Learn to Ride a Motorcycle – Step 2: Safety Gear
Save Your Skin!
One thing that a lot of new riders do not realize is how dangerous the pavement can be when you are moving. Think about the last time you fell on pavement while walking or running. You probably scraped up your knee or hands and started bleeding. The injuries you can suffer increase exponentially when you start increasing the speed. I’m not trying to scare you away from motorcycles, but it’s important to wear the proper safety clothes so you can keep you skin on your body where it belongs.
We have a saying in the motorcycle community: “There are two types of riders: those who have crashed, and those who haven’t crashed yet.”
Everyone crashes. It’s really only a matter of time. Some people get away with low speed accidents that don’t do much damage. Other people are unlucky and suffer broken bones, punctured organs, and even death. The fact is, riding a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than riding in a car. With a car you have a strong cage of steel surrounding and protecting you as well as air bags and a crumple zone that help you survive an accident. On a motorcycle the only protection you have is what you wear on your body. Motorcycle gear won’t protect you from all of the dangers out there, but it gives you a lot better odds when you get in that inevitable accident. Here is what you should be wearing:
What Motorcycle Gear You Should be Wearing
For the love of God, even if there are no helmet laws in your area PLEASE wear a helmet anyway! Helmets protect the most important part of you: your brain and your face. I don’t know about you, but I love being able to think and operate in society day to day. If your brain is damaged, you could be eating out of a straw for the rest of your life.
When it comes to helmets you should really consider a full face helmet. Statistically you are more likely to scrape up the front of your helmet than the back of it during an accident. If there is no helmet between you and the pavement when that happens then you can kiss your face goodbye. Plus there are some really awesome helmets out there that look incredibly cool.
It’s natural that if you fall, you try to catch yourself with your hands. You are going to do the same thing if you have a motorcycle accident. It’s all human instinct. That being the case, doesn’t it make sense to protect your hands?
Don’t just use some old gardening gloves. Go get yourself some real motorcycle gloves, preferably full gauntlet (meaning they cover your wrist too). In all of the motorcycle accidents that I’ve been in, I have always walked away with torn up gloves with un-harmed hands underneath. Let the leather gloves get ripped by the pavement instead of your soft human skin.
I could just say you should wear this piece of gear because it’s cool. Motorcycle jackets are the epitome of badass style. The Terminator wears one, real motorcycle racers wear them, and even Batman wears one! How can you go wrong?
If looking awesome isn’t justification enough, you should consider that it’s always nice to protect your body from the pavement as it travels by at 50mph. When you end up crashing (and statistically you most likely will), chances are you will be sliding or rolling on pavement. You want to protect all that sensitive skin on your arms, back, and chest. I’ve literally seen pictures of girls who had nipples torn off in motorcycle accidents because they weren’t wearing a jacket of any kind. I know wearing a jacket when it is already hot out can be uncomfortable, but I would rather sweat a little than bleed a lot.
There are a lot of different types of jackets out there: Leather, textile, mesh, combination… As long as it is a REAL motorcycle jacket then you won’t go wrong. Beware of ‘fake’ jackets that might be made out of real leather, but the leather is much thinner than what you find on a real motorcycle jacket. Look for something that has leather around 1.2-1.4mm thick. When it comes to textile or mesh, just about anything from any of the major brands like Alpinestars, joe rocket, icon, shift racing, teknic, etc… will do just fine.
Boots: Tennis shoes are not going to cut it folks. You need some over the ankle protection like motorcycle boots or some sturdy work boots. There are some motorcycle gear manufacturers that are making shoes specifically for riding, and those shoes usually have lots of added protection and cover your ankle. If you value your toes and your feet then make sure to protect them as well!
Footwear is also a way where you can express your style even more. You can have something very low key, or you can choose a boot that is a bit more fashionable.
Pants: This is the most controversial piece of equipment out there. Most riders I know do NOT wear motorcycle specific riding pants. I understand why; it really is a pain in the ass to wear leather/textile riding pants or to slip on a pair of motorcycle over-pants on top of what you are already wearing. Jeans simply won’t cut it in this department. They tear easily and really offer no more protection than a typical t-shirt.
You should think about what is going to be hitting the ground in a motorcycle accident. If you are like most people, then you might be sliding on your ass or your knees long enough to rip off more than a few layers of skin. If you are unlucky you might start grinding off bone before you slow to a stop. Either way your lower body is going to get wrecked if you crash, so it’s best to protect it as much as you would any other extremity.