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Common Tread

Best beginner motorcycle gear 2020

Mar 10, 2020

If you’re a beginner rider, we’d like to welcome you to motorcycling. Riding is our passion, and we hope motorcycles bring you the same sense of fun and freedom we feel.

You’re at the start of something great. And now, you need some equally great motorcycle gear. Riders who have been on the bike for years have likely built up an arsenal of options as they have developed preferences and gained skills. When you are just starting out, however, your focus should be on the type of gear that spans multiple riding styles, offers great protection, and packs a ton of functionality into a fairly attainable price point.

The best beginner gear of 2020
Category Product Price Details
Helmet Scorpion EXO-420 $150
  • DOT- and Snell M2015-approved
  • Advanced polycarb outer shell
Jacket REV’IT! Eclipse $180
  • 600D polyester mesh shell
  • CE protection at shoulders/elbows
Gloves Scorpion SGS MK II $85
  • Top-quality goat leather
  • Carbon fiber TPU knuckle armor
Women’s gloves Firstgear Electra $80
  • Knox palm sliders
  • Smartphone compatible
Jeans Street & Steel Oakland $130
  • 12-ounce stretch denim outer shell
  • Aramid reinforcement in seat, hips, knees
Shoes TCX Street Ace $160
  • Comfort Fit System (CFS)
  • Internal reinforcements at toe and heel

The selection process

As you begin your riding career, or maybe climb back in the saddle after a break from riding, you’ll have to cover the basics: helmet, jacket, boots/shoes, pants, and gloves. Here at RevZilla, we review all kinds of moto gear, and our product experts know exactly what the average rider really needs. What works, and what doesn’t. And we brought it all together in one place for riders like you.

Since you’re probably paying for a first bike, too, your gear needs to be both safe and affordable. That’s why nothing in this guide costs over $200, and we’ve chosen pieces that you can keep using as an intermediate motorcyclist. No telltale “newb gear” here. We also tried to find men’s and women’s options for everything a beginner might need. As you’ll discover, motorcycle gear can be all over the map with fitment and sizing, so we’ve worked to make this as comprehensive as possible.

Best beginner helmet: Scorpion EXO-R420 helmet

The most important piece of gear you can invest in is a helmet, so recommending a lid for beginner riders is not a task we take lightly. At least it was an easy decision! Scorpion’s EXO-R420 is our beginner’s pick for 2020, thanks to its safety, style, and features. The $150 price tag seals the deal.

Scorpion EXO-R420 Motorcycle Helmet
Scorpion EXO-R420 motorcycle helmet. RevZilla photo.

You’ll want to check out our guide to sizing and buying helmets before ordering your first helmet. Here’s the quick version: The average North American rider has an intermediate oval head shape. That means the intermediate-oval Scorpion EXO-R420 will fit most RevZilla customers, but that isn’t the only reason we recommend this option.

The full-face protection of the EXO-R420 means that your chin and face have a defense against impacts, road debris, weather… and bugs! The Scorpion’s safety is certified by an organization called the SNELL Foundation, which tests well beyond the legal minimum DOT requirements. A SNELL rating is one of the most common criteria we get from riders seeking their first helmet, and because very few helmet models costing under $200 even offer a SNELL rating, the Scorpion is impressive.

Scorpion EXO-R420 Motorcycle Helmet - Women
Scorpion EXO-R420 motorcycle helmet. RevZilla photo.

The EXO-R420 manages to meet those standards while maintaining a fairly light weight. That translates to reduced neck fatigue as you put more and more miles on your bike. The viewport is nice and wide, and the vents are easy to open and close with a gloved hand. The styling is fairly neutral, so it’ll fit in with most street motorcycles. Scorpion even offers a few graphic options for some flair.

The EXO-R420 is a unisex helmet. Check out our detailed breakdown video and the helmet’s size chart to ensure a perfect fit. If you’re the average beginner, the Scorpion EXO-R420 will provide an above-average first helmet experience.

Nitpicks: The EXO-R420 can be upgraded with a Pinlock face shield ($40), which prevents your shield from fogging up. It’s a feature we’d like to see included, but at this price point, it's hard to complain.

Best beginner jacket: REV’IT! Eclipse jacket

A motorcycle jacket’s primary job is to protect you from impacts and abrasion. Armor and abrasion-resistant materials are placed in strategic locations for this reason. REV’IT!’s Eclipse won our pick as best beginner jacket of 2020 for its protection, style, and price point.

The Eclipse’s protection is exactly what we’d hope to see: armor at the shoulders and elbows, with a pocket in the back for an optional SeeSoft back protector. (An additional $50, and well worth it.) REV’IT! reinforces the jacket’s stitching in critical areas, with the addition of strong polyester in slide-prone zones. The Eclipse’s main construction is a breathable mesh, ideal for warm-weather riding. Think spring, summer, and fall.

Styling is another of the Eclipse’s strengths. REV’IT! used a clean, modern aesthetic that avoids loud branding or crazy colors. The jacket looks right at home on everything from a classic cruiser to a new sport bike. It’ll suit whatever you’re riding now, and if you eventually discover that you prefer a different kind of motorcycle, you can keep using the same jacket.

The Eclipse might not be the jacket for you if you live and ride in a cooler, rainier climate. Mesh, for all its virtues, won’t keep you warm or dry. We recommend the Scorpion Optima jacket for the starter all-weather rider. It rings in at $20 more than the Eclipse and features both waterproofing and a removable thermal liner.

The Eclipse is available in both men’s and women’s versions. Just check the size chart before ordering, and you should be all set.

Nitpicks: The neck closure only has a single snap. It will probably work for most riders. We’d like to see a few more positions for the snap.

Best beginner gloves: Scorpion SGS MK II Gloves

If you haven’t experienced a good pair of motorcycle gloves before, you’ll be glad to hear that quality hand protection is totally attainable for the beginner. Gloves are critical on a bike, because a rider’s hands usually come in contact with the ground in the event of a crash. Protection from the elements is another good reason to wear gloves while riding.

Scropion SGS MK II Motorcycle Gloves
Scorpion SGS MK II motorcycle gloves. RevZilla photo.

Imagine a pair of bulky work gloves. Motorcycle gloves are the complete opposite! They’re flexible, comfortable, and reinforced where it matters. Scorpion’s SGS MK II gloves are our pick for the best beginner street gloves. They’re made with goatskin, which holds up as well as cowhide in a slide while providing better dexterity and lever feel. Scorpion kicks the protection up another notch with the hard knuckle protection and palm sliders. The SGS MK II gloves even feature touchscreen-compatible index fingertips. Trust us, taking your gloves off to use a phone gets old fast.

If the race-inspired styling of the SGS MK II gloves doesn't fit your riding style, we recommend the REAX Tasker leather gloves. They also offer goatskin construction and similar protection, just without the hard knuckles, palm sliders, and aggressive style.

Firstgear Elecktra Women's Motorcycle Gloves
Firstgear Electra women's motorcycle gloves. RevZilla photo.

Unfortunately, Scorpion doesn’t make a women’s version of the SGS MK II gloves. The $80 Firstgear Elektra Women's Gloves check all the same boxes, so that’s our women’s recommendation. They’re functionally the same as the SGS MK IIs, just sized for women.

Nitpicks: The previous version of this glove had additional slide protection from a material called Superfabric. Scorpion removed the Superfabric for the MK II, although they did upgrade other parts of the glove. We’d like to see Superfabric return for the next iteration.

Best beginner riding jeans: Street & Steel Oakland Jeans

If you’re new to motorcycling, you might not know about riding jeans. They look just like a regular pair of jeans, but they’re packed with moto-specific features like armor, stretch materials, and abrasion resistance. They help riders keep a casual style without giving up protection.

For 2020, we recommend Street & Steel’s Oakland jeans, which are available for both men and women. They have classic styling, knee armor, and abrasion-resistant aramid materials in the seat, hips, and knees. Stretch material woven into the denim makes these jeans comfortable for riding and walking. The knee armor can be removed for additional comfort.

Street & Steel Motorcycle Jeans
Street & Steel Oakland motorcycle jeans. RevZilla photo.

The men’s Oaklands have a fairly straight leg that works well for most guys out there. They feature a slightly wide cuff so the jeans slip over your riding shoes. The Street & Steel Women's Oakland Jeans offer all the same features with a more fitted cut. Both versions cost under $150.

Nitpicks: The included knee armor is fairly stiff and bulky. Armor is easy to upgrade down the road, however, and we’re just happy to see any included armor at all. That isn't the case with all riding jeans.

Best beginner motorcycle shoes: TCX Street Ace shoes

Like motorcycle jeans, motorcycle shoes combine casual style with riding protection. Nobody but a RevZilla Gear Geek will know that you’re wearing protective shoes! TCX’s Street Ace riding shoes are the beginner’s choice for 2020. That’s due to their everyday style, class-leading protection, and thoughtful options.

TCX Street Ace Motorcycle Shoes
TCX Street Ace motorcycle shoes. RevZilla photo.

At a glance, the Street Aces look exactly like a pair of shoes you might lace up and wear casually. Under the surface, however, these shoes are nothing like a fashion sneaker. The toe and heel are reinforced, and ankle cups are hidden in the sides to protect your feet in a fall. The shoe’s sole is much stiffer than a street shoe to prevent bending or twisting. TCX didn’t go overboard with the stiffness, however. You can certainly walk around in these shoes before hopping back on the bike.

The Street Ace shoes are available in two versions: WP (waterproof) and Air (ventilated). Your riding climate and style should make that choice pretty easy.

TCX Street Ace Women's Motorcycle Shoes
TCX Street Ace Women's motorcycle shoes. RevZilla photo.

Maybe the sneaker style isn’t your thing, and you’d rather have a traditional boot. TCX’s X-Blend boots nail the classic rider look while offering the same protective touches as the Street Aces, plus a little more coverage up top. Along with the men's version, the TCX Street Ace women's shoes are available to fit female riders.

Nitpicks: The waterproof Street Aces aren’t very breathable, so if your feet get sweaty, you might need to opt for the Air versions.

Buying the best beginner gear... for you

We’ve reached the end of our beginner’s gear guide for 2020. The huge number of gear choices available can feel overwhelming, so don't be afraid to ask questions. Our customer service team helps beginner riders like you every day. They’re all riders and gear experts, so give them a call.

Riding with the right gear makes the fun even better. Welcome to motorcycling!