“One of the advantages to actually riding a motorcycle is that you don’t have to look like a total poseur wearing your leather motorcycle jacket…” – Unknown
May kicks off motorcycle safety month, so it’s a good opportunity to take a good hard look at your gear.
There are really only two words anyone needs to remember when it comes to helmets: full face. The good news is, if you’re willing to pay for it, full face helmets are comfortable, stylish and safe… The even better news is, even if you’re not willing to pay for the premium helmets (Shoei, Arai, etc) the lower end DOT approved helmets can offer just as much or even better protection (article from Motorcyclist). Many fans of shorty helmets will argue that full face helmets can be “less safe” than wearing short or no-helmets because: “they obscure your vision” and a full-face helmet “can cause your head to bounce on the pavement and break your back…and I’d rather take my chances with a bruised head than a broken neck…” But I’ll leave it up to you, the reader, to figure this out for yourselves.
Belstaff Hero Jacket
Motorcycle fashion is big business… If you don’t believe me just check out the price tag that goes with that beat up tan Belstaff motorcycle jacket Brad Pitt wears, or the near $1000 price tag on the replicas of the jacket Tom Cruise wore in War of the Worlds. The good news is, as more designers take interest, there will be greater variety of motorcycle clothing. Already the top makers of racing leathers (Dainese, Spidi, etc) make numerous versions of basic black leather jackets to suit every occasion (that is, every occasion you can wear a black leather jacket to). The racer-look jackets ain’t too shabby either.
The Video: Here’s an informative review on a Teknic jacket that can help you see some of the features you can look for…
What to look for: find the fit and style that you can live with, but then look for CE-rated armor in the elbows and shoulder or chip in the extra $25 and get them as replacements for the soft and bulky foam kind that come with lower-end jackets. Now’s a good time to shop as retailers clear out ’06 lines and bring in the ’07′s…you can find closeout prices for ’06′s or get first pick of the ’07′s…
[If you're just looking for a good "non-technical" motorcycle jacket (without the armor), and you live in NY - don't forget the original... Schott NYC - you can find some of their stuff at Canal Jeans]
How important are boots for motorcycle safety? While losing one’s feet in an accident probably won’t be fatal, it will probably be pretty annoying to say the least. So while it’s not on the same level as wearing a helmet, if you want to walk away from a crash it is highly recommended. Motorcycle boots usually have armor for shins and ankles… And while I don’t have first-hand experience as to why these are good things, I’ve heard numerous stories involving leg bones protruding from calves, etc… Motorcycle boots also have the right kind of rubber soles that are less slippery on greasy pavement.
So once you know you want boots, you just need to balance walking-comfort for the amount of protection you want. Race-boots provide the highest level of protection but feel like ski boots when you’re walking around. On the other extreme, Alpine Stars makes a street boot that looks and feels like a high top sneaker with just a little extra padding.
The two criteria for street gloves are: will it offer abrasion protection? And will it stay on? Any of the made for motorcycling gloves sold by major brands will offer a good amount of protection for everyday street riding. The wild card is whether many of the popular gloves will stay on in the event of a crash. Check the glove’s fit around the wrist in conjunction with your jacket. It should be comfortable yet impossible to remove without unzipping or unhooking.