Bikers are simply crazy about the passion of their riding. But, whether riding is a necessity or a passion risk exists everywhere and when it comes to safety, compromise with protection is never an option. As a biker you can always go for stylish riding gear to maintain your fashion statement but what about safety? Well, the best way to go is to choose riding gear that is stylish as well as protective enough to save you from unwanted physical injuries. Yes, such protective riding gears don’t guarantee to prevent an accident but still it can make a big difference if something like that really happens.
Protective riding gears have been developed to fulfill two basic purposes – protection and comfort. So, comfort without protection or protection without comfort neither make any sense nor make a gear an ideal one for riding. And when you are up to stylish gears along with both protection and comfort, there are number of issues to be considered. Here is why you need protective riding gears and summary of some mostly needed gears that ensure comfort and protection while also maintaining style statement.
Among all the safety gears you may need for riding, helmet is the most important one. When a motorcycle crash occurs, head injury causes the maximum damage and even leads to death. So, helmet should be the first priority for every rider. While thinking of buying a helmet, make sure that the helmet complies with DOT standards. National Highway Transportation Safety Authority reported that chances of experiencing a fatal head injury are 40% higher for a rider who doesn’t wear a helmet than who wears. They also stated that over 19,000 lives have been saved by protective helmets from 1984 to 2006.
When wearing a helmet your head is protected in four ways. The four key protection parts of a helmet are – retention system, foam and cloth liner, impact absorbing liner and shell. Retention system of your helmet keeps the helmet fixed with your head at the time of a crash to provide maximum protection. The foam and cloth liner makes you feel comfortable and impact absorbing liner absorbs the shock to a great extent to reduce injury.
Selecting right helmet:
- Get a helmet that fits your head properly. Make sure that the helmet grips both sides and top of your head, jaw and cheeks.
- Choose full-face helmet over half shell and three quarter shell helmet for better protection.
- Don’t go for used helmet if you know it has already experienced a crash
Biker’s typical full fingered hand gloves protects your hand from different weather conditions such as cold, sun, wind, blisters and also protects your hands from abrasions, bruises and cuts when crash occurs. When it comes to choosing gloves, give most importance on comfort factors because uncomfortable grips may result in less control over handles. Choose gloves that fit your hand properly so that it doesn’t hamper your hand’s natural movement over bike’s control panel. Also avoid too bulky or too loose gloves. Too tight gloves may restrict your blood circulation resulting coldness in your hand. Gloves come in different weights, thicknesses, and styles for different seasons and requirements. While lightweight gloves are perfect for summer insulated and lined gloves are for winter and cold weather. Whichever style and design you choose make sure that protects your wrists, fingers, palms or whole hand.
When you make sudden break your feet help you maintaining body balance. Choosing the right pair of shoes is important as it may protect your feet to a great extent when you crash. So, regular shoes are never a good option for riders. To ensure both protection and comfort you must consider getting a perfect pair of riding shoes. Get a pair of water resistant or water proof shoes that also have a good ventilation system to keep your feet cool and dry for safe riding.
Perfect riding boots not only protect your feet but also your legs. Though most riding boots are made of leather materials some of them come with reinforcement in sensitive areas like calf, ankle and shin using materials like Kevlar. Kevlar which is also known as ankle armor ensures protection from flying debris and crash. Try to get a pair of stiff rubber sole shoes for better performance in tough environment. For a better grip of pegs, you may also go for shoes with heel.
Riding, Suits, Pants & Jackets
Feeling comfortable while riding is an important consideration for all bikers especially when riding in critical conditions. Proper protective gears can reduce your chance of crashing by providing better control and comfort and also reduce injury in case of a crash. The Hurt Report suggests using proper riding gear made of abrasion resistant materials like ballistic nylon, Kevlar and Cordura or leather which provide the best level of protection against injury. While looking for the best protective riding apparel, be focused on the best possible combination of protection and comfort.
In legs and sleeves often these apparels are cut longer than general. Padding provides protection in crash while special overlaps are designed for sealing wind. In most of the cases the protective apparels for riders are made of leather because of its abrasion resistance quality and durability.
Riding suits and jackets come in different designs, styles, shapes and prices depending on your budget, riding habit, personal preference and specific weather condition of your place. Choose a jacket that is designed especially for bikers and fits you perfectly all around. You should avoid items like flowing scarves and wide-flared pants as they can be irritating and uncomfortable for riding. Make sure that the jacket you are wearing comes with a zipper in front rather than snaps or buttons because zipper is better as wind resistant. For additional protection against wind a flap of material along with zipper can be a perfect option. For better fitting and protection from wind consider a jacket with sleeves tapering. Always avoid loose and large collar as it will flap and make you irritated while riding.
One important issue to consider for all bikers is avoiding hypothermia which is caused by chilling effect while riding. So, make sure you are resisting moving air even if you are riding in a warmer weather. This is because hypothermia is such a condition of your body which is responsible for loosing precise and smooth muscle movement, slower reaction, loss of concentration and others that may lead you to a crash. So, perfect riding apparels such as insulated layers of clothing and wind-resistant jacket is a must for safe riding. Also try to go for layered dresses so that the outer parts can be removed quickly if necessary.
Several layered apparels are essential for cold weather. You can also go for a riding suit especially designed for winter riding. Such insulated and lightweight suits can provide you the comfort needed badly in cold weather. Another effective alternative option for winter can be an electrically warmed vest or suit. Long pants and long sleeves suit or jacket can also help you in reducing the chance of being dehydrated. Also remember to use bright colored gears so that you are easily visible even in the dark. Jackets made of retro reflective materials and reflectorized tape can be very helpful in this regard.
- Hearing protection reduces the noise
- Body armor protects the skin in the event of an accident
The noise of extreme wind and exposure of bike’s engine for longer time may damage your hearing severely and permanently even if the bike you ride has a quiet engine and your helmet is a full faced one. So, wearing hearing protection is a must for bikers. Though these hearing protection aids reduce noise to a great extent, you can still clearly hear the sound of sirens and car horn. But, be careful about following the laws of your state regarding hearing protection for avoiding legal penalties.
For further body protection some riders use body armor along with all these previously mentioned protective gears. Latest riding jackets, pants and suits come with built-in armor but you can also wear armor under your already worn gears. For best impact absorption you can go for memory foam armor which is made of similar materials used in highly protective helmets. There are also foam armor and hard armor to consider. But, hard armor and foam armor are not that much effective in case of a fall.
Besides these there are so many other minor but important protective gears such as goggles for eye protection, face protection shield and others. While thinking about protective gears you may find it horrible to take on such huge burden while riding but still it is worth wearing protective gears considering the pain of broken bones and expenses of treatment. Also choose the type of gears carefully considering your physical condition, riding habit, weather, budget, availability and other related issues to make sure you are not wasting your money on these gears. So, use the appropriate protective gears, get yourself protected and ride safe to protect others from any unwanted situation.
© 2013 Fierce Manson
Marvin Parke from Jamaica on October 09, 2013:
Falling off a bike is a most unpleasant experience. The helmet gear is the most important. Great article.
Fierce Manson (author) from Atlanta on October 06, 2013:
Thanks so much for reading the article. I appreciate your pointing out that you did not know which riding gear I was referring to, this will help me to be more specific, in picking a title for my articles.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 06, 2013:
I had to start reading the article, I did not know what "riding" you were addressing -- Bike, Horse, bycicle, surfing or snowboarding. Got hooked and read the whole thing. Cool.