Like education, the motorcycle gear you wear, whether on the road or trails, is vital to your safety.
Don’t believe me? Just ask someone who, unfortunately, has had a spill.
Here’s an example. A colleague of mine caught gravel around a bend while riding in the States. She hit the guardrail then passed out. She was then airlifted to hospital where she suffered a minor concussion, and a few bruises and scrapes. Even the doctors were amazed how good shape she was in.
It was said to her that her gear likely saved her life. She was wearing leathers, gloves, protective boots, and a helmet.
Granted, not everyone is as lucky, but you get my point. Furthermore, for those who have experienced an accident, and have been in proper attire, I’m pretty sure you weren’t thinking. “Gee, I really wish I wore my shorts and flip flops!”
When I ride, I’m in full garb. Depending on what type of riding I’m taking on that day, I’ll dress appropriately. I’m an advocate of riding gear. All of it.
The government in British Columbia only enforces one piece of safety equipment when riding on the road. That’s a helmet.
If you’re not going to invest any money in anything else, protect your noggin’. I’m not suggesting buying the most expensive and fanciest lid out there because most of us don’t have thousands of dollars for a carbon fibre helmet.
In fact, I’ll add this too. Make sure it fits properly. Local motorcycle shops generally have trained staff in fitting helmets. They’re supposed to fit snugly.
I’ve been told that even the cheapest helmet that fits perfectly will do more for you than an expensive one that’s just not right for you.
You only have one head. Use it. And protect it.
There are a couple of common materials used in jackets: leather and textile. There are more, but the two listed are quite prominent. Each have their own benefits. Textile jackets tend to be more breathable, while leather has been said to be better protection. You can argue each case.
Some jackets come with armor (added protection in the back, elbows, and shoulders.) Some don’t.
I suggest armor only because it protects you that much more. However, there are accessories you can purchase if your jacket you choose doesn’t come with it built in.
Leather, textile and Kevlar jeans are common riding pants. Kevlar jeans are getting better and better as more research and development is conducted. I say, if you’re going for the “cool” look, spend a little more for the added protection.
Not everyone will want heavily reinforced boots. That’s fine. But if you’re going to ride, get leather footwear that at least covers your anklebone.
Speaking of which, have you ever hit your anklebone on a table leg? Hurts, doesn’t it. Now imagine a 220-kilo machine falling on it. Think safety.
What’s great about the industry now, is the availability to cool riding shoes that have reinforced heels and ankle protection. You can look good and be protected. Bonus.
There are a few styles of gloves. There are ones that cover just your hands/fingers and ones called gauntlet gloves that cover past your wrists. Some gloves also have reinforced points with carbon fibre to prevent further damage. Like with a helmet, and the rest of your gear, get gloves that fit you, like, a glove! Too much room can cause blisters. Too little room cuts off circulation.
If you’re an adventure-touring rider – or would like to be – textile is the way to go. This material is much better for the changing weather you’ll encounter on the road less travelled. It’s breathable and generally has a few layers. So you can take off or put them on when needed.
Just because you fall in dirt doesn’t mean it can’t hurt! Wearing elbow and kneepads are recommended. A lot of dirt riders will also add a chest protector/breastplate, gloves, boots and goggles. Along with their helmet, of course.
If you want added piece of mind, that’s available, too. I ride with a back protector with built-in kidney protectors that I put on under my jacket. I look like a Ninja Turtle, but I don’t care! They work.
A full chest protector is also available along with
I’ve only scratched the surface for gear out there, but these are the basics to getting started. Bottom line, you likely won’t regret being fully suited on the road.