Motorbikes: Getting started



Hi all,

I have decided that I would like to join the dark side and get myself a motorbike. The training part is obvious; The Direct Access training / testing route looks ideal. However, what's not so clear is what kind of gear would be best to get. Within reason, money isn't a huge concern as I'd rather be safe than rich (that's not to say I go around burning 50s though). I'd be using the bike for commuting, visiting friends etc, so I'd welcome advice on boots / jackets / trousers / gloves people like. Helmets, I'll go and try a load on in a decent shop.



Book Reviewer
There are always useful reviews of kit like boots, gloves, leathers, helmets, etc. in 'Ride' magazine.

And the title raises a smile at the newsagents :)
I got into biking on a week long 'zero to hero' course with CSM. Started with the moped style CBT and ended the week passing my test on a Yamaha 500 of some kind.

Brilliant week for all sorts of reasons, but the basic drill was riding out in a group with the instructor and stopping every hour or so at either a big bike dealer's or a biking clothing and equipment shop.

A good look around, general chat with the instructor about what we were looking at and off up the road again.

Chatting with others, either on here or with other bikers in the same situation, is definitely the way to go.

It can be expensive stuff, bike kit, and you can also look a right tit in the wrong gear, so asking those who know is the best way to go. Don't just plunge in.

I bought the right kit, but the wrong bike!
I always thought, when in doubt buy Akito. It's not gucci or £££, but it does what it says on the tin.
Buy cheap and buy twice seems to apply to bike kit.

Helemets are a definite try on a shop NEVER buy 1 off t'web ; true they are all CE approved but a naff fitting lid can be next to useless.

I have found BKS kit works for me ; UK made and fits my odd arrse self :thumright:
Don't forget Ebay and second hand kit. There's plenty of fair weather bikers and guys who get into or back into biking who have loads of money and are the 'All the gear, no idea' types selling their kit. I've bought a £600 quid BMW suit for my missus for £65. Looked brand spankers. I have BMW Goretex kit (Streetguard 3 suit) that would have been £800 new and I got it for £250.
Daytona boots for me and missus. Worn once each and normally £275 new for £50 for hers and £100 for mine.

BUT get a new helmet and follow all the advice onlinie about getting the right fit.

I did my DAS 2 years ago and it's given me something to do that always relaxes me and makes me smile and has replaced all the sprots i can't do due to dodgy knees thanks to too much bergan work with crappy boots .......

Oh, and after 6 months or so, do a Police 'Bikesafe' course. VERY good indeed.

Ride safe.



Book Reviewer
Buy cheap and buy twice seems to apply to bike kit.

Helemets are a definite try on a shop NEVER buy 1 off t'web ; true they are all CE approved but a naff fitting lid can be next to useless.

I have found BKS kit works for me ; UK made and fits my odd arrse self :thumright:
Agree with your first two points, FourEM, with one observation. I bought my jacket and helmet as 'end of season bargains'. Not being bothered about being fashionable or trendy can save serious dosh on kit that one couldn't normally afford.
Agree with your first two points, FourEM, with one observation. I bought my jacket and helmet as 'end of season bargains'. Not being bothered about being fashionable or trendy can save serious dosh on kit that one couldn't normally afford.
Your 100 percent on that and I should have expanded on it . My new kit is the end of season and I got 30 percent off :biggrin:

I do hideous miles a year on my heap and got sick to death of buying jackets especially
Best to have decent kit and a cheap bike - you might wear the same kit for years, yet change bikes 20 times in the same period.

Don't feel conspicuous if you end up wearing full armoured leathers and boots whilst riding a cheap little scooter or CG125 - in an accident leathers are the difference between horrific injuries and walking away unharmed less for brown underpants...

Maybe go to one of the big motorcycle shows: lots of ideas for kit, most of the manufacturers present, lots of show discounts - and usually a walk-in measuring service for the made-to-measure kit such as BKS.
Join the BMF British Motorcyclists Federation - BMF Shows

They have a weekend camping/rally/show every May and the members only day (a Saturday) has cut price branded gear, sometimes up to 80% discounted.

The suggestion about Bikesafe is sound advice.

Don't buy any gear until you've passed your test, as has been said your instructor will give you the best advice, and will probably have contacts for discounts in your local bike shops.

Turn up for training in suitable hard wearing clothing, but it doesn't have to be 'pukka bike gear.

After 35 years on two wheels* I'm still loving it.

*Obviously I get off every now and again for food and stuff.
Helmets must fit...simple..and just because its expensive does not mean its can be seen in the MCN reviews and tests.

I have been an AGV man for years and years..but found out Shoei actually fits my head better. Have a serious look at HJC. They continually out perform the likes of Shoei, Arai and the likes and are 30% of the price. An HJC has twiced saved the life of my partner when she has beinned her bike.

If you are commuting, especially if you are in shirt and tie, then go for fabric clothing. Lots on the market and Hein Gerike are well worth looking at. Make sure it comes with CE approved armour and back protector. You can wear a seperate protector under the outer clothing.

I wear leathers from Wolf and Spyke...fantastic when you are wearing a t shirt and trousers underneath, pants when you are in office clothes or bulkie jumper in the winter.
Lots of advice on kit, I have a good bit of advice on buying your first bike;

"Buy your second bike first"- what the chap who said it to me meant was don't buy a little 500cc as your first bike, though that's what you may be tempted to go for. After a few months (weeks!) you're going to feel that it's underpowered and not as much fun as you thought and you are going to start wanting that 700 or 750. Grit your teeth and get the 700 straight off. Treat it with the respect it deserves and dont go crazy on it and you'll be fine.
Always best to find a large supplier maybe one of the supermarket type stores so you have a range to try on. I am not sure if you are around the London area but there is a place in Slough meant to be reasonable also JLS on the A41 near Watford junc of A41/M1. If you can get something to get you by there is also the bike show at NEC Birmingham end of Nov which is always a good place to buy.

I have a spare Hemet in the box size Large, A leather jack approx a 40" chest and maybe some gloves if they are of use. If you are in the UK they can be posted or if you are near Hertfordshire collection can be arranged from work. Not sure how to arrange if you are interested as not prepared to put contact details on the net.

I have been riding for a while and have a GSX11 which I have owned since 1997 and would not be without it ... great for fun and also making touring affordable with the current price of fuel.

Good luck with the test.
Ok start with knowing the genre of bike you are going to be riding around on after youve passed your test. EG no point having one piece race leathers and race lid and finding that actually you are going to be buying a tourer or trailie. So once youve decided what kit suits what bike decide on how much you are ACTUALLY going to use the bike (average mileage per year for car owning biker types is aprox 2k - 3k). Thats not much time in the saddle.
Theres generally little point at your stage (unless you really want to) in buying anything EXCEPT YOUR HELMET brand new. Get the appropriate kit off E bay as far as size etc will allow. LID - dont buy any lid until you have tried on LOTS of the appropriate type in the stores. Just having some idea of size and what colour it needs to be to match the bike isnt good enough, you must try them on in store, once youve decided on a model / size etc take a note of the details and shop price and go on the internet where you will save lots - BUT BUY NEW.
Generally leather kit is better than textile. 2 piecers are more versatile than 1 piecers.
Boots - well buy something new or used with a reasonably good name SIDI / ALPINESTARS for example, they generally last longer and have a better fit and thats important if youre going to ride somewhere and go walk abouts in them for a few hours. The wrong boots will cripple you in no time off the bike.
GLOVES - decide what seasons you are REALISTICALLY going to ride in, I have a summer pair which will do me from after its stooped snowing until it starts snowing again - then Ive got a Thermal / Waterproof (oh by the way no biker gear is actually waterproof - you will learn this) pair for other times.
TIP if youre going to ride in cold weather invest in some thermal undergear, and bear this in mind when choosing the jacket / trousers etc in terms of fit.
If you need any more specific info PM me - youre more than welcome to.
Stay safe.
Buy the fastest you can insure ;)

I recommend AVG GP TECH lids and Dainese ninja suits :) saved my bacon twice before :)
Alternatively, get some mileage in, then invest in advanced rider training which will see you going way faster than the poser on the race replica.


Book Reviewer
get down hein gericke, try loads on then go have a look in ebay. the hg stuff is good enough kit though and their cordura jeans mean you wont look like a power ranger. presuming you dont want to look like a power ranger that is.


Book Reviewer
I'd say HG is fairly good too. I bought my first set there and they were pretty good. As everyone else has said defo buy a NEW skid lid. The advanced course the Police run is very good, and I also agree to buy a bike one up from what you would start on. I bought a ZZR6 (before I passed my test) and that was a lovely bike, but I would have liked more when I went to France on it.
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