By Gerde Applethwaite
A neighbor on my block just bought a bike. Its his first bike and he chose well. The vintage Honda 125 will be perfect to allow him to build riding skills without worrying about the weight of a full-sized machine. He goes to college and his rides will be a combination of commutes to school, trips to the store, to see friends and also rides in the hills. Rides to the gas station will be few and far between which is smart considering his student budget.
Here in California you have to wear a helmet so he popped for a flat black open face unit because he likes the retro look of the open face. He is talking about cafeing out the bike and the helmet will be part of the look. At some point down the road he wants to swap in a bolt-on cafe racer seat kit. Its going to cost him a bit over $200.
He rides in a denim jacket, jeans and street shoes. I have forgotten what he is using for gloves but if I recall when I last saw him ride off he wasn’t wearing any. He was stoked about getting some retro goggles to help complete the whole cafe look.
He is a new rider and he is young. He doesn’t want to think about riding gear, he wants to think about the paint scheme for his cafe racer seat. He is going to have to make a choice. Does he go for the cafe seat kit or does he delay that and go for a jacket and some riding boots? You know where I stand. One crash and he could be out not only the bike but the balance of a semester. The gear makes all the difference.
We have jackets, gloves and boots that will not break the bank and they will go a long way toward helping to keep you out of a cast. As you get more experience (and a bit more cash) you will want to upgrade your gear — get some armored riding pants that zip to your jacket or step up to a different jacket with, say, molecular armor. If you are a new rider you owe it yourself when you are out zipping around to talk to the other riders that you meet about the gear they ride with and why they chose it.