Sunday, June 30, 2013

Motorcycle gear, choosing the right gear for you

Motorcycle gear what to buy? In nearly 25 years of street riding, with lots of thought, research this is what I have come up with.

Well first off choose what you know you will be wearing, whatever the case you want something visible, in the Hurt Report, the most comprehensive study ever made on motorcycle accidents we know that bright colors save lives, so try and avoid anything dark.
Not only that but Black, the most popular color is also hot as hell, something to think about especially if you live in the south. That little bit extra of heat absorbtion does make a noticeable difference and I have had people comment as such who converted to lighter colors.
I know first hand bright colors work, with a lock of gear locally I bought a Harley Leather Motorcycle jacket when I purchased my first street bike, back then I didnt know better, and honestly the market didnt either.
I would wear that jacket for 13 years, have many close calls, and rely in my skills to get me out of bad situations.
Purely on accident I would later with my first sportbike purchase a red jacket to match the color of the bike, I started to notice that I had less close calls, people did tend to see me.
Arguably the most important piece of gear is your helmet, I cannot for the life of me understand why people gear up and then ride around without a helmet, you dont look cool, you look silly IMO.
Anyhow when choosing a helmet first do your research online, is an excellent source to see how your helmet rates in the event of a crash.
Dot is the absolute minimum you should accept with any helmet rating, I personally dislike snell but it is what is required as the base of all race tracks, ECE and BSI euro standards are also accepted now as well.
Next you want fit, you should wear each helmet for about ten minutes in the store to see how it feels, and also if you can tolerate whatever type of lining is inside the helmet. My first Street Helmet was a Nolan, and while it was an excellent durable helmet, it also had a fabric which made my head itch, so I was unable to wear it as often as I liked, if your head is itching or you are otherwise uncomfortable, you are at that point not paying attention and are in possible danger.
There are two types of fits, one is the street fit, in which you cannot fit your pinky between your forehead and the helmet, next is the race fit, which is snug and pushes your cheek up, this is optimal but understandable why people do not like it.
Also consider that most helmets are made for the standard egg shaped head, Shoe And Arai are expensive but both offer many different inside shapes to fit a variety of heads, they almost always will be lighter as well, something to think about.
Next is venting, the more venting, usually the louder a helmet is, not always but that is the general saying.
Consider you do not have to spend several hundred dollars on a helmet, you do not get more base protection, what you do get is painted graphics as well as more comfy lining, chin snaps to keep your chin strap from slapping around, usually they are more acceptable for sun glass/eye glasses and have padding in the chin piece should your face impact.
Also consider that over 40 percent of accidents include facial impacts, so avoid open face helmets if possible, but they certainly are better than nothing, you can if you tend to feel sophisticated at slow speeds, opt for modular helmets which face flips up completely.

With any Jacket you should have something which is comfy, but somewhat snug, depending on if it has a liner or not, you may want to choose something which can allow for a sweater underneath.
You should look for something which has venting, usually in zipper form, and something with elbow, shoulder and back protection, preferably in the form of "CE"
Textile is my personal preference for regular riding, it offers excellent abrasion resistance and better water resistant capability, it is also lighter and a bit cooler.
If you go with leather you should if living in the south especially look for perforated leather, dont worry, it will not come apart, racers wear perforated leather suits and do just fine, keep in mind while it is probably not so noticeable, leather does offer a bit of impact resistance in and of itself and is the best for abrasion resistance although some tracks have approved Kevlar suits.
You can in hotter climates also opt for mesh jackets which offer hands down the best venting, many also come with liners for cooler riding & dont worry, they should offer adequate protection in the event of a street slide, and keep in mind most accidents happen under 35 mph, even if you are cruising down the highway and something happens odds aer that 65mph crash really was around 35 by the time you slowed down and actually hit the ground.
Next for pants there are great options, if you are riding to work you can in colder times wear textile pull overs, or there are also excellent options of pants with Kevlar and leather lining. I have a pair of Cortech "Jean" pants which also have adjustable knee padding and have light perforated leather lining, very comfy and I like to wear them when I go out.
Chaps were used by cowboys for several reasons, first protection against brush, second, protection against rope burns as the rope often would be laid over their legs while pulling a steer around.
The lack of ass protection makes these nearly useless in the motorcycle world, in the event of a crash more than likely you will end up sliding on your ass, and yes, butt cheeks have been torn off.
Gloves are also of course Important, think, how many times as a kid when you wrecked your peddle bike, your knees and hands got the brunt of it didnt they?
Any leather glove is ok, your basic fencing gloves offer excellent abrasion resistance but poor comfort, riding specific gloves will be very comfortable and come as vented or not. My personal preference in this regard are kangaroo palms, Kangaroo skin is half the thickness of cowhide with the same abrasion resistance, they feel like a second skin, pardon the pun.
Gauntlet offer wrist protection as well but are something of a pain in the ass to take off and on, they also have the best padding in key areas of your palm should you go down, they can be a pain to take off and on if you do a lot of stop and go riding.
Last but not least are Boots, something like 60 percent of all motorcycle injuries are ankle injuries, you do not have to have motorcycle specific boots, but they help, anything which comes up well over your ankle is optimal to help with protection from your ankle bending. However keep in mind that laces can catch on your pegs and I have wrecked because of hiking boots, how you ask?? well I was in mud, turning my motorcycle around when I lost traction, I went to put my foot out and my hiker hooked on my rear sets, I fell over, wow was I humiliated. This is something that would not, or should not happen with motorcycle specific boots.
There are racing boots which offer all kinds of wazoo protection and padding in all the right areas, not overly necessary, but if its important to you, get em.
There are rain resistant boots, summer perforated boots and some with optional slide vents which I personally love On my Sidis.
Hope that helps, any questions please feel free to ask.


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