May 18, 2007

Mailbag #2: Should you buy kit while learning?

Caughtilya-Rearset Stamp 1I've been following your blog closely. Thanks for all the gyan that you've been sharing with the world. Let me tell you, you're simply great at it. Your blog is a great read.

Are there any places in Bangalore that you're aware of, where one gets good riding gear? I'm a rookie biker. Have bought my first bike - the new Honda Unicorn - and have been riding it for nearly a fortnight now (and I've done ~950 kms so far. :-)). I was wondering about getting a riding gear set; Admittedly, I haven't apparently mastered the art of riding as much before I can call myself an average rider. Is it advisable to invest much on it? Cramster jackets + gloves come around to Rs 6000.

1. Is it really necessary?
2. Is it worth the investment?
3. What about getting a bit cheaper - i mean getting a
foam leather jacket and cheaper pair of gloves?

Please let me know what you think about a learner getting riding gear and stuff.

Sorry for the trouble. Thanks a ton, for what you've been providing us with so far and even more for whats to come. :-)

High res image of Cramster Riding GearDear TS,

Thanks for the compliments and I'm glad you asked that question. The short answer is as follows. Riding kit, at a fundamental level, is protective in nature. It is designed to form a layer that absorbs impact (the thud when you fall) and abrasion (the scraping noise) when you fall. So, when is it a good idea to wear riding kit (which presumes that you own some, of course)? That's easy, wear kit when you intend to fall. And since you never intend to fall, and cannot predict when you will, the only way is to wear it every time you go out for a spin.

The bush I'm beating frantically around, basically says that riding kit is the best investment you could possibly make. The better kit you buy the sounder your investment. If you're a newbie, you're more likely to have a fall as you come to grips with the whole riding thing, and so, you need kit a lot more as a newbie. In most cases, your riding jacket will absorb a small fall or two without any visible damage, so you'll be fine. To return to your questions

  1. Is it really necessary?
    In my opinion and experience, yes. I'd go so far as to say it is vital.

  2. Is it worth the investment?
    Absolutely. You're lucky that there are now Indian brands offering inexpensive, good quality kit. This was not the case as recently as two or three years ago. I've scrounged for months, bought stuff online, waited months for relatives/friends to come back with the booty... And having now spent (cumulative over the past 13 years of riding) more than Rs 75K on kit, I don't regret a paisa.

  3. Foam leather/Gloves?
    Dude, you're asking a question like, 'Would it be okay if I went to a cheaper school? They teach you poorer english (and science etc), have no facilities whatsoever... do you think it would affect my career?' There's an obvious answer, right? Foam leather has no protective qualities whatsoever (it is still better than nothing, of course), ditto the cheap gloves. If the money is tight, split the purchase. Get the jacket now and the gloves in a month or two. And wear cheap gloves until you get proper ones. If money isn't an issue, buy the best kit you can find.
Riding gear is like insurance, you think it's a waste of money until you need it. And when you need it, you'd better have the best you can afford.

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