NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — I am a huge fan of motorcycle-specific safety gear, and I see plenty of folks that … well … aren’t. Anything that covers exposed skin is better than nothing, but there are certain characteristics or requirements of gear that motorcyclists should wear when riding.
A motorcycle jacket with CE-approved armor on high impact areas is a very good thing. In the leather versus textile debate, there is nothing more durable dollar-for-dollar, pound-for-pound than leather. That said, leather, even when it’s perforated, is hot in the summer, cold in the winter and has terrible wet weather properties. I personally prefer textiles which are more affordable, have better thermal and weather properties, and the color choice is infinite. Riding pants or chaps are an excellent investment for the same reasons.
All of the above gear, as well as meeting requirements in Air Force Instruction 91-207, US Air Force Traffic Safety Program, should be comfortable. After all, if it’s not comfortable it will stay in the closet. If it stays there, it can’t protect you. Have you ever seen a motorcyclist riding down the road looking like the Michelin Man? Or the sport bike rider with his or her shirt riding up his or her back? The reason for motorcycle-specific gear is it takes care of the wind and aerodynamic issues by having snaps, hook-and-loop material, and a wind-tunnel tested profile.
Wear gloves. Full-fingered — enough said.
Boots with a heel that is too tall won’t fit on the pegs or floorboards properly. Also pull-over boots, while stylish probably aren’t the best choice when riding. Try pulling a boot over a twisted, broken or swollen ankle.
Helmets are probably the most polarizing subject known to man besides sports, politics, and religion. I won’t go into the full face versus half-helmet versus anything else debate since it is rider preference. I will say this — it’s not necessary to buy a $600 helmet to get superior protection. Since the mid-2000s there has been a veritable explosion of outstanding sub-$300 lids that offer both Department of Transportation and SNELL Memorial Foundation standards.
Lastly this list is definitely not all inclusive. Buy the best gear you can and wear it. Even during the summer it’s all the gear all the time. The asphalt, when sliding across it, is hotter than the air temperature. Also keeping covered keeps the body cooler than exposed skin. If you need proof, look at a Thanksgiving turkey all golden brown and delicious; that’s the exact thing that’s happening to your skin.
Also word of mouth can be really good or really bad depending upon the experience level or bias of the person saying them. Do your own research. You may be surprised at what you discover. Develop a relationship with our local vendors. In most cases, they’ll be knowledgeable about proper fit and how to steer you in a specific direction based on your purpose and style. On occasion you may get “hook ups” on price, new models, or stuff on back-order before the masses find out. Bottom line is wear what works for you and be safe.