Protective gear and clothing are crucial to motorcycle safety. These products serve three purposes: protection from the elements, injury protection, and means by which the driver can be identified by others on the road. A motorcyclist’s head and limbs are at the most risk when riding. Therefore, the most important clothing and equipment focus on protecting these items.
Helmet: The helmet is the most important piece of protective gear as injury to the head can be fatal. A helmet should be comfortable and snug, It should always fasten to the right. When buying a helmet, look for the DOT label. This label signifies the manufacturer’s certification that the helmet meets federal regulations. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides information on how to pick and care for a motorcycle helmet at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/Motorcycles.
Eyewear: Good vision is imperative when driving and some helmets do not have a face shield. Eyewear emulates the windshield of a car, protecting from airborne materials like bugs, dirt, and rocks. Wind can be extremely harmful to eyes as well, causing tearing and blurred vision. Even with a shield eye protection is recommended. Goggles or glasses should have scratch free, shatter proof, plastic or safety lenses. They should also be well ventilated to compensate for fog. Eyewear used at night should not be tinted.
Gloves: Gloves must be durable and nonslip to ensure a firm grip on the controls. Leather gloves are highly recommended as well as specialty gloves with leather on the fingers and palms. Gauntlet type gloves come up higher on the forearm which helps keep air out of the rider’s sleeves.
Footwear: Footwear includes protection of not only the feet but ankles and legs. Leather boots are again recommended. Athletic shoes are suggested as a good alternative. With shoes that lace, care should be taken to avoid the laces getting in the way. Shoes such as sandals and sneakers that provide little protection should not be worn.
Jackets and Pants: Jackets and pants should be made of durable material such as leather or specialty synthetic material. Jackets should be long sleeved and bottoms should be full length pants, not shorts to avoid abrasion in the event of a fall. Pants should not be baggy or loose at the bottom to prevent entanglement in protrusions such as the kick-starter, foot pegs, or chain.
Reflective Material: Reflective material is a extremely important component of protective gear, especially on the upper body. Some motorcyclists wear light weight orange or yellow vests over their jackets. Retro-reflective material should be used on clothing, the helmet, and the actual motorcycle. Reflective material is imperative, especially at night, to be visible to other drivers.