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Motorcycles offer a handful of benefits – a more exciting way to travel, better gas mileage, and mental health benefits are just a few! However, these machines are also known to be one of the most dangerous methods of moving.
In 2019 alone, there were over 84,000 motorcycle injuries and more than 5,000 deaths. Riders must take every precaution to ensure that they put safety first. This means driving responsibly, following the rules of the road and, of course, wearing proper safety gear.
Whether you’ve just bought your first motorcycle or you’re a lifelong rider looking to adopt better road safety habits, here are eight pieces of motorcycle safety gear you should never do without.
As head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents, the helmet is the most important piece of motorcycle safety equipment that you should wear. According to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NTHSA), wear a helmet reduces your risk of dying in an accident by 37%.
When shopping for a motorcycle helmet, there are three basic types to consider. A full face helmet is considered the best option because it provides full coverage of your head and face, including your eyes.
A helmet ¾ covers the top, back and sides of your head, but may leave part of your face exposed. Finally, a ½ helmet provides the least coverage, protecting only the top and partial sides of your head. If you opt for a ¾ or ½ helmet, you may need to supplement it with separate eye protection gear.
Remember, 47 states have helmet laws of some sort, so a helmet is the first motorcycle gear you should invest in!
If you don’t have a full face helmet, you will need to purchase goggles that will protect your eyes from dust and debris. Unfortunately, your average pair of sunglasses won’t do the job, as they’re not designed for impact protection.
There are motorcycle goggles, in styles similar to sunglasses, that are impact resistant but don’t interfere with your peripheral vision. These units are both light and stylish.
If you are looking for the highest level of protection, however, invest in a pair of motorcycle goggles. These glasses offer lots of padding, a thick lens, and a strap that will secure them to your head.
3. Hearing protection
Especially on a long hike, ear protection is essential. Sounds from traffic, wind, sirens and horns can start to affect your hearing after just a few hours of driving.
Despite the protection it provides, even a full face helmet does not protect your ears from the atmosphere of wind and traffic. For this reason, all cyclists should wear earplugs when riding.
You should be able to find a simple pair of earplugs at your local department store or motorcycle store. The earplugs will help cancel the noise of the wind sweeping through your helmet and reduce horn and siren levels without compromising your safety.
Starting from the head, the next piece of safety gear you’ll need is a jacket. Whether it’s 40 degrees and it’s raining or 100 degrees with no clouds in the sky, a jacket is essential every time you ride.
In the event that you are involved in a collision and are thrown from your motorcycle, a padded jacket can help lessen your impact with the pavement, potentially preventing serious damage to your skin, limbs, and organs.
Today, jackets are available in a variety of styles and colors, but are usually made of leather or synthetic materials. As a general rule, the more padded your jacket, the better!
When we trip, our natural reaction is to use our hands to cushion our fall. In this regard, motorcycle crashes are no different: riders usually reach out to protect the rest of their body.
The difference is that motorcycle crashes usually involve more violent clashes with the pavement and can leave the rider’s hands with nasty abrasions, lacerations and fractures.
A pair of high quality leather gloves will provide sufficient protection for the rider’s fingers, knuckles and palms. Not to mention, they look stylish and will provide insulation during the winter months!
When it comes to pants, many cyclists opt for jeans because it offers more protection than shorts. While this is true, jeans still lack adequate protection.
On the contrary, jeans or shorts should be complemented by motorcycle pants. These are made of leather, denim, textile and other sturdy materials and can be worn over an existing diaper. They offer sufficient ventilation, extra padding, and abrasion resistance that you are unlikely to get with your average pants.
As an alternative to motorcycle pants, many bikers opt for motorcycle suits. These units protect not only your lower body but also your torso!
Motorcycle specific boots offer a lot more protection than your average pair of sneakers.
First, they usually extend to the middle of the shin. As a result, they provide shoring for your ankles so that they are less likely to break, twist, or contort during an accident.
Secondly, this type of shoe has zippers, buckles or laces inside the boot, which helps prevent incidents where the laces get tangled or get caught on the motorcycle.
Finally, the motorcycle boots are made with high quality leather and other abrasion resistant materials that provide maximum protection for your feet. Whether your foot gets stuck under your motorcycle or hits the curb, you’re more likely to get out of it without serious injury.
Elbow, knee and shin guards are perhaps the most overlooked pieces of motorcycle safety gear; yet, they play a crucial role in protecting your major joints and bones in a crash.
One of the biggest misconceptions about this equipment is that it is uncomfortable and restrictive. However, many elbow, knee and shin guards today are made from relatively thin and lightweight materials.
In addition, modern protectors can be adjusted to better conform to the contours of your body, thus limiting any restriction on your movements.