QnA

New Time: Monday's LiveStream about Motorcycle Boots

Last week I talked about choosing a motorcycle jacket. I gave you some tips and advice on what to think about when it comes to making the best choice. If you missed, watch now:

WHEN: 9:30 PM East / 6:30pm West (so more Left Coasters can join in!) My last few streams were at 8pm East, so I'm pushing it out so my friends out west can also join :) 

WHAT TOPIC: Motorcycle Boots: How do you choose a pair? What do you need to consider? Why is it not a great idea to buy your motorcycle boots on Zappos? And for my fellow women riders, I'm going to give you ideas for men's boots that work really well for us for different lifestyles including ADV/Race and Touring. We know that men have far more options, but luckily brands like TCX and Dainese make sizes small enough for us to wear. I'm also going to break down fit differences between mens and women's boots.   

HOW TO WATCH:

1. On your Smart Phone/iPad/Tablet: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WnZw1kF5M48&client=mv-google&layout=tablet 

2. On your Desktop/Laptop: http://www.youtube.com/user/GearChic/live

When you log on through your desktop or laptop, there's a handy chat window to send in questions. Otherwise, you can also text or email your questions: gearchic@gmail.com    

See you then!  

If you missed the LiveStream, watch now:

Gear Q&A on Youtube Live

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT! Watch It Here

Let's talk about gear! You know you have questions, You know you want to know the best women's street glove on the market. Or the best boots if you're shorter, or options for armor upgrades in your favorite riding jacket. 

Join me on YouTube THIS Monday, March 13th at 8pm East, 5pm West. Get your questions ready, I can't wait to talk to everyone. 

Just click on this link on Monday and I'll be streaming live!

http://www.youtube.com/c/Gearchic/live

 

Reader Question: Is Gore-Tex the Best Summer Waterproof Option?

Reader Amara needs help figuring out which summer waterproof textile jacket she should get. To Gore-Tex or Not To Gore-Tex, that is the question!

Hi there, I would love some advice on gear.

I am also looking at a new textile jacket and I am choosing between the dainese tempest d dry and the gore tex zima jacket. Do you think the goretex is worth the extra cash? Are these jackets going to work with a sportsbike riding position? What pants would you recommend? I am looking for some textile pants that are well waterproofed but also have enough ventilation for hot days. 

I am 5'7, small build but have largish hips. I wear a 40 in dainese jackets and need a 44 in dainese pants to get the over my butt.

Any advice you can give me would be appreciated! I am riding an Aprilia Tuono.

Many thanks, Amara.

Hi Amara!

So when it comes to waterproof Gore-Tex gear with Great ventilation, the best option is really the Altitude jacket in Small. The reason is because they laminate the Cordura Shell with the Gore-Tex so it becomes one layer. Then the vents provide direct ventilation. In a perfect world, I'd recommend this as well. But unfortunately it’ll be too big on you, given the size you need in Dainese, they just don’t make their jackets that small yet. And the overall fitment isn't quite perfect for your bike riding style, since it's designed for dual sport / adventure style riding.

The fit is also wonderful, tailored and perfect when you're petite on top. It won't bunch up and it's super comfortable. I tried on one a few years ago and I LOVED it. Here's a terrible pic of me wearing one in 40. It was really tight on me back then, I probably would've ridden in a 42 not 40. Since it has a removable thermal liner, it runs a tad loose. I love how the material is forgiving and stretchy. I've always thought Dainese was the best when it comes to sport touring gear, simply because of the way they tailor their gear.

Dainese Zima GTX Jacket Dainese Zima GTX Jacket

As far as Gore-Tex, I think it’s absolutely worth the extra money. It’s such a versatile membrane. I only trust my older Revit Legacy suit, where the Gore-Tex membrane is attached permanently and I can’t remove it. When I open the vents I can only feel it a little bit. So the Dainese Zima jacket you mentioned is going to be very similar. This is the only downside to this suit.

I’ve worn my Legacy in 95-100F with humidity, and I can honestly say I’d gladly take that over a non GoreTex membrane. It has so much versatility in terms of temperature. You can go from 100F and drop down to the 40s. My last trip was to Deals Gap in September and it was HOT. I wrote a brief review in my ride report.

I have worn other waterproof membranes as well, but the one thing they haven’t been able to provide is the Windstopping that Gore-Tex does. I noticed a big difference when I wear my heated jacket liner with both types of jackets as far as how well the outer shell does with wind. The other thing you are getting for the extra money is a lifetime guarantee from Gore-Tex that the membrane will not fail and keep you dry! So in 3-5 years (well after the 1 year warranty from Dainese) you can call Gore-Tex and tell them your jacket is leaking, and they will work with you to figure out what’s wrong and warranty it if necessary. At some point, the membrane might fail so it’s great to have this to fall back on. With other membranes you are stuck with a leaking jacket after that first year without any recourse. The membrane also breathes so well, it literally pulls the sweat away from your body. I highly recommend reading this description of how it all works, I can’t give you a better explanation than they can!

It also means you need killer baselayers, so whether its 40F or 100F make sure you’ve also invested in proper layers like Icebreakers or Dainese  for the Summer and Schampa for the Winter. And of course, baselayers are important under all motorcycle gear to maximize comfort as well!

I think the Dainese Zima is an amazing option for your beautiful Tuono in terms of fitment. It has a fantastic sporty cut, and if I absolutely needed another Gore-Tex suit it would be high on my list, simply because it’s more fitted and I like my gear really snug and tailored. Actually I recommend Dainese for sporty rides since the pants are tapered at the bottoms (unlike other brands which have touring / bootcut leg fitments). I also think the Tempest isn’t going to be small enough for you, even in 40. The cut on that jacket is a bit looser from what I’ve seen of it in person.

dainese_travelguard_goretex_womens_pants

The matching pants would be the Travelguards, and you’ll be the same size as your other Dainese. Unfortunately they’re just not very hip friendly :)  I don't know what Dainese pants you currently own, but the Travelguards will be a little looser in the legs than say the New Drake Airs or Sherman D-Drys. The only downsides to all these Dainese pants is the venting is not direct, to your body like I mentioned above with the Klim Altitude.

revit_neptune_goretex_womens_jacket

However, another option would be the Revit Neptune, if you want a cooler option. You would wear a size 36 in the jacket (if you have broad shoulders) or 34 if you are narrower and don't need extra room in the bust. The thing about this jacket is that the Gore-Tex liner is removable, so you have to put it in to stay dry. That means when you take the liner(s) out, it's a much cooler, vented jacket! Far more versatile, in my opinion. The matching pants would be great as well, and you would probably wear a 38 or 40 since it's a different cut. I think this suit would fit well on the Tuono too. I love Revit fitments, but they aren't as sporty cut as Dainese. If you really want a tighter, more fitted outfit then you'll love them. But this Revit suit is definitely worth checking out as well.

Now, if you aren't convinced that Gore-Tex is worth it then I would recommend the Revit Sand Suit:

revit_sand_jacket_womens revit_sand_pants_womens

 

This is a MUCH lighter suit for Summer / Spring riding. If your main riding season is going to be summer and warmer weather, you'll love this option. The fitment on the jacket is similar to the Zima, very fitted and narrow in the shoulders/arms. I would also recommend a 36 for the top and 40 for the bottoms. These will definitely work well on the Tuono too! They both have 2 removable liners, one is waterproof and one is thermal so you can really change the layers to your liking. The material is really lightweight, perfect for ultra hot riding weather. If you'd rather be more comfortable in hotter weather then you'll really enjoy this suit.

Between all of these options however, I would personally choose the Dainese Combo Suit because I prefer having my waterproof membrane permanently attached so I don't have to take it on and off. And because I'm so devoted to the Gore-Tex membrane and how it performs. I'd also rather be too warm than too cold, I feel like smaller folks like us are able to take hotter temperatures a bit easier since we're *always* cold!

Hope this helps, Ride Safe.

QnA: Summer Gear for Athletic Body Type?

olympia_womens_switchback2_jacket_pewter  

Reader Cori needs a 2 piece summer suit to ride in hot weather but still provide protection and comfort. She also needs help finding something with a little more room in the shoulders. 

I am looking for some advice on what gear to buy for riding in South Louisiana. I am a brand new rider (I actually have yet to ride and will be purchasing a bike next week). I will be a commuter with a 9 mile, non freeway, daily commute. What do you recommend for gear? I'm going to start with purchasing a helmet, gloves, boots, jacket, and knee pads. I am feeling very overwhelmed by the process, and have no idea where to start. Any suggestions, or places you can point me? In particular I'm looking for gear that's good for warm weather. (very, very warm).

Some back ground information, I am 5'3" and 140 pounds and am in the process of purchasing a honda rebel 250cc. I have an average to short torso, with broad shoulders ( my waist is a small and chest + shoulders range from a bigger medium to a smaller large. I don't know my inseam as of right now but I typically need pants that are labeled short. 

The only other concern I have is about my arms, I have bigger arms. ( I am a weightlifter so while I have a slim athletic build my arms and shoulders hold a lot of muscle) 
Cori in Louisiana
Hi Cori,
For your helmet, it's all based on proper fit. If you live anywhere near a dealership that has helmet options, I would highly recommend going in and getting fitted. If you can't find a dealer, then you want to check out this article on helmet shopping. Honestly, I find it impossible to help anyone get fitted for a helmet over the phone or online. There are also a ton of youtube videos for you to figure out how to fit a helmet. Do not, I repeat do not pick a helmet simply due to colors/graphics. You MUST get the fitment right for a helmet to work properly and actually protect you! I have a few favorites when it comes to helmets, but it really does come down to fitment. For example, if you have a true long oval then you need an Arai Signet-Q. But if you have a really round head and are XS, you need an Arai RX-Q. It just depends.
Gloves are also tricky in this sense, because they really require trying on and fitting. But I can give you a few ideas here:
  • Revit Bomber ; these fit longer in the fingers and narrower across the hands, but are the Best summer gloves out there. More protection and ventilation at the same time.
  • Dainese Mig C2: these fit a bit shorter in the fingers, and also are fantastic summer gloves. Avoid synthetics, they are the cheap, less protective and don't work well for pavement. You need real leather for street riding!
My recommendation for a jacket is the Olympia Switchback 2 Jacket ($239), size S (shown above). Don't worry, it's available in 2 other colors if white isn't your style! I really love this jacket not just for the fitment, but also because it has a really great fit for you. Relaxed in the shoulders, biceps and forearms, this will give you plenty of room to move around without feeling too constricting. You might feel a little tightness in the elbows/shoulders since the armor is fairly thick and rigid, so I would definitely recommend upgrading the armor to Forcefield or D3O if you find it too restricting.
The other reason I love Olympia for you is the torso is average length (lower in the back, higher in the front) and is constructed of Dupont Cordura, which provides more abrasion resistance than other mesh jackets in the same price point. The mesh is still nylon, but your slide zones are covered by Cordura.
I would also consider mesh overpants instead of just knee guards. You need more than jeans when riding, they just don't have the abrasion resistance.
First, I would recommend the matching Olympia Womens Airglide Pants ($229) in a size 4. These have a slightly fuller fit, so if you need extra thigh, hip and booty space you'll love these a little more. These are also constructed of Cordura (except the nylon mesh for airflow).
Olympia Airglide 3 Women's Motorcycle OverPants
The second pant to consider is the Revit Airwave Pants, ($199) in size 36. I would recommend these if you need a leaner leg and slightly less room in the hips/booty area. I call this table booty (which is what I have).
Rev'it Airwave Mesh Pants Summer womens textile
Both are available in lighter colors, including white (Revit) and silver (Olympia) to keep you a bit cooler.
Looking at boots, it's hard to find vented boots for women. When it's really hot, it's the opposite you actually want a slightly heavier boot to keep the heat out! Imagine a lightweight sneaker, and how quickly that absorb heat. Leather actually deflects quite a bit. A few ideas:
  • Sidi Livia Rain ($230): Ideal for wider feet, higher insteps and larger ankles. It's a very loose fitting boot. These breathe very well and are fully synthetic leather as well.
  • Dainese Svelta GTX ($289): Ideal for narrower feet (all Dainese boots are narrower, btw) and these are GoreTex which are the most breathable waterproof membrane. I've ridden in 90+ temps in GTX boots and they are fantastic.
  • TCX Aura Boots ($219): Also waterproof, they run even narrower than the Svelta in the toebox. Super comfortable and low profile.

 

QnA: Can a short woman ride sportbikes?

Riding my Husband's 2006 Triumph Speed Triple

Riding my Husband's 2006 Triumph Speed Triple

Reader Farhana emailed me asking if it's ever going to be possible for her to ride a sportbike at 4'11". 

The short answer is YES. Here's her original question and my slightly longer answer :D

I'm currently in the riding course, and needed input from women rider. I am 4'11, and I need input for bikes. I really want a sport bike, but since I have never maneuvered a bike before, everyone is telling me to start on a Rebel. Do you even think it's possible for me to ever ride a sport bike? I appreciate your time.

-Farhana

Dear Farhana,

Everyone is correct!

To ride the SportBikes of your dreams you have to start somewhere. Motorcycling is a constant learning experience and you have to build skills to jump to the next bike! I started on a rebel in my safety course and also started on a scooter. You won't ride a rebel forever, but you'll learn so much so you can ride a SportBike someday.

Never flat foot, even with  fancy Daytonas . 

Never flat foot, even with fancy Daytonas

Me, riding the tallest motorcycle I've ever ridden. A stock DRZ400SM with ~36" seat height. Yikes.

Me, riding the tallest motorcycle I've ever ridden. A stock DRZ400SM with ~36" seat height. Yikes.

I have learned that because I'm shorter, starting out on smaller motorcycles was the only way I could get enough experience to manage bigger, heavier bikes. If you try to attack a larger bike that's beyond your experience level, it's going to be a much harder learning curve. Gaining confidence and learning to ride something smaller and lighter is one of the best ways to adapt quickly to taller bikes. Since we'll never grow taller, all we can do is master our skills and learn to ride better than someone taller.

That being said, since I don't know your inseam, I'm going to assume it's ~26-27"? Personally, I've been able to ride bikes with 2" higher inseams than my own. Mine is 28.5" and I'm very comfortable on 30-31" bikes. There's a chance you won't be able to physically ride anything larger than maybe a bike with a 29" inseam. It's totally dependent on the individual, really. I think if you can get close to flat foot on your left, then there's no reason why you can't ride something. Of course, building enough confidence to ride something that tall without dropping or falling constantly is going to take a while.

And for inspiration, watch this video:

 

Before you start, check out my post about riding motorcycles when you're short. It'll give you some tips to get started.

Good luck!

Summer Jackets for Tall Women Riders

revit airwave womens summer motorcycle jacket Longtime reader Fiona needs help finding an outfit for an incredible adventure! Lucky Girl. Check out her story and gear story:

Height and Weight: 5'11", 155 lbs

Chest, Waist, Hip Measurements: 36, 30, 39 (over clothing), 32" inseam (need about 33-34" when I get on the bike)

Message:

Hi Joann,

I've read your blog since probably the beginning of my riding career way back in 2007. Thanks for being such a great resource for all these years.

I am getting ready to buy some new mesh gear for a sweet 6-week adventure on my KLR, around the Southwest and on to the East Coast. My problem has always been finding women's gear that is long enough for me, as I'm tall with broad shoulders and a 32" inseam. For years I've dealt with my Fieldsheer gear being a couple of inches too short in the sleeves and pant legs, because if I went up in size to get enough length, the whole kit would be falling off my body.

I want my new gear to fit well, and I'm looking for a light-colored jacket and pant set (but will take any color if something actually fits!). I love the look of the Rev'it Airwave jacket and pants that you've reviewed, but will they be long enough for me? Are there other mesh or textile jackets and pants that us tall girls should consider?

I live in a very remote area of the US, where few retailers even ship, so there's no chance of trying anything on before I order. Although it seems there are manufacturers that make "tall" sizes, I don't see any way to order these online -- do I have to contact the manufacturer directly, or can I place a special order with the retailer?

I'm hoping to minimize the amount of back-and-forth and $ wasted on return shipping as I try to get the best fit. I appreciate any recommendations you can offer; thank you!

Fiona

Airwave

I think the Revit Airwave jacket in size 38 (above) is a great option for you, I would mostly be concerned with sleeve length, not so much body length. The nice thing about this jacket is the longer torso and arm length.

revit airwave womens summer motorcycle jacket

As far as pants, Airwaves do run a bit long but aren't offered in long sizes. The standard inseam might be too short for you.

Sand

If you're open to a multiseason pant, I would actually recommend the Revit Sand Pants in 38 Tall (available in silver). These pants are the newest version of the old Ventura which I found to breathe very very well in hot weather.  There are two liners, one waterproof and one thermal; each is removable to really adapt to changing temperatures. The fit on these is tailored, slimmish through the legs but definitely not skinny. There's a vent on each thigh for a little airflow as well.

revit_sand_pants_womens

 

The armor in these are substantial, CE and EN Rated Tryonic Seesoft. If you have a curvy hip, then order a size 40 Tall instead. If you have fairly straight hips, you will be fine in 38. If you like a tailored, tapered fit, then I would go with these or the Airwaves.

You most definitely do not have to contact the manufacturers to order the tall size in these! They're available at Revzilla. :)

Another option is the Olympia Airglide for a generous, curvy fit through the butt/hips/thighs. These run 3-4 inches long, and are too long for most of us shorties. You will have plenty of inseam on these for sure. They also fit true to women's size (US 6, 8, etc). I would recommend a size 6 since they're curvy and forgiving through the thighs. If you think you need extra room in the thighs/butt/hips then order these instead of the Rev'it above. The legs are also a bit roomier, so if you prefer a more relaxed fit you will love these.

Airglide

Olympia Airglide 3 Women's Motorcycle OverPants

 

 

 

Reader Question: Are My Motorcycle Boots Too Big?

Hi There,

I'm in the market for my first pair of official motorcycle boots. I commute 60 miles a day on my 07 BMW F800ST which has very cramped footpegs. I have narrow feet with med/big arches. My budget is around $200-240 max.

It was suggested to me by several people to get the Sidi Fusion boots as they tend to run narrow unlike some other sidi boots. I couldn't find them anywhere locally, and I had a $140 store credit for cycle gear so i ordered them from the cyclegear website. I went ahead and ordered a size 45. The fit: The boot feels a tad bit loose, and it feels like my feet slide forward in them which cramps my toes. I slapped my FAVORITE insoles in (Sofsol Airr) and it tightened the boot up nicely, but then my toes were so cramped they now get tingly. Should I trade them in for a 46? Do i need to go to a different boot? Help! Love your podcast and always love to hear your feedback.

-Kyle

sidi_fusion_lei_womens_motorcycle_boots

Hi Kyle,

I would definitely recommend a completely different brand for you. Sidis can run narrow in the toe box, but not everywhere else as your experience is showing you (heels, ankles). The reason your toes are smashing into the toe box is probably because the heel and ankle area isn't pulling your foot back enough to keep them out of the toe box. I have the same issue with my Sidis as well. Unfortunately my feet are so small that they don't make a size small enough!

My recommendation would have been anything from Dainese. Unfortunately you will have to spend just a little more to find something that fits in your budget. Dainese is the only brand that has this type of narrow overall fit everywhere:

  • Dainese Giro-ST Boots: $259.95 These are identical to the protection you have on the Sidi Fusion boots, the fit is completely different.

For the price I think these would work really well for what you are trying to accomplish. Although they're a slightly larger investment I think you'll be *very* happy with the result. I would recommend a size 45.

Update 11/23/2014

Kyle wrote me back with an update!

So I went into cycle gear to order your suggested boots and they said they would give me the TR-Course Out for $5 less than the others. Got them for $250! Holy moley they feel great!!! Way overkill for my commute but I'm not complaining!

Dainese TR-Course Out Boots narrow feet

Thinking about getting into Motorcycles

Socal-2006.jpg

"So I have been thinking a lot about riding, i don't know many that ride so it would primarily just be me by myself. But this leaves me with no one to get answers from.. I read all about the gear things, I just ordered these riding sneakers but the more I read the more I think i need actual boots... anyway what about bikes themselves, i'm pretty short, what happens when i go buy a bike new/used what if i feel like I'm too high off the ground? is there anyway to fix that or am I kind of left with being uncomfortable."

-Lisa

First, I want you to know that you are Not alone! There are so many resources online, women's motorcycle groups and more to help you get started. A few resources:

  • Clubs: Motor Maids, Women on Wheels. Both of these groups are national, and have chapters all over the country. I'm sure there is a chapter in your area.
  • Meetup.com: Depending where you live, you may be able to find riding groups in your area. It's free to join, it only costs money to create a group.
  • Try googling for "women's motorcycle groups <yourcity>"  There are lots of women's motorcycle clubs/groups all over the country, many of them welcome new riders with open arms. If you're anywhere near Philly, please join my Facebook Group.
  • Moterrific.com: I have to recommend my podcast show since we talk a lot about new riders and things that every rider wants to know about including gear, used bike shopping and more. There are lots of other podcasts that you can learn from as well including The Pace and Wheel Nerds.

If you can tell me where you live, I'm sure we can find a group / club near you.

To answer your first question, yes, I would definitely recommend riding boots. Not just sneakers. Especially one of these to give you the most traction, stability and protection that you can get as you start out. Starting with a really good pair of boots helps you gain better control over your braking, shifting and stopping so you have lots of stability when you come to a stop. I like to tell people that when you put your feet down when you're seated on a motorcycle, it sends a very strong message to your brain. Either "This is Great! I feel fantastic." or "Oh Shit, what have I gotten myself into?" Of course, this will only feel good if you're on a lighter bike that's a good match for you (think under 300lbs).

I also recommend taking the motorcycle safety class (if you haven't already), so that you get proper instruction and you'll get to ride a few small beginner bikes to get a feel for the whole experience. You may Love or Hate it after that. I think that will ease a lot of your anxieties right there. You'll also meet lots of fellow new riders in your class, and will probably make friends with some of them as well. If you've already taken your class, you've taken the first step.

Here are a few beginner bikes that I recommend looking at:

  • Ninja 250R (old or new, I had a 2003 and it was fantastic)
  • Yamaha TW200
  • Honda CBR250R
  • Honda Rebel 250
  • Suzuki DR200 (although it's a bit taller than the others, it's SO light it doesn't matter)
  • Suzuki Tu250
  • Older standards like a Honda CB350

Since you're a new rider, everything will feel uncomfortable if it isn't short enough to let you flat foot with both feet. That's why I recommend the safety class because almost all the bikes will be short! But you will also learn lots of good techniques like smooth braking and stopping which helps you manage taller motorcycles. I know it's not easy to be patient, but if you start on the right bike for your experience level, I know you'll find it to be much easier than you expected. I think you run into trouble when you start on bikes that are way too heavy, tall or powerful to learn on.

And there are things you can do to alter your motorcycle if it's a bit too tall. I'm not a fan of lowering motorcycles but if you need to always consult a shop that specializes in motorcycle suspension, because they will know *exactly* how to lower it properly. Most dealerships don't have suspension mechanics on site. Before you do that, look into lowered seats! You can get an aftermarket low seat, depending on your bike, or you can have one custom made too.

Generally speaking, being shorter means having to struggle a bit to ride bigger bikes. There's no way around it. So it helps if we start out small and just get used to riding to work our way up. I spent more time doing this than most folks, and I know not everyone has the patience to do so but I highly recommend it. As a result I've been able to ride a lot of bikes that I never, ever thought I'd be able to ride because my inseam is so much shorter than these bikes.

As you ride more, you get better. The better you get at perfecting your riding techniques, the easier it gets to ride bigger bikes. There are so many people out there who ride tall motorcycles, it's not impossible!

As far as buying a used bike, here are a couple resources for you to read with regards to used motorcycles:

  1. AMA Used Bike Checklist
  2. Article about Shopping for Used Motorcycles
  3. Moterrific Podcast Episode about Used Motorcycles