Choosing the right motorcycle gear is important here are a few good tips by Urban Rider, in Toronto Canada. (VISIT URBAN RIDERS STORE ON CITIFY HERE)
In every jurisdiction in Canada you will need at least an approved motorcycle helmet. The riding school will have other requirements. This will likely include a sturdy jacket, sturdy pants, boots and gloves before they will allow you on a motorcycle. The pants and jacket should be a denim material or leather and the boots will need to be leather covering your ankle. Gloves should cover the wrist and have leather palms. Those are the minimum requirements, but if you are serious about riding your own motorcycle you will want to invest in some better motorcycle gear.
Regardless of your plans, you will need an approved motorcycle helmet in order to take the course. In Ontario, the approved safety standards include the Canadian Standards Association (CSA standard D230), the Snell Memorial Foundation (Snell), the British Standards Institute, the United States Department of Transport (DOT 218) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation No. 22 (ECE R22.05). In practice the only standards you are likely to see in helmets are DOT, ECE and Snell. Each of these standards are acceptable for use in all Canadian provinces, however, most states require DOT approval so if you plan on travelling by motorcycle to the United States you should ensure that the helmet you buy is DOT approved. Outside the United States, the ECE standard is recognized by more countries and race organizations than any other standard. The Snell standard is frequently used by racing organizations. The Snell M2010 and M2015 are both currently available. the M2010 is nearly identical with the M2015 standards which are aimed to make testing more consistent but the actual standards are about the same so M2010 and M2015 are both equally good. M2005 and earlier aren't recommended due to the age of the helmets and because the earlier helmets were less effective at absorbing impacts.
Each of the three legal standards has somewhat similar testing procedures to pass. Both Snell and DOT require a helmet to survive an impact with a blunt object, a rounded curb and a pointed object for penetration testing. They will also have to survive a skidding abrasion test. In each case a dummy head is used inside the helmet and the force absorbed by the head must be below a set minimum standard which is considered survivable. The ECE standard differs primarily in the omission of the penetration test. Studies have shown that only 3 per cent of motorcycle accidents involve impact with pointed objects so this isn't a big concern. By omitting the penetration test, ECE helmets can often be lighter weight and have larger ventilation holes than helmet designed to the DOT or Snell standards. Most ECE helmets sold in Canada also have DOT approval and so will not be appreciably lighter than other helmets.
The biggest decision you will need to make are the style of helmet that you purchase. These include full face helmets, modular helmets, 3/4 or open face helmets and half helmets. As the name suggests, a full face helmet provides coverage of the full face and includes a chin guard. This style of helmet provides the highest degree of protection from injury in a crash and so is the best choice for most riders. In addition to crash protection, a full face helmet protects the rider from the wind, rain, bugs and stones which may be thrown up by passing vehicles.
An alternative to a full face helmet is a modular helmet. This type of helmet is like a full face helmet, but the chin guard and visor can be flipped up together to leave the face open. Riding with the chinguard up isn't recommended as it defeats the face protection but lifting the face can provide more visibility in parking and improve comfort for the rider while getting ready for the ride or stopping to speak to other riders or drivers. The chin guard is generally held in place by a locking mechanism. This can create a point of weakness which reduces the protection available in crashes.
Open face or 3/4 helmets are a popular choice for their increased visibility and exposure to the open air. Most will provide crash protection for the head and sides of the face, but lack any protection against a frontal impact. In low speed riding in the city, the enhanced field of vision over a full faced helmet can make this helmet a good choice for many and is especially popular with scooter riders. Most, but not all these helmets come with flip down visors to give some protection against wind, bugs and stones.
A popular choice among riders of cruiser style motorcycles is the 1/2 helmet. While fashionable, these helmets provide the minimum protection required to meet the legal DOT or ECE standards. In an accident your chin and entire face is exposed and severe injuries can happen in even a minor accident. There is generally no visor leaving your face fully exposed to wind, bugs and stones. As a result, supplemental eye protection like goggles are recommended with this kind of helmet. Bandanas and other face protection is commonly worn to protect against bug impacts and road dust.
Whatever style of helmet you buy, its important that it fits well. When trying on a helmet hold your head still and try moving the helmet with your hands. It shouldn't be able to slide on your head. Its also important that the helmet feel comfortable as well. Wear it in the store for a few minutes to ensure that it still feels good. You will be wearing the helmet for long periods on the road so its best to ensure it fits well while in the store. You may have to try a variety of styles and brands to find one that fits well. Different helmets are built for different head shapes and sizes.
One other consideration is the colour of your helmet. Many helmets are available in a variety of colours which can suit your taste or match the colour of your motorcycle. The overwhelming choice of most riders is black, especially matte black, but a bright colour is usually the best choice for visibility especially at night. If you choose black, consider adding reflective decals to the back of the helmet. Some helmets are also available with built in LED lights for enhanced visibility at night.
Helmets can typically be used for five years after which the materials may break down from exposure to the environment. Replace a helmet at least every five years and in any event after it has received an impact in a crash. The lining and shell of a helmet will suffer damage in absorbing the impact of a crash which might not be visible, but will effect the ability of the helmet to protect you in a subsequent crash. Play it safe and replace the helmet.
After a helmet, a motorcycle jacket is the second piece of motorcycle gear you will most likely buy. Jackets come in a variety of materials and styles, but can generally be divided into three categories, Leather, Textile and Mesh. Whatever the material, a good motorcycle jacket is designed to reduce road rash and often includes armor to reduce the impact with pavement. Many people choose to ride without a jacket in warm weather. This is a really bad idea. It doesn't matter how tough you are, your skin, flesh and even bone will be spread across the pavement and you can count on months of painful skin grafts if you crash without proper gear. There are riding jackets available which can keep you comfortable and safe in any weather.
A motorcycle grade leather jacket offers the highest level of protection against road rash in an accident. These jackets are made out of a heavy grade leather, usually from 1.0-1.3 mm thick and are much heavier than fashion leather jackets. They may be made from cowhide and in some cases kangaroo hide. These jackets will hold up well and protect your skin while skidding along the roadway after a high speed crash. The drawback with leather is that it is the most expensive material and can be very warm to wear in hot weather although many jackets include zippered venting to help keep you cool when you're moving. Leather also offers limited water resistance and can become saturated and heavy during heavy rainstorms. A variation on the leather jacket is perforated leather which provides increased ventilation for cooling during hot weather.
Textile jackets are a lower cost and more versatile alternative to leather. They don't provide as much protection against road rash as a leather jacket, but they are made from materials that are designed to be highly abrasion resistant and in most cases will provide adequate protection. They come in a wide variety of colours and styles and are frequently water proof or at least water resistant. Most textile jackets provide zippered venting that can be opened in hot weather and closed when it is cold or wet. Another common feature is a removable thermal lining for cold weather use. Most also include armor for the elbows, shoulders and back. Look for CE approved armor. It is designed to reduce the impact of hitting the pavement and can reduce or eliminate injuries. Textile jackets are made from a variety of materials including waxed cotton, polyester and nylon. These may be described by various trade names like Cordura or Rock Flex. Most brand name motorcycle jackets will provide adequate protection in a crash while better quality jackets may be usable through several crashes.
In extemely hot summer weather, you will likely find even a well ventilated leather or textile jacket too warm, especially in low speed riding in the city. A good alternative at this time is a mesh textile jacket. These jackets are made from an open mesh material which allows air to pass through for ventilation. Look for solid textile or leather patches in high wear areas like the shoulders and elbows to provide better protection from road rash. Another common feature is a zip in waterproof liner that can be used in wet weather. As with other jackets you should look for CE approved armor. Mesh jackets are less sturdy than leather or textile but offer infinitely more protection than a T-shirt in hot weather.
You will likely wind up owning at least a few jackets to suit different riding and weather conditions. Whatever you buy, ensure that it fits well. The sleeves need to fit snugly to ensure that armor and any reinforced patches stay in the right place during a crash. The waist should also fit snug so that the jacket doesn't ride up on your back. Straps on the sleeves and waist are common to ensure snug fit. Many jackets also have zippers or loops to attach to matching pants to help keep them in place during a crash.
An important and often overlooked piece of safety gear is the motorcycle glove. Many gloves on the market today come with hard knuckle protection, which is great to have, but the palm is the most important area. In a crash people instinctively put their hands down to cushion the fall and a good pair of gloves can protect the hand and wrist from injury. Look for a sturdy double layer of leather in the palm. Sliders in the heel of the palm and thumb are a good feature that can help to reduce the impact on the hand and wrist reducing and preventing injury. The gloves should cover the wrist area and include a snug closure at the wrist to keep the gloves in place in a crash. As with jackets you may need a few pairs of gloves for different conditions. During riding, the hands are one of the most exposed parts of your body and can become cold quickly even in moderately cool weather. At other times during hot weather, you will want good ventilation. You will want to wear different gloves to stay comfortable in different weather conditions.
Any sturdy pair of leather boots will get you through the safety course, but for regular riding on the street you will want to own at least one pair of purpose built motorcycle boots. These boots are ruggedly built to hold up to the weight of a motorcycle and rider and give you good traction on the road. Look for a sturdy sole that resists twisting and a sturdy ankle area. Low rise riding shoes are fashionable, but can't offer the same protection as a high boot that covers and protects the ankle and lower leg. A common feature is an extra leather patch on the toe for the gear shifter. Motorcycle boots are available in many styles from sporty to classic.
Like jackets, motorcycle pants are available in leather and textile. The textile pants are more versatile, can be comfortable in more weather conditions and are frequently waterproof. Another style of pant is the kevlar reinforced jean. While not as safe as textile or leather riding pants, they look great off the bike and are still a better choice than Levis. One style I don't recommend is the leather riding chap. These were designed for horse riding and offer no protection in the seat which is an area that is most likely to be sliding along the pavement. Besides, they look ridiculous on almost anyone
Riding pants may come with or without armor. Those with armor will generally have protection in the knees and hips, two areas that take the most severe impacts in a crash. Leather pants and kevlar jeans often come without armor but still provide good resistance against road rash. Keep in mind that kevlar jeans only offer extra protection in the knees and sometimes the hip. For high speed riding or long trips it is best to wear real riding pants made of leather or textile.