Motorcycle Gear

Here’s the info you need to make smart decisions, to be more comfortable, safer and, hopefully, save some money in the process. On a motorcycle, you’re going to be traveling much faster. Even around town you’ll be hitting 50 mph or more and, on the highway, you may find yourself exceeding 85 mph. Your skin, bones and organs were not designed to withstand impacts at those speeds.

Then there’s the question of abrasion. As a general rule of thumb, figuring the average road surface, you can expect to lose one millimeter of flesh for every mile per hour you’re going over 30 when you crash. No, we don’t know why the thumb mixed empirical and metric units. So, at the top speed of that horse, you’ll have lost 1.4cm (or more than half an inch) of skin and muscle.  Gear can even help when it’s hot, by better allowing your body’s natural evaporative cooling effect to take place. Under constant wind blast, the sweat is blown off your skin too quickly for it to have a cooling effect. Put on a (summer) jacket, helmet, boots, gloves and pants, however, and your body is free to cool itself as designed. Luckily, mankind has achieved through science what evolution has failed to provide: clothing that protects you from accidents and the elements, and makes riding an easier, more comfortable experience. Helmets typically have a five-year life. After that, the glue and whatnot used to bond layers of the EPS impact absorption material (precisely tailored densities of Styrofoam) may begin to degrade, impacting safety.

Like the crumple zone in a car, helmets are also designed to destroy themselves in a crash, thereby dissipating the energy that would otherwise be transferred to your head. Sometimes a helmet can experience a crash without external signs of damage but still sustain unseen effects. To ensure that your helmet is fully capable of protecting you, always buy a new helmet from a reputable retailer and treat it like a baby. Dirt helmets look like this. You wear them with goggles. Yes, they do protect your face, but that pronounced chin may exaggerate torsional forces in a crash. They’ll also be noisy and unstable at highway speeds. The shape and size of every person’s head is unique. You need to find a helmet that fits you perfectly; sizes and shapes vary heavily between manufacturers and models. To determine your shape and size, visit a large brick-and-mortar retailer and try on every helmet you can. You’ll know one fits when it evenly holds your head all the way around, with no pressure points. Put it on, grasp the chin and try to rotate the helmet while resisting the movement with your head. The helmet shouldn’t be able to rotate independently of your scalp. It should fit snugly, but not be too tight.

A jacket covers the other stuff on your body that’s fragile and important: arms, back, ribs, organs – all that fun stuff. You absolutely must choose a motorcycle-specific jacket for purposes of both safety and comfort. Fashion leather jackets and similar are not made to withstand either the windblast or crashes that real motorcycle jackets are built to deal with. Motorcycle jackets fall into two categories: leather and textile. High-quality textile materials like 1000 denier Cordura are able to resist abrasion as strongly as leather, while typically coming equipped with Gore-Tex or other water-resistant membranes capable of keeping you dry in bad weather. Leather helps you look the way you’d expect a classic “biker” to look, though, and jackets made from it typically last (a lot) longer and fit more closely to the body. Textile jackets are often more affordable.