So you’ve just bought your first motorcycle or scooter? Congratulations! Now that you’re officially a rider, we’d like to welcome you to our ever-growing community and help you out with some motorcycle beginner rider’s kit. As motorcycles are becoming more and more popular, the aftermarket and gear segment is exploding, too. As a new rider, it might be a little overwhelming to choose the right gear and motorcycle care and maintenance products. There are so many options to choose from, so no wonder you may feel a little confused.
When it comes to motorcycle beginner rider’s kit, there are some things that are simply must-have, like your helmet, riding gear, a few basic motorcycle maintenance tools, and spares, and bike care products like chain lube. However, you might find yourself considering getting too much stuff too soon. Things like expensive helmets with photochromic visors and fancy intercom systems or aftermarket motorcycle parts like custom seats, big tanks, and upgraded suspension kits are, of course, amazing – but you do not necessarily need them, especially as a newbie.
So to help you make sense of it all, we have separated the motorcycle beginner rider’s kit recommendations into two main categories: “must-have” and “next level”. The former, as the name suggests, is a must. The latter is a choice.
Let’s dig right in.
Motorcycle Beginner Rider’s Gear
Starting at the Basics
You’ve been saving for those two wheels a long time, or perhaps you’ve got it on Alease. Either way, now that you’ve spent a good chunk of change on the bike, investing in high-quality riding gear may seem excessive. Trust us, it’s not. As any veteran rider would tell you, it’s not the matter of “if” you fall, it’s the matter of “when”. We’re not here to scare you, but good riding gear is your first line of defense in case of an accident, so do spend the money and ride safely.
Here is what we recommend as a must-have:
Good Quality Helmet
This one may seem obvious, as it’s simply illegal to ride without a helmet (unless you’re based in Iowa or Indiana, but that’s beside the point). However, don’t just grab the first helmet you see. First of all, make sure the helmet fits fell: it should be quite snug, but not too tight as it may cause headaches. When it comes to quality, see that it is ECE or DOT certified, which means it meets the current safety standards. Finally, never buy used helmets. You never know whether the helmet was dropped or damaged by the previous owner, so don’t take the risk. Even a small drop may cause a hairline fracture in the shell, which will decrease the helmet’s function during a crash.
Open-face, modular, or full-face? This is your choice depending on the type of riding you plan to do. Modular and open-face helmets are typically used by commuters and city riders, whereas full-face helmets are favored by motorcycle travelers, track fans, and adventure riders. In addition, grab a pair of sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from the sun.
Riding Jacket and Pants
Your riding suit is what stands between your skin and pavement, so just like with your helmet, don’t skimp on it. As a new motorcycle rider, you don’t need to invest in a full one-piece leather suit; you’re not Mark Marquez. Not yet, anyway. For now, the simplest and probably most economical solution is to get a textile riding suit that is made of anti-abrasion fabric such as Cordura and has protective armor at the hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, and back.
If you will mostly be riding around town or commuting to work, you may also opt for Kevlar jeans and a sturdy leather or textile jacket.
Unlike with helmets, you can buy second-hand riding gear provided it fits well and isn’t too worn out. When trying on riding pants and jackets, make sure it’s a good fit and all the armor pads are sitting in the right places.
Motorcycle Boots and Gloves
Your final important piece of kit is a pair of boots. Even if you aren’t planning to race, ride around the world, or try your luck at motocross, good quality riding boots are a must. That said, there are several good options to choose from.
For city riding and commuting, a pair of over-the-ankle boots is enough to protect your feet. On the other hand, for high speeds and long distances, you’re much better off with a pair of sturdy, adventure or motocross type boot that will protect your feet, ankles, and shins.
When it comes to gloves, any brand and any type will do, as long as it’s got padded palms and reinforced knuckle protection. If you don’t plan to ride year-round, get a pair of lightweight but protective summer gloves.
The Next Level
Now that you have all the basics covered, you may be curious about what else is out there. Once you’ve assembled your motorcycle beginner rider’s kit, you can think of adding a few next-level items to make that ride even more fun.
If you‘re tired of carrying sunglasses or goggles, consider getting a helmet with a photochromic visor. Photochromic visors darken in direct sunlight and go back to clear when the light diminishes, providing perfect eye protection and visibility at all times. Alternatively, you can pick up a helmet with an inbuilt drop-down sunglasses that you can release by simply touching a button on the side of the helmet.
If you know your passion for motorcycles is likely to grow to ridiculous proportions and you will be riding year-round, in any weather, waterproof gear is probably going to be your next investment. You may simply buy a rain poncho or overalls, or get a highly techy four-season adventure riding suit with GoreTex.
Love listening to music while you ride? The jury is still out whether this is safe or not, but if you enjoy your tunes, get a Bluetooth set for your helmet. Nowadays, most helmet Bluetooth devices come with an integrated intercom system as well, so that‘s a double bonus – you can listen to music, answer phone calls, and chat with your riding buddies all without ever lifting your hands off the bars.
Beginner’s Motorcycle Kit
Now that you’re clad in protective gear from head to toe, it’s time to look at some of the must-haves for your motorcycle. Regardless of what bike or scooter you have, there are several items that are highly recommended to have in your garage.
Here are the motorcycle kit basics.
Tools and Spares
Even if you aren‘t mechanically minded, having a basic set of tools can be a great help. For starters, you won‘t need much. Tire irons, a simple set of Allen keys, and the most popular size wrenches is all you need to tighten up a loose nut or bolt here and there or change your oil.
When it comes to spares, again, keep it simple. Carry spare tubes as well as a couple of spare fuses, a tire repair kit, a tire pressure gauge, and a small electric air pump. If you’re running tubeless tires, that minimizes the spares list even further, and if you ride a scooter, leave the tire irons in your garage as tire punctures are much less likely in the city.
Finally, always have good quality engine oil and make sure you lube your chain regularly. Other than this, simply stick to the service intervals recommended in your owner’s manual.
Having a little storage space is always good when riding. Whether it’s to simply store your helmet and gloves when you’re away from the bike or to transport your few earthly possessions on a long motorcycle journey, luggage is a must.
Depending on what you ride, you may only add a top box. If you need more space, aluminum panniers, soft saddlebags, and a tank bag can be a better option. Just like with riding gear, you can safely buy luggage second-hand so you don’t have to overspend.
Motorcycle Ergonomics for Beginners
Simply put, motorcycle ergonomics means the bike is optimally adjusted to you: your height, body shape, and riding position. Stock motorcycles are aimed at average people, but the reality is, we are rarely ‘average’. Some of us are taller, some shorter; our inseams differ; we may be more comfortable in different riding positions.
Setting your bike up for you can make a world of difference in your riding, too. As a new rider, you may find you are struggling to corner well, your U-turns are wobbly, and if you’re riding dirt, perhaps you just can’t figure out that standing position. Experience helps, for sure, but often, the bike set up is to blame.
Before you leave the dealership, ask the mechanic to adjust the bike for you. If you can barely touch the ground with your toes, the motorcycle needs to be lowered for you. Maybe you’re getting an adventure or dirt bike and you tend to hunch over when you stand up on the pegs; handlebar risers will fix this. Sometimes, if it feels like you’re sitting too far forward or uncomfortably leaning back, roll the bars forward or back to a comfortable position. All of these adjustments will take mere minutes, but they will make a big difference in your riding and comfort.
Motorcycle Mods and Aftermarket Kit: Next Level
If you’ve got your riding gear, tools, and bike set up all sorted out, it’s time to improve your ride a little. As a beginner rider, you do not necessarily need to do any of these mods. However, if you feel like tinkering with your bike, here are several aftermarket solutions that are worth mentioning.
If you’re a commuter or plan doing long-distance motorcycling, your seat is important. Most stock seats, unfortunately, have the comfort of a wooden plank, so if you’re tired of being sore every time you ride, consider getting an aftermarket seat. There are plenty of options to choose from, from sportbike seats to wide and comfy touring ones. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, a gel cushion or a sheepskin might also do the job.
If you’d like to take it up a notch, you may even get a custom seat made especially for your motorcycle.
Just like stock seats are bad news for your behind, stock tanks on most motorcycles are tiny. A small tank isn’t an issue for commuters and city dwellers, but if you dream of faraway lands and long-distance touring, a larger tank is a big improvement. There are aftermarket tanks ranging from 15 to 30 liters available for all makes and models of motorcycles, so don’t hesitate to get one if you’ve just finished watching Long Way Round and can’t wait to hit that open road.
As a newbie motorcyclist, you’ll probably be riding more conservatively, shorter distances, and at slower speeds than experienced vets. However, getting a pair of high-quality tires can help you become a better rider faster. Tires on stock bikes typically aren’t as tough and durable and don’t offer as much grip as high-quality tires designed for a specific type of riding. Horses for courses: if you mostly commute, get street tires, whereas if you’re typically found at the racetrack, get tires designed for high speeds. For adventure riding, 50/50 on-road/off-road tires are ideal, whereas for dirt, invest in a pair of knobbies.
A windscreen makes your ride much more comfortable, so if your scooter or motorcycle doesn‘t have one, consider installing an aftermarket windshield. A good-quality, clear windscreen will lessen road fatigue: it’s no fun being blasted with cold air while you’re riding. Windscreens also protect you from road grime and grit kicked up by other traffic and prevent your visor from getting covered in dead bugs during the summer.
Now that you’ve got your rider’s gear all set up and your bike farkled out, there’s one last thing to think about. With motorcycle and scooter theft rates through the roof, you need to think about security. We highly recommend investing in a high-quality chain, disc lock, and a wireless motorcycle tracker. Having three layers of security will work best to protect your newly acquired treasure from thieves. In addition, always be careful about where you park your bike. Secure garages and parking lots with 24/7 guards or at least CCTV cameras are ideal. However, if you need to park your motorcycle on the street from time to time, get a large bike cover and make sure you use it every time you leave your motorcycle. A bike cover will not protect it from thieves, but it can act as a good deterrent: thieves are less tempted to try and steal a bike if they can’t see what’s underneath the cover.
So there you have it: complete motorcycle beginner rider’s kit basics plus several next-level options for those of you who just can’t wait to gear up and modify their riders. Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below!