Essential Motorcycle Riding Gear

Gear Driven editor's picks

| November/December 2007

Price and availability confirmed at time of publication. Subject to change, please visit the product website for the latest prices and availability. 

Although we’re constantly testing new gear around here, we thought we should fill you in the stuff we really use. Here, in no particular order, is an assortment of pieces we swear by — and use nearly every time we get on our bikes.

 1. While we each have our own idea of the “perfect” tank bag, Oxford’s 1st Time Expander Tank Bag comes close to satisfying all of us. It’s small enough it doesn’t get in the way of your gauges before you expand it, and once you do it holds nearly 28ltr of gear. It’s just big enough that if we’re missing something from the office (magazines, cameras, etc.), we usually find the lost object in Editor Backus’ office, and in this bag — and he doesn’t know it’s there. It’s secured by four strong magnets, and has an integrated shoulder strap, map pocket and backpack, along with a removable cargo pocket that converts to a hip pack. A rain cover is also included, but it’s proven pretty rain tight except in the hardest downpour. If you’re only going to have one tank bag for both commuting and touring, this is the one you want. Black. Price: $69.95.
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2. We were impressed with Firstgear’s Kwik-Dry Sport Tour Leather Overpants from the start. They’re made of high-quality, water-resistant leather in a cut thick enough it’s perfect for anything short of the racetrack. Since they come unhemmed for custom sizing, we had our favorite local leather guy fold and glue the bottoms. (It’s just as solid as a hem, but can be undone without leaving holes in the leather.) We kept them long so they cover our boots all the way down to the ankles when we’re on our favorite bike, which keeps them from riding up our boot tops and helps keep us drier in the rain. Though they’re a bit hot when temps rise above 95 F, below that they’re great. And while they were fairly pliable from the get-go, they’re breaking in nicely. Soon, they’ll be in the “fits like your favorite jeans” category. $299.95.
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3. If you don’t own a heated vest, put one on your Christmas wish list. No other single piece of gear can extend your riding season as far, and a good vest like Aerostich’s Kanetsu AirVantage Vest will let you keep riding through fall and well into winter. By using air panels to transfer heat from the vest’s heating elements to your body, the Kanetsu solves the one drawback of traditional electric vests — the need for a close fit. The Kanetsu’s adjustable air panels not only allow for a roomier fit, but also increase warmth. Throw in removable sleeves for added warmth, and even temps in the 20s are fun. Price: $237.
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4. Spidi’s Spirit Gloves are a lightweight, non-insulated touring glove. That we’ve said before. Now, after putting a few thousand miles on the pair we got, we can also tell you that these lightly-vented gloves are an office favorite. Though they don’t breathe well enough for the hottest of Midwest summer days (100 F-plus temps are not their friend) they’re a great everyday glove for commuting, touring or the quick Sunday morning run. They’re well made, comfortable, and the perfect thickness and cut for the conditions in which most of us ride — and with a pair of over-gloves for the rain (see no. 6), you really don’t need much more. Price: $59.99.
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