One question I get asked very often is “What is the best biking kit”? It turns out that this question is both the easiest and one of the most difficult to answer.
You have to remember that bike gear has one primary reason for its existence, and no it is not so that you look good to pull the women…or the men…or both…I don’t judge! Nope it is there to give you a fighting chance at surviving the inevitable and so it is normal that you want the best that you can afford.
That is one of the first things that hits you when buying kit, the price. It is certainly not cheap and if it is cheap there is probably something wrong with it. For instance, it says “Real Leather” and I am sure that it is real leather, but is it real leather from a big tough cow or is it hamster leather stitched together? Luckily the governments of the world have managed to do one thing right and they have created national and international standards to cover this. Whenever you buy some new kit make sure it is at least up to one of those relevant standards. Back to price, even if the kit is approved what you get does depend an awful lot on price. Yes it might be tough and strong, but so is an elephant and you wouldn’t want to wear one of those!
What I strongly recommend is don’t buy something just because it has the right name, buy something because it is good and because it fits comfortably. You are probably going to be spending a lot of time in this gear and you want that time to be pleasurable, not spent wanting to stop because you need to get blood back to your legs or to relieve a certain uncomfortable restriction! Comfort is also a contributing factor to safety, if you are uncomfortable it can be a distraction and that can mean a severe case of ouch. So make sure what you buy fits you properly…it is not a fashion statement, it is armor!
All that is written above can equally be said about crash helmets, but there is one other consideration to take into account with them, noise. Wind noise can wreck your hearing, Tinnitus is a common complaint with bikers and it is mostly due to wind noise. No crash helmet is going to be silent, and normally you won’t be able to try one out on your bike before you buy it, so what can you do? Well one of the best and by far the cheapest bits of riding kit are some foam ear plugs that you can slip in to your ears before each ride. You will be amazed at how much noise these cut out, how much more refreshed you arrive after the ride and you won’t be wrecking your hearing either.
Gloves fight a losing battle every winter. I have never found a pair of gloves that can keep my hands warm during the winter months, but that doesn’t mean I suffer from cold hands. There are two solutions that work, the first is to fit Enduro type brush guards to your handlebars. These have the effect of cutting down the wind hitting your glove and so it is able to do its work in relatively still air. Of course this may not be aesthetically pleasing on your bike, but it does work and, if you are not a fashion victim, you can make the best ones out of 5 litre bottles. They also have the bonus stop your hands getting we, dry warm hands or looking cool, your decision. The other option is heated grips, they work a treat, but can cause a bit of a drain on your battery. Just be certain to wire them in properly and / or turn them off when you stop. I have used both of these solutions, and I prefer the heated grips, but then I need every possible bit of help to look good!
So there you go, a few hints about great riding kit, but what was the easy answer to the question “what is the best biking kit”? It is of course the kit that you always put on whenever you go out…the kit that is like a second skin…because even if you buy the best, it is useless if it stays at home when you are out on your bike.