Opinion: The Gear That Works

7
646
Overall, I felt the Scott gear worked as well as pricier competition. Photo: Laura Deschenes

Not long ago, I was searching through the CMG archives, and for some reason, I came across some comments on my review of the Scott Dual Raid jacket and pants, from way back in 2015. I’d written that the jacket generally served me very well, and noted it was pricey.

At around $440 for the jacket and $390 for the pants from Canadian retailers, it represents good value,” the story said. “It’s a little cheaper than the really high-end enduro gear, but as far as I can see, it offers the same functionality and durability.

A reader disagreed, and let me know in the comments section, saying “So, with tax youre pushin $1000 for the outfit? Seriously? Are you friggin insane? Thats 20% of the cost of my CRF!! Goto Walmart and youll walk out atleast $900 richer…and yes, it will hold up just fine.

This gear has proved itself over time. At least, the jacket has; sadly, the pants were shredded in a crash, but they saved my skin.

Well, I can sympathize with his sticker shock. Even if it’s reasonably priced compared to more expensive options, $830 plus tax is a lot of money to find in the couch cushions. But I disagreed with his opinion then, and I disagree even more now.

Putting the wraps on my 2020 riding season, I noted the Scott Dual Raid Pro was my go-to jacket for riding off-road, same as it was for much of the past several years. I’ve had other jackets in that time span, but when I was going to do something like scouting for the Fundy Adventure Rally, this is the jacket I took. It’s held up great; I replaced a zipper, but I think that cost about $15 at the local tailor, and was money well-spent.

As for the pants, they were destroyed in my 2017 crash, when my DR350 blew its front tire and I slid down gravel topped asphalt at a fairly decent clip. The pants were shredded on the cheese-grater surface, but my legs didn’t have any road rash or burns, no wounds at all (unlike my elbow, which took a beating through the jacket I was wearing, leaving me with a dandy scar). The pants did their job.

I get it. I’ve spent my time in crappy riding gear in the past, when I couldn’t afford better, and didn’t know better. I’m not ATGATT, either. But if you have money for a new bike, you can afford proper gear.

Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, whether they be journos or readers, and here’s mine: No $50 bought-at-Walmart pants will let you walk away unscathed from an 80 km/h crash on loose chip seal. For that reason alone, I think quality gear is good value, even if does set you back close to $1,000. That seems less painful than a skin graft.

I’m not saying everyone needs to be ATGATT—sometimes I like to ride in jeans, too. But I’m under no illusions that they’ll protect me the same way in a crash. 

But, just like I said in my reply to that comment on the story, I think there’s value in good riding gear far beyond its protective capabilities. A highly underrated perk of good riding gear is that it extends your riding season.

The Aerostich allowed me to tackle some ambitious touring in early April with no concerns about staying warm or dry.

Here in Canada, the joke is that little kids’ Halloween costumes need to fit over a snowsuit. It’s funny, because it’s true. By mid-October, you’re well into single-digit temperatures, and maybe even sub-zero temps at night. Most riders put their bikes away as a result. And while some riders will haul their bikes out of storage early in the spring, going out for an easy ride on a rare sunny day, that winter cold can hang around for weeks in the spring. I remember going home to PEI for a Mother’s Day visit once, and riding my Honda CB650 through snow flurries back to New Brunswick.

Good motorcycle gear won’t clear ice and salt off the roads, but it will definitely keep you warm and dry for longer at each end of the riding season.

It’s something I’ve kind of taken for granted the past few years, as I have decent quality gear. The point hit home again this fall, though, watching my wife’s little brother learn the lesson first-hand. He just started riding a Yamaha XT250, and he’s riding it to work in all sorts of bad weather. Seeing him freeze in a mesh jacket in September, I took pity on him and found him a warmer jacket, liner and gloves. Even though his parents want him to put the Yamaha away, he just keeps soldiering on. He loves his bike, so now he can keep going with more appropriate gear.

Even if you don’t have a heated vest or grips, you’ll need proper weatherproof riding gear in fall or spring. You won’t find that at Walmart.

That gear might give him an extra month, maybe even more, of riding season. It’s true a thousand bucks’ worth of gear is a significant investment, but if it increases your riding season by 25 or 30 per cent, wouldn’t that alone be worth it? Let’s face it: Our Canadian moto season is so short, that we can use all the help we can get.

Even though we’ve seen a lot of warm weather this fall, the end of riding season is basically here, even for most of the hard-core moto-heads. It looks like we might have a tough winter ahead, thanks to COVID-19, so here’s an idea: Ask yourself what gear would help you get out on the road a little earlier in the spring? Heated gloves? A full-face helmet? And also ask yourself, what kind of quality do you want? Do you want to buy once and cry once, or do you want to spend more on gear that will last for many years? Do you want to look good, or do you want safety?

Winter’s here, and motorcyclists will spend the next few months bummed out, especially with no MMIC shows to visit. But, remember that spring is only a few months away. Now’s the time to get yourself ready, with proper gear to keep you safe and warm.

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. Prior to my drive to Argentina from Calgary i was overwhelmed with all the gear i had to buy.
    i had a good helmet used a motocross chest armor shin guards over jeans and even hip guards.
    But i bought military boots thinking I’m good to go,half way through the trip i developed a hole gear changing boot .i went down a few times in mud, and luckily the foot peg didn’t connect to my foot.
    When i returned to Calgary, after selling the bike in Chile i decided to buy a real motorcycle boot.
    So im taking the bike out of the garage and as im going down the curb it falls on yes you guessed it my foot.
    After that episode i now always put my gear on from the garage.
    We have 26 bones 30 joints and 100 muscles and tendons in our feet Luckily i was limping for a week or so.
    the pain oh the Pain is ffffffffff bad.
    My friends crashed in Brazil damage to his left foot couldn’t drive for 6 weeks. He was wearing cheap boots.
    I don’t care if my boots feel like ski boots. Or the smell is so bad it scares the rats away.
    So keep on reviewing good products. And please let us know when your reviewing Valparaiso 3 alpine stars
    Jacket?
    Thankyou for your good work .

  2. Quality gears are expensive. They were out of reach when i was a student. Cheap riding gears that lasted just a couple of months. Since i wear proper gear, my motorcyle’s season became longer. And above all, way more comfortable in April and october-november. And at the same time gears are much protective. I became a better consumer with years passing. Looking for off-season sales. Timing is everything. Also, i’m trying to encourage good local stores.

  3. I wear a Alpinestars High vis jacket – full armor and Klim full armor jeans with leather chaps over top to keep me warm in the cold and to keep the engine heat off my legs in the summer. I wear a white HJC full face helmet and have heated grips on both my CTX1300 and my Tenere 700 to extend the riding season to the limit. I know first hand what it’s like to fly over the handle bars and land on railway ballast with no protection. Pain and blood has a way of getting your attention.

  4. Good gear doesn’t just extend your riding season. I still have my first leather jacket from 25+ years ago. It was more expensive than most jackets at the time. Much cheaper stuff has come and gone since then.

      • Yeah, that’s the way I look at it too. While I can sympathize with folks over the high initial cost for good kit, the normal vagaries of fashion and style seem to apply less to motorcycle clothing (where “old” is more easily considered “vintage”), so the amortized cost over many riding seasons makes even the most expensive pieces a relative bargain.

        • You can still save money by doing your research and shopping around. I had an Olympia AST all-season moto jacket that survived a lot of abuse, got it fairly cheap second-hand at ADVrider. It was in great shape. I eventually killed the zippers and couldn’t justify replacing them, but I had it for 10 years and it was still very weatherproof and overall good shape when I trashed it, despite being crashed in and everything.

Join the conversation!