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Right Gear For The Sport

Many other sports have specific protective gear that everyone accepts as normal. Touch football in the back yard is one thing; high school, college or professional football is another. These players wouldn’t dream of going out onto that field without their protective gear.

As motorcyclists, we should feel the same way about our sport. We should be taking every precaution we can to avoid injury and, if something does happen, to minimize the damage to our bodies. It really bothers me to see someone on a motorcycle wearing shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops.

Although this is about safety, there is one other aspect that does affect us as motorcyclists. When a rider is severely injured or killed in an accident, it reflects on us and the public perception of motorcycling. It also affects our insurance rates. If that death or those injuries could have been avoided by wearing protective gear, it just makes things unnecessarily difficult for the rest of us.

I don’t think I have a right to refuse to use safety precautions and, then, expect you to pay the bills when my injuries make it impossible for me to pay. I personally know of a young motorcyclist injured in his early 20’s who will spend the rest of his natural life in a nursing home – at our expense! His brain was crushed because he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

OK. Get off the soapbox and back to the subject!

Although I’m approaching the use of protective gear from the standpoint of reducing injuries once an accident has happened, it can also help you avoid getting into an accident in the first place.

Getting cold or wet can cause you to change your focus from operating the motorcycle safely to your own discomfort. That can seriously affect your reaction times if someone else does something stupid in front of you. The extra level of comfort good protective gear provides is also important to your safety.

Here, in Arizona, about the only car windshields that don’t have dings on them are brand new. What if that rock or other piece of debris hits you in the bare face or the throat? The shock and the pain can cause you to lose control of the bike. I have had rocks ricochet off my helmet that could easily have killed me on the spot. Imagine something like that hitting an unprotected hand or knee.

I have suddenly run into a swarm of flies, gnats or mosquito’s that I couldn’t see from a distance. Without the face shield on my helmet, I would have had those things in my mouth, nose and eyes. At 60 miles per hour, that’s no fun.

When an accident does happen, you want the most protection you can have – NOW! We know what the helmet does. A good motorcycle jacket with padding in all the right places will protect elbows, shoulders and back. Motorcycle chaps or pants can protect your knees and, with some designs, the hip bones. Gloves can keep the skin from being ripped off your hands. Boots offer protection for your feet and ankles.

Good motorcycle gear has padding in the places where you are most likely to suffer serious injuries if thrown from your motorcycle. It also offers a thick layer of protection for your skin. If you do land on the road surface and slide several feet, the cement or asphalt has to grind through that layer before your skin is even touched. That’s not likely to happen at normal road speeds.