Motorcycle Apparel: Dress for Safety

Motorcycle Apparel: Dress for Safety

With the upcoming Riding Season upon us, it is now the time to look at a few things, before we get out and ride, I want to share some information and research on Motorcycle Apparel, I am an Occupational Health and Safety Consultant, and Safety has been my life, I am also a Motorcycle rider, and the two are always connected, in all aspects.

Ride and Dress to Prevent Accidents.

Helmets

I was going to mention helmets later on in this article, but after much thought, I decided that Helmets should be first, I know that helmets and the wearing of them in some areas is a very contentious subject, as I said before I have worked in the ambulance business for years, and I firmly believe that a helmet might be the only piece of equipment that will actually save your life, or preventing a rider from a debilitating brain injury. I have a number of helmets, Full Face, Modular, half helmets, and even a three quarter. When I am going for a ride around town, I usually have on my DOT Shorty, on the highway it is either my full face or modular helmet, as the speeds are greater and so is the wind noise. When you go to buy a helmet, the first thing to look at is comfort, does it fit right, and then the price.

Fitting the helmet (Fitment information compliments of Scorpion Helmets)

1. How to properly fit a helmet. The following tests should be performed with the chin strap properly and securely in place. Helmet movement should also move the skin on your face and scalp. Helmets will fit snug when new and have a break in period. The helmet should not fit so tight as to cause discomfort or pain.

2. With the helmet in place and chin strap secured, shake your head side to side, and if the helmet moves independently of your head then the helmet is too big. When performing this test, the helmet liner and cheek pads should be in direct contact with your skin. While shaking, your skin should move with the helmet.

3. Place one hand directly behind your head and push forward. Use your other hand and try to slip your little finger between your forehead and the helmet liner. If you are able to slip your finger in, the helmet is too big.

4. To test for helmet lift, place one hand on the chin bar and push up (while the chin strap is secured), if the helmet comes off your head it is too big. Next, place one hand on the back and push up again, if your helmet lifts off your head the helmet is too big. (Fitment information compliments of Scorpion Helmets)

5. Novelty Helmets although bright and colorful usually have not been manufactured to DOT standards, When Purchasing a helmet always look for the DOT or Snell Ratings, the testing is as follows:

DOT performs a straight forward impact test. Testers place a test simulated head (headform) in the helmet then drop it form a height of 10 Feet, the force is measured and cannot exceed 400 G-Force Units on impact. When an impact attenuation test is conducted in accordance with S7.1, all of the following requirements shall be met: (a) Peak accelerations shall not exceed 400g; (b) Accelerations in excess of 200g shall not exceed a cumulative duration of 2.0 milliseconds; and (c) Accelerations in excess of 150g shall not exceed a cumulative duration of 4.0 milliseconds. S5.2 Penetration. When a penetration test is conducted in accordance with S7.2, the striker shall not contact the surface of the test headform. (Excerpt from http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2006/octqtr/49cfr571.218.htm)
Snell certification backed by ongoing destructive testing samples taken randomly from dealers and distributors identifies those helmet models providing and maintaining the highest levels of head protection.
Four of the most critical elements affecting a helmet’s protective properties are:
1. Impact management – how well the helmet protects against collisions with large objects.
2. Helmet positional stability – whether the helmet will be in place, on the head, when it’s needed.
3. Retention system strength – whether the chin straps are sufficiently strong to hold the helmet throughout a head impact.
4. Extent of Protection – the area of the head protected by the helmet.(from: http://www.smf.org/standards/m/2010/m2010_final)

Motorcycle Apparel, Your Personal Protective Equipment

Motorcycling is a rewarding and fun-filled experience, and wearing the proper protective Motorcycle Apparel and gear that is comfortable and assists in preventing fatigue caused by blocking wind and noise and adding warmth, will make your ride more pleasurable and safe.

In Canada, where I reside, the motorcycle riding season is just starting for some of us, and as happens each year, statistics have shown an increased accident injury rate, between cages and motorcycles, drivers state that they never seen the motorcyclist, and as every driver whether vehicular or motorcyclist can attest to, drivers are more distracted, whether it be the cell phone glued to their ear, the music blaring, or doing their makeup and reading a map, the motorcyclist is always the one that suffers the most.

However there is Motorcycle Apparel being manufactured that is bright, and ensures that the motorcyclist is seen, Riding schools utilize this practice in their training by having students wear bright Orange or Yellow vests, the bright colours do get the drivers attention.

Accident Investigations and Highway Maintenance Companies along with safety Researchers have shown that motorcyclists with light and bright-colored clothing and/or helmets are much less most likely to be involved in accidents. Other drivers need to see us, not only in our area, because the bikes have been off the road for a while due to the snow, and winter, they are not used to seeing a motorcycle and by drawing attention to ourselves with bright and colorful gear, and the drivers will see us sooner. I have oversize t-Shirts that I will over my jacket, they are very bright and the saying on them may appear crude, it does draw attention to me. I do not wear these all the time; however at the beginning of the season, I think that it helps to wake up the drivers that they are not the only ones on the roads. As you have noticed that most of the Highways Departments flag persons and crews working along busy roadways, and these bright colored overalls on, that are so bright they almost hurt your eyes looking at them, orange, yellow, other colors including white, red and pink (Are you Tough enough?).

While choosing your motorcycling apparel options firstly you need to think about comfort and protection from not only the worst case scenario of a crash but the everyday challenges of riding a motorcycle.

Your choice of Biker Gear is as essential to safe riding as is enjoyable as your choice of motorcycle. The proper Apparel makes motorcycling safer and far more comfortable and will offer protection through a wide range of weather/road conditions. I have only too often, I want something that is fashionable and makes me look good in, yes most riders purchase Motorcycle Apparel for style, but a Motorcycle Jacket needs to do significantly more than look good, the real purpose is to save the valuable skin underneath it and assist in preventing injury to the rider.
My motorcycle jacket and clothing, although getting up in the years, will still do its intended job, and on those colder days, the sizing allows me to put extra clothing on underneath so aid in my comfort, and it also serves as a safety barrier and ward of gravel and bugs, and on that day when something goes wrong, it will prevent present considerable protection from abrasion as well as impact. Nowadays, manufacturers have jumped to your requests, and make stylish, functional and safe motorcycle apparel; that riders are proud to wear.

What to look for in a Motorcycle Jacket

Massive zippers, fancy snaps or huge chrome buckles look cool, but they also have a tendency to scratch your bike’s paint, specifically on the tank. Sleeve zippers and snaps will also come into contact together with your bike far more regularly than you may want. Nevertheless, do not abandon these kinds of closures in favor of a knit cuff. The dilemma with knit-style cuffs, found on many aviator-style or some sport jackets, is that they permit the sleeve to ride up your arm and will degrade the protection you require if you’re sliding after a crash. The sleeve fit snugly and will not ride up and expose your forearm. Most jackets have zippers closure, that ensure a snug fit, which will allow you to accommodate extra layers of clothing, watches or gloves. A closure a Velcro type closing can offer more flexibility to the rider, but being lazy, I just want to put my jacket on and ride, so I prefer a jacket that I do not have to readjust each time I use it.

Jacket length can also cause problems. Short jackets tend to be one of the most well-liked from a style standpoint, we have all seen them, the “Plumber Butt syndrome” of Noted concern is in the event of you sliding on asphalt or gravel, a short jacket reduces the protection to the rider as they have a tendency to ride up during a slide, leaving you exposed between the bottom of the jacket along with the leading edge of your pants. I prefer a jacket that reaches my hips, because it can be much less most likely to ride up that far in a slide. It also keeps breezes from blowing up my back on colder rides.

Bear in mind that anything you need to reach although riding should be accessible to your left hand, I do not suggest looking at a map or talking on a cell phone while riding, however items like zippers and helmet visors must be reachable with your left hand. Zipper pulls will need to be large enough to grip with heavy gloves. Some styles of Jackets and Pants allow the pants to be zippered to the jacket to ensure they do not separate unless you want them to, so it is nice if it comes having a zipper for that purpose, a good seamstress will be required to sew the zipper into the jacket at the right height.

Motorcycle jackets have an assortment of collar styles, such as some that zip off. I prefer a tall collar that I can leave open when the weather is warm or closed snugly to fend off cold rain or bugs. Soft, supple fashion leather may perhaps look fantastic in the showroom; however they offer a lower abrasion protection, a truth which will turn into painfully obvious in the event you are sliding along the asphalt at 50 mph. That heavy, motorcycle-weight leather may possibly not hug your curves like the paper-thin stuff, however it will break in and develop into very comfy and wearable in several rides. Although you are going to pay far more, quality riding leather will also last far longer than the fashion-weight stuff.

Armor may well appear, well…ungainly or as one young lady expressed, “I feel like a football player in this gear”, until you’ll need it, then it may possibly stop broken bones or maybe even internal injuries. Motorcycle apparel with armor may look and really feel lumpy when you first start to wear it; though the looks will not alter considerably, however after wearing it you will find that most armor molds and moves to fit the body it is wrapped around. Although research by manufacturers, Insurance companies and Safety Institutions is just beginning on what sort of body armor is most efficient, it stands to reason that the type of armor built like a helmet, with an outer shell to spread out the impact load as well as a layer of resilient foam, will offer better protection to the rider in the event of a crash. On the other hand, virtually any sort of padding is most likely to strengthen on the impact-absorbing capabilities of leather or Cordura.

Leather is not the only suitable material for motorcycling. Textile riding gear produced from synthetics, in fact, many Long distance riders prefer the textile over leather, dependent on the manufacturer and quality allow for greater protection in cooperation with increased water resistance, so the rider does not have to stop at the first sign of impending bad weather.

Be Cool

To put a myth to sleep, you may in fact be cooler in a motorcycle jacket than in a T-shirt in hot weather, but the jacket should have venting where the body tends to get warmer, which is the upper torso, and chest area. If you ride a cruiser style motorcycle, that means that it should have vents out on the sleeves, possibly even on the outside of the sleeves. I’ve a Leather Euro Style jacket, as an example, which have openings on the outside of the forearms to catch air flowing around the shield. If you do not have a windshield, then venting in the upper chest area, with a back vent which can be closed for the coolers days, is a huge relief. For those extremely warm areas or hot summer days, there is a fantastic selection of mesh motorcycle jackets that can allow you to maintain your cool when moving than riding in just a shirt.

A side effect of the vented jackets on cooler days is a little less warmth protection, and most jackets include an insulating liner that increases the jacket’s cold-weather usage. A longer jacket, specifically one, with some sort or belt or elastic waist, will decrease the draft which invariably blows up your back, and ends up chilling your back and kidneys, and also does double duty by preventing stiffness on longer or colder rides. If the front closure includes a snap-down flap over the zipper, you may have the ability to get air flowing via by unzipping the jacket most of the way but utilizing the snaps ensures you are totally covered without that parachute feeling. Sleeves that close with a zipper plus a snap can give you the protection or allowance of air movement as required for the ride.

Lower Torso and Leg Protection

Jeans, specifically heavy ones, do provide some protection in a crash. They’re substantially much better than light slacks and miles and miles ahead of shorts. They may also supply a greater level of comfort, protecting your legs from wind and sun and permitting some air to flow over your skin. The only way you’re going to obtain greater wind flow with protection is by wearing a protective mesh motorcycle pants over shorts.

For anyone is thinking of jeans for protecting your lower region, look at the points above jackets as jeans have a tendency to ride up or flap in the wind, there is several types of boot straps on the market that prevent pants, chaps or overpants hem from riding up around your knees when you are riding.

It still amazes me, how often, I see people riding in chaps or pants produced from fashion-weight leather in hot weather. Although lighter, the lighter leather does not afford the rider with the protection that proper Riding grade leather will afford. Many riders including myself wear chaps, when riding, in a lot of the articles I have read and in talking to other bikers, many of them racers, one thing always is the forefront, Chaps offer no protection to your butt, so I will wear a pair of leather pants underneath. If the thought of scraping your butt bothers you, Rather than chaps, search for overpants with full-length zippers, which make them as effortless to put on as chaps and offer a lot more protection than open-butt chaps. Determine how you anticipate wearing the pants before you go shopping. Will they be worn on the days you ride, and have only underwear beneath? Will you put them on and take them off in the course of the day and wear them over jeans? If so, what will, you will you be carrying in your pockets, I highly recommend riding with empty pockets and having your valuable stores off of your body, Will you have the ability to reach points within your pockets. Be sure the pants are quick remove or put on, if they are too be taken on and off during the ride and that they will roll up into some stowable form to strap to or tuck away on your bike. Armor will make this harder, but leaving it out will make falls harder.

One of the items that have come on the market in the last few years is a Kevlar reinforced denim Jean. These jeans have the reinforcing in the critical areas required and offer substantive protection to the rider. They come in different colors and styles and are fashionable and well as protective.

Full Coverage

Without a doubt, the very best protection comes from a one-piece riding suit. The epitome of street protection and motorcycling functionality will be the one-piece suit. It can be produced from heavy materials that supply protection from the elements and in a crash. Armor panels give some protection from impacts. You will discover lots of reports of folks who’ve crashed at speeds over 100 mph and come to rest with their bodies and racing suits intact. Many custom made suits are available on the market, and a little research goes a long way when purchasing a one piece suit.

Heated Clothing!!

What can be said for heated clothing? Everything! Heated clothing although may not be effective in some of the southern states, in the north it is almost a requirement, a ride in the mountains will definitely make you a believer. Many of the sworn advocates of heated clothing will tell you that if the cold impairs your riding pleasure, using heated clothing, will make the ride more enjoyable. There is several styles of heated clothing, from vests, jackets liners, jackets gloves, heated pants and heated chap liners, the hookup is easy and most are modulized, you plug in you jacket, it has wiring for the gloves and pants, all for one hookup, most hookups are compatible with the battery tenders on the market today so you bike is not a mess of wiring.

Protection for the foot and Ankle

As a employee of an Motorcycle Apparel shop, countless times I have seen riders come in wearing running shoes, sandals and even flip flops, they were also wearing shorts and their girlfriends were perched on their crotch rockets in the same type of apparel, and in asking them why they ride this way, they have no real answer. In the area where I live, we have 10 months of winter and two months of tough sledding, so there is always little rock chips left over from the road clearing crews. I have pranged by these little rocks while riding and even though I have protective gear on, these still hurt like the dickens, and as a Gold Wing Rider, these little rocks are like ball bearing when you place your foot on the ground. So come the next part of this article, Proper footwear. Unless you’re getting boots with some armor over the anklebones, you in all probability are not finding any unique protection with motorcycle-specific boots. Having said that, among the numerous waterproof boots can extend your comfort within the rain, as well as a motorcycle boot’s sole style can increase your riding expertise in other techniques. Most of all, the sole must supply beneficial traction whenever you plant it in oil or sand at as a preventative measure to avoid you from tipping over. This is really a large difficulty with cowboy boots on motorcycles; with their smooth soles, they offer little traction when you need it the most usually on a slick surface. A deep rubber sole may also absorb some vibration. Some motorcycle boots now provide venting, which you may also get having a lace-up style boot.

it does pay to have your motorcycle accessible when shopping for boots and also overpants/chaps. With your motorcycle handy, you will be able to see how the boot will work together with your foot controls. The heel and the toe piece may affect how your foot fits under your shifter and also how it sits on the floorboards, A ramped heel may possibly enable you to reach the brake and shift levers a lot more simply. Short-legged riders might discover that boots with thick soles (not tall heels) can assist them to plant their feet a lot more securely at a stop. (Some also have thicker soles added.)

There is certainly some study that indicates that heavier boots, by increasing the swing and traction of the foot on your leg, may possibly increase the likelihood of leg fractures in an accident.

with ankle and foot bones that have suffered the abuse of running and marching in combat boots, I have to wear orthotics, this sometimes leads to difficulties in finding boots that are comfortable to walk in may seem like an insurmountable challenge, they are on the market with the other conveniences I want – ease of entry combined with secure fit so they stay in place in the event of a crash, waterproof, sufficient flexibility to shift and brake, and not an excessive amount of bulk.

Hand Protection

Right after the helmet, a solid pair of gloves will be the best money you ever spend offering critical protection, while riding. Working in the Ambulance business for years, I have seen to many riders lose digits or pounds of flesh off of their hands, due to using improper protection on their hands. For myself, I have 4 sets of riding gloves, Heavy Insulated leather gloves with Knuckle protection for the Spring and Fall, A racing style gauntlet glove with protection for the warmer days, Electric glove liners that plug into the battery to wear on them really cold days, and a pair of mechanic type gloves for working on my bike, not for riding. Some riders have a glove for each and every scenario that the weather and riding season can throw at them, which in this part of the world would be a lot of gloves. I believe the minimum for a dedicated and non-fair-weather rider is 3 sets-a light vented pair for summer, a middleweight pair for in-between weather along with a heavy insulated pair for cold rides. I’ve a box of gloves within the closet, possibly 20 pairs, and nearly just about every set get utilized at some point throughout the year.

Requirements that all motorcycle gloves should be: rugged construction, a solidly built and comfort. For lighter gloves, deerskin or goatskin is really a supple and comfortable however does not have the abrasion resistance of heavier leather or textiles. When looking at the glove construction look at the seams, is the stitching strong enough? Does the glove have a system to ensure it stays in place on your hand (to ensure it does not leave your hand in the event of a crash)? Does it have a material on the palm that is slip resistant, (if it is raining it might make it hard to maintain your throttle)? Most Motorcycle Gloves are stiff when brand new, over time, the heat and perspiration from your hand will loosen the glove up and conform it your hand, making the glove very comfortable, beware of glove that tend to bunch up in the palm area, or is too loose on hand, ir could prove to be a concern if it start preventing you from coming off the throttle, or getting on the brake in a safe and expedient manner. Many gloves on the market today that are designed for the Motorcycle Enthusiast, are shaped to match the curvature of the human hand, some gloves have the outside fingers webbed to ensure that when you brake, you squeeze evenly and not just grab, some have a pyramid shaped squeegee on the thumbs to aid in getting rain of your helmet visors, and other designed devices to aid the motorcycle rider in their safety. Fingerless gloves in this rider’s opinion are the same as having no gloves on at all, when you have observed the remains of hands of individuals who’ve endured crashes in fingerless gloves or just the sun- and windburn on riders who’ve employed them on lengthy rides, you will leave them within your weight room. They’ve no location on motorcycles.

One of our customers and myself were talking the other day, and he told me a story of how had, he had been wearing fingerless gloves, sun burnt his hands severely a few years ago and where the gloves he was wearing had the knuckles cut out, and a big oval on the back of his hand, he had severe sunburn, in these areas which was very painful for the duration of his trip,

About Stubby

Thanks for Visiting Foothills Motorcycle Blog, if you have anything you want to add, please email Betty Anne or myself and we will get the information added to the site. So a Little about us, My name is Gary, Stubby to my friends, I have been riding on and off for most of my life, but seriously for the last 4 years. We live in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies, so we have some of the most beautiful places in the world to ride. Betty Anne is the Powerhouse of the operation, she started managing the store in August and has been adding new manufacturers monthly. Betty Anne has brought her Seamstress Skills into play and is now doing custom Apllique Work on Chaps, she is sewing on crests, badges, unit colours and whatevr you require on your vests, jackets, etc. BA as everyone knows her by, will also do some leather repairs, if you ask. Gary will be introducing Custom hand tooled sissy bar, Saddlebags and tank bras, in the future, keep coming back to see the finished products. My dream was to start a blog and have the readers be the authors, you do not want to hear about me all of the time, So I am asking you to start sending us articles, pictures, or anything you want!! we will get it posted. I would like to get anything Motorcycle related and we will add it, if you have a Motorcycle Club you belong to, Send me the Logo and a little history, we will post it. if You have an Motorcycle Event or Ride coming up, get me a copy of the poster.
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