Motorcycle Riders: Pick the Proper Protective Gear
Safety on the road is often among the most important concerns of drivers and motorcycle riders alike. After driver education, protection for car and truck drivers can take the form of safety features like airbags and seat belts. Motorcycles typically don’t have either of those items, and also lack additional safety features like crumple zones, roll cages and a structural frame to protect the rider.
Motorcycle riders must choose their own safety gear to wear in an effort to help reduce their potential for injury should an accident occur while on the road. But choosing the right gear requires a bit more than simply wearing what looks cool.
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 that can get kicked up by passing vehicles and may be dangerous for motorcyclists. Protective gear serves two purposes: protection and comfort, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).
Weather conditions can dictate — to some degree — what type of gear a rider wears, but comfort is key, because uncomfortable gear can be distracting. Consider these tips to stay both comfortable and safe in all sorts of weather:
- Hot Temperatures: Dress in layers and consider a moisture-wicking material. According to Motorcycle Cruiser magazine, you may experience a wind-chill effect, so you don’t want to dress too lightly. Covering up can help retain the moisture that helps your body cool itself, and can limit dehydrating, fatiguing effects of direct sun and wind. Mesh jackets and gloves, as well as cooling vests that can be soaked in water and work under vented gear
- Rain: You should try to avoid riding your motorcycle in the rain because roads can become very slick. But if you must ride through the rain, choose rain gear that is breathable, waterproof or water-resistant, says CycleWorld.com. Your rain gear should fit properly, gives you the option of adding layers for warmth and sheds water, according to Rider Magazine.
- Frigid Temperatures: Snow, ice and cold temperatures generally don’t make for great motorcycle riding conditions and require some warm gear. MotorBikeWriter.com says underneath protective gear, wearing base layers like thermal underwear, glove liners and balaclavas can help. Extremities like fingers and toes can be susceptible to cold temperatures, so consider using chemical heat packs inside gloves and boots.
Properly fitting protective gear may help keep you safe and comfortable in many driving conditions, and is designed to help reduce or prevent injuries in the event of a crash.
- Head: While you aren’t required to wear a helmet in every state, if you choose to wear a helmet, the MSF suggests choosing a helmet that meets U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. The DOT standards define minimum levels of performance that helmets must meet to protect the head and brain in the event of a crash, according to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Hands and Feet: Look for boots that go over your ankle and features oil-resistant, rubber-based composite soles, says the MSF. For your hands, consider full-fingered gloves that fit properly, as they may help improve your grip on the handlebars and help prevent cuts, bruises and abrasions in a crash.
- Torso/Arms: The MSF suggests riders wear abrasive-resistant fabrics or leather to help protect against injury in the event of a crash. Riding jackets typically run longer in the sleeves and wider across the shoulders to account for the riding position, and should fit comfortably without binding.
- Legs: A rider’s legs should be covered and protecting in a similar way to the upper body, made of the same types of materials. In addition to leather modern fabrics like Cordura, Kevlar and ballistic nylon can boast abrasion- or wind-resistance, are waterproof and may have high-visibility properties. Oftentimes, riding gear comes with body armor — thick pads sewn into the elbows, shoulders, kidney area, spine, knees, and in some cases, hips.
Proper motorcycle safety gear is there as a buffer between you and the environment in which you ride. Pick up some quality gear and ride easy knowing that you’re protected.