem with that is, it’s neither waterproof, nor vented. If you are buying something that’s not waterproof, why not go full retard and buy something that’ll at least let some air in? Also, if some water does get it these boots, the airflow takes it all away rather quickly, which is not the case with the non-vented version, in which water keeps sloshing around your soggy foot.
Once you put these boots on, you never need to take them off. And when you are on the move, there’s actual, real, completely non-fictitious wind around your feet. They are pricey though, and certainly not beefy enough for the cost, but to me, the comfort justifies it all. I will post their full review in a while.
You could also get the TBG Full length boots, which are waterproof, and relatively inexpensive. But keep in mind that waterproof boots can be a pain in the ass during hot weather, just like these Tarmac ones are.
6. Lower back protection
Most jackets and their back protectors fall short in covering up the lower end of your spine, the area just above your buttcrack. This is a problem, since in many crashes that is the exact same section that takes all the brunt, which is why there are a lot of riders out there with tailbone injuries.
This Cramster Lumbar Lower back protector is something that I’m planning to get, and looks like it’ll help solve this problem by at least some degree, although Cramster is not a company that I trust with keeping me safe, if you’ve ever seen what a “CE Approved” protector in their jacket looks like, you know what I mean.
I can’t find any other option in the market that’s priced reasonably, if you know of it, tell me.
7. Ear Plugs
If you’re still not using ear plugs, especially on those long rides, you are a fucking dickhead who’s going to spend his old age irritating people by asking them to repeat what they just said because you couldn’t hear any of it.
Pick this up, they are dirt cheap, hard to lose, and do the job well. There are many seasoned riders who swear by custom-made earplugs, but I can’t afford them right now. Ear Plugs massively save your hearing ability, keep your ear canals clean, and help you stay calmer on the bike.
These are the small items that might make a big difference in your safety, comfort, or after-crash investigations.
8. Dog Tags
When you crash, and your limp body is lying by the side of the road, chances are that some good people might come to help you out. However, even the best of people don’t have the legal powers of family members, so they would want to contact them as soon as possible. They could go through your phone, your wallet, or your bags, but the easiest way to tell them who to contact is a dog tag.
I bought mine from this site, and they’ve worked perfectly for over 2 years now. They have contact numbers of my family, my blood type, and the fact that I wear contact lenses.
About a year ago, a friend of mine lost his entire family in a car crash. This is the article I wrote in the aftermath, and it talks about things you can do to help yourself before you’re unlucky enough to be in an accident.
9. Cycling shorts
Cycling shorts make your long-distance rides so much more comfortable that it’s hard to put in words. Since I’ve bought these Btwin ones, there hasn’t been a single ride that I haven’t used them. They are easy to clean, easy to maintain, and do their job extremely well.
I’m not sure how exactly these tighties save your butt, but I think the reason for their extreme comfort is the fact that they don’t allow your ass to rub against anything directly. They latch onto your cheeks so tightly that nothing inside moves, so your ass hair don’t get pulled or shoved, and your baby butt skin doesn’t get cuts and rashes. Highly recommended for tourers.
10. Neck Scarf
A lot of people use Balaclavas while riding, I don’t. For me, they always increase the amount of discomfort, especially around my ears. Also, they tend to fog up your visor significantly, especially if you cover your nose as well. It also helps that I don’t care about my hair, and going bald is the least of my concerns.
On long rides I do tend to use neck scarves, because they serve a number of purposes.
- They reduce the wind noise a little, especially if positioned properly under your chin.
- They prevent bees and insects from biting your neck, and from flying up inside your helmet.
- In case of a crash, they also provide some protection against gravel rash on the neck.
I bought this one many years ago, and it has survived till now. Don’t buy a white one though like I did, it disgusts other people to watch you with a shit covered piece of cloth around your neck, although I don’t really care.
11. Action Camera
If you’re into making videos of your rides, you might already be carrying some sort of an action cam with you. I’ve always found them to be irritating, a distraction, but my recent efforts to get into the whole video business has forced me to get used to them.
Even if you aren’t going to upload anything to Youtube, action cameras can be a vital accessory on our deadly roads. They can help you record evidence that might help put some asshole behind bars, and save someone else from getting killed by them. However, it’s easier said than done.
Even if you do happen to buy an action camera, you’ll need to find a proper place to mount it. Helmet always seems to be the first choice of many, although most of them make the mistake of mounting it at the top. Don’t do that, it’ll only catch the wind and pull your head backwards. Some mount it on the side, but I don’t think that’s very practical either.
The only place you can put a camera on your helmet without it completely fucking up your riding experience is on the chin section. However, people like me who wear goggles/spectacles inside their helmets will find even this position to be extremely frustrating.
Chest mounts are a good alternative, although on some bikes their view is so that the road gets blocked out. Suction mounts are great but unreliable. Sticky mounts are the best, but you have to be really careful while putting them on, since they are an extreme pain to take off. Also remember that the distance between your mount and the camera should be as small as possible. The longer it is, the shakier your footage will be.
You will also need to rig some sort of power supply system, most action cams run out of battery in an hour or two. Here’s my review of the BOLT motorcycle charger.
See if it’s possible to set something up, it might be a pain, but the rewards may turn out to be well worth the effort. Here’s my review of the SJ5000X Elite action camera to give you some perspective.