Looking after your gear

Money spent on good gear is never wasted. Unless you fail to look after it that is. Here’s the rundown on how to look after your gear so it continues to look after you.

Helmet and visor

New helmets should last three to five years, depending on use. After that, the interior cushioning and structure will start to break down under attack from the sweat and oils from your scalp. Meanwhile, sunlight and heat cycles will begin to affect the performance of the outer shell.

Keeping your lid in top condition:

  • Do not sit on your helmet, put it under pressure or distort the shell
  • If you drop it, or it makes ground contact in a crash, bin it
  • Don’t shove your gloves inside: the sweat, road dirt and leather compounds attack the inner shell
  • Never paint your crash helmet: this is essential if the shell is polycarbonate. If you want a custom job, give it to a professional who’ll use the right paint formula
  • Clean the outer shell with a soft,clean sponge and car shampoo. Never apply anything abrasive and avoid dishwashing liquid (it’s saline and rots metal, like the fastening) and anything corrosive like bleach or cleaning compounds
  • Clean the visor frequently with a soft, wet sponge or cotton cloth. You can use dishwashing liquid but try not to spill it over the rest of the lid. Best take it off anyway, to clean both sides
  • Dry your washed visor with a clean cotton tea-towel. Avoid scratching
  • Once a month, take out all removable parts of the cushioned liner and hand wash in cold water. Rinse throughly and allow to dry naturally out of direct sunlight
  • Replace any parts of the cushioned liner that have compressed or have worn through the plush nylon covering
  • Check the neck strap for fraying once a week. At the first sign, get a new helmet
  • D-rings are usually pretty tough but check with your fingers for any roughness or developing cracks
  • Check ‘seatbelt’ type fasteners carefully for secure engagement and spring function
  • Check the visor mounting plate screws for fastness every week
  • To remove baked-on flies on your lid or visor, apply a soaking wet cotton cloth for an hour or two. They’ll wipe right off.

Transporting helmets

Never ride with your arm shoved through the aperture or fastened strap. It affects your control, and can cause severe injury in an accident (as can carrying one in a normal rucksack).

Nor should you ride with it strapped to the helmet hook: you’ll likely damage the helmet and your bike. Use only when parked.

The only ways to carry a helmet are in a purpose-designed backpack (with back protector), a big tankbag or tailpack, or, preferably, inside a locked topbox or pannier. Prevent damage by wrapping your lid with soft cloth or bubble wrap.

Storage

Store helmets collar side down on a shelf or use a helmet bag. Don’t use a mannequin head - it will compress the interior padding - and never hang them by the chin strap. 

Jackets, pants or one-piece

Every garment needs an occasional check over for loose threads or fasteners, And different ways to clean and maintain different fabrics. 

Leather

  • Dust off any loose material with a soft brush
  • Clean using a soft sponge and specialist leather cleaner. At a push, use a dilute solution of car shampoo or sugar soap. Wipe off all residue with a damp sponge or soft cloth
  • Allow damp leather to dry naturally out of direct sunlight
  • Feed clean leather once a month with dubbing or leather conditioner
  • Check care instructions for removable mesh and thermal linings
  • Check armour inserts after any crash.

Textiles/cordura and waterproofs

  • Dust off any loose material with a soft brush
  • Clean with a proprietary cleaner, car shampoo or sugar soap. For ingrained dirt, use a nailbrush. Wipe off all residue with a damp sponge or soft cloth
  • Dry on clothes line. Do not put in dryer
  • Apply appropriate waterproofing monthly
  • Check care instructions for removable mesh and thermal linings
  • Check armour inserts after any crash.

Kevlar jeans

  • Dust off loose material with a soft brush
  • Check care instructions for washing. If in doubt, cool hand wash and line dry inside out
  • If torn after a crash, throw away and buy a new pair.

Transporting clothing

It’s always best to put your gear inside a proper motorcycle gear bag or similar. But if you do have to carry clothing around a normal rucksack is fine for soft clothing but be wary of armour: it can cause serious injury if you land on your back.

It may be more comfortable to strap clothing to the pillion seat, but keep the load small and wrap the clothing securely. If a sleeve or leg comes loose it could catch in the chain and lock the rear wheel.

Use cling wrap or a strong plastic bag big enough to fold under itself. Bungy the package down tightly so it cannot slip or slide in any direction.

 The main issue with gloves is to avoid shoving them in your helmet. Also, if you’re putting leather gloves away for any length of time give them a good feed of dubbing or conditioner.

Storage

Store all your gear in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place; not a damp shed or garage.

Clothing can be stored flat but a hanger with large, round shoulder support is best for jackets and one piece suits. For bottoms, use a waistband clip hanger. Kevlar-lined denim jeans are fine on a normal hanger.

Gloves and boots

Gloves and boots get some of the hardest wear so check them over regularly.

Gloves

  • Check all seams, fastenings and armour. If anything’s loose or missing, it’s time for a new pair
  • Dust off any dirt
  • Leather gloves are hard to keep clean, but it’s worth doing. Wipe with a specialist leather cleaner, or dilute car shampoo or sugar soap, using a damp sponge
  • Dry wet leather gloves by stuffing with newspaper and keep out of sunlight. Do not apply any heat
  • Feed cleaned leather gloves monthly with dubbing or leather conditioner. Just be careful not to wipe your visor with your gloves as it can cause smearing
  • Clean winter or waterproof textile gloves using proprietary cleaners, or dilute car shampoo or sugar soap
  • Dry naturally and reapply waterproofing compound.

Boots

Dust off and clean just like you would gloves, and apply a little leather or fabric care.

The two most important areas to check are the soles for wear and the screw fixings of any external armour, to ensure they’re not loose.

Transporting gloves and boots

Proper motorcycle luggage is always best. Otherwise, gloves may just fit under the seat. But make sure they won’t interfere with electrical connections or the seat locking mechanism.

At a push, you can bungy boots to the pillion seat. Make sure they’re done up and cannot move or slip.

Storage

Store boots just like you would normal shoes (not in a damp shed or garage). The main issue with gloves is to avoid shoving them in your helmet. Also, if you’re putting leather gloves away for any length of time give them a good feed of dubbing or conditioner.


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