Editor’s Note: Kyle Hyatt continues his journey as a fledgling motorcyclist with a look at what he’s been wearing over his first few months. Did he choose well?
On Finding and Buying Motorcycle Gear When You’re a Fashion-Conscious Cryptid
By Kyle Hyatt
Being a human giant, finding motorcycle gear is a challenge. The difficulty is compounded when you’re compelled to not look like a total dweeb off the bike and rises again exponentially when you’re a newbie with no practical knowledge on which to base your purchases. While the YouTube era has made the process a little less fraught, it’s still unbelievably confusing to navigate. After going through this nonsense for the first time, I feel honor-bound to give a breakdown of the gear I purchased, the gear that was given to me, and how they’ve been working for me over the last 500 miles or so.
Helmet: Schuberth S2 in White ($549, available in XS-3XL, bought from RevZilla)
We’ve got to start with the helmet because that’s the most important piece of kit you’re going to buy and probably the most difficult thing to buy well. I purchased this particular helmet because it was on closeout at RevZilla in my size (XXL) and in my desired color (solid white, for safety AND style, natch) and it had a drop down sun visor. I broke all the rules for buying a helmet and bought it before I tried it on, but I lucked out, it’s super comfy for my odd head shape. Schuberth helmets are super quiet and well-made. In fact, Schuberth is the only company that publishes the dB ratings for their various helmets. The S2 is also pretty light, a bonus when you’re packing a gargantuan melon for a head as it is. I also love the fact that it doesn’t catch a ton of wind as I head check and the micro-ratchet is pretty convenient when donning and doffing the lid. The available SRC integrated communication system is super slick-looking and well-integrated into the helmet, but if your whole crew is on Senas, then you’re going to be listening to podcasts and wondering whether everyone is making fun of you.
Editor’s Note: I’ve just discovered first hand in Italy that the SRC can pair with a Sena (at least my 10C) if you follow the directions in this post (and use the “Phone” button to make your final choice at the end). It has to be done through the Sena but it works! Whether or not you’re connected, you should assume your friends are definitely making fun of you.
That said, for the John Wayne, lone wolf type such as myself, it’s on my “To Buy” list.
Jacket: Aether Skyline in Eclipse ($550 ($100 off), available in SM-2XL, bought from RevZilla)
Now that all of my fondest childhood memories and many thousands of dollars of community college courses are well protected, we must get into protecting my torso. There is an almost limitless number of jackets and suits on the market, and most of them will be about as protective as the Skyline jacket, they just don’t look as stealthy. Right off the bat though, I have to say that the Aether Skyline is expensive. Seriously, at $650 it’s overpriced for what it is, but if you want one textile jacket that’s going to do pretty much everything and look low-key, this is one of the more handsome options and it has a lifetime guarantee. Now, after the sting of the initial purchase is gone, I have to say that I love this thing. It flows a ton of air for a non-mesh jacket thanks to the chest, pit, and back vents.
The jacket came with a full set of D3O molecular armor, including back protector (which is kind of a big deal, as even most premium brands don’t ship their jackets with an included back protector and buying one can cost up to another $40-50 depending on what brand of armor your gear uses. Aether and ICON seem to be the only ones, to my knowledge), and while I haven’t yet had to try the waterproof breathable liner out, I’m sure it will perform as advertised. The added retro-reflective material on the back is a nice bonus, and because it’s black during the daytime, it doesn’t stand out. I’d recommend this jacket to anyone who isn’t riding in the arctic or a crazy desert hellscape.
Pants: Tobacco Motorwear Indigo Selvedge Riding Jeans ($359, available in widths of 28″-42″, provided by Tobacco)
Searching for jeans to ride in is tough, though not because of a lack of options. The process starts with you Googling riding in denim. You invariably come across that one photo of Wes Siler’s ass after he went down in regular denim jeans (you know the one) and that spurs you on towards all of the various armored and Kevlar lined options that the market has to provide. The only problem is that once again if you’re a mega-human and you don’t want to look like an Albanian house DJ or an extra from Wild Hogs, your options are limited. Thankfully, companies like Tobacco exist. Tobacco saw a hole in the market for quality, American-made denim that would protect motorcyclists in an involuntary dismount situation and they set about filling the void. Like the Aether jacket, these jeans aren’t cheap. Retail is $360 which might be tough for some to swallow considering they aren’t available with armor, but these are well-built and exceedingly handsome jeans, so much so that not one person I encountered while wearing them called them out for being bike jeans.
They feature a Dupont Kevlar liner that goes down to the shin in the front and provides full butt coverage in the back. The denim is American made, and the details are gorgeous. They haven’t been too hot riding in 80-90-degree weather, and while I haven’t crashed in them, they make me feel a whole lot better about not ending up like poor Wes. I would buy these with my own money if I had to replace them and that’s as good an endorsement as I can give, I think.
Boots: Alpinestars Oscar Monty ($259, available in 6-14, provided by Alpinestars)
Do you see a recurring theme yet? Gear that is protective but doesn’t look like gear? Well, the Monty boots are CE-rated and plenty safe, but they won’t make you look like you just got out of an all-hands meeting at Power Rangers Incorporated. These are seriously saucy-looking Italian boots which are comfortable and flexible enough to walk around in all day but stiff enough to feel good on the bike. My one gripe about these is that getting into and out of them can be a bit of a chore because they lack speed lace eyelets near the top and don’t have any kind of ankle zips, but that also means they fit really securely and are not going to come off in a crash. As a bonus, I just saw photos of none other than Mr. Keanu Reeves wearing these and frankly, if they’re good enough for Special Agent Johnny Utah, then they’re good enough for me so back off Warchild, seriously.
Gloves: Icon 1000 Rimfire ($90, available SM-4XL, bought from RevZilla)
These gloves look super cool, but that’s pretty much where the list of positives stop. I bought these because I wanted tan gloves that looked kind of like work gloves but were armored and had some pre-curve. On the surface, these had all of that and more. The Rimfire gloves feature D3O armor in the knuckles (not ideal in this application, hard knuckle protection would be better) and steel rivets backed with Nomex on the palm (so you don’t have to wonder if you’ll scratch your shiny fuel tank, you’ll just know).
The fingers feature pre-curve and external seams, but they still bunch up uncomfortably in the fingers in a riding position. Now, this may be because I’m between sizes but out of all the gear I’ve been using, these are the only piece that I wouldn’t buy again, especially not at $99. I’ve had my eye on some other gloves like the Rev’It Monster 2 or Kushitani K-5300.
Through pure, dumb luck and way too many RevZilla and UrbanRider.co.uk review videos I managed to end up with excellent gear with which I’m super happy. My gear is proving to be ideal for Los Angeles riding for around 80% of the year. If it’s crazy hot (mid-nineties and up), I’ll be miserable, ditto if it’s freezing, so your mileage may vary. I also feel it’s important to say that while I appreciate the heck out of Alpinestars and Tobacco Motorwear contributing gear to help get my two-wheeled life rolling, I made it clear that I’d be giving as unbiased a review of their products as I possibly could and that’s what you folks received. Thanks again to Abhi for giving my ridiculous screeds a home on the internet and keep an eye out for my next two-wheeled experience (think Italian and supermoto-y), until then give some of my other work a read!
Product photos from RevZilla, Schuberth, Tobacco Motorwear, Alpinestars, and Kushitani