Riders: Protective Gear is Good

It would be crazy to hit the ski slopes without the proper apparel or sky dive without a parachute, right? The funny thing is that people do something just as risky when they head out on a motorcycle with little or no protective gear. They arm themselves with just a thin layer of clothing, no head protection and inappropriate footwear. Instead of limiting enjoyment, proper gear can actually add to your riding comfort and of course, prolong your life.

As tempting as it might be to wear minimal or no gear at all while out on a motorcycle–especially in warmer weather–it’s a bad idea. Motorcyclists are exposed to all kinds of road debris. Anything hard that falls off of a truck or blows in from open spaces ends up on our roads. Those items get kicked up by passing vehicles, often headed straight at motorcyclists. If you are wearing protective gear, the impact of a stray rock, a stinging insect or something more sinister like sliding across asphalt, is much less than it would be if not protected.

And, your gear also keeps you from getting too much sun exposure by facilitating your body’s natural process of sweat evaporation to prevent heat exhaustion. In hot weather, the answer is to wear more gear, expose less of your skin to the sun and wind, and allow your body’s built-in cooling system to work its magic. It doesn’t take very long for a rider to experience heat-related illness, especially if they have not hydrated well that day.

Instead of limiting enjoyment, proper gear can actually add to your riding comfort and of course, prolong your life.

Statistics vary widely on how much protective gear actually helps riders, but the simple fact is that having protective gear on increases your odds of walking away from a crash with fewer, less-serious injuries. And, instead of being distracted by riding conditions, protective gear can aid concentration on defensive riding skills.

Today’s motorcycle riding gear is state-of-the-art and made from light-weight materials designed to take the brunt of anything that comes your way. In addition to leather products, bikers can now get gear made of Kevlar, ballistic nylon or a hybrid of leather and nylon. The best riding gear comes with body armor–thick pads sewn into the elbows, shoulders, kidney area, spine, knees, and in some cases, hips.

What is considered the minimum amount of safe motorcycle gear?

Most experts would suggest a heavy jacket made from cow hide, Kevlar or ballistic nylon, riding pants or chaps made from cow hide or nylon, full-finger riding gloves, over-the-ankle leather boots, eye protection, and a DOT-certified helmet. Also important are ear plugs, sunscreen and drinking water. While these last three items are not what most people would consider standard protective gear, they are important to your safety.

Some people ride their motorcycle with very little between themselves and a sea of hard, sharp, fast-moving objects. This is not recommended. Proper motorcycle safety gear is there as a buffer between you and the environment in which you ride. Without a protective steel cage, your best chance at emerging from a motorcycle accident with minimal injuries is to fully gear up every time you ride.

Pick up some quality gear and ride easy knowing that you’ve improved your odds out there.

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