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I would definately second the thought about gear from head to toe from the begining :)

Jeans: As far as knee guards, I have A* 4W denim jeans that have the knee armor already built in... Aside from the riding jeans out there - a lot of the leather and textile pants out there have the knee armor/hip armor already built in...

Boots: You need boots to have good ankle protection. I crashed a bunch in my A* Tech 6 dirt boots and now I won't ride the street at all without my SIDI road boots. I know people that ride with the ICON boots and they like them a lot. The ICON boots are comfy to walk around in which is always a plus!

Gloves: Lastly I can vouch for the A* GP Plus gloves - I have a pair and I love 'em because they didn't take any break in time and the leather is soft. My husband and my brother both have the GP Plus and they've crashed road racing in them - hands/knuckles came out A-OK :)

Jacket: My jacket is the A* dyno leather jacket for women and I like it a lot. The leather is thicker than the other jackets I've tried on and surprisingly it was soft like my gloves.

Helmet: I have the Arai Colin Edwards RX-7 Corsair. I can honestly tell you I didn't pay that much for the helmet just for the name. Compared to the other helmets, the Arai fit my head the best. When you go buy a helmet, aside from price - remember that fit is really important because you don't want it to move a whole lot when your going down the road.

I honestly didn't start riding outside my neighborhood until I got all my gear from head to toe. I know to some people that's really pathetic but believe me it made a world of difference in my confidence just having have gear ON while riding around in traffic. Call me weird and paranoid but I work at a hosptial and I've seen and heard of some nasty stuff that could've been avoided just by some decent gear.

Last year when I took the MSF course I just wore some high top tennis shoes (covering my ankle), jeans, my jacket, my helmet, and my gloves. When you are taking the MSF course don't hesitate to ask questions and for them to repeat the instructions if you need them to... Also when you get your bike, make sure it fits you (this is mostly for the girls though) - that way it'll be easier on you when you start doing the drills. I can tell you that the written test is VERY EASY and the only thing a lot of people had problems with in the road test was the figure 8 in the box (it's not as hard as they make it sound or look). It also helps if you are comfortable on 2 wheels i.e. bicycle experience is a good thing if you don't already have a bike to practice with around parking lots before hand.

Good luck and have fun :)

By the way - what bike do you have? or are you planning to get?
(Sorry for the long reply)
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