Friday, September 14, 2007

Appropriate Motorcycle Gear

It’s important to wear appropriate riding gear whenever you decide to go out on your motorcycle. Specially designed clothing can provide you with protection from both the elements and severe injury if worn consistently and correctly. I’d like to present a series of short articles over the next couple of weeks covering these items. We will start with head gear.

The most important item to wear while riding is a helmet. Many states have laws requiring riders to wear helmets, however several do not. Many feel that helmets are a personal choice. Regardless of how you feel about helmets, the proof is there: they greatly reduce the chance of severe injury or death from a riding accident. If you decide to wear one, make sure it is DOT (Department of Transportation) approved. There will be a sticker on the helmet indicating such.

Helmets come in many shapes and sizes. First you must decide if you want a half-helmet, a ¾ helmet, or a full-face helmet. Half-helmets cover the top of your head, but leave your eyes and ears uncovered. ¾ helmets come down to the base of your skull but leave your face exposed. Full-face helmets have visors and chin protection.

Many people feel that the full-face and ¾ helmets detract from their ability to hear while on the road. Regardless, they are still very popular, especially with people who ride sport bikes. The full-face helmets become especially useful during colder weather – they provide more protection from the elements and keep your face warmer while you’re riding. Many styles, colors, and sizes are available, so take the time to pick a helmet that fits and is comfortable for you. A correctly fitted helmet should sit firmly on the head and should not wiggle around. If you are able to slide the helmet back and forth on your head easily, the helmet is too big.

Eye protection is required when riding a motorcycle. Not only is it required legally, but anyone who’s ever tried to ride down the road at more than 25 MPH can tell you it’s impossible to see when the wind gets in your eyes. That and the possible road hazards – bugs, gravel, and other debris – that might damage your eyes are reason enough to always wear eye protection.

The options available for eye protection have greatly increased over the years. Ladies, you know those sunglasses with the giant frames and lenses that are so hip now? Well, if you can find a pair that wrap fairly closely to your head (just so they don’t get whipped off by the wind), those will usually do just fine! There are also many sleek and stylish options for goggles – either with stems that loop over the ears or with elastic to wrap all around the head. Some feel goggles provide more protection from the wind than regular large sunglasses. Fortunately you aren’t restricted to the giant nerdy goggles of days past!

You don’t want to wear your regular eyeglasses while riding – the frames of today are far too small to provide any real protection. I strongly suggest getting eye protection that has transition or removable lenses so that you can swap between dark lenses for those sunny days and clear lenses for riding at night. If you’re caught wearing sunglasses at night on a motorcycle, you could get ticketed or arrested.

Best of all, you really have so many options for stylish biker wear these days, you are sure to find something both fun and functional to wear while you’re out on the saddle!

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