A motorcycle and an open road is the perfect recipe for high adventure. Riding a motorcycle is cool, fun, and it gives you the thrill of speed. But riding a motorcycle can also be dangerous.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports that motorcycle riders are overrepresented in traffic fatalities as they account for 14% of all the traffic accident deaths. The safety agency further notes that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in a car crash than vehicle occupants.
If these statistics are anything to go by, then as a rider you need to do everything you can to ensure you’re safe on the road.
One of the most effective ways to keep yourself safe while cruising on the road is by gearing up.
Being a rider, you’re vulnerable and more exposed compared to car occupants. This makes you more susceptible to fatal injuries in case of an accident. Wearing protective gear minimizes your risk of getting a catastrophic injury in such a situation. Wearing other gears such as reflective material also enhances your visibility to other motorists if you’re riding at night or on the highway.
Here’s a checklist of some of the essential safety gears that you as a motorcycle rider should be wearing before hitting the open road.
Only three states- Iowa, Illinois, and New Hampshire, have no helmet laws. All the other states require you to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle.
Past studies indicate that a helmet reduces your risk of getting a head injury by 69% and the risk of death by 42%. A helmet also protects your face from elements such as debris, dust, and bugs. Clearly, a helmet even if you live in Iowa, New Hampshire, or Illinois isn’t something you should ride without.
When buying a helmet, ensure it’s within the specifications of the federal regulations. You should check if it’s certified by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) by looking for the DOT mark. Consider buying a full-face motorcycle helmet that offers better protection to your face and head than the half-face helmet.
Always inspect your helmet before a ride to ensure it’s in good shape. A helmet with a broken chinstrap or one without the inner padding may not offer the best protection if you get into an accident.
Further, take your time to research what to look for when buying a motorcycle helmet to be sure you choose the ultimate protection.
If your motorcycle doesn’t have a windscreen, you should invest in eye protection gear. Ensure you purchase motorcycle glasses as standard sunglasses can shutter and the shards will most likely get into your eyes in case of an impact.
A pair of motorcycle goggles will protect you against the wind if you’re riding at high speed. Motorcycle glasses will also protect your eyes from insects, dirt, rocks, and any other type of airborne elements.
Your hands get into contact with the ground first when you’re involved in an accident. If you don’t have protective gloves, you will lose skin, fingers, and break bones.
Gloves protect your hands when you hit the pavement. They also reduce the risk of burns in case you’re doing some maintenance on your bike. Many motorcycle gloves have knuckles protectors and are also made of leather making them durable and abrasion-resistant.
Besides, waterproof gloves keep your hands warm during cold weather, and the ones with gripping material ensure you have a firm grip on your motorcycle handlebars even when you’re sweaty.
Motorcycle boots are so cool. They protect your feet from abrasion if you’re involved in an accident. These boots also protect your feet from frying road elements and burns if your legs get into contact with a hot exhaust pipe.
Over the ankle motorcycle boots are the best for riders compared to other shoes since they are:
- Have over the ankle protection
- Have hardened toe and heel boxes
- Have oil-resistant rubber soles that give you a firm grip on the pavement
- Have reinforced soles
- Have padding for the ankles
- Have straps to ensure a tight fit
- They are breathable and waterproof
A motorcycle leather jacket is every rider’s best friend. It keeps you warm during wet days, its durable, abrasion-resistant, comfortable, windproof and of course it looks so damn cool on you.
If you’re a frequent rider, you’ll often find yourself cold rather than warm. A motorcycle leather jacket will always keep you warm.
Moreover, when you hit the pavement during an accident, the jacket protects you from road rash when you scrape your skin across the road’s asphalt. Road rash can also lead to muscle, fat, and even bone exposure, resulting in worse injuries.
Motorcycle pants aren’t very popular with riders although they are a lifesaver. Motorcycle pants protect your knees and legs from abrasion if you have an accident.
When buying protective pants, don’t go for jeans or denim pants as these will get shredded immediately you slide across the pavement. Leather pants are the best when it comes to abrasion resistance. Leather pants are also heat resistant such that they don’t melt to your skin in case of a crash.
The downside is that leather can get pretty hot, especially during summer. However, today manufacturers are designing motorcycle protective jeans and textile pants with Kevlar panels on the knees and other likely impact areas.
Full body or chest armor
Full body armor protects your torso, and it may also have padding to cover your elbows and arms. This armor also stays in place even when you experience an impact.
Unfortunately, the full-body piece may get too hot during summer. If this happens, you can always go for the chest armor.
The chest armor protects your shoulders, front, and back during an accident. It also protects your chest from hitting the handlebars in case you make a sudden stop. This protective gear also deflects road debris if you’re riding on rough terrain or at high speed.
Chest armor also has ample ventilation, ensuring you don’t get too hot on your chest area. But unlike the full body armor, the chest armor doesn’t protect your entire torso or your arms and elbows.
Knee and elbow guards
Some riding gears such as the full body armor may offer some form of joint protection. You may still need to buy elbow and knee guards, especially if you’re using not so protective clothing such as denim.
You can get separate knee and elbow paddings to protect the key impact areas. These protectors will have hard casing on the outside to protect likely areas of impact. Inside, they are made of soft foam material to soften any impact.
If you find your knee protectors a bit bulky, you can choose to buy knee braces. In addition to being lighter, knee braces will also protect your knees from bending or twisting in the wrong direction during an accident. They are also easy to fit in your pants, and they don’t look bulky like the knee guards. The only downside is that they are more expensive compared to the knee protectors.
In closing, wearing the right gear can make all the difference in your safety when riding a motorcycle. A full-face helmet, gloves, protective pants, motorcycle boots, motorcycle glasses, a protective jacket, full or chest armor, and protective knee and elbow guards are a must-have when it comes to motorcycle safety gear.