Investing in good quality, proper riding gear can literally save your skin. I can’t help but shake my head when I see some guy fly by on the freeway in shorts, a tank top and flip flops-seriously? On average, you’ll lose 1mm of flesh for 1MPH that you’re traveling over 30MPH when you hit the asphalt. What do you think this guy is gonna look like at 85MPH?
Riding gear can be a daunting subject because of the cost and just how much of it is out there to choose from. A good way to narrow it down is to decide what type of riding you’re going to be doing and in what type of road and weather conditions and then go from there.
At minimum, you’ll need a good helmet, jacket, boots, gloves and eye protection whether that’s from a full-face helmet or goggles or glasses. Off-road and racing require more specialized gear, but if you’re riding on the roads, streets and highways, the aforementioned gear will suffice.
When choosing a helmet, you’ll want it to fit snugly, but not too tight. To test the fit, grasp the chin and move the helmet from side to side while resisting the movement with your head. You shouldn’t feel your scalp rotating independently from the helmet. Don’t be shy about trying on as many helmets as you need to until you find one that fits properly. This is your brain we’re talking about, so choose wisely. You’ll want a helmet that is at least DOT approved, but for the best protection, look for an ECE 22.05-rated one.
If you choose a helmet without a face guard, keep in mind that 45% of all impacts to motorcycle helmets occur to the facial area, so you may want to reconsider that skid lid or at least look into some good riding goggles for a bit more protection.
Remember also that even if you are in a minor accident, your helmet has probably sustained some unseen structural damage and will need to be replaced. If you avoid an accident, the average life for a helmet is around six years.
The next most important riding gear pieces that you’ll need are gloves and boots. Your hands and wrists are very fragile and will likely be your first line of contact with the road should you go down. Gloves need to secure tightly at the wrist and should have a retention strap to ensure that they will remain on your hands during a fall.
Riding boots may not be your thing, but you will at minimum need something that will properly support and protect fragile feet and ankle bones. A sturdy combat or work boot that is snug at the ankle should suffice.
Of course you’ll also need a good riding jacket. With textile, you will want to look for material that is well-ventilated and is super strong like Cordura. For leather, be sure and check the thickness and stitching.
At the very least, always wear jeans when riding if not a riding suit or riding pants. A pair of heavy-duty jeans with a Kevlar lining will provide good protection; a pair of plain Levi’s will not.
The best overall protection is a two-piece leather riding suit as it is safe and versatile and will likely last a very long time, but if you invest in good quality components you can stay safe without the heat that can be an issue with the suits.
Other additional items to consider are earplugs, which can prevent permanent hearing loss; a tinted visor (versus sunglasses, but remember that you’ll also need a clear one for nighttime use) and a good silk or textile scarf for cold weather to keep your head and neck warm.
Talk to the guys at OC Motorcycle for advice on riding gear. Let them know what type of motorcycle you’re considering buying and what type of riding you’ll be doing. From there, they can help you choose the right gear for the best comfort and protection for your specific needs.