There is little that can match the joy of taking to the open road on a motorcycle. Whether you are a long-distance rider or just use your bike for weekend fun, one of the most important things you can do is dress for safety. Basic riding gear consists of a helmet, gloves, jacket and boots. Hardcore, serious bikers may want to suit up in leather riding suits. Protecting your body with the right gear can ensure that your next set of wheels isn’t an ambulance gurney.
You may think that motorcycle apparel is expensive, but when you’re sliding on your side down a highway at 40 miles per hour, you will know that your gear was worth every penny you invested in it. You’ve surely heard the old saying, “There are two kinds of motorcyclists: those who have put their bikes down, and those that haven’t—yet.”
Many collisions involving motorcycles are caused by errors made by other drivers on the road, but regardless of who is at fault, the rider will typically end up with the worst injuries. No matter how careful you are, it is impossible to avoid all road hazards. A patch of gravel or an oil spill can easily cause a crash. When you are attired in protective motorcycle gear, you can greatly reduce your risk of serious or permanent injuries—and who can put a price on that?
Helmets are, without a doubt, the most effective gear you can wear in terms of safety. The use of a helmet that meets Department of Transportation standards is required by law for all riders in 19 states and for certain riders in an additional 28 states. Only three states (Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire) have no helmet requirements at all.
Whether or not you are legally required to wear a helmet where you ride, keep in mind a few sobering statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:
Helmets tend to preserve your good looks too. When shopping for a helmet, you will discover that you have a very large selection. Safety considerations to keep in mind include:
A well-made motorcycle jacket can help to prevent broken bones and brush burns, and can even help to safeguard your internal organs. They come in a variety of thicknesses, styles and prices. It is almost always worth the cost to invest in the best quality jacket you can afford.
To ensure the ultimate in safety when selecting a jacket, you may want to keep the following in mind:
The natural reaction to a fall is to put one hand down to brace yourself. If that fall is from a bike that was traveling at 45 miles per hour before going down, the damage to your hand, fingers, arm and shoulder can be severe. A suitable motorcycle glove will protect the palm of your hand and your fingers, particularly your knuckles. In doing so, the glove can absorb and lessen the impact on the rest of your arm. A gauntlet will also work well with a motorcycle jacket to keep out wind and rain.
When shopping for motorcycle gloves or gauntlets, things to look for include:
Even a minor spill on a bike can lead to some pretty major road rash on your legs if they are not suitably protected. Many ride in jeans, and that is usually fine for a short ride through the neighborhood, such as for a run to the grocery store. But if you are taking to the highways and riding for speed, traditional jeans do not offer the resistance to abrasion that you will need to prevent serious injuries. You would be best served by a pair of motorcycle pants. You can also find armored jeans that combine good looks with solid protection.
You can basically choose between leather and textile motorcycle pants. Each has its merits and downfalls.
If you need to stop on a slippery road or on gravel, you will need to be able to support your own weight, plus the weight of your bike, on one foot. A good riding boot will make this possible while protecting your ankle from excess strain. Boots can also save you from serious injuries to your feet if your bike goes down and drags your foot along the ground.
Purchasing boots that are specifically designed for motorcycle riding is not necessary. Solid work boots or even combat boots will usually be sufficient, but provide little protection from a bike falling on your legs. Motorcycle boots offer the best in protection and long-term comfort. The most important things to look for when shopping for boots are:
As a motorcycle rider with many years of experience, I sincerely hope that your gear never has to protect you from a fall. I’ve been lucky so far; the falls I’ve had did not cause severe or permanent injuries. Wearing a good bit of protection is a lesson I’ve taken to heart.
Unfortunately, odds are that at some point you will put your bike down. It is therefore worthwhile to be protected. Stay safe out there, and talk regularly with your Trusted Choice® independent agent about your motorcycle safety and insurance needs.