Six Steps to Buying Motorcycle Gear Online (and as Hassle-Free as Possible)

Buying Motorcycle Gear Online

Any experienced rider will tell you that buying motorcycle gear online is the best way to find a wide selection of gear at the most competitive prices. Since most shoppers look for the best deal possible when buying anything, and a bigger selection means a better chance of finding that helmet or jacket that fits your style and needs perfectly, there are a lot of good reasons to do your purchasing online.

However, when it comes to purchasing clothing online—particularly motorcycle gear—a leap of faith is required. Every gear manufacturer has slight differences in how their gear fits. Even with manufacturers offering their own size charts, it’s easy to fall between sizes or measure wrong, particularly if you’re trying to do the measurements yourself.

Online motorcycle gear stores and retailers understand this, which is why most offer lenient return policies, with some sites even offering free shipping on returns. These policies make going online to order motorcycle clothing or motorcycle gear a much easier process, but here are some tips to make sure your purchasing experience is as hassle-free as possible.

1. Put on all under layers before measuring

Before taking specific measurements, be sure that you have on any under layers you will be wearing with the gear you plan to purchase. This includes heated gear that you may have. In many cases, differences in sizing might be so slight that an added layer would make you go up a size, and this is especially true for jackets (which is likely to be worn layered over a shirt, cooling vest, body armor, a spine protector, heated gear, etc.)

2. Take your measurements (or better yet, have someone else do it)

A soft measuring tape will provide the closest measurement for you and can be purchased at most ‘big box’ stores or craft and hobby stores. It’s always best if someone else can take your measurements, allowing you to stand in a resting position to ensure exact measuring. Don’t “round up” or “round down” when you write down the measurements. Many sizing charts will provide measurement spans that are narrowed to mere centimeters, so the exact measurement you take is what you should write down for reference.

3. When taking your measurements, follow these general rules for each area

Chest – Measure around the fullest part of your chest under your armpits, being sure to keep the measuring tape horizontal.
Waist – Measure around the span of your natural waist line, along the same line as your navel, being sure to keep the tape horizontal.
Hip – Measure around the fullest part of your hips, being sure to keep the tape horizontal. This might take several tries to find the fullest part.
Thigh – Measure around the thigh in the area that is just below the crotch, being sure to keep the tape horizontal.
Inseam – This one requires someone else helping you take the measurement. Stand against a wall and have someone measure from your crotch to your ankle.
Arm Length – Measure from your shoulder to where your wrist and hand connect.
Height – This one also requires someone else helping you take the measurement, as you stand against a wall and measure from the floor to the top of your head, being sure to keep the tape vertical.

4. Find the sizing chart for that particular brand

Each brand will vary slightly on how things are sized, so it’s always best to find the sizing chart for the particular brand you’re planning to purchase (here is an example of the sizing chart for Alpinestars). For some brands, it’s not that easy though, since they might fit snug or slightly different than what the sizing chart states. This is where you will need to check out the description and look for comments and reviews. For example, on motorcyclegear.com, you will be able to look at the sizing charts, as well as others’ experiences with it.

5. Check the refund policy

Before you buy your motorcycle gear, check on the store’s refund policy. Given the competitive market, it is likely that you will be able to return items hassle free, but it is always a good idea to check before you make the purchases. For example, jakewilson.com requires you to call so they can issue you a return shipping label and a number. For sites like this, returning gear is possible, it’s just inconvenient. Shipping costs are usually minimal provided you live on the same continent that the warehouse is located. For most sites, shipping is in the range of $7 to $9, or free if your order reaches a certain price. If you live in Canada you can avoid the hefty shipping and duty costs by shopping at canadasmotorcycle.ca

6. Consider buying two sizes

If you are still hesitant about ordering gear online, consider ordering two sizes that will most likely fit. If return policies allow, you can always return the one that does not fit as well after trying them both on. Doing it this way ensures that there is no disappointment waiting for the return to process—you’ll get to jump on your bike and use that great new jacket or helmet immediately.

2400kms of California Bliss. Redding to Palm Springs.

Since I started 1st Gear I knew my motorcycling trips would become a challenge, especially a California Motorcycle Trip. Getting away was proving to be difficult. It is best to plan ahead so you can prepare for such trips but this trip was special. It was not planned and everything came together as if it was planned twelve months in advance. Some things are just meant to be, this was one of them.

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Four Wheels Move the Body: Performance Cars Versus Motorcycles

Cars versus Motorcycles

Although often drawing the same aficionados looking for the same adrenaline rush, there are differences between riding performance cars and riding performance motorcycles. But this won’t be a traditional comparison between exotic sports cars and thrilling sport bikes, because there are plenty of those out there on the internet. Cars versus Motorcycles, this is more of a comparison based on the expression, “Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul.”

Exclusive vs. Inclusive

So what are the differences? For starters, the entry fee into the exotic sport car club is usually six figures and higher. Basically, it’s a small club. Depending on where you live, it might be difficult to find others who drive these cars, limiting the experience and providing few opportunities for social interaction based on a mutual appreciation and hobby.

However, if you’re lucky enough to have a motorcycle license, then you can get into the same high-performance club for a fraction of the cost. A 10-year-old Lamborghini Gallardo will cost your over $100,000. A gently used BMW S1000RR comes in at $11,000. With the smaller cost to enter the high-performance realm, you’ll find a much larger group of great people who share your passion for riding.

Comfort vs. Intensity

A performance sports car will offer you an amazing experience in great comfort. You’ll be surrounded by the finest technology and safety features. You’ll be quite comfortable in the supporting, padded seats. All you have to do is just open the car door, get in, and go. A sports bike, on the other hand, will offer you an amazing experience but you will have very little comfort in the process. You’ll be sitting on the finest technology but your safety is at far greater risk. You cannot just hop on and go. You’ll have to get geared up for the ride (I hope!) before you set off down the road. You are completely exposed to the elements and now you have lean angles to work with. Every surface you ride on, you’ll feel. Every corner becomes an intense dream you don’t want to wake up from.

There’s just no comparison

We go through life looking for unique and fulfilling experiences, and motorcycling can easily deliver that. The separation from the mundane and focus required to ride will give you the break you need from the stressors of life. But there is a trade-off and it is your safety. You’ll find far more people telling you about the dangers of motorcycling than the joys of it. While the stories you’ll hear are probably true, they still represent a small minority of incidents and experiences. Some of the biggest accident stats associated with motorcycle riding can be eliminated by wearing full safety gear, exercising caution in all intersections, avoiding drugs or alcohol, keeping the speed within your skill set, and taking a motorcycle safety course. If you can manage these, your motorcycling experience will last a long, long time.

And last (but not least) is the motorcycling community. Part of the soul of the sport of motorcycling is the people involved. They will take care of you, and people you ride with will become lifelong friends. Embrace it and you’ll never be alone.

Four wheels move the body; two wheels move the soul. Anyone who has ridden a bike knows it’s true.

Learn to ride at 1st Gear Motorcycle School or if you already ride check out my ride reports on this website.

Motorcycle Insurance: What You Don’t Know Could Cost You

Insuring your motorcycle

Well over $1,000 in damage to fix OR less than $100 to get up and running again

Insuring your motorcycle before you get on the road is not only a good idea—it is the law. This is not a step to skip and most people know that, but it is a step that too often gets rushed, without adequate thought being put into the decision. It is very easy to waste hundreds of dollars on coverage you don’t need, just as it is easy to be underinsured if you’re on a budget. This is particularly true when motorcyclists forget to insure themselves or take out bodily injury coverage. Taking the time to figure out the proper amount of coverage for your motorcycle, as well as for yourself, is well worth it in the long run.

Insuring your Motorcycle

When buying insurance for your motorcycle, you should first consider exactly how much you want to insure it for. The exact amount it is worth? Just what is necessary? If your motorcycle is worth $10,000 (or more), most likely you’ll want full coverage to protect your investment and to avoid missing even one day of riding! But it’s more complicated than that. Motorcycles can break easily with something as simple as a tip over. We then need parts to replace it and get it back on the road. If you are relying on insurance to immediately replace the parts and pay the bill, don’t expect it. It can take months for
claims to go through, and even then, depending on the circumstances, they might not be approved in the amount you need. Put simply: You will likely be the one to pay for new parts and get them put on quickly if you don’t want to miss a day of riding.

Insuring yourself

Step back from your motorcycle for a moment. You’ll want to put yourself and your family in the picture, as well. You are not replaceable but your motorcycle is. Your first priority should be protecting yourself. It is very easy to get full coverage for your motorcycle then ride off without getting adequate coverage for yourself, and this step is often overlooked. Your greatest asset is your ability to be there for your family and generate income. The insured value of your motorcycle is a very small amount in comparison.

Individual disability insurance covers you if you are unable to work. Quite often, your group benefits plan at the company you work for may have you covered. Go over the details of this policy and see how adequate it is. If it is not adequate, look into getting your own policy. This is where a Financial Advisor or an Insurance Advisor comes in handy. Their advice is free and they get paid only if you decide to sign up for an insurance policy. $100 spent insuring yourself is better than money spent on insuring your motorcycle. Keep the big picture in mind!

The Cost of Motorcycle Repairs

Most motorcycles can be fixed for a lot less than you would think. With a little bit of searching, you’ll find well-priced replacement parts. EBay is great for finding the parts you need. Motorcycle-specific forums will point you in the right direction. There are also OEM online websites that are just like ordering it from the dealer but at less cost. Since most damage on a motorcycle is likely to be cosmetic, you’ll be able to replace the parts on your own with simple tools. If you can do this, you will not be faced with higher insurance rates next year.

Edited by Tonya T.

Riding with the correct motorcycle tire psi made EASY

Having the correct motorcycle tire PSI for your motorcycle is very important. Not having the correct tire PSI affects the suspension, the feel of the ride, the longevity of the tire, and your safety. It is one of those tasks that gets overlooked or skipped due to laziness. I won’t blame you though! For most people having the correct tire PSI means going to a gas station. Finding the air compressor, finding 50 cents to use it, over filling the tire, bleeding out air, and then getting on with your ride. Let’s take the annoyance out of it. Let’s make it easy. If you make it easy you will do it.

Before we begin please remember that you should fill your tires with air when they are cold. Air expands as the tire heats up and you will get an incorrect reading. The best time to put air into your tires is before your ride. If your one of those people that are always late, then schedule it into your phone the night before.

P1100522 (Small)Introducing the bicycle pump. Is there any reason not to use it for a motorcycle tire? I dare you to try it.

P1100523 (Small)

Here is the first reason I love using a bicycle pump. It clips to the valve! Begone to trying to hold it at the right angle for the air to flow into the tire. Clip it and move on.

P1100524 (Small)

Here is the second reason why I love my bicycle pump. It has a easy to read PSI gauge right on it! No need to find your lost fancy schmancy digital PSI gauge.  Looks like I am a little low. I would like 36 PSI in my rear tire. Do you know what the correct PSI you should have in your tire? Consult your motorcycle manual and/or check the swing arm on the motorcycle. It should have a required PSI.

Note that the PSI gauge goes up to 160 PSI. It will never be a good idea to see if you can get it there. I think the same person that put that high number there is also the same person that puts the 280km/h speedometer reading on economy cars.

P1100525 (Small)

Here is how the whole setup looks. Now begins the “work” to pump the air into the tire. This is where the skeptics come in and shout from the roof tops that it will take forever! If the tire was completely flat… Yes it would take several pumps for me to fill the tire to 36 PSI. Since we don’t ride around on flat tires, it took me 14 pumps to get the tire up to 36PSI.

P1100526 (Small)

There we go! 36PSI. Even in full gear on a hot day I doubt you will break a sweat using a bicycle pump to keep your motorcycle tires the perfect PSI. There is no excuse for you to not have the correct tire PSI anymore.

If you are interested in the specific bicycle tire pump I am using it is available at Canadian Tire for $17.99.

Tips and Tricks for Vertically Challenged Motorcyclists

Am I too short to ride? I hear this question several times throughout the year and the answer is always the same… No! Your stature does not limit your ability to ride. While it does limit the motorcycles you’ll be comfortable on, there are still plenty bikes to choose from. Motorcycles come in all different sizes and a lot of them are great for the shorter-than-average human.

 

Finding confidence

The larger challenge lies in your confidence to ride. When learning to ride, the feeling of not being able to touch the ground and concern over the weight of motorcycle need to be overcome. Learning the proper skillset will mitigate these challenges. For example, when a rider comes to stop with the wheel turned, the weight of the motorcycle will fall towards the lean. This can be too much weight to hold up. If the wheels are kept straight while coming to a stop, the weight distribution will much more even. An even weight distribution will make it easier to keep the motorcycle upright comfortably.
Another issue many shorter riders face is managing the bike on uneven terrain. When stopping on uneven terrain (such as pulling off on the side of the road or while in parking lots), always be aware of the surfaces around you and avoid stopping in places that could cause the bike to lean too heavily to one side.

Lowering the bike

There are two ways to lower the seat height of the motorcycle: changing the suspension and customizing the seat.

Changing the suspension—Changing the suspension will lower the motorcycles up to a few inches. This might be enough to make the bike comfortable for you. However, keep in mind that changing the suspension does change the handling of the motorcycle somewhat. Also, you’ll want to remove the feelers on the foot pegs. The risk of these grinding the road is greater if the suspension has been lowered.

Customizing the seat—An easier option is customizing the seat of your motorcycle by changing the way it is designed and removing some of the padding. This will give you a little help reaching the ground. There are specific seats made for this or you can use a custom seat designer such as Slims Signature Seats.

Gear to increase height

An essential part of motorcycle riding is safety gear, so if you are worried about being shorter and maintaining control of the bike when at a stop or in parking lots, consider buying bigger-soled motorcycle boots that add an inch or two of height. Companies that make gear realize that with more motorcycle riders on the roads every day, there are great opportunities to bring new products to the table that appeal to certain riding groups. Be sure to check out some of the big online motorcycle gear stores and your local dealer. Rest assured—you will not be the only one looking for more height with motorcycle boots.

The top bikes for shorter riders

Since the best motorcycles to learn on are typically smaller, these bikes are often great choices as long-term bikes for shorter riders. The Honda Rebel 250 and the Honda CBR125R are not only great to learn on—they’re also great bikes if you’re a vertically challenged rider. The seat height on these motorcycles is 27.6 and 31.0 inches, respectively. With the Honda Rebel having one of the lowest seat heights available, it is rare to find someone it doesn’t fit. If your feet are firmly on the ground with most dining room and office chairs, you’ll be just fine on the Honda Rebel 250.

However, if you’re like most riders, you’ll eventually want to upgrade from your first motorcycle. Below is a list of motorcycles that will fit most people between the height of 4’11 and 5’4. If you’re curious about the seat height of a different motorcycle than those listed, go to http://cycle-ergo.com/

We’ll see you out on the road!

Motorcycles with the lowest seat height
Harley Davidson Sportster 883 low – 26.3 inches
Honda Rebel 250 – 27.6 inches
Harley Davidson Street 500/700 – 27.7 inches
Kawasaki Ninja 250R – 28.1 inches
Suzuki GS500F – 30.3 inches
Kawasaki Ninja 300R – 30.9 inches
Ducati Monster 696 – 30.9 inches
Honda CBR 250R – 30.5 inches
Yamaha FZ6 – 30.9 inches
Honda CBR 125R – 31.0 inches
Triumph T100 – 31.3 inches
Yamaha FZ07 – 31.6 inches

Edited by Tonya T.

Four of the Most Agonizing Choices in Buying Your First Motorcycle (and Some Advice to Make Them Less Agonizing)

Lots to choose from!

Lots to choose from!

You’ve just completed a motorcycle training course, you have your motorcycle safety gear and you’re ready to start riding on your own. Where should you begin? Here are some suggestions for making the best decisions for three of the most agonizing choices new riders have.

Choice #1: What to buy first?

Since it should be part of every motorcycle ride you take, a good place to start is buying your motorcycle safety gear first. It’s very easy to go over your budget buying a motorcycle. This may delay the purchase of gear. Since responsible riding should always be your first priority, make sure that doesn’t happen and get geared up first.

Choice #2: What engine size should I start with?

250ccs to 500ccs is an excellent range to start with. You’ll have enough power for any road you choose to ride and this amount of power is much more forgiving. The most important factor to riding motorcycles is your health and safety. The smaller the engine size, the easier it will be to ride.

Regardless of how well you did in training, motorcycling takes practice like any other sport. Your motorcycle skills will need to develop over time, so give yourself the best odds and setup to make it through your first several thousand kilometers without a major accident.

The higher the engine size, the higher the risk. Big bikes demand respect. The moment you take it for granted is a moment you may regret. The main argument for starting with a larger cc motorcycle is it’s a size you can grow into. I also hear it is a waste of money to buy a small cc engine, as the rider will just grow bored of it quickly. While these are valid points, they should not be traded for your health and safety.

Riding motorcycles carries a higher risk than most forms of transportation. The odds are against you when you are learning to ride. Almost all accidents and injuries are preventable. Start small and work your way up. The costs associated with trading up motorcycles is small compared to the costs of an accident.

Choice #3: New or used?

Buying a used motorcycle is recommended if you are a beginning rider. As you are learning and getting more seat time during those first few months, the chance for errors is higher. A motorcycle with a few minor bumps and scratches is perfect for these early trips. You can always blame those imperfections on the person who sold you the bike! An additional benefit is that the cost of a used bike is often much less than the cost of a new one, so you can use that extra cash to buy motorcycle gear or fund trips. A used, beginner motorcycle retains its value, as the market of buyers is the largest. This is the one type of motorcycle you can ride and not lose a lot of money on.

Buying a new motorcycle is both a fun and frustrating experience—fun in that it is shiny and new, frustrating in the fact that associated costs and taxes can quickly add up. When buying a new motorcycle, try to work with an ‘Out the Door’ price. There will be fewer surprises at the end. When you arrive home with your new and shiny motorcycle, you’ll want to keep it that way. If you happen to drop it, it will be devastating. It takes money and expertise to keep a motorcycle looking immaculate, and as a new rider, it is especially a challenge to do this. Expect a large drop in value when selling your new motorcycle with a few scratches.

Choice #4: Which bike?

When looking for a starter motorcycle, if you’re into sportbikes, starting with the Honda CBR 250cc or 500cc is a good choice. The Kawasaki Ninja 300 is an excellent choice, too. Do not underestimate the power behind these smaller engines. They are very capable on the highways and on any twisty road. If you absolutely must have a Ducati as your first motorcycle, look into the 621cc Ducati Monster.

If cruisers are your motorcycle of choice, have a look at the Honda Rebel 250, Kawasaki Vulcan 500, or a V-Star 650. The larger cc engine on a cruiser does have gentler power than sportbikes of similar displacement, but be aware that it will be a heavier motorcycle.

Good starter adventure motorcycles include the Suzuki V-Strom 650, BMW F700, and Kawasaki Versys 650. These are larger cc engines but they deliver a different amount of power than sportbikes do. When you have found the motorcycle that suits you, go for it! It’s exciting and the open road is yours. No motorcycle is the one you have forever. In fact, some riders change motorcycles every year. Make the safest choice for your first motorcycle. You, your family, and friends will respect it.

The 1st Gear, 1st Motorcycle program

We understand buying a first motorcycle can be quite the process so we are going to try to make it easier for you. With our all-inclusive motorcycling package, we will not only train you but also provide you a motorcycle to start on for 30 days. Here’s how it works:

Once you complete the MSA and upgrade your learner’s license, we will give you the keys to a motorcycle for 30 days. During this time, you will ride it as much as you want to get the practice you need. At the end of the 30 days, you’ll have a much better understanding of riding and you’ll be more prepared for a larger cc motorcycle. Consider the expense of the program to be less than the cost of trading bikes soon after you buy one because it’s not what you want. Tell us what you think about this program and we may very well implement it!

1st Gear Motorcycle School & Training

Editted by Tonya T.

Do you have a great motorcycle for new riders? Tell us about it below!

The Zero S: Let the debate versus gas and electric begin!

2013 Zero S

Electric motorcycles have arrived and will only become more popular as time rolls forward. At the first twist of the throttle I feel confused yet my smile continues to widen. It is incredibly hard to pinpoint what my initial thoughts are on the 2013 Zero S. In a way, I feel like some of my motorcycle senses are missing. Yet, the other senses have become heightened! As I take off, there is no need for the clutch as the engine is a clutchless drive direct. All you need to focus on is not reaching for the clutch. The Zero S will take care of the near silent rapid acceleration. As you effortlessly and quietly zip through time and space you can’t help but think something like this should still belong in the future. It did not take me long to realize that the Zero S is a serious threat to my drivers license. This is when you realize where one of your motorcycle senses has gone, your discipline.

At my first stop I let everything sink in and this motorcycle is quickly becoming one of the most exciting test rides I’ve been on. The incredibly powerful, smooth and quiet power delivery is as close to flying as I will get. The silence is only strange as motorcycles are typically noisy. With such a quiet ride your sense of fun and exhilaration are brought to new levels. Leaning the bike over and into corners is easily done and done with confidence. The light weight and my 190lb body work well enough together to be one with the road. Some bumps do upset the suspension but since the bike was not setup for me, I’ll blame it on that.

Towards the end of my 24 hours with the bike, I spent the last hours figuring out how to bring this bike into the 1st Gear Motorcycle School fleet. At $16,000 new (The demo model I had was $14,000 used) it does put it outside the price range for now…

Zero S, test, ride, ridefar, 2013

Zero S, test, ride, ridefar, 2013

Zero S, test, ride, ridefar, 2013

Riding through the National Parks of Utah. An unforgettable experience.

On June 8th I flew down to Phoenix AZ to complete the 7th part of my motorcycle storage experiment. I would ride to Kanab UT from Phoenix and spend the next three days exploring the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and other incredible locations in Utah. 2007 was my first trip to Utah and I had very vivid memories of it. It is an experience. From a sport tourer’s perspective it is not a state made up of race track highways. It is the most scenic state you can ride in. The scenery is so incredible you’ll have a hard time keeping your eyes on the road.

Route Map – Phoenix AZ to White Rock BC, 4168kms total

Baja Motorcycle Trip. Good idea or bad idea? You decide…

baja

“We’re  going to ride our motorcycles in Mexico”

“Really? I heard/know of/This will happen *insert disastrous horrific story here*”

“Well, the Baja is alot safer than the mainland…”

“Uh Sure… That’s not what I hear! HAVE FUN!”

It became pointless to tell people that we were going to ride our perfectly good motorcycles down through Baja Mexico. So we did it anyways. Does anyone have anything to be worried about riding your motorcycle through Mexico? Yes, but the same concerns exist with any ride. The major differences to be very aware of are; You are far away from immediate help. Ensenada and La Paz are the only cities that can help with Motorcycle issues. The people we encountered were very, very helpful and friendly. We had a great time and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any of our two wheeled friends. For street bikes it is perfect blend of adventure and touring.

When you make the journey be sure yell out WE MADE IT.

I’d like to do more of a thorough write up about the trip but peoples attention span isn’t what it used to be. I may do a full write up as I have started one below. Feel free to contact me with any particular questions below
It became pointless to tell people that we were going to ride our perfectly good motorcycles down through Baja Mexico. Despite this our enthusiasm and excitement approached Fiesta levels. As we crossed into Mexico via the Tecate Crossing, anxiety decided to show up to the party. Riding through the border is easy. You do need to park the motorcycles and go get your mexican travel visa. Relatively easy process, it just can be confusing on where you should go.

When we finished with the border we headed south along Mexican wine country on a very decent road. The further we rode south the more comfortable we felt. So far our impression of the roads were pretty good. Our first stop was in Ensenada for street tacos. Carrying on we slogged our way through one of the more boring parts of the Transpeninsular Highway. Alot of small towns, alot of speed bumps (Tope!), and nothing much to see. Before arriving in El Rasario we were treated to some very nice, well paved corners. The first place we stayed at was the Baja Cactus Hotel. It was one of the nicest of the trip and nicer than most places we stay at in USA. Cheap too! Dinner, drinks and breakfast was at Mama Espinozas. This is a well known spot to Baja Racers. Beer was cold, food was ok.

On the second day