I'm supposed to be writing a paper right now. But, I've made my mind up about my gear and want to get it down here.
HelmetFor a while I was considering the Nolan N-100, which is about $170 and is a flip-chin helmet--the visor can go up by itself, but the whole chin can also rotate up. I thought it would be a good idea for our hot Summers. But then I realized, this helmet is too heavy, too noisy, doesn't provide as much protection, and costs more than it should based on its quality. Plus, you can't really cruise with the chin up, it's just not feasible.
Then I started thinking about buying a cheaper full face and a real cheap open face. But then I have two cheap helmets.
Then I learned some things about the airflow and weather protection of good modern helmets and decided I'd find a good full face. I found several models, but finally think I've decided on the HJC CL12 SII. It's pretty well-regarded and is an excellent value for only $162. With the dark smoke alternate visor and shipping, the price will be $196. I'm not real happy with the graphics, but it'll do. I liked the look of the KBC Rush, but the HJC wins because it has the lightest weight, the widest vision allowance, and better venting. I'm still considering a few, a couple of AGVs and a Bieffe, and MAW has Shoei RF-Rs on closeout for only $173, but if I had to buy today and I chose the HJC I'd be happy.
I believe this will be a good all weather helmet. In the winter I can wear the breath deflector, chin curtain, and a scarf. In the summer I can ride with the visor open around town and with the vents open on the road. During the day I can use the dark visor, at night I can use the clear high-definition one. Plus... this is one of the few helmets which have pockets for headphones built in. So I could conceivably listen to music. There probably is some loss of quality from say an Arai or a Shoei, but those are generally $300 and up. I will probably end up with one later on after the HJC wears out.
JacketIt's just the way I am. I won't go riding wearing T-Shirt, shorts, and sandals the way I see some people around here riding. I need a jacket I can wear in the Winter and Summer. At first I thought the Joe Rocket Atomic Jacket was perfect, but I slowly realized the ventilation and heat dissipation just wasn't there. I tried this jacket on and it was great. It includes shoulder, elbow/forearm, and spine armor, has a removable liner, a reflective strip, and some ventilation... and a great price of $130.
But I decided it was still too warm for Texas between 90 and 100 degrees. So I found the Belstaff Zodiac Jacket. This one's not leather, it's "textile" or synthetic fibers. Includes shoulder and elbow armor (so less armor than the Atomic Jacket). Has a removable liner for the Winter, has lots of ventilation, and repels water. I think this will be a bit more appropriate for here and it's only $137.
GlovesI will always wear gloves as well when riding. Having been in a 60-65 mph lowside on a bike already, I know the value of having adequate hand protection. My hands would be scarred pulpy messes even today if not for the gloves I had on (which were pretty much ruined by the end of the slide).
That said, gloves for the Winter are quite a bit different than gloves for the Summer. In the Winter, you're looking at max wind and cold insulation. In the Summer, you want something with some ventilation and lightness. And for aggressive riding, you want something with toughness and abrasion resistance.
I'm leaning toward the Joe Rocket Lightspeed Textile Glove. It's pretty light, has some ventilation, provides pretty good protection (nothing like this though), and should be fine down to 50 degrees or so. They are $34.
BootsI'm not planning on buying motorcycle boots right away. There certainly are alot to choose from, including models like these and these. Obviously I won't wear sandles or tennis shoes, but I'm not averse to wearing my high-top shoes. And for aggressive riding I do have a pair of sturdy boots. Perhaps later I will buy actual sport boots.
PantsJeans will always be worn. There are several other additional measures for protection. At first I was considering cheap riding pants with knee armor. Then I found separate knee, shin, and slider armor. But I think I'm going to hold off on the pants/leg armor for now. When I start riding more aggressively, of course I'll have to get armor and probably leather.
I may have to purchase new earplugs. It depends. Maybe when I start riding faster? I'll have to get the breath deflector and chin curtain for the helmet for the Winter. The jacket, with liner installed and normal Winter clothes underneath, should be okay (need a scarf as well). The gloves might not be enough for under 50 degree days or long rides. In that case I'd have to buy some Thinsulate gloves. I'll have to wear double socks and/or thermal riding socks for the winter. This may be where real riding boots come into play. We'll see. And as for the pants, a friend recommended ski pants from the sporting goods store, which are very cheap and fit right over your jeans. Not much skid protection, but good weather protection, and I can always buy that armor. Eventually I may have a pair of textile riding pants. This is all the stuff I'd be wearing on my person (although there are other things like a lock and bike cover).