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October 12th, 2020
You may have seen some motorcyclists riding in shorts and a t-shirt, while others dress like they are ready for the track in head-to-toe leather. So what’s the right balance? What do you really need to wear to ride a motorcycle safely?
At Dudley DeBosier, we embrace the ATGATT philosophy: all the gear, all the time. And that means the following.
All motorcycle riders, including passengers, are legally required to wear helmets on Louisiana roads. And it can’t be any old helmet either; it must be a helmet made specifically for motorcycle use. The law defines motorcycle helmets as having a chin strap, a liner and padding, and a visor. Riders who ride with visors open are still required to wear goggles or safety glasses to protect their eyes.
While helmets can occasionally be uncomfortable or inconvenient, it is important to always wear one every time you ride (and not just because you risk a ticket otherwise!). Helmets can prevent traumatic brain injuries, injuries to the eyes, teeth, and face, and significantly increase your risk of surviving a serious crash.
Helmets can also keep your head dry in rain, reduce road noise, and protect you from everyone’s least favorite aspect of motorcycle riding: bugs in your mouth or eyes. Many modern helmets also come with built-in Bluetooth, allowing you to listen to music, make phone calls, and get GPS directions.
When you fall from a bike, your natural instinct will likely be to extend your arms to try to catch yourself or protect your head, which means your hands can take a lot of damage in a crash. Riders have even been known to lose fingers!
A sturdy pair of motorcycle gloves is essential for any motorcyclist. Gloves should cover all skin on your hands (no fingerless gloves!) and extend past the cuffs of your jacket. Many motorcycle gloves also include reinforcement along the knuckles. The fit should be snug, but flexible enough to allow you full range of motion in your hands.
Other benefits of gloves include increased grip (ideal for hot, muggy days in Louisiana when your palms may be sweating) and protecting your hands from sunburn or becoming wind-chapped.
Motorcycle boots are vital. You may wonder how many injuries your feet could suffer on a motorcycle, and the answer is “a lot.” Your bike could tip and trap your leg, debris from the road could be kicked up by a vehicle ahead of you and strike your leg, you could put your foot down to try to prevent a skid, or you could crash and scuff your ankle along the asphalt.
For these reasons and more, motorcycle boots typically include multiple layers of material, extra padding, or armor, and always extend past the ankles and often up to the shins. They should also have oil-resistant, non-skid soles.
Style and comfort are important considerations as well, because you will typically be wearing these boots all day, even when you take your jacket, helmet, and gloves off, so make sure to try on several brands and varieties of boots until you find one you like.
Your jacket may be the most expensive purchase of all your motorcycle gear, but after your helmet, it’s easily the most important. Not wearing a jacket or wearing an inadequately protective jacket could put you at risk of severe road rash in a crash, which is far more unpleasant than the name sounds. Road rash can remove skin, leaving muscle, bone, and nerves exposed.
While most people associate leather jackets with motorcycle riding, not all leather jackets are created equal, or with motorcycle riding in mind. Don’t consider a fashion leather jacket adequate protection. Look for a jacket intended for motorcycle riding, whether it’s made of leather (which is often more durable) or textile (which is typically more comfortable and weatherproof).
Good motorcycle jackets are form-fitting to prevent wind from catching and billowing the fabric, may feature zippers at the hems to attach to gloves or motorcycle pants to prevent riding up and exposing skin, and often incorporate body armor for extra protection.
Motorcycle pants may be the least used piece of motorcycle gear, but they are still important and should be worn on every ride. Your legs are just as vulnerable to road rash in a crash as your torso, hands, feet, and face.
Many riders make the mistake of thinking jeans are adequate protection in a crash, but this is untrue. Can you remember a time you tore a hole in the knees of your jeans as a child when you tripped and fell on grass? Now imagine how your jeans will hold up against pavement at 60 MPH! Denim is after all simply a sturdier weave of cotton.
However, while leather or textile riding pants are the safest options, there are jeans designed for motorcycle riders that incorporate Kevlar panels that are safer than normal jeans and more fashionable than other types of motorcycle pants.
All the gear, all the time is the best way to protect yourself from excessive injury or death in a crash, but it can’t protect you from being in a crash at all, especially ones caused by other people.
If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver, you deserve compensation for your injuries, and our motorcycle injury lawyers can help. Call Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers today to learn why riders trust our firm to get them compensation.