Motorcycle diaries part V: A biker is born. With safety on the brain.
After completing this course, I’m an absolute safety nut and will have that attitude at all times when riding a cycle. With that in mind, I want to offer a few learnings about protective gear.
Protective gear helps a rider stay comfortable, improves visibility if it’s brightly colored and reflective and protects against the elements in all kinds of conditions. Every rider and passenger should wear:
- Sturdy, over-the-ankle footwear with nonslip soles
- Long pants
- Good jacket
- Full-fingered gloves
- A helmet manufactured to meet Department of Transportation (DOT) standards with proper eye protection; helmets with full-face protection do the best job of sealing out wind, dust and bugs.
Protective gear should fit comfortably without binding. A jacket with a zippered front will be more wind resistant than a jacket with buttons or snaps. A flap of material over the zipper of a jacket gives additional protection against the wind along with protecting your motorcycle’s paint from scratches. Jackets with snug cuffs and waist are recommended to keep wind from blowing in. Caution: a large, loose, jacket can flap when riding and may irritate skin or be a distraction.
In cold-weather riding, protective gear protects riders against hypothermia. Hypothermia, a condition of subnormal body temperature, can cause loss of concentration, slowed reactions and loss of smooth, precise muscle movement. As an example, on a chilly day (50 degrees Fahrenheit) a motorcyclist riding at a speed of 30 mph experiences a chilling effect equivalent to 42 degrees.
In hot-weather riding, protective gear protects riders against heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion, characterized by dizziness and headache, can hamper clear thinking and concentration. Dressing for hot-weather riding requires protective gear that breathes, and riders should drink plenty of water.
Source: Motorcycle Safety Foundation
Now, bring on the Freedom of Independence Ride!