Basic gear required for safe enjoyment of your adventure bike includes a helmet, gloves, over-the-ankle boot, and abrasive resistant clothing.
To provide additional weather resistance and protection, upgrade to a jacket and pant combo specifically designed for the temperature range and riding conditions you expect. Ventilation, fabric choice, fit, pocket position, and budget will dictate the choices available to you.
Helmet – A DOT and Snell approved helmet is a must. If that isn’t obvious the rest of this will not help you. 😉 The choice you do need to make is if you prefer a full face helmet with no visor, a full face dual-sport model like Shoe’s Hornet or Arai’s XD4, or a dirt helmet with goggles. There are many helmet models in each category.
Gloves– Leather or heavy-duty synthetic. Extra protection on the knuckles and strategic palm padding are always a plus. Water resistance and warmth factors will depend on your riding conditions. All in one gloves work, but you can also use over-gloves when it gets wet or pack a second pair as back-up. We like the Fox Bomber glove for fair weather dual sport riding, but may select something different if we regularly rode in the cold (<32f).
I once watched my wife inadvertently ditch her bike into a cactus while trying to navigate a particularly difficult obstacle. After getting her and the bike upright her right hand looked like a porcupine with all the fine cactus needles sticking out. Luckily none made it all the way through to her skin. The glove was a loss, but we had an extra pair packed in the tank-bag. That glove looked funny riding the rest of the day zip tied to my fender.
The cactus needles are fine, so hard to see in the photo. This glove rode the rest of the route zip-tied to my fender. Glad to have an extra pair.
Jacket – Upper body protection includes coverage for your elbows, shoulders, chest, spine, and may also include a built-in kidney belt and/or storage for tools or an extra layer in a pocket in the small of your back.
In the summer we prefer Alpinestars Bionic suits. They have a line, Stella, that is particularly tailored for women and has saved us from numerous hospital trips. The cost of these items can seem daunting, but an ounce of prevention…
Heather and friend sporting the gear. The tutu is eye catching and usually encourage oncoming male riders to yield (usually they’re trying to figure out what the heck they’re seeing!)
Encounter a thunderstorm or rain-shower? It’s nice to have a windbreaker to throw over the mesh Bionic jacket. If you’re riding where temperature and elevation can change in a hurry be sure to pack a large windbreaker to go over your suit.
When the weather is cooler or on multi-day dual sport trips we prefer an adventure type jacket. There are numerous brands on the market at various price points. The best are made of Gore-Tex or similar fabric and have multiple pockets, vents, and other features to keep you comfortable and dry. Buy the best jacket you can afford with good protection for the spine, elbows, shoulders, and chest.
Boots – Foot and ankles injuries are common, but the likelihood and severity are dramatically reduced by wearing proper footwear. Again, buy the best boots in your budget. The best models will have articulating ankles, easy to use buckle systems, and a comfortable fit. Don’t be afraid to try on several pair. It’s a substantial investment and hopefully you’re going to be spending a lot of time in them!
Pants – As with the jacket there are numerous adventure or riding pants on the market. The number of models can be overwhelming, but be mindful of abrasion resistance, knee protection, quality of zippers, ventilation, and fit. Richard is a 34×34 in most men’s slacks and finds that he can wear a 34 in fox pants, but is a 40 in Alpinestars. Go figure. Heather once spent 2-3 hours trying on women’s adventure pants at a large gear store in Denver. After nearly leaving she decided to try on men’s pants and found that she liked the Klim men’s 32 the best. Bodies come in all different sizes, so ladies don’t be afraid to try on the men’s sizes! Heather also found that she could wear a Fox men’s 30.
Hopefully the Gear Examples below can help you plan your budget, color scheme, and sizing…or you can tell us we look like dorks or a power-ranger.
Male: 34×34 pants, size 44 jacket, 6′ tall, size 10.5 Nanos or 9.5 Ariat boots
Female: size 6, small to medium shirt size, 5’4″ tall