On TV shows and movies, bikers are often portrayed wearing outfits including T-shirts, leather vests and denim jeans. While such outfits make for good costumes, the truth of the matter is that only certain clothing actually offers protection if you were to fall off your motorcycle.
As the old adage goes, “Dress for the slide, not the ride.” Protective clothing may be hotter and more uncomfortable than your other clothes, but it can save your life. With that in mind, here’s the gear you need to make sure you have before going for a ride:
- The Right Helmet
Whether your state requires a helmet by law or not, wearing one is crucial to your safety. There are plenty of misconceptions out there that helmets aren’t safe, or aren’t effective at high speeds. This simply isn’t true. Helmets are designed to protect the head, and they do a pretty good job of doing so.
When you’re looking for a helmet, make sure you pick one that’s approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). You may also want to consider a helmet that has a visor to protect yourself from bugs flying in your face. Perhaps most importantly, make sure your helmet fits snuggly. A loose-fitting helmet will greatly reduce its effectiveness in a wreck.
- Riding Gloves
When you stumble or fall, your first instinct is to reach out and try to brace your body with your hands. In the event of a motorcycle wreck, the same instinct kicks in. Without the proper riding gloves, you could end up with torn up skin, broken bones and more.
Beyond the event of a wreck, having gloves can keep your hands protected from the elements. Debris could fly up, and if it hits your bare hands, could cause a pretty bad injury. They also help you maintain your grip while riding. Look for leather or other material gloves that have plenty of built-in armor, fit well and are designed for your style and location of riding.
- Riding Jacket
Without a riding jacket, sliding on the ground after a wreck can be like a belt sander scraping the skin off your body. That’s why it’s essential to wear one every single time you get on your motorcycle. There are a variety of different materials riding jackets are made from. While the most popular and well-known is leather, there are other options to consider.
Leather is great for cool weather riding, but can leave you roasting in the summer. Breathable material offers better comfort in the heat, while still keeping you protected. Even if it’s 100 degrees out, put on a jacket. Would you rather sweat a little, or bleed a lot?
- Motorcycle Boots
If you’ve ever gotten on your bike in tennis shoes, you may have burned your leg on the exhaust. Not only is it painful, it’s completely avoidable. Proper over-the-ankle motorcycle boots provide protection from more than just heat. They can actually save your feet if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident.
If you ride in tennis shoes or other flimsy footwear, a motorcycle wreck could lead to broken bones and more. Sturdy boots provide support for your ankles and feet. Moreover, they provide traction so your feet don’t slip off your foot pegs while you’re riding. If you’re on a tight budget, over-the-ankle work boots with good grip can work well.
- Riding Pants
As you may realize by now, every inch of your body needs to be protected when you’re riding. Denim jeans don’t provide that protection — and shorts most definitely don’t. Think of all the times you ripped a pair of jeans as a kid just by falling on pavement or even grass. Now, imagine that same “protection” at 60 miles an hour.
If you do like the look of denim, there are motorcycle jeans available that can still keep you protected in the event of a wreck. There are also textile, leather and other types of pants to choose from. Some are warmer than others, so be sure to choose the right option for your riding environment.