IMO "newb rider" (no offence, it is your own words
) needs all the protection he can afford. at the least it should be:
1. Full Face Helmet - even though you on a cruiser the belt sender below is the same. IMO beanies look much more stupid the FF (which i don't care how it looks).
2. Riding Jacket with elbow and shoulder protectors, leather is the best but much more $
3. good riding gloves - extremly important!!!
4. over the ankle riding boots - crusial part as most of MC related injuries involve feet as well.
5. riding pants or overpants. i have and recommend mesh pants, was good for 85F in florida and 39F (worn over jeans) in deals gap. IMO chops are not going to do as they don't cover your butt - the part of the body that is going to do most of the sliding in case of the get-off.
all in all around 500$ of investment. might look expensive but this is even more important than your motorcycle - this is investment in your safety. if you would like i can post a collection of pictures of my buddy after nasty fall and slide, the gear was destroyed (covered by insurance BTW) but saved his hide, he just walked away .
not mandatory but highly recomended:
6. rain suit - got stuck in pouring rain only once but IMO it completley paid off the expence. i really like the AX-1 from nelson rigg.
you can try ebay, got many stuf there for dirt cheap.
and one more vote for newenough.com - amazing prices but you need to hunt for them. just got my wife cute feminine Sidi
boots (i personaly don't care how it looks but girls sometimes can be very picky, lol) and a new jacket (instead of my old not very feminine one) on closeout, spent 110$ on about 350$ worth of equipment. now if i only could somehow convince her to wear riding pants... still looking for a cute pair.
i do realize i may sound like a safety freak, but i dont give a sh...t. no matter how hot it is outside i'm not going to ride without ALL the gear i mentioned. even if it is 90F.
but eventually it is your choice.