A Starter Guide to Motorcycle Gear: Part 2
In Part 1 of the starter guide for safety gear, we discussed the basics of the most common types of styles and materials for helmets, jackets, and pants made for motorcycle riders. These items will cover the majority of your body and offer you protection from abrasion and the elements. However, special considerations need to be made for the smaller, more vulnerable (but also more frequently used) parts of your body, such as your extremities.
Of course, your head is the most important thing to protect in an accident, but for the everyday motions of riding your bike, your hands, feet, and eyes are what you will actually be using to steer and control the bike effectively, so they need to be as comfortable and protected as possible. There are many specialized items for the riders can add to their attire to afford themselves further protection and more features for riding. Read on to learn the nitty gritty about motorcycle accessories in Part 2 of this gear guide.
Like everything else in your motorcycle gear kit so far, riding boots come in a range of different styles with varying balances of form vs. function. Ideally, a boot will be comfortable to walk around in, as well, but the safety features of a boot are most important. A very common injury for motorcyclists is when a foot gets trapped under the bike during a fall, so the ankle and lower leg take the brunt of the force of the bike and the impact. This is why it is important to have boots that fit above the ankle and offer sturdy ankle support and torsional stiffness to reduce flexing. Many boots also come with oil-resistant soles to avoid slippage on slick ground or pegs.
For shoes that have laces, boots that are intended specifically for riding will have their laces on the inside of the boot. This is to prevent tangling and snagging, as exterior laces can get caught on your shifter or pegs, which could prevent you from putting your foot down to stop. Laces can help ensure a more nuanced fit, but for those who don’t like to bother with laces, there are also boots that come with Velcro or buckle fasteners. Motorcycle boots should also have a shifter pad that will wear against the shift lever and reinforced stitching that can survive a slide on the ground.
While leather boots are still a very popular choice for their resistance to abrasion and durability, textile boots have also come on the market as a more breathable and waterproof option. Some models will add replaceable plastic or leather additions in high-wear areas, such as the toes, heels, and shifter pad. This can extend the life of your boots because you can simply swap these inserts out as they wear instead of buying a new pair of shoes. Steel-toed boots are also a good option, particularly for stop-and-go traffic. If you do still choose leather, make sure they are treated for waterproofing and won’t get soaked during a long ride in the rain.
Finally, keep fit in mind when choosing a boot. Even though you may not be planning to walk around in them all day, they still need to be comfortable and fit well for all-day riding. Like with any shoe, you also want to consider the type of socks you plan to wear with them. If you like to wear thick, heavier socks, make sure there is room in the boot so that they won’t be too tight. But also keep in mind that this kind of sock can limit ventilation and make your feet sweat, which could cause blisters over time.
In sunny, warm weather, the need to put on a pair of gloves may be the last thing on your mind. However, a solid pair of gloves will vastly improve your riding experience. After all, all that mileage and pressure on your hands can really add up! Many newer riders also don’t realize that in the event of a fall, a rider is extremely likely to out their hands out in front of them to catch themselves. Imagining taking an impact like this with a bare hand is usually enough to make anyone run out and acquire a sturdy pair of gloves.
Like boots, gloves can come in leather or textile blends. Leather gloves can come with additional padding for the fingers, knuckles, palm, or back of hand, while textile blends can offer waterproofing and ventilation. No matter which style you choose, be sure that your gloves fit snugly but still allow a full range of movement. You need to be able to properly operate your bike’s levers and buttons without fumbling, in order to ride safely.
The type of glove that will feel most comfortable to you will depend on your own hands and your type of riding. Keep in mind that sizing between brands can vary, and make sure the wrists cinch comfortably and effectively. Racing gloves require a high level of abrasion protection in a lightweight package, so these models will be made with good ventilation and wrist protection with carbon or Kevlar knuckles. A touring glove, on the other hand, is a more versatile glove, with solid protection and venting and heating for changing temperatures.
For a more modern, urban setting, there are lightweight glove offerings that do not extend past the wrist, which makes them easier to wear with layers and a jacket. And with many riders using their mobile phones for navigation and communication while riding, some riders may be tempted to go with a fingerless glove option, for ease of using a touchscreen. However, there are now plenty of options for gloves with touchscreen-compatible fingertips, so there is no need to go without finger protection and risk abrasion or a stray piece gravel being kicked up from the road onto your hand.
Even if your helmet already has a visor or some form of face protection built in, you can always use more protection for your eyes. Unfortunately, standard sunglasses aren’t rating for impact and do not fit flush against your face, so they could actually end up injuring you and making things worse if they were to get hit. Luckily, there are special goggles designed specifically for motorcycle use. Goggles for riders are rated for impact protection, so they won’t shatter immediately if a rock gets kicked up or you fall. They also have special padding around the eye sockets so that nothing can get under the lens either. Choose polarized lenses for better vision and protection from glare on those blindingly bright days. Look for a band that fits securely around your head, and be sure they fit well and do not impair your peripheral vision.
Motorcycle gear is sometimes treated like an afterthought, especially when it comes to the smaller details. But a small investment can save you a lot in comfort and safety down the road and will greatly improve your riding experience overall. If you were involved a motorcycle accident and think you could be entitled to compensation for your troubles and damages, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz to set up a meeting directly with an experienced attorney. All initial consultations are always no-obligation.