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New gear: yes and no

This article was first published in Bike Rider Magazine.
Thinking about some new riding gear for the coming riding season? As part of Motorcycle Awareness Month we’re put together some tips to help you make the best choice.

Buying new riding gear should be a pleasure, but there are some pitfalls for the unwary. Here’s a brief checklist of what to look for and what to steer clear of when it comes to protective equipment.

Helmets

Helmet showing the warning label with location of cheek-pad removal system

Warning label indicates location of emergency cheek-pad removal system

 Say yes to:

  • Full face. Around 45% of impacts in an accident are to the chin and face area, so why wear anything else?
  • Brand new. Never buy a used helmet.
  • Perfect fit. It should fit snugly and evenly right around your head. No gaps, no pinch points.
  • Removable liner. Regular cleaning will maintain your helmet’s protective performance.
  • Emergency cheek pad release system. Very helpful if you’re unconscious after a crash.
  • Four or five stars on SHARP, the UK Dept. for Transport’s test reports: probably the best real-world testing around. Aussie’s crash.org.au is another good option.

Say no to:

  • Open face, pudding bowl and cut-down helmets. They just don’t offer enough protection.
  • Motocross helmets. The peak will try to pull your head off at open road speeds.
  • Second hand helmets or stock with any damage. Helmets need replacing every three to five years, and you don’t know what has happened to a used one.
  • Heavily-tinted visors. They’re dangerous if you have to ride in the dark.
  • Buying online. Is the seller as scrupulous about handling helmets as your local dealer, and how has the courier treated it?

Jackets and pants

The options are endless, from textile jackets to kevlar jeans or one-piece leathers.

Say yes to:

  • Stitching that’s wrapped under and double-seamed to resist abrasion.
  • CE 1621 armour for the shoulders, elbows, spine, hips and knees, minimum Level 1 and preferably Level 2. Make sure it fits where it’s supposed to and stays in place.
  • Connecting zip between the jacket and pants, preferably right around the waist, or braces with the pants.
  • Vents to keep you cool: chest, back and inside of arms, front of thigh/hip. Mesh gear is also great in hot weather and much better than riding without protection.
  • Breathable waterproof gear with laminated, wrapped zips.
  • Three-star or above rating at motocap.com.au, although one and two stars are still way better than none.
  • CE Level 2 armour inserts to upgrade a garment with good abrasion resistance but lower impact protection..

Say no to:

  • Big vents, or vents in areas exposed to abrasion.
  • Thin, single-layered garments.
  • Single stitching or raised stitching exposed to abrasion.
  • Metal zips that can make contact with your skin.
  • Kevlar jeans for open-road riding.
  • Foam inserts where there should be armour.

 Gloves

Indispensable for every ride, buy the most protective you can.

Image of extremely protective gloves

Serious protection, including wrist armour and finger bridge

Say yes to:

  • A close, comfortable fit that allows you to make a fist without restriction.
  • Impact protection for knuckles and wrist.
  • Palm sliders, AKA scaphoid protectors.
  • Double-stitched multi-layer leather on the ‘heel’ of the palm. (Other parts like the ‘arch’ may be single-layer but still double-stitched).
  • Wrist restraint that prevents you pulling the glove off when it’s done up.
  • Finger bridge connecting little finger to ring finger (resists detachment).
  • Gloves that suit the weather: waterproof, winter, ‘365’ breathable. But check for control feel.
  • CE Level 1 or preferably 2.
  • Higher star ratings on motocap.com.au. Lower star gloves may be okay for round-town riding and massively better than no gloves or non-motorcycle gloves.

Say no to:

  • Single layer palms.
  • Single stitching.
  • Foam-only knuckle protection.
  • Short, wrist-length gloves for anything than low-speed riding around town.

Boots

Lower legs and feet are the part of your body most likely to be injured in a crash. Protect them well and always.

Extremely protective motorcycle boots

A properly protective boot with shin, ankle, heel and toe armour, offering a secure closure mechanism

Say yes to:

  • Full-length, purpose-designed motorcycle boots with CE-certified shin, ankle, heel and toe armour.
  • CE Level 2 armour, preferred over Level 1.
  • Steel shank in the sole to resist foot deformation.
  • Strong fastening systems that are hidden away from abrasion.
  • Short boots for casual trips should also have a steel shank, protective heel and toe cups, and ankle protection.

Say no to:

  • Street footwear of any kind, especially anything that does not cover the ankles.
  • Laces, if possible. They can tangle with bike parts.
  • Anything that can slip on and off your foot. It will be useless in a crash.

You can always get expert guidance on selecting gear at your dealership. The vast majority are fully behind the aims of Ride Forever in keeping customers safe, and are helping spread the word during Motorcycle Awareness Month.