By: KGD Law
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A Starter Guide to Motorcycle Gear: Part 1
When you are driving a car, the vehicle itself already comes ready with most of the safety features you will need. However, on a motorcycle, you are more exposed and vulnerable without being walled in by metal and airbags. Because of this, it is paramount (and often the law) to wear proper safety attire while riding a motorcycle.
But with so many different options on the market, how do you know where to start? Is a pair of hardy jeans and sturdy boots just as good as custom-made leather products specifically for motorcycle riding? Read on for a basic primer on what kind of gear options you have for riding – part 1 will discuss the fundamentals of motorcycle outerwear.
If you choose to wear nothing else for gear, a helmet would still be a wise choice to help keep you safe in the event of a crash. If you do choose to wear a helmet, there are a few different options you have to consider. Each offers different levels of coverage and protection.
- Full Helmet: As the name implies, a full helmet will offer you the most coverage and protection around your head and face. This type of helmet will also provide additional protection at the base of your skull, which can be a vulnerable area. It will also come with some form of eye protection. Typically, it will be a visor that you can rotate out of the way when needed. Different models will come with different finishes on the visor, such as light or dark tint, color variations, or clear. Riders who are worried about discomfort or impairment while wearing a full helmet can rest assured that these helmets provide good ventilation, while also allowing you to adequately hear the sounds of traffic around you.
- ¾ Helmet: Similar to the full helmet, this type fully covers the top, sides, and back of your head. However, there will typically be less facial coverage with the omission of the chin protector. Visors can also be shaded or tinted and are usually able to be flipped up or down as needed. These helmets should also breathe well and allow traffic sounds to pass through to you.
- Half Helmet: This style offers the least protection of the three types. The half helmet covers the top of your head and provides partial coverage to the sides and back. This helmet also does not cover your face. Some models will come with some form of a visor, but many riders will choose to wear googles or glasses with this type of helmet to afford them more eye protection and improve vision quality.
Even here in sunny Florida, a good jacket is an essential piece of your motorcycle wardrobe. There are numerous different materials to choose from, with a wide range and mix of protection, function, and style. For example, the classic leather jacket is a great option for protection from the elements and road rash (and gives you that classic cool look too), but for a long-haul ride where you log many hours on your bike, a more breathable synthetic jacket may be a more comfortable option.
Like anything you wear while riding, your jacket should fit comfortably. While you will want to size it a bit on the roomy side to make room for layers, you do not want to buy one in a size that is too bulky and unwieldy that it interferes with your movement. For similar reasons, it should not be too tight. You want freedom of movement so that you can react quickly to your environment. Fit should always come first, but you may choose a jacket with added functional features, such as internal and external pockets, reflective inserts, or mesh ventilation.
Many riders neglect to even think about what pants they should wear while riding, but for superior protection and comfort, a regular pair of jeans just won’t cut it. Pants that are specifically designed with motorcycle riders in mind will offer added protection against abrasions if you do wipe out, and they may also provide ventilation for hot and sunny days and reinforcements around areas that have a lot of contact with the bike. Pants made for motorcycles may also incorporate visibility features, such as bright colors or reflective coverings.
Like motorcycle jackets, there are a range of materials and styles for motorcycle pants. Leather and denim are probably the two materials that quickly come to mind for most people, but textile and Kevlar are also great options. Depending on a rider’s needs, some pants can be used alone or in combination with another type of pants to improve effectiveness. Leather is often the material of choice for high speeds and racing, with a few exceptions for some cruisers, but textiles are available in many different types for the average rider.
- Riding Jeans: For riders who want to blend in a little more with their look or want something they can easily wear both on and off the bike without having to change or walk around in something too bulky, there are now jeans that are specially-made for riding a motorcycle. These are designed to look just like normal jeans, but you would certainly be able to tell the difference if you come off your bike and hit the pavement. Since riding jeans are more optimized for comfort and style than function, they are best for low-speed or shorter rides, as they can get hot and don’t always have many features. However, some pairs will include knee or hip armor or will be reinforced with Kevlar or another abrasion-resistant material.
- Mesh: This is an especially great option for hot Florida weather. Mesh pants include large mesh panels that improve airflow and breathability, but they are built with stronger materials in the critical zones that are most likely to take impact. Although mesh pants are less incognito, they can be more comfortable for long, sweaty rides and have more options for weatherproofing. Of course, the ventilation makes these a poor choice for cold weather. The mesh areas are also less durable than other materials.
- Full Textile: These are typically the most versatile option in terms of features. Full textile pants can offer you full protection in any weather or season and can come with things like thermal liners or wicking materials to keep you dry. These types of pants are usually better equipped to handle higher-speed crashes. Wearing these, it will be obvious that you just got off your bike, but you get the advantage of extra comfort and handy features, like storage, reflectors, adjustability, and padding.
This covers the basics of clothing and outerwear for riders. Part 2 of this series will cover some of the more specialized gear and accessories riders may want to incorporate into their routine.
Motorcycle gear may seem like an expensive investment after you’ve already shelled out for your bike and insurance, but this is an essential part of your riding that will pay for itself in the long run, especially if you are unlucky enough to get into an accident. If you have been the victim of a motorcycle accident, an experienced attorney can help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz for a no-obligation consultation. You will be put in touch directly with an actual lawyer.