Sweat or bleed

It’s pretty obvious from the last few weeks’ posts that I’m a huge proponent of wearing proper safety gear on a motorcycle. The single largest reason is because I’ve had an unplanned high-speed get off. I’ve tested my safety gear. I’ve also got scars from where I wasn’t wearing gear and thought what I had on was “good enough”.

This link has two mildly graphic, but not nausea-inducing photos to remind you why you should gear up. This happened at a fairly low speed of 35 miles per hour. Many, many times it’s not the biker but the driver of the car who “never even saw them”.

Don’t be an idiot. Wear proper gear. Please.

I hear complaints about gearing up. It’s hot. It’s stuffy. Boo freakin’ hoo, and twice now I’ve stressed proper riding gear. This is not jeans, half helmets, and a leather jacket. Mesh and textile jackets designed for riding are a one-time use item, but they do work. Make sure your jacket has CE-rated armor. This is something I would dearly love to see Harley-Davidson adopt in their jackets, because they already use high quality leather that could conceivably continue to be useful even after being down. Here’s another link showing the aftermath of using “good enough” gear, without armor where you need it.

al2001I’ve never cared for the look of the typical leather “biker jacket”. It’s ridiculous, ostentatious, festooned with non-functional flaps, zippers, and the most typical fashion accessory for it is useless chrome chain. It’s better suited for use by Rob Halford, the gimp from Pulp Fiction, or someone into bondage and sadomasochism than actual crash protection. I don’t care if Marlon Brando wore one in The Wild One, it’s stupid. If this is what riders think of when told to gear up, it’s no wonder they resist and all the complaints from the paragraph before begin to make an awful lot of sense.

The clean lines of a café racer jacket have always been more tasteful, and quite frankly smarter. Integration of armor, a closer fit, and fewer extraneous bits to snag or tear seams simply make for both a better looking and a better performing jacket. My first choice was going to be a retro jacket from AGV– the abrasion resistance of leather combined with a fair number of vents for air flow and cooling. However, finding good gear to try on in a small town like Fargo is difficult. Motorcycle gear is expensive and there simply aren’t enough people here for a shop to afford stocking a wide selection in inventory. Or rather, fewer than 5% of motorcycle riders here wear any gear at all…. But I digress. The point is that I found this at the local Triumph dealer.

MTHS13009-triumph-air-retro-jacketThe Triumph Air Retro jacket is wonderful. Café styling, mesh construction for airflow in the summer, a windproof zip-in liner, reflective piping, the Triumph brand name embossed on the back is in matching black so it’s not too out of place on another brand bike… I love this thing, I get to stay cool even when stopped at a light, and the fact that it was much more affordable than leather didn’t hurt. Like most jackets, it didn’t come with back protection but does have a Knox shaped pocket for you to add it later. I added a Forcefield Sport Lite insert, shape B, size 002 and it’s a perfect fit that still allows ventilation.

A jacket like this, good-looking jeans with kevlar (aramid) reinforcement… There’s just no reason not to wear decent gear. You don’t have to dress like a pirate or a power ranger.

schuberth_c3-pro_gloss-white_openThe last thing I’ll add to this post (which is already far longer than I intended) is that I recently got my Schuberth C3 Pro helmet. There are already better reviews available than I can write, but I can confirm that every good word spoken or written about this helmet is true. It is remarkably quiet (peaceful) and a space I truly enjoy being in during my rides. The integrated sun visor is as dark and effective as my Oakleys and it flows a surprisingly large volume of air considering the conservative styling and lack of vents everywhere. I prefer the even more tasteful look of the regular C3, but the internal head shape is too round and painful on my forehead. The C3 Pro is more oval in nature and comfortable. I just wish wish I’d known about BMW owners’ hilarious proclivity for white modular helmets earlier…

I’d initially planned to simply provide the first link to encourage wearing gear and nothing more. I also meant for my jacket and helmet reviews to each be their own entry. But I honestly think this works better because one thing every last topic or link in this post has in common is comfort. My helmet and jacket both offer wonderful airflow and allow comfort during summer riding, but also protection for better comfort than scabs, scars, stitches, or a trip to the emergency room typically provide. Comfort is a poor excuse for not protecting yourself, especially in the face of choices that are both effective and fashionable. Don’t like my choices? Shop around! There’s a wide variety if you’ll take the time to shop around.

You can be both comfortable on a bike and equipped to escape a crash unscathed. We all intend to keep the rubber side down, but when the worst occurs I hope you’ll be smart, too.

2 thoughts on “Sweat or bleed

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