So the first thing you usually need when you are going to take the MSF Course is a Helmet! Most of the time, the safety course will provide you with gear. However, if you don’t want sweaty nasty gear that someone else has had on them you may want to get some beforehand. These are just my personal opinions/recommendations on gear. Everyone is different and will have different preferences.
Helmet– How valuable is your head to you? Buy accordingly. I don’t recommend half helmets or 3/4 helmets at all, always a full face or at least a modular helmet. Generally the more expensive the helmet, the better quality it will be. DOT is the standard safety rating. ECE is like the European version of DOT. SNELL approval is an independent company that tests helmets. They put the helmets through more rigorous testing. You can find these ratings on the back of the helmet.
Fitment: The helmet should fit as snugly as possible. You don’t want it moving around on your head. One of the most common mistakes people make in my experience is buying a helmet a size or two too big. They do not account for the helmet breaking in.
In my time working at Cycle Gear, I got to try on a ton of different brands of helmets and all of them were pretty decent. A few have stood out to me though. What I own personally now:
Speed and Strength Wicked Garden Helmet/ Bilt Bluetooth Helmet (yes they are the same helmet, just branded differently). Not a bad helmet, but it’s probably the cheapest helmet I own. I like it for the summer because it lets a TON of airflow in. Breezy, but loud. That’s usually the trade off. It was only like $100 bucks or something. Not Snell approved, just DOT
HJC RPHA 10: My favorite helmet of all time. A bit pricier (about $360 depending on the model) It’s super light compared to anything I’ve ever put on maybe except Arai. Snell approved and super comfortable. It does break in a bit more than other helmets I’ve had so instead of my usual Size Large I bought a Medium. Seriously these break in a ton! EDIT: The NEW RPHA 11 is sickkkkkkkk. I really want this graphic. I’m a Star Wars nerd, I can’t help it.
Shoei helmets are excellent and definitely very safe and very quiet. They are a bit heavy for my taste, but thats a personal preference. If you are interested in a bluetooth speaker in your helmet, this is a great option. Price ranges from 300 to 500 bucks.
Arai helmets are fantastic and probably the best quality money can buy. They have a couple different helmets that fit different shaped heads. You can always find an Arai that fits and has the right pressure points for your head. The price is what keeps people away from them ($400-1000+). If you can afford it though, buy it. I could do a whole article on how cool Arai is as a company too, but I won’t bore you yet =)
1) Helmets are only good for 1 crash and last about 5 years. Do not buy a used helmet.
2) Tinted or mirrored shields are sweet looking, but be prepared to lift your visor up at night so you can actually see. Unless you want to go Jedi motorcycle riding and depend on the Force. Drop down visors are great features, but Snell will not approve them.
3) If you are a woman and frustrated with the selection of women’s clothing at your dealership do yourself a favor and go to Cycle Gear. They have the best selection. I will have to write a blog post soon about women’s gear only.
Do not go cheap on your gear. For the love of God it’s your body. Do you want your brain to be squished. Do you have tattoos? Do you want your jaw wired shut? No? Good. Don’t be stupid. Motorcycles aren’t for broke people. If you must skimp on your gear, at least get a good helmet and wear a jacket. If you want to see what happens to people who get in accidents without gear just Google it.