ATGATT = All The Gear All The Time
You know, I’m left stunned sometimes when I see people wearing little or no protective gear when they are out riding their bikes. Worse, scooter riders seem to dress like they have come straight out of a Gidget movie.
Italian cafe latte type fashion is the look they are going for I think.
Don’t get me wrong, like any red blooded male I quite enjoy following attractive ladies on scooters, particularly in summer. It can be distracting at times, but hey, you cant ride around with blinkers on can you.
And I’m not just picking on the scooter crew either, I’ve seen some really strange clobber on motorcycle riders.
Take today for example. A bloke cruised past me on a Suzakionda. Nice bike, newish, well looked after, good quality full face helmet, Aplinestar jacket. Off to a good start you would think.
Nope, the jacket was flapping in the breeze behind him, he had a pair of stubbies on, and thongs. No not the type women wear under their jeans dummy, you might know them as flop-flops or pluggers. To top this off he was speeding, OK, not much but he was speeding, and he was lane splitting.
|Thongs (Flip flops, pluggers)
|I’m no wowser, but blind Freddy could see that this was a disaster in the making, and its something that can be seen regularly on the road.
It doesn’t matter that your machine has a top speed of 50km/h (30mph) with a tail wind, or if you happen to ride one of those hyper-sports bikes that will just as quickly separate your arms from their sockets as they nudge 300km/h (185mph). It doesn’t matter that it is so hot you could fry and egg on the footpath, or that you are only going down the shops for some bread and milk (or beer and pretzels as the case may be).
Accidents happen; and they hurt. Trust me I know, I had a lady pull out on me in a Bitsa-missing Colt hatch about 14 years ago and she put a stone chip in my Kawasaki GPz 1000RX.
I hit her doing 80km/h (50mph) and walked away, I was lucky, I had no broken bones and only soft tissue damage to my right leg from the knee down. But!. I was wearing all the protective gear, and I still got grazing on my backside from the gravel in the middle of the intersection.
How would I have fared wearing a T-shirt, shorts and thongs?
It might not be “cool” to wear all the gear all the time, and it might even be damned hot on a summers day, but what would your skin look like after getting dragged down the road? Gravel rash takes a long time to heal, and sometimes never heals completely, often leaving unsightly scars… there goes your modeling career.
I’m not going to debate open or full face helmets, so long as you are wearing one that is approved in your part of the world.
In Australia it’s AS-1698 but there are other standards that are used around the world. DOT and Snell are two recognise approval systems in the United States, as is Sharp in the United Kingdom.
There are others of course, and you should check to see what is approved in your country, Google is your friend.
As a minimum you should at least wear a leather jacket. One with elbow, shoulder and back protection is better. Likewise a textile jacket with elbow, shoulder and back protection is good too. I’ve heard it said that textile is better than leather because it has some degree of waterproofing (unlike leather which doesn’t), have zip out liners and have better airflow by way of vents which can be opened or closed with a zipper.
Most jackets come with some form of back protector built in, these are usually nothing more than a bit of foam sewn into the lining. I wear and aftermarket back protector, mine is a Clover but there are others that do just as good or better job of protecting you.
Just keep in mind that back protectors won’t save you form a twisting injury, rather they are designed to reduce impact injuries.
A lot of riders don’t wear gloves for one reason or another, but they can make a huge difference when your hands are introduced to the road.
Because the natural thing for anyone to do is to put their hands out to break a fall. Asphalt will tear you palms to pieces.
Most gloves have knuckle protection and all the good ones are made with Kevlar. Winter gloves also use a fabric called Thinsulate which will help keep your hands warm during the colder months.
As an aside, when I first started riding I didn’t own gloves, the first rain storm (not hail) solved that problem. Rain hitting the back of your hands at 100km/h (60mph) is like having hundreds of pins thrown at your hands. It stings like blazes, and does not add to the riding experience let me assure you.
Long denim pants are an absolute minimum. Companies like Bull-it, Neds, Draggin Jeans and Rjays market pants that are impregnated with Kevlar. These will reduce abrasion but not all manufacturers include padding.
There’s not much that will replace leathers though, and if you can afford them this is the way to go. There are heaps available on the market, all varying in price and quality, Again, Google is your friend
Cowboy boots like RM Williams or Dr Martens might look like they offer some protection, and they do… if you’re in the bush and want to protect against snake bite; But they don’t offer protection in two important areas. The instep/ shin area, and the ankle.
When you get launched off a bike after impacting a car, your foot will most likely collect a part of you bike on the way through, be it the handle bars or the fairing, it will collect something. Unfortunately, it will most likely be the instep/ shin that cops the brunt of the impact on the way through.
The second impact will be when you hit the asphalt, either from a great height or sliding. The bit that will be injured here will be the ankle. The other benefit of good riding boots is that they have additional leather on the toes where the gear leaver would normally rub.
So, as you can see, thongs offer NO protection, likewise track shoes offer little protection. A good pair of riding boots with padding to the instep/ shin and ankle area is a must.
The Moral of this story… ATGATT
Any protection is better than no protection when riding a bike. Its much easier to replace a set of leathers than it is to endure months of skin grafts. Some people can’t be told though, and won’t learn until its too late, preferring fashion over function.
Even my daughter, (yes I know you are reading this, sweetheart) will not wear her mother’s old leather jacket. Granted it’s a relic of the late 80’s with puffy shoulders and the like, but it does offer protection, and could prevent or minimise cuts and abrasions in the event of a fall.
And as much as I would love to take her on a ride through hills or somewhere scenic, I would never forgive myself if something were to happen while she was wearing flimsy clothing and I threw the bike down the road.