Fashion or Safety
Motorcycle Clothing Fashion or Safety, with the upcoming riding season around the bend, well maybe July here in Canada; here are a few hints on the correct type of Motorcycle Clothing you might be looking at. With so many styles out there what is the correct clothing to be wearing, well hopefully this will add some insight into the gear you will be strapping on.
Motorcycle clothing is a fashion statement brought to you by the experts in Clever Marketing, with all of the hype and class of a Las Vegas Show, so where does a person start, and how does the user make an informed decision on the gear that is best for you and the type of riding that you do.
Well as you do every year hopefully, before you jump on the bike and go for a ride, we will go back to the basics…
Why do we wear motorcycle clothing in the first place? For me the answer is obvious; it is purely a safety issue as a result of the testing and associated research it has become clear that well-made motorcycle clothing can definitely help reduce injuries in the event of a crash. For others it is about the fashion show, and looking good, however every rider should look at the minimum protective gear which includes the following items of Motorcycle Apparel. This is what all Motorcycle Training Schools and many other riders consider the minimum protective gear any motorcyclist has to include the following items of motorcycle clothing:
* Eye Protection;
* Long trousers/Chaps/Kevlar Pants;
* Above-the-ankle footwear. (That’s motorcycle boots to you and me!) Not running shoes or flip flops!
This is the bare minimum; here’s a description of what I mean by each of these items:
Eye protection means the shield of a full-face or three-quarter helmet, goggles, or close-fitting eyeglasses. I personally ride with either a shorty helmet with flip down polycarbonate visor (Canadian Bugs hurt) or a full face modular style helmet, when on the highway. Living in the snow belt, the roads do not get cleared of those pesky little rocks until usually September or October, and they hurt when the vehicle/driver/Cage ahead decides “jees wouldn’t it be fun to toss some of the rocks up and see if I can get the biker behind me” or if you have the luck to drive in Northern parts of Canada, between the blackflies, the dragonfly’s, and for an unfortunate few of the joys of being smacked in the head by a Tar Sand beetle, ( A prehistoric version of the June bug, they grow to about 3” long, and it does not matter how fast you are going, they always seem to find the back of your neck to land on, and yes they do bite!!)
Gloves – Most of us will put out our hands in the case of a fall; it’s a reflex action. Riders should wear gloves to protect their hands.
Long trousers/Chaps/Kevlar Pants – I highly recommend wearing as a minimum Chaps and for more protection the new synthetics, and the best protection I have found is Kevlar reinforced jeans and a leather chap; Protection in the case of a fall (even jeans will not provide much protection there) Protection from debris (dust, stones, and so on) that get kicked up by vehicles in front of you, and because of the insects you are likely to meet on your trip. Most training Schools prefer that you do not wear chaps, as one instructor so eloquently said to me “Chaps have this lovely tendency to place your butt in the direct way of the ground and 24 Grit Sandpaper” I wear chaps, because I find them very comfortable they will protect you from the bugs and the small rocks, A whack in the thigh by a beetle can sting, and a wasp or bee can really do a lot of damage if it gets to you bare legs. And for all of you Sport Bikers I see running down the Highway with your Girlfriend perched precariously on that so called Seat, we know she is cute, but please make her cover up, not to cover up so nobody looks at her, but at 100 MPH, she will not look good for long, if something happens.
Jackets - This is the one piece of kit I will always have on, whether I am going to the corner store or I am on the Highway cruising for heaven knows where, I prefer the Classic Biker Look, you know the jacket that James Dean and Marlon Brando made famous, and started off having old ladies running in fear from anyone wearing a black leather jacket!! Well I do not wear mine for that reason, this is a means of protection for me, and besides that, my vest is too darn big to wear without a jacket, however all kidding aside, in the event of a lay-down, usually the second thing to hit the ground is your upper torso, which makes sense since your hand are the first thing almost always. In my past life I was an Ambulance attendant, and more than once we picked up some poor soul who had laid his/her bike down, and he/she was not wearing a jacket or for that matter anything else to protect them, I will spare you the details I think you get the picture!!
Motorcycle boots offer a number of protections:
* From the insects and flying pebbles noted above,
* Boots can reduce the likelihood of a burn from hot exhaust pipes, (especially if you go over on the bike).
* It can protect your feet and ankles in the event of a crash or other accident.
* Boots also give you a little more traction when you come to a stop, and as natures law works out, this is the only place on the whole highway or road that has a pile of small, roller bearing type stones that is always conveniently placed where you put your foot down.
This is the first in a series of articles that I will be writing with regards to Motorcycle Clothing, Motorcycle Clothing and Safety and tools and tips to help you become a smarter and safer rider. I will be also bringing you articles on favorite rides and events, tips from Motorcycle Training instructors, and more. Please check back at Foothills Motorcycle Apparel Blog for more information.
Gary Stubbs is the owner of Foothills Motorcycle Apparel in Cochrane, AB. Foothills Motorcycle Apparel in conjunction with Area Motorcycle instructors and hopefully soon the Alberta Sheriffs and RCMP Motor patrolmen will be bringing articles weekly to help every rider become a safer, more educated rider.