One of the most important (and often overlooked) aspects of motorcycling
is riding gear.
gear can be cumbersome, awkward, and intrusive, it's also the only
thing that will protect you from the road in an accident. Imagine
sliding across pavement at 30 mph wearing shorts and a t-shirt,
and you'll begin to understand why some people say you shouldn't
expose any part of your body on a motorcycle that you wouldn't want
exposed to a belt sander.
from head to toe, here's a breakdown of key safety equipment:
old saying goes something like this:
you've got a $20 head, buy yourself a $20 helmet.
said, a proper, DOT-approved helmet can go a long way towards saving
your skull in case of an accident. Even if you've decided you don't
want to protect your brain, helmets also offer shelter from wind
noise and turbulence.
helmet is designed to save your head from impacts that would otherwise
be life threatening or altering. Nothing is worse than a life
altering head injury that could have been prevented with one piece
of protective equipment.
to choose the perfect helmet:
matter what the outer shell of your helmet is made of, you can make
sure it is trustworthy to provide impact protection if you find
a DOT (and sometimes SNELL as well) approval marked somewhere on
the helmet itself. MAKE SURE your helmet has a layer of EPS foam
underneath the shell, which serves to absorb the energy from an
impact without passing it to your head. The helmet comfort
liner is designed differently in every brand, make and model, but
one thing stays the same; it will adjust to the individual shape
of your head over time. With this in mind, generally all motorcycle
helmets get more comfortable as you continue to wear them.
make sure you start with a very good and tight fit to ensure
that the helmet never gets too loose. The last piece to check for
is a chin strap. Make sure it is strong, well secured to the shell,
and straps tight enough under your chin so the helmet won’t
come off even if you pull extremely hard on it.
to make sure you have a good fit:
perfect fit is just as important as what the helmet is made of,
because the fit can affect the way the helmet performs during that
crucial moment. If you can remove the helmet with the chin strap
buckled, if the helmet can move easily and independently while it
is on your head, or if it falls down over your eyes, then the helmet
is too big. If you can significantly bite the inside of your cheeks
when you open and close your mouth while the helmet is on, if it
impairs your vision to a dangerous degree, or if it gives you an
instant headache, then the helmet is too small. No matter how well
the helmet fits, it’s not going to protect your head if it
is strapped to the backseat of your motorcycle.
, ACU, and SHARP are European certifications and standards
Eye protection not only keeps wind from making tears streak down
your face, they also keep all manner of debris and bugs from flying
into your eyes. Visors in helmets offer built-in eye protection,
but some riders prefer to wear separate eye protection so they can
enjoy a tinted field of vision that's removable when the sun drops.
eye protection is as simple as flipping the visor down on a full
face helmet. If you choose to ride with your visor up, or
in a less-than-full-face helmet, we strongly encourage you to wear
shatterproof eye protection. Find a pair of riding glasses/goggles
that keep your eyes protected, don’t obstruct your vision,
and help you see well whether you are riding during the day (shaded)
or at night (clear). Most glasses/goggles designed for street riding
will come with padded frames to keep air from drying your eyes out
and wind from making them water. Reinforced lenses will help
keep bugs from making your eyes into a final resting place, and
rocks from making them useless. Seeing clearly at all times is essential
to your safety on the motorcycle, so take the proper precautions
before hitting the open road.
Earplugs are safety equipment? Absolutely! Wind noise on a motorcycle
can become extreme at highway speeds, and your hearing can suffer
damage after enough repeated exposure to loud sounds. Check
local laws about ear protection before you plug up; some states
require custom-molded earplugs, while others have more specific
rules governing how you can cover up your ears on a motorcycle.
A wide variety of jackets are available, offering many options when
it comes to upper body protection; from armored race gear to ventilated
summer wear, jackets can not only reduce or prevent abrasion injuries,
they can also look cool in the process.
is what a jacket is all about: elbow, shoulder,
forearm, chest and back protection. Jackets
are made from abrasion resistant material, usually textile or leather,
that acts like a second skin while you’re sliding down the
road during an accident. Friction burns are not only painful,
but they can also takes weeks or months to heal and are very susceptible
to infection and complication. Abrasion resistance that will help
prevent you from road rash is only half of a jacket’s purpose.
for CE approved armor or other materials inserted in the jacket
that provide impact protection. Street riders quite often meet with
a fixed object (car, sign, guardrail, curb, tree, etc.) which can
cause internal trauma. In cases such as those, body impact protection
can save your life.
jacket liner also serves a very important protective role, especially
for riders who get caught in rain or unexpected cold weather. A
liner will help protect you from hypothermia, which is
easier for motorcyclists to catch than you might expect.
you ride in hot climates, keep ventilation in mind when trying anything
on, and look for perforated leather or breathable textile. Remember,
if it seems too hot to wear a jacket, just ask yourself if you’d
rather sweat for an hour or bleed for a week.
to make sure your jacket fits:
out if it stays in place by pulling on the sleeves, the waist, the
collar - chances are, if you can expose a large amount of your
skin with a simple tug, the jacket is too big, and won’t offer
the best protection in case of an accident. Also, check to see if
the armor in the jacket stays put, an elbow pad won’t do much
good if it slides around to your bicep. Just remember, your jacket
should be snug, but not uncomfortably tight.
rash, the most common form of injury among motorcyclists
involved in accidents (also known as a friction-burn). A friction
burn occurs when skin is scraped off by contact with a hard object,
usually the road. Because road rash is caused by a hard surface
and the heat that builds up between that surface and your skin,
it is almost always both an abrasion and a heat burn. About 70%
of road rash injuries are 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The temperature
it takes to cause a third degree burn on an adult is 160 degrees
Fahrenheit with less than 1 second of contact. Keep that number
in mind the next time it’s “too hot” to wear
your jacket when you ride.
It's a basic human reflex to break your fall by with a cat-like
extension of the arms, and hands can suffer considerable damage
when a rider is thrown off his or her bike. Protect your palms,
knuckles, and fingers with sturdily constructed, well-padded gloves,
preferable gauntlet-style ones that extend past the wrist.
a minute to think of all the things you do daily with your hands,
and how your life would change if you couldn’t use them. Gloves
will protect you from your body’s natural reaction to put
your hands out when you’re falling.
ground is unforgiving at any speed to the soft skin on your palms
and fingertips, so gloves act like a second skin and take the worst
of any fall. Most gloves now come with reinforced knuckles
as well, to disperse the force from impact and help keep the fragile
bones in your hand from breaking so easily.
moisture wicking liner will help keep your hands from getting swampy
in the heat, and a well insulated glove will help keep your hands
from turning to ice in the cold. There are so many good reasons
to wear gloves, and there are so many styles.
to find the perfect glove:
sure the glove goes on with a snug fit, and not so loose that it
might slip off in an accident. The tips of your fingers should touch
the tips of each finger in the glove. Just as important, make sure
the fabric fits snugly around your fingers and that the fabric isn’t
easily twisted while you’re wearing the glove. If there are
reinforced knuckles, make sure the knuckles don’t bind to
yours and that the molding fits well with the natural shape of your
hand. Most gloves are pre-curved to fit nicely around the handlebars
or clip-ons, so make sure you can squeeze and open your hand easily. Short
gloves provide no wrist protection, so make sure your jacket covers
that area if you decide against gauntlet style gloves.
Here's one of the easiest places to get lazy when it comes to motorcycle
gear. But just because you've donned a helmet, gloves, and jacket
doesn't mean you should skimp on lower body protection. Pant styles
range from touring and dual purpose to sport and casual.
pants are one of the most commonly overlooked pieces of gear, but
they are just as important as any other protective equipment.
is what you should be able to find in a good pair of riding pants:
hip and shin protection, abrasion resistance for your skin, and
a shield against the weather elements we encounter as riders.
Most riding pants will come with removable armor, don’t take
those pads out if you value your ability to walk. CE approved hip
armor, knee pads, and even shin pads are designed to keep bones
from breaking, tendons and ligaments from tearing, and to absorb
impact force to reduce internal injuries. Whether your pants are
made from leather, textile or a mixture of both, they are designed
to protect your skin from burns and abrasions. We can all agree
that no one wants to sit on a butt full of gravel. Riding
pants can come with liners to keep you warm, perforation to keep
you cool, and even moisture wicking material to keep you dry.
to find a perfect fit:
sure your pants are snug enough to act as a second skin but still
allow you to move easily. A good way to ensure you can bend your
knees enough is by squatting all the way to the floor. Swing your
leg up as if you were getting on your bike to make sure the crotch
isn’t too high or snug. Check to see if the legs are
long enough, do they cover your boots or fit underneath them easily?
Most pants will come with zippers or another type of cinch closure
to keep them from riding up over the boot and exposing skin in case
of an accident. Make sure the armor sits where it should, doesn’t
rotate easily, and is comfortable against your skin.
From motocross and road racing to traditional
cruiser styles, there are loads of ways to keep your feet protected
on a motorcycle. Also, don't underestimate the importance of keeping
your feet firmly planted on the pegs and shin protection from pebbles!
are 28 bones in each of your feet and ankles, and 25% of all the
bones in your body are found below your shins. Hopefully those numbers
are enough to urge you to wear protective boots to keep you happily
riding and walking for years to come.
good pair of riding boots are made to do two things:
first is to protect your feet from injury in case of an accident. Obviously,
this means your boots should be made of an abrasion resistant material
that covers your entire foot and ankle. The internal structure of
the boot should be sturdy enough to keep your foot and ankle from
bending in an unnatural manner, protecting you from broken bones
and torn tendons or ligaments.
second thing a pair of boots should do is keep your foot comfortable,
dry and at a neutral tempature. If it’s hot, your foot
should stay cool, if it’s cold, your foot should stay warm.
Some boots are waterproof or water resistant and will keep your
feet dry in case of rain or other inclement weather. You need
your feet to shift and brake, so if they are uncomfortable, it can
affect the safety of your ride.
a pair of boots that are comfortable and durable, reinforced for
riding with heel, toe, and ankle protection. Most boots will
be stiff at first - take a walk around the neighborhood, wear them
around a bit, they will soon conform to your foot.
Though they're still in their infancy, neck support devices offer
the possibility of preventing or reducing severe spinal column injuries
from spills involving head compression. Testing in on-road situations
have been less successful than offroad applications (due to the
fact that the devices limit head rotation, and subsequently, visibility),
but there may be a day when these devices become widespread among
Shin, and Knee Guards (Off-road)
worn beneath jerseys while riding offroad, guards protect key body
parts like elbows, shins, and knees from impact; they can also be
effecting for street riding when worn in combination with less protective
outer layers (like Kevlar-reinforced jeans), though they won't offer
the complete coverage of full gear.
Deflector/Chest Guard (Off-road)
These devices tend to be made of lightweight plastics and offer
impact and abrasion resistance to the chest area.