After a long time of dreaming, I think I am finally going to buy a motorcycle. I’m doing research right now, but I’m pretty sure that I want a Harley-Davidson. I’ll use it mostly to ride around my neighborhood and streets in my town that aren’t too busy, and maybe for the occasional scenic drive up into the mountains. So my question is this: what kind of motorcycle gear do I need? I know that the motorcycle shops around me have a ton of stuff for sale, and some of it is really expensive. I’d like to keep costs down (the motorcycle is already pretty pricey), and I don’t want to get suckered into buying anything that I don’t actually need. Do I really need special boots just to ride a motorcycle? Or gloves? Experts, can you weigh in?

Congratulations on your decision to get a motorcycle! Motorcycle riders enjoy a motorsport that’s unlike any other. You can take your motorcycle on the open road and experience a feeling of freedom that is impossible to achieve in a car. Motorcycles are perfect for scenic drives in the country, taking that tiny parallel parking spot in the city, and everything in between.

Motorcyclists also have a culture all their own. They have their own magazines and websites, their own get-togethers and conventions, and, of course, their own gear. Motorcycle gear can be extremely cool-looking, but certain items also serve important purposes, so it’s essential for you to know which bits of your riding attire are not optional.

Let’s start with the obvious: you need a helmet. Helmets are mandatory for motorcyclists in many states, and for good reason. Your head is a fragile thing: hit it too hard, and you’ll be in real trouble. A helmet helps to cushion your head in the event of a collision. Bangs, bumps, and scrapes are less serious for your noggin if you’ve got it encased in a good helmet, so do not skimp on this expense! Get a high-quality helmet from a reliable manufacturer.

You’ll need a motorcycle jacket, too. Those cool leather jackets that motorcyclists always seem to be wearing aren’t just for show: they’re designed to help a motorcyclist in the event of a crash or a slide. The thick leather hide of these jackets is what gets scraped and torn up when (God forbid) its wearer hits the pavement. Better that than damage to the wearer themself!

Of course, your torso isn’t the only thing that can get scraped up and hurt by pavement in a slide or a collision. When you go riding, you should cover up all of your skin. To put it a bit vulgarly, every inch of skin that you don’t cover with tough safety material is an inch that you are saying you’re willing to lose! So get tough motorcycle pants and motorcycle gloves, and make sure your jacket fits right and covers your wrists and neck properly.

Your motorcycle gloves should also give you a great grip on your handlebars and be supple enough to help you really feel what you are doing. They should fit you like a second skin. Super-thick material might be ideal for other protective gear, but with gloves, you don’t want to go too far and make yourself more likely to get into an accident. Fortunately, top brands and manufacturers have clearly mastered this art, and you’ll find plenty of great options for motorcycle gloves.

Finally, there’s a piece of gear that you asked about specifically: motorcycle boots. Do you really need motorcycle boots? The short answer is yes. Real motorcycle boots are different from most other types of footwear. Like your motorcycle jacket and other safety gear, they’re tough enough to take a beating. They tend to have high uppers, giving you protection further up above your ankle and helping to keep out dirt, gravel, and road debris. They usually have thick soles that absorb vibrations. It’s unlikely that you have any boots in your closet that check all of those boxes, so your best bet is to buy boots that are specifically made for motorcycle riding.

Of course, you don’t have to do all of this at your local motorcycle shop. Shop around: you may find that you can save money by buying your motorcycle boots or motorcycle gloves online, for instance. And some shops may haggle with you a bit if you’re buying a lot of gear. Look for ways to save, but don’t forget that what you’re investing in is your own safety. Now is not the time to nickel and dime yourself: you need to know that you can count on this gear if you ever really need it. Hopefully, you never will!

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