Ok I went the route of buying the best gear I could afford at the time. I've slowly accumulated different pieces over the last season.
Helmet: I've had three so far. Two shoei rf1000's and my current lid the shoei x-11. Tried on a bunch of different helmets and even got to take most of them out on test rides (make nice with a local shop
). The rf1000's are great helmets with excellent venting, good noise reduction, they're light as a feather and probably the easiest visor changing system on the freaking planet. Seriously, I switch to a different visor all the time partially because it's just so damn easy. Oh and I cant forget to mention how comfortable the shoei's are , at least for my head. 14hrs straight in one lid and I didn't even want to tear it off when I finally got home. The current lid , my x-11, takes everything that makes the rf1000 great and improves upon it. Price wise, you're definitely going to pay. Not the cheapest helmets on the market at all but I've always believed that you get what you pay for.
Jackets: Still on my first jacket but am definitely ready to move on. It's an Alpinestars Spinner and while it is definitely adequate for street riding as far as protection goes. It's a behemoth of a jacket. At least thats how it's begun to feel. At first you won't realize it because your weight will remain firmly planted on your seat but after you begin throwing yourself on the bike a bit you'll definitely notice the added mass. My other complaint is that it doesn't zipper to any of the Alpinestars leather riding pants, though I knew that when I bought it.
Gloves: Racer brand gloves made from kangaroo leather. Pricey but at the time they seemed more then worth it especially with the type of feel you can retain. After having one very low speed get off, resulting in broken seams at the finger tips, and a second more "exciting" get off causing the whole palm of the left glove to basically be demolished I wish I had sprung for the damn Held gloves I was eyeing. I was actually surprised that they didn't hold up all that well considering the price point but oh well.
Boots: Started off with a more street friendly riding boot that only went a few inches past the ankle and looked pretty decent too. After the first minor get off the boot already looked pretty lousy...After the second one...well they were retired real quick and without remorse. I'd rather carry around another pair of shoes in a pack and put them on when I'm off the bike then ride with something like that again. I've gone the route of a full race boot and I'll never go back. The feel is there, the protection is there, and frankly...they grow on you after a while..hell they look less goofy then most of the sneakers being released today anyway.
Oh they're the Sidi Vertigo Corsas in case you feel like checking them out. I've heard numerous accounts that the Oxtars are on par but have yet to test them myself.
Pants: I wear jeans...I have leathers for the twisties but around town I do tend to wear jeans. However I'll never leave with just jeans on, I always have a pair of kneeguards underneath, which cover my leg from where the boots end up until a little past my knee maybe 5 inches or so. At first I didn't think much of them but after my second get off they have more then proven themselves. The jeans were toast and I was expecting too see a fountain of blood poor out of my leg...but it never came. When I finally looked down it turns out my knee guards took all the impact and are still perfectly usable. I guess it's true that the first things to go down are your hands and knees..
You'll probably get radically different gear opinions from whomever you talk to, but like it was previously stated: always wear what you do decide to buy all the time.