Friday, March 19

How to Be Your Own Personal Motorcycle Gear Shopper

Motorcycle Gear Buying Guide and How-To by Joanne Donn of GearChic.com:

As an avid RevZilla customer, you understand the level of customer service and product knowledge that TeamZilla strives to provide its customers both online and off. They even provide video reviews, including fit tips and how to measure yourself properly to order the correct size!

But with anything you purchase either online, or in your local dealership, it can be difficult to figure out whether or not something you've purchased fits right. After working the International Motorcycle Shows for the past couple of months, I’ve learned that places like RevZilla are few and far between, literally. Not all dealers have dedicated apparel employees, or knowledgeable sales staff to help ensure that you know what all the options are or can show you proper fit. So you may need to provide yourself a little customer service in order to get what you want. I hope these tips will help you get the most out of your shopping experience, and help you make the best purchasing decision when it comes to investing in gear. You might even teach your dealerships a thing or two about how to sell gear!

Tip #1: Try on everything ON a motorcycle. I cannot emphasize this enough. You’re about to spend your hard earned money for something that you plan to spend thousands of miles in. After you walk up to that mirror, check yourself out, then ask your significant other how you look, go sit on that gorgeous motorcycle, and then check fit. If you don’t have access to a motorcycle, I want you to assume riding posture, bring your arms forward and simulate your riding position. The slightest change in lean angle can really have an impact on the way you perceive fit. One jacket may not work on 2 different bikes, whether it’s the handlebar reach, longer wheel base or the placement of the foot pegs. Keep that in mind when you sit on different ones and try to find something that fits as close to your motorcycle as possible.

Tip #2 Try not to make fit decisions in front of the mirror. If something is properly articulated for riding, it should actually feel More comfortable on the bike, in riding position with your hands on the handgrips and ready to ride. If it’s the other way around, it may not be a ‘real’ riding garment. Anything can say that it’s “motorcycle” wear. But that might not mean that it’s meant for riding for more than 5 miles in a straight line.

Tip #3 Fit, then Budget. 
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect you to throw down a couple thousand dollars on your first trip to the dealer. I know how hard it is for people to make purchasing decisions, especially with how difficult the economy has been on everyone. However, if you limit yourself to trying on only the items you can afford, you’ll never know how they fit. I want you to pretend that you have so much money that you don’t know how you’re going to spend it all. Even if you find that the $800 Dainese gear won’t work with your budget, but fits you like a dream, at least you know how it fit. Now you can go shop for gear in the budget section, and find something that fits close to it. Dealers can only afford to put out 1 or 2 options from the catalog. Generally, you'll find that fit differs from one manufacturer to the next, so if you find "the one", you’ll find everything else they make will fit you too.

Tip #4 Ask to see the catalogs. Dealers can only put what they think will sell on the floor for display. They are choosing from dozens of options, and it can be difficult to make the right one. So ask to see the catalog or the dealers website, to see what else the dealer can order direct from the manufacturer. Chances are, whatever your size is in one style should be the same size in another within the same manufacturer. And, the manufacturer probably makes at least 50 other motorcycle jackets/pants that you *can* afford, and the dealer can special order just for you. Size charts will also be in there somewhere, and should help you figure out how the sizes run (European/American sizing, etc). You may notice that many American manufacturers cut everything to fit Americans. The cuts might be more generous in certain places and not others. For example, if you have ever tried on anything from Cortech or Tourmaster then you might have noticed how the shoulders are broad, the torso and the arms are cut short and wide. If you have a tall, lean frame, with narrow shoulders, a narrow waist and a long torso, then you know that a European fit from a company like REV'IT! or Alpinestars is going to fit you far better than either of those.

Tip #5 If it’s too comfortable, it’s probably too big. 
If you’re like most of us, the minute you get home from work, you change right out of those work clothes and get into something loose, comfortable, plush and easy to move around in. Then you jump on the couch and turn on the tv. I love that part of my day. But when it comes to riding my motorcycle a couple hundred miles every weekend, I need something that fits and works while I’m sitting on my bike. When you try on a protective jacket the first time, it’s going to feel awkward. It’ll feel nothing like what you’re used to wearing at home, work or school. The garment should feel *most* comfortable in riding position. It should feel short across the chest, weird when you stand up straight and a little more snug than you’re used to, and probably a little hard to put your hands in your pockets. Because you won't have time to do that while you're winding down the twisties!

I know not everyone *loves* to shop like me. I know it can be hard, tedious and difficult to find what you want/need in one trip. But I hope these tips will make the next trip a little shorter and simpler to help you decide whether or not something is worth spending your hard earned money on.

Joanne Donn is the founder of GearChic, an affiliate of Revzilla.com. She can be reached via email: joanne at gearchic dot com.
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