Once you are done with the basic gear, and are slowly riding and gaining confidence, you will want to upgrade the armor. Do so one at a time. Don’t go for a bulk upgrade, and come out looking biker v.2.0. Go for one armor at a time. This will give you enough time to judge the quality of a brand, and whether to switch brands or stay on the same.
For jackets, the regular price starts from Rs. 4500-5000. In India, there are various shops that sell motorcycling jackets. The protectors in the jackets should be CE ones. This ensures that they endure the falls well. A pro-tip: Search ebay.com, not just ebay.in, for close-out deals. I have bought jackets costing originally $100-$150 less than Rs. 3500 home delivered: new jackets, not used ones. Keep hunting, and once you find a good deal, jump on it. If you don’t have any friend or relative to bring the US jacket to you, fret not. There are many online services available now that ship you stuff from US at reasonable cost. A jacket will cost about Rs. 1000 – 1300 for shipping from US to your home. Even after adding the shipping, the close out deals on ebay beat a lot of in-store ones.
For touring, select mesh jacket with waterproof liner. This gives the versatility of riding in hot weather, and yet protecting you from rains and cold whenever required. If you are getting gore-tex liner, then it is best, because Goretex is a kind of advanced fabric which is water proof and yet breathable.
For helmets, again go for known brands with local presence. Should the visor break on a tour, you should be able to find its replacement soon. Value features like washable padding over outer graphics.
Knee guards are buy-it-and-forget-it item. When you are ready to upgrade from skating knee guards, go for the best ones your budget will allow, and then forget about them. Just keep on wearing them! Good knee guards will cost about Rs. 700 and above.
Shoes, again is a personal choice. I am using the Orazo Picus boots for a while now, and I love them. However, some may be put off by the looks or lack of styling, and would like a branded one. It is a personal choice, and I don’t have any recommendation in this case. Let one thing be known though. ANY biking shoe looks much different than regular ones, and easily identifiable especially when not worn. The risk of getting your shoes stolen at temples increases manifolds. Basically you will have to pack a pair of sandals every time you go on a tour, for local travel and temple visits.
Lastly, a must add for any night tourer’s list is HID. It is an absolutely necessary, and at many times at night you will thank yourself on your decision of going for HID. A non branded HID costs about Rs. 1500, and branded ones go for Rs. 4000-5000. Please note that installation of HIDs is a technical matter, and needs to be studied before plunging into it. You can find additional discussion here:
But when it comes down to it, it is the person inside the gear is what counts. No matter what gear you are wearing, or what brand you prefer, you are not invincible. The ‘probability’ of survival increases, but it is not ‘surety’. Safety is a function of gear plus brains. A proper safety gear with an accommodating and learning attitude will go a long way, and cover long distances easily.
Let the mile crunching begin!