What to Wear
No Matter the Season, Dress for the Fall
With a car, you step into your safety equipment. With a bike, you put on your safety equipment. The right gear will help minimize impact and abrasion injuries if you do happen to have a crash. So before you ever swing a leg over a bike, make sure you’re dressed properly. You hear us, Easy Rider?
When riding a motorcycle, it’s important your feet and ankles are protected from the heat of the engine as well as in the event of a fall. Riding boots should completely cover the ball of your ankle. Sturdy material (usually leather) is recommended. Boots should have good traction as well as oil and gas-resistant soles.
Do not ride a motorcycle with bare feet, flip-flops, sandals, or running shoes of any type because they are not designed to protect your whole foot in case of an accident.
A properly fitting helmet, manufactured to the standards of the Department of Transportation (DOT), is more important than any other single piece of gear. A helmet provides protection in the event of a crash. The helmet’s outer shell and inner layer work together to shield a rider from abrasion and penetration by foreign objects while reducing the force transmitted to the skull and brain.
Ensure a helmet fits your head perfectly. You will likely need to try on several brands and sizes before finding that perfect fit. Wear the helmet for several minutes to ensure that it is comfortable. A helmet that doesn’t fit your head is otherwise worthless.
Additionally, the rider’s helmet is usually the first piece of gear to be seen — so consider a bright color or design, or apply reflective tape to your helmet yourself.
For in-depth information on helmets, go to helmetcheck.org.
It’s best to start with leather or motorcycle-specific textile. The right material and construction is very important when it comes to resisting abrasion, more commonly known as “road rash.”
The good stuff is more expensive, but the right choice will pay for itself if you’re ever to crash. Quality leather or textile will always provide the best possible protection.
The best, safest jackets have armor—both stiff plates and soft pads of material, designed to absorb the energy of the crash. Jacket armor should protect elbows, shoulders and even the spine.
In addition to abrasion-resistant material, think about being seen out on the road. A brightly colored jacket, with reflective strips, goes a long way towards visibility both day and night.
Motorcycle riding gloves are critical for keeping your hands safe, dry, and comfortable while maneuvering your ride.
Make sure your gloves fit well and you can use all your fingers without binding, and that you can use the handlebar controls effectively.
Look for armor and/or padding in any areas that will absorb impact, like the palms and knuckles.
Don’t overlook the importance of a proper pair of motorcycle pants. As with a jacket, riding in pants of the right material can greatly minimize injuries in the event of a crash. And armor in the knees, hips, and waist all go a long way in protecting you, too.
Comfort and fit are critical. Imagine yourself riding for an extended period of time when trying anything on. Baggy pants can flap in the wind; pants that are too tight can inhibit circulation.