So I raided the Dainese store in San Francisco yesterday for a new lid, a jacket and riding pants. Total bill = $2200 USD. I know, crazy expensive but sooooo nice.
I didn't have time to ship my stuff ahead of my flight, as I was already on my way to the airport to fly home, so I stuffed everything in my suitcase and carry on and decided to bite the bullet and declare everything upon my arrival at YVR.
I've got my Nexus card, so upon arrival at customs I scanned my eyeballs and declared a wopping $2400CAD for my three items. Unsure where to pay, I asked a border agent where the cashier was. She snatched my declaration card out of my hand and said "Jesus! I was going to give you a break but not for that much!"
We had a chuckle and I was off to the cashier to pay my "good citizen tax". When I got to the cashier kiosk, I inform the agent that I'm bringing in motorcycle riding apparel. I told her that riding apparel falls under motorcycle parts and I should be duty exempt. She gave me a fishy look and says "No". I ask her to double check, as I was pretty sure about that, so she sighs and gets on her computer. I watch the look on her face turn from annoyance to consternation and then to a look of defeat as she dug deeper in to her system.
"Alright, but I have to charge you tax" she relents.
So, riding apparel = no duty but tax. If you're an upstanding citizen like me who claims his purchases voluntarily.