“Better safe than sorry” is an all too cliché phrase, but as far as riding a motorcycle is concerned, these words have weight. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner rider or a long-time one; accidents do not choose who to strike, and when they do, it is better to be prepared.
For many people, a good motorcycle is a worthy investment for convenience and fun. But riding one comes with inherent risks. This is why it is also important to invest not only in the vehicle but also in the protective clothing that will keep its rider safe.
Basic protective gear every rider should wear
Protective gears for motorcycle riders do not come cheap, but so are the hospitalization costs and property damages after an accident. Either way, a rider is going to spend a fortune, so why not just spend it on clothing that will protect him in the event of a crash?
In motorcycle accidents, a rider’s head, legs, and arms are most likely to be injured than any other body part, and this comes as no surprise given a rider’s vulnerability and exposure while on a motorcycle.
And while accidents are unpredictable and impossible to avoid, the severity of the injuries sustained can be lessened. To do this, a rider must have the following fundamental protective gear:
It goes without saying that helmets are a vital protective gear and that all motorcycle riders, regardless of whether the state they are traveling on has a universal helmet law or not, should wear one in every ride.
Many studies from various institutions have already proven the effectiveness of helmets in preventing head injuries, and while they may not always guarantee injury-free accidents, it will always be better to provide the head some protection.
There are different types of helmets that motorcycle riders can use. These include:
This type of helmet provides the most coverage around the head and face, with additional protection at the base of the head. A full helmet also has a visor to protect the eyes. This can come with a light, dark, or multicolored tint, but the most advisable is a full helmet with a clear visor.
The head is best protected with a full helmet because it covers the entirety of the head, allows the rider to have enough ventilation, and does not impede the rider’s hearing despite its structure.
This type of helmet is similar to the full helmet, but with less facial coverage since only the sides, top, and back of the head are covered. These helmet types also include visors with a flip-down mechanism and come in tinted or clear variants as well.
Despite having less coverage, the protection that this type of helmet provides is comparable to that of a full helmet. A motorcycle rider should also be able to breathe and hear just fine while using this helmet.
Among the three helmet types, this one offers the least protection. With this helmet’s limited coverage—full coverage for the top of the head, partial coverage for the sides and back, and none for the face—motorcycle riders who use this helmet often have some eye protection, such as glasses or goggles, to go with it.
All motorcycle riders should wear a jacket regardless of the weather and the distance.
Motorcycle jackets come in many forms, and there are plenty of materials available that will suit every rider’s needs. Whether it is leather or synthetic, motorcycle jackets should come with padding or impact resistance at the waist, on the back and chest, and at the shoulders and elbows to provide maximum protection.
But protection is not the only thing motorcycle jackets offer: they also often provide functionality and style.
Aside from protection, functionality, and aesthetics, a motorcycle jacket should also be comfortable for the rider to wear, especially on long rides. It should also not be too big and bulky so the rider can still move and maneuver the vehicle with ease.
Most riders wrongly think that jeans are enough legwear for riding. However, there are pants specifically made for motorcycle riders that offer significantly more protection than jeans. Not only do these pants offer protection, but they also provide ventilation and serve as armor for places that are likely to get severely scratched in the event of a crash.
Most motorcycle rider pants also give importance to rider visibility which is why many designs come in bright colors or have reflective features.
Just like motorcycle jackets, motorcycle pants also come in different materials, and in finding the perfect pair of riding pants, several factors such as the type of motorcycle, weather condition, and distance of travel should be taken into consideration. Leather is typically the most ideal material for motorcycle pants since they offer the most protection, but leather pants may eventually be less comfortable especially during a long ride.
A rider should ensure that his motorcycle pants are comfortable enough and fit perfectly when worn in the normal riding position. It should not be too tight, ride up too high, or be too bulky as these can make riding, maneuvering, or braking difficult.
Boots specifically designed for riding motorcycles are usually above the ankle footwear equipped with built-in ankle protection, increased torsional stiffness for reduced flexing, and oil-resistant soles for a firm grip on the ground.
During motorcycle accidents, most riders tend to let the ankle and the lower leg take the force of the fall. The foot can also get trapped under the motorcycle in the process. But with well-built motorcycle boots, such scenarios can be avoided.
Motorcycle boots are generally made from high-quality thick leather that provides excellent abrasion resistance. However, manufacturers eventually realized that leather does not always provide good ventilation, so textile boots with high abrasion resistance, waterproof features, and good ventilation became a thing.
In the event of a crash, a rider’s initial reaction is likely to put his hands out to catch himself from falling. To prevent the hands from sustaining major injuries, gloves should be a staple in every rider’s full riding gear.
Just like motorcycle jackets and pants, gloves also come in different materials. Leather is typically the choice of many riders, but other materials that provide additional padding and protection on the fingers, knuckles, back of the hand, and palm are also available. There are textile blends that have abrasion protection and waterproof features as well.
Aside from the material used, a motorcycle rider should also ensure that the gloves are tight enough while still being comfortable to wear. This is because ill-fitting gloves can make manipulating levers and buttons difficult which, in turn, may eventually put a rider in harm’s way.
Optional motorcycle protective gear
Having the basic protection by wearing the most fundamental riding gears should be enough, but extra caution never hurt anybody.
While high-quality motorcycle jackets and pants should provide a rider enough protection, body armor can take rider safety to the next level. With the extra protection it offers, a rider should be able to travel with peace of mind knowing that he is well-protected.
In more advanced body armors, a back protector and even an airbag system are included. But just like any other item of protective clothing, a rider must make sure that the body armor fits him perfectly so that movement will still be easy despite the other layers of clothing underneath.
Elbow, shin, and knee guards
High-impact areas like the elbows, shin, and knees will benefit from extra protection as well. Most of these guards are adjustable, making them an ideal piece of additional protection since they can be fine-tuned according to a rider’s body.
Again, these guards must fit snugly to avoid adding another layer that can make riding a motorcycle difficult.
Goggles and other protective eyewear
Extra eye protection is crucial, especially if a rider is using only a ½ helmet. And no, we do not mean standard sunglasses as these will not do anything to protect the eyes. We mean eyewear that is rated for impact protection and have padding that prevents debris from entering your eyes without compromising peripheral vision.
The ears are probably the most overlooked part of the body when it comes to riding a motorcycle. Clear hearing is just as crucial as clear vision, and what many riders do not realize is that, even inside of a helmet, the ears are constantly bombarded by sound, some of which may be distracting for the rider.
This is why earplugs are also a good addition to a full protective get-up: they can help reduce the white noise, or static, from the wind rustling over the helmet, and they can also lessen the loud sounds of traffic, but not to a level that will make a rider feel unsafe and unable to hear what is happening in his surroundings.