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HomeProduct News/ReviewsLearning To Ride Part One: Getting The Right Gear

Learning To Ride Part One: Getting The Right Gear

We love challenging normal; take California Superbike School for example. This time, we’re going to follow someone with no experience whatsoever on their journey from zero, to learner, to fully licenced rider.

As part of that journey, we’ll look at everything from choosing the best entry level motorcycle gear (more on that in a moment), to learning to ride (in NSW), and what each State in Australia offers in terms of rider education.

There’ll be experience stories, gear and shopping reviews, and learner bike reviews – you name it, we’ll cover it, and all through the eyes of an absolute beginner – yours truly – who has never ridden a motorcycle in his entire life.

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No veteran motorcycle journos here, just real, actual experience, from a real actual learner. Is this writer nervous, hell yes, but not so much that I don’t want to do it. The mental health benefits of riding alone are enough to sell me on what I’m in for, and I’m excited.

On top of that, the journey has already begun. We kicked it off with a trip to the AMX Superstore in Newcastle in NSW in the lead up to Christmas, where we spent two hours trying on gear, and working with their knowledgeable staff.

Choosing the right helmet is key
Choosing the right helmet is key

Despite some serious trepidation about what to expect, the team at the store made it super easy, and were informative and supportive through the whole process (that meant a lot to a big lad like yours truly).

While you could spend a gazillion dollars on gear, with a limited budget to play with, we only looked at the entry level end of the market, while making sure we chose gear that would last, be comfortable and above all, provide the safest options.

We’ll review all our bits of gear individually in the near future, but for now, here’s a breakdown on what we tried on and what we chose. Kicking it off with helmets, our focus was on recognised brands like HJC, M2R and SMK.

Under the guidance of the AMX team, we chose to try out the HJC C10, C70, F70 and i71 – priced between $249 and $449. You can get into the market cheaper with M2R and SMK but the HJC helmets felt better for yours truly, who has an odd shaped head.

In the end, I went with an i71 Enta in orange and black as it was by far the most comfortable helmet for me. That said, I’d highly recommend trying on as many helmets as possible to find “the one”. Hot tip, leave it on for a bit while you walk around.

DriRider jeans
DriRider jeans

Sure, you look like you’re off to rob a convenience store, but it actually helped get used to the weight and feel of having a helmet on. The helmet we chose is priced at $449 and we picked it because it also meets the latest certification standards.

For this writer, as a learner, who is 53-years-old, and has two kids and a family to support, safety was as important as price in the decision to choose the helmet we picked. Now to gear – gloves, pants, a jacket and boots.

We looked at DriRider and Argon, because they’re both affordable, entry level brands with solid reputations, offering good quality and excellent value. After trying on what seemed like an eternity of options, we settled on a single item in each category.

What we came away with were DriRider Urban 2.0 boots (in black/black, there’s a few colour options), which are so comfortable, and so like a regular shoe, that I’ve worn them out to an event already (having not yet set foot on a bike).

These retail for around $169. In the gloves department, there’s a dozen plus options, but we wanted to maintain the affordability, while choosing something that was waterproof, which landed us with Apex 2 from DriRider, which are just $79.

A selection of Argon and DriRider boots
A selection of Argon and DriRider boots

You can have them in any colour as long as it’s black. On to jackets, and aren’t they an interesting thing to try and buy. There are lightweight, midweight and heavyweight options, in multiple different materials, and some offer rain protection and some don’t.

It’s astoundingly confusing for the uninitiated and having the team at AMX there to help choose the right option was amazing. Sizing is a daunting thing. While I wear regular 2XL and 3XL t-shirts depending on the brand – I never thought I’d be putting on a 6XL.

Way to go motorcycle industry, on how to make a fat guy feel extra large. That’s a joke by the way, and yours truly can fully appreciate the fact bike gear sizing is so completely different to regular clothing in the jacket space.

We settled on a DriRider Air Ride 5 in silver and black at $219, after almost opting for a $449 Argon Scorcher (it’s a cool jacket for sure, and well worth a look if you want something a little sportier).

And finally, pants; DriRider Titan jeans in blue wash. These retail for $249 (not quite the most I’ve spent a pair of denim leg covers in my life, but close. That was pre-kids and family of course).

And so it begins... learning to ride
And so it begins… learning to ride

So now we’re fully kitted out – what’s next? We’re locked in for our NSW Pre-Leaner course with Australia’s favourite motorcycle school, Stay Upright, in late January. From there, we’ll jump on some learner bikes and try not to crash. Strap in kids, shit’s about to get real.

This article was first published on Exhaust Notes Australia.

Mark Holgate
Mark Holgate
A journalist with more than 24 years experience, Mark Holgate has worked with a number of regional, suburban and metropolitan newspapers, as well as stints with motoring specific publications like Which Car? Motorsport News, Auto Action and Street Machine. He was also a contributor to DriveTribe before its untimely demise.

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