New gear, first impressions, and other ramblings



Although I have always advised against buying riding gear online, like most of my advise, I didn’t follow it myself. Was in Germany for a while, saw some good deals at FCMoto during their Black Friday sale, and bought a bunch of stuff out of sheer greed and drool overflow.

The helmet and the jacket had to be sent back for replacement, and I don’t have a bloody bike yet, so these first impressions are nothing more than superficial observations.

The gear:

1. Sidi Performer Air boots:

Price in India: Not available anywhere

Price at FCMoto: 180 Euros (~16000 INR)
Price at FCMoto after discount: 153 Euros (~13700 INR)

After my lovely experience with the Alpinestars S-MX 6 Vented boots, I know that was the exact style I wanted. The requirements were:

  1. Perforated material all round for great airflow
  2. No silly buckles and shit to fumble with and break
  3. No ultra-heavy weight like an MX boot

I found nothing else anywhere that matched my requirements like the Sidi Performer Air boots, plus I always wanted to try one from Sidi, so it was an easy choice to make.

The size chart said that I should get a size 42, but based on my previous experience with the Alpinestars boots and the reviews on Revzilla, 43 looked like the best bet, and they fit perfectly. When I push my foot in, it goes with a satisfying “thump” at the end, and there’s just a few centimeters of room in front of the toes.

These boots seem to have even more ventilation spots than the Alpinestars, so I’m expecting much more airflow when riding, but that’ll have to wait.

2. Five Stunt Evo Airflow gloves:

Price in India: Not available anywhere

Price at FCMoto: 78 Euros (~7000 INR)
Price at FCMoto after discount: 66 Euros (~5900 INR)

I did not want to buy a full-gauntlet glove, but wanted as much protection as I could with a shorty one. Saw this glove in a review by Fort Nine (like almost all the other items that I bought), and it seemed like a good buy.

What I wanted the most was airflow, and the reviews seemed to suggest it had plenty of that. The sliders on the palm should help if I end up in a crash. The touch screen friendly pads on the thumbs and forefingers should keep things less annoying than usual.

I bought the size L based on past experiences and reviews, they fit lovely, a bit stiff around the knuckle protector, but a bit loose around the thumb. Will take some time to break in. The only other glove I considered was the Rev’it Sand 3, but the palm slider on it didn’t look as impressive.

3. Icon Mesh AF jacket:

Price in India: Not available anywhere

Price at FCMoto: 176 Euros (~15700 INR)
Price at FCMoto after discount: 150 Euros (~13500 INR)

After using the dodgy Alpinestars Fending Air jacket for a while, I knew that I wanted a full mesh jacket, but one that came with a bit more protection. The only other jacket that I considered was the Rev’it Eclipse, but dropped it quickly because of the lack of good protectors, the back one especially.

I actually got fooled by a comment on Revzilla into thinking that the Icon Mesh AF jacket comes with level 2 protectors, it does not, the lovely people at Team-bhp caught my mistake.

Based on the size guides and user reviews, I bought the size M, but it turned out to be a bit too loose, especially around the torso. That was surprising, but I’ve sent it back to FCMoto to replace it with an S, still waiting for that to show up.

I decided to still buy the jacket, even with the level 1 protection only, because I’ll probably buy all the level 2 armors and replace them. There’s simply no other option in this budget with this much airflow, and upgrading the armors is relatively easy, it’ll cost some 10,000 bucks more though. I’m hoping to be able to sell the level 1 protectors to get some of my monies back, but we’ll see how that goes.

One other strange thing with the jacket I got was that the back protector was broken, like it had a crack in it. Not sure how that happens, but it was only because of the Team-bhp guys who asked me to check the protector for level 1 or 2 that I found that out. When I get the replacement, I’m checking all the protectors thoroughly first.

I was confused between the black and the high-viz colors for the jacket, but finally went with the high-viz one. Black should be much easier to maintain for a lazy sob like me, but high-viz just looked good, and it improves the safety slightly in my opinion, plus it matched the helmet.

Icon usually makes good, well-priced gear, they just ruin most of it by going insane with styling. This jacket is an exception, and it’d be a shame not to take advantage of that.

4. Scorpion EXO 1400 Air Carbon helmet:

Price in India: 36000 INR

Price at FCMoto: 386 Euros (34500 INR)
Price at FCMoto after discount: 328 Euros (~29400 INR)

I really wanted to try a helmet with an internal sun visor, mainly because I hate carrying an extra dark/clear visor around, and I have nightmares from the Mumbai-Goa trip about attempting to change them over and failing.

I also wanted to get something that was ultra light weight, and a Carbon Fiber shell was the way to go for that.

My only other options were the HJC RPHA 70 Carbon (~470 Euros, 42000 INR), and the Shoei GT Air II (~500 Euros, 44800 INR), both were simply way over my budget, which I’d already blown through, and the Scorpion EXO 1400 had such great reviews, including one from Fort Nine.

The helmet came with a free tinted visor, and a pinlock insert as well, which was great. It also has that Airfit system, where you pump some air into the cheekpads to get the perfect fit. I didn’t need any of those things, but it was still good to have them.

The helmet that I got fit great, but it had 2 weird problems, probably manufacturing defects:

  1. The padding on the inside was slightly misaligned, so when I wore the helmet, it went on a bit sideways. The difference was not much, probably just a few degrees, but on a motorcycle going 120 kmph with the wind blast, I feared it would create a twisting force on my neck
  2. Because the padding was misaligned, the internal sunvisor was touching the shell on one side, and very far away from it on the other. Due to this, when I put on the helmet and shook it a bit, I could hear a rattling sound from the internal visor. It wouldn’t have been a big issue on European roads I imagine, but on our pothole-ridden nighmares I was afraid that constant rattling sound would get unbearable real quick

Sent it back for a replacement, same high-viz color and size. I love the color, it’s not too flashy, but has just enough color to be clearly visible, which I think is important for safety, since the helmet is the highest point on a biker’s body.

The ramblings:

It is important to understand why I chose these 4 items, and why I’m planning to buy the Bikeratti jeans shortly. It is important because for a very long time I have believed that comfort must be sacrificed for safety, I’m not so sure anymore.

ATGATT makes sense, but there’s a slight nuance in there. Sure, we should all wear all the gear all the time, but which gear? A single-piece airbag leather suit from Dainese is gear, a Rynox textile jacket is also gear, so is a Kevlar riding shirt.

It is very easy to be binary about making this decision, either you wear the safest gear money can buy, or it’s all useless. I used full-gauntlet gloves on all my long tours, they were an unbelievable pain in the ass to deal with, but I believed that pain was worth it, just because of the level of safety I got in return.

And in some ways, they were. I was young, and I could take the pain. I’m not so young now, and I would like things to be a bit more comfortable.

Due to an undiagnosed medical condition, I once rode my Duke 390 from Mumbai to Himachal and back. It was an incredible risk to take, and I am happy that I used uncomfortable but safe gear while doing it. I have no plans to be that stupid anymore, I would like the safety vs. comfort slider to move a bit towards comfort.

That absolutely will mean less safety overall, my jacket, boot, and glove combo are not ultra safe, leather jackets are safer, MX boots are safer, and full-gauntlet gloves are safer, but they are also much more uncomfortable.

Luckily, I’m at that stage in my life that I can buy an extra set of riding gear, and stop making one of the most common mistakes for a biker. There’s no riding gear for “all-seasons”, it does not exist. An “all-season” jacket will be too hot for summer, not hot enough for winter, and not waterproof enough for rains.

It’s the same for bikes, there’s no one bike that can do it all, and I’m finally willing to admit it. Part of the reason I didn’t want to in the past, was money. If you believe that there’s no alternative to buying multiple pieces of gear and bikes, you’ll be unhappy with the single pieces of both that you are forced to live with.

If I somehow find myself doing a trackday, or going for a long trip, I’ll buy a race suit or safer gear, and probably the right machine for the job. What I’ve chosen to buy now is meant for leisure riding, which is what I plan to do in the near future. Hopefully it’ll be all that I’ve imagined it to be, but it’ll be a few months before I find out.

The rub:

Here’s the total price breakup, after buying the pants and upgrading the armors I’m expecting the total gear price to be somewhere around 75 to 80k, which is not cheap by any standards, but I believe should be a good investment overall.

GearPrice (Rupees)Price after discountSavings
Sidi Performer Air boots16000137002300
Five Stunt Evo Airflow gloves700059001100
Icon Mesh AF jacket15700135002200
Scorpion EXO 1400 Air Carbon helmet34500294005100

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  1. Clyde Fernandes

    Good choices, I like the Sidi boots, I alpinestar boots which I bought 4 yrs ago have already opened up and my neighbourhood mochi stitched it back up again as good a new ( almost)

    So I need new boots now also maybe a more comfortable riding pants ( I have rynox advento ) my bloody weight doesn’t help.

    I started cycling as in Goa the weather in the morning is cool and hardly any traffic. I have a Scott hybrid which I had bought luckily in sept 2019 when it was cheaper ..

    Your gear choice is good , I used to wear the full gauntlet Rynox, now I use the Solace Hitpro I think it’s called..

    At my age47.. the comfort is becoming more imp.. plus I don’t speed up like I used to before.. 80 to 100 in safe areas to ride and I’m happy…

    Once you get your bike . Will be nice to see some pics maybe.

    I wish that Honda brings the CRF 300 to India.. I would buy it in a heartbeat.. even the 250 for that matter..

  2. AK

    My A* S-MX 6 also started wearing away rather quick, I was pretty harsh with them though.

    I’ve personally given up on the idea of riding pants, have used 2 over the years and they were never very comfy. Time to try a riding jeans.

    Oh man, cycling is awesome! And Goa is probably the best place in india to do it. I had a blast with cycling in the UK, too scared of doing it in India though.

    With the Honda Big Wing strategy, it is possible that they will slowly bring in bikes that we’ve always wanted, but only Honda knows what they’re going to do. The CB350 launch for example was an extremely well kept secret.