The right motorcycle safety gear starts with a helmet and goes right down to your toes.
What's better than two wheels and the open road? Not much. The feeling of freedom you get on a bike is hard to put into words, but it only takes one ride to understand it. However, safety is always a concern in the back every biker's mind. The good news is that motorcycle safety gear has come a long way since the early days of the "Trusty Triumph."
Before you hop on your bike, let's talk about physiology. Quite simply, human skin is not designed to drag along the asphalt at 60 mph. The human brain is not designed to hit the pavement at 40 mph. Human bones aren't designed to stop an SUV at 30 mph. While you can't eliminate every possible obstacle and accident, you can take steps to reduce your chances of a severe injury if one does happen.
Responsible and defensive operation of your motorcycle is crucial, but even your best efforts don't guarantee the skill and attentiveness of other drivers. Likewise, all the precautions in the world won't help when your bike goes down. That's where high-quality motorcycle safety gear can save your skin—and we mean that literally.
Motorcycle Safety Gear Every Rider Should Own
Some states have laws requiring the use of a helmet; some states don't. Smart riders wear helmets either way. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, more than 4,000 motorcyclists die in crashes every year. Helmets can prevent nearly 40% of those fatalities. Helmets can also prevent an estimated 67% of brain injuries.
Helmets are good for more than just preventing death and brain injuries (in case you need more coercion). When dust, pebbles, bugs, and other debris hits your face or your eyes at high speeds, you can lose control of your bike. At a minimum, you don't want gnats in your teeth when you smile at the driver in the car next to you. A full face helmet will keep you safe and clean. Oh, and it will keep your face intact when you hit the ground.
Even in warm temperatures, extended exposure to high winds can make your hands cold. Gloves will keep your hands warm and also dry in the event of an unexpected rainstorm. Warm, dry hands give you more control over your bike. Gloves also offer protection to your hands in a crash.
Think about the last time you tripped on a step. Chances are, one of the first things you did was extend your hands to catch yourself. Most riding gloves will protect your knuckles, but for true protection, look for gloves that protect your palms, too. Palm protection decreases the force of impact to the bones of your wrist and forearm and reduces the abrasions to your palm.
A riding jacket is an essential part of motorcycle safety gear. The good news is that modern technology gives you many lightweight, comfortable, and protective options, which is especially helpful in the hot summer months.
The classic leather jacket is an option, but the simple fact is that new jackets are designed specifically for bikers. They include built in armor plates in high-impact areas like the elbows, shoulders, and back. Some of the higher-end jackets include impact dispersion technology for added protection in a crash.
Can we just say no to shorts? Do you really want your unprotected leg caught between the asphalt and your 400-pound bike? Believe it or not, jeans are only slightly better. Like riding jackets, new technology imbues pants with more abrasion resistance, padding, and ventilation, all while keeping the skin on your legs.
Kevlar-reinforced denim looks and feels like a pair of regular jeans and offers abrasion resistance generally in the seat and knees. As you move along the spectrum, pants include everything from extra padding to armor.
Motorcycle boots take a lot of abuse even under the best of circumstances. Hot pavement and road debris are just a fact of life, never mind the fact that these boots need to protect your feet if you end up on the road. Unlike street clothes, you don't necessarily need specialized motorcycle boots for good protection. A solid pair of work boots is adequate under most circumstances.
All this gear might seem like a big investment. After all, you probably didn't buy a bike thinking you would need a new wardrobe. Just remember, an investment in motorcycle safety gear will give you the peace of mind you need to truly enjoy the ride.
If you prefer two wheels instead of four, we urge you to play it safe! Keep your motorcycle in top order, and invest in the right motorcycle insurance.