When it comes to gear, for most riders budget is a serious issue. Often times their first consideration ends up as the price tag rather than long term benefits of differing gear options. Additionally, is it always true that price equals quality, or even more importantly, will you always be happier with something you spend more to purchase?
Less expensive has the obvious benefit of saving your wallet some pain. A question that I’ve had students ask me, however, was what gear is worth spending money on? More specifically, which gear items would I prioritize financially to invest in vs trying to compromise on? Of course, there are caveats to be considered, such as what type of riding you are looking to do, what weather conditions you will be riding in, even what image you want to present. Since my track and racing gear has been my largest investment in that department, I like to break that down for them to consider.
First and foremost is helmet – and first and foremost with a helmet is fit. Once you’ve found what helmet(s) fit your head, then you begin to factor in the creature comforts and riding styles. Look at crash test ratings, and consider those against your chosen type of ride. After that, get the best helmet money can buy – what fits you and your style may be the most expensive helmet out there, it may be the cheapest, but that should be your last consideration. Heads aren’t replaced very easily.
After that, I have chosen boots as the next piece of gear I absolutely will not compromise on. Over the years (much due to growing up on a farm and around horses) my feet have been through the ringer. I also loathe the idea of being on crutches if I can do something to potentially prevent that. So, my track boots were my next investment.
Along with that investment and in addition to protection and comfort, more expensive gear tends to have other “aftermarket” options such as replacement parts, size adjustments, warranties, etc. My Sidi boots have taken a bit of a beating over the past few years – some replacement parts later (at a significantly small fraction of the cost of a pair of new boots) and they are almost like new. Two pairs of mid-quality boots would have cost me as much as my top of the line Sidi boots have, and my feet have yet to have anything more than a bruise to show for it. Well worth it IMO!
The third item on my priority list, although the one I’m a little more flexible on as far as brand goes, is gloves. I’ve had and used some great gloves – there are features I won’t compromise on, especially with how easily hands (much like feet) tend to get injured, and don’t always heal as well as we’d hope. Gloves are well worth an investment.
My final priority is a good spine protector. Maybe because I’ve had back issues (unrelated to motorcycles) but it’s a priority for me. Good coverage, a level of comfort, enough flexibility, but something that can take a hit as well. Again, there are a number of good options out there – none of them are the cheap versions though!
After that, I tend to be a little more flexible. Leathers, rain gear, around-town gear, commute gear – for those, price point plays a little higher factor simply due to being on a budget. Comfort, fit and usefulness are all factors that can be compromised on for cost.