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.