Protective Riding Gear For Ultimate Road Safety
It’s finally Spring, and if you’re in a state that gets a lot of snow, you’re anxious to get out there on that bike. You’ve been looking at your motorcycle sitting in the garage all winter, all covered up and sad looking. But now it’s hot, the sun is shining, and it’s time to get out on the road. But if you don’t have the proper riding apparel, you’re going to be signing up for a stay in the hospital if you get into a wreck.
So what kind of protective riding gear should you have before you get out on the highway and live your Easy Rider dreams? Luckily for you, that’s somethin’ we happen to
Why is it Important to Have Proper Protective Safety Gear?
Riding a motorcycle is freeing, it’s fun, and it fills that need for speed we all have. But riding a motorcycle is also potentially dangerous. More than 5,000 riders died in motorcycle crashes in 2017. That’s more than 13 deaths every day. On average, more than 4,000 people are killed every year in motorcycle accidents.
And it’s not like the rest of us haven’t had a spill or been close to it. If you can look someone straight in the eye and tell them “I’ve never been close to being in a motorcycle wreck”, well good for you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to ride safely.
You might be the best rider in the world, but one thing you can never account for is other drivers. There’s a reason why people have those “Check twice, save a life” bumper stickers. Motorcycle riding is fun, it’s a great way to get on the highway and feel alive, but if you don’t do it safely, you’ll wind up feeling another way.
So let’s take a look at the gear that every rider should own and use on every ride.
Must-Have Motorcycle Riding Apparel
If you’re going to ride and you want to do it safely, consider these pieces of gear that offer protection when you’re headed out on the highway.
This is a no-brainer (and you will be too if you don’t use a helmet). Currently, 28 states require motorcycle riders to wear helmets. But even if you live in the other 22, there’s no good reason you should ever ride without one.
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, “Helmets work. Helmet effectiveness has been confirmed by scientific studies, while helmet myths – ‘helmets break necks, block vision and impair hearing’ – have been consistently disproved”.
They also recommend that you buy at least a ¾ cover helmet, although a full face helmet is going to offer the most protection. Another thing to look out for is Snell certified helmets. Snell testing is heavily involved and will provide more protection. Similar to Snell, the DOT (aka Department of Transportation) also has a list of certifiably safe helmets. Take a look at this video that shows the difference between DOT-certified helmets and ones that are not DOT-certified. And if you’re in Europe, the ECE (aka the UN’s Economic Commission for Europe) is the European equivalent to America’s DOT.
While many people might think the leather jacket is just for looks, riders know; it can save your life. But it’s not just any leather jacket you’re looking for. The best motorcycle jackets are just like an armored vest. They’re going to have protective armor or places to put your padded armor, like in the shoulder and elbow section of your jacket. You can even get back armor pads!
The more armor in your jacket, the less likely you are to have skin to pavement contact during a wreck. But padded armor isn’t the only safety feature that jackets have to offer you. This is also your chance to be more easily seen by motor vehicles. Consider getting a jacket that couldn’t be missed from a mile away and you’ll automatically increase your chances of cars seeing you on the highway.
Not only are you going to get a better grip on your handles, but it is also going to protect your hands. If you get in a wreck and fall off your bike, what will you do? The most likely thing that’s going to happen is that you’ll put your hands down to break your fall. It’s instinctual.
But what’s going to happen if your bare skin hits the hot asphalt at thirty miles per hour? You’re going to come up with hands that look like Freddy Kreuger’s face. That’s why leather riding gloves are so important when it comes to safe riding apparel.
Just like your jacket, your pants are part of your motorcycle riding apparel. If you try riding in jeans, you won’t be a happy camper if you hit the ground. Denim and cotton jeans are going to shred like wet tissue paper if you get scraped across the asphalt. However, there are special riding jeans, and they’re quite common in riding apparel.
Many of the best kinds of riding pants or riding jeans are made with protective armor material like Kevlar, and you always want to make sure they either have knee guards or slots to put them in yourself.
Not shoes… boots. What you really want for motorcycle protection when it comes to footwear riding apparel is something that is going to protect your ankles. However, there are riding shoes available that look like street shoes but still cover the ankles. Although boots are preferred, they aren’t the only way to protect your feet.
If you drop your bike on your leg or you get side-swiped by a car you’re going to wish you had something to protect your ankles. They’re also going to protect your skin from the hot exhaust pipes and road-debris that’s been kicked up by drivers in front of you.
Another thing you need to think about when you ride is just the act of stopping. If you’re stopped at a red light, you’re supporting not only your own weight but the weight of your bike as well. Now, what do you think would make it easier to support all that weight? A pair of sturdy boots or riding shoes that support you above your ankles… or a pair of flip flops?
The Essential Riding Apparel
Keeping Yourself and Everyone Else Safe
So there’s our list of all of the gear you really need to have if you want to ride your bike safely. And truth be told, this should factor into your motorcycle expenses or budget. If you have enough money to buy and maintain your bike, but not enough money to invest in good, protective riding apparel, you don’t have enough money to ride a motorcycle. It’s as simple as that.
Riding safely is going to keep you upright and out of the hospital, and it’s not just for your benefit that you ride and dress safely. It’s for your family, for your kids, and for all of the other motor vehicle riders out there on the road.
By practicing safe riding habits and investing in essential, protective riding apparel, your experience on the road will be wonderful. On behalf of the TMS team, we hope you have a great motorcycle season as a better, safer-looking biker!