Motorcyclists are killed in road accidents at a far higher rate than passengers in cars. A big part of that can be attributed to the fact that bikes don’t offer anywhere near as much protection as most of the vehicles they share the road with. The statistics are chilling but as bikers, we have ways of keeping ourselves safer. By wearing the right gear, you can avoid or reduce the following common injuries, many of which do not require high speed or direct impact to occur:
- Avulsion injuries (muscle or fat are exposed and skin grafts may be needed)
- Joint damage
- Bone fractures
- Eye injuries (from insects and other small debris)
If you love riding and you’re determined to reduce the risks so you can keep riding for years to come, your protective gear needs to cover you from head to toe. Let’s start from the top:
A well-fitting, regulation-approved helmet is essential for your safety and a legal requirement. Ideally, it should include a shatterproof visor for eye protection but if you choose a ¼ helmet, be sure to use goggles for additional eye protection.
Helmets protect your head but your hearing can still get damaged by the constant noise you encounter on your ride. A simple pair of earplugs can dim this to a more healthy level while still letting you hear traffic and other useful sounds.
A high-quality motorcycle jacket can make you safer due to built-in armour or the option to insert additional armour. Bright colours and reflective strips can also increase your visibility so that motorists can more easily drive around you as you ride. These are available in leather and synthetic varieties.
A pair of motorcycle gloves can offer much-needed padding if you instinctively use your hands to break your fall or protect yourself from impact. They often include extra protection at the joints and palms and can come with a multitude of extra features (including touchscreen compatibility) as required by your lifestyle.
Jeans are fashionable but they offer practically no protection from road rash and other common injuries. Motorcycle riding pants are made with the same protective features as jackets with strategically placed armour for the likeliest points of impact. Your choice of pants will be influenced by the kind of riding you do.
Rather than separate jackets and pants, some riders prefer suits for the convenience and additional waterproofing they offer. The level of protection is comparable but the fashion choice may not suit every riders’ tastes.
Motorcycle boots have extra ankle protection to reduce injury especially if your foot ends up caught under your bike. The soles are oil-resistant for a better grip as you walk and the laces are often on the inside so they can’t get caught on the footpegs or anywhere else that could be hazardous. Some also include metal toe protectors and replaceable reinforcements.
It’s impossible to completely eliminate the risks of being on the road as a biker, especially out in the open where we meet up with motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and heaps of other variables beyond our control. What we wear is actually one of the few things we CAN control completely which is why it’s so important to wear All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT). Yes, even on that short trip that “shouldn’t even count”. You never know when you’ll need it most.