Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Appropriate Riding Gear 3

Well, so far we've covered heads and eyes, body and hands, and finally we'll discuss legs and feet! Anyone up for a round of "Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes"?

When generally cruising around town at speeds of 55 MPH or lower in 75+ degree weather, you usually do not need to wear more than a good, sturdy pair of jeans. You definitely never want to wear a pair of shorts while riding. There are too many parts on the bike that get heated up while riding around for your legs to be safe, plus the possibility of "road rash" on your legs when you get into an accident. Just make sure you put on a pair of pants with thick, sturdy fabric - nothing light, or you'll find out quickly how hot chrome feels on your shins! Not that I've ever done that before or anything...

Those who are feeling more adventurous may want to invest in a good pair of leather chaps. They aren't just for cowboys and strippers anymore! Chaps provide extra protection at higher speeds - both in case of an accident as well as if you run into inclement weather. Chaps, or at least leather pants, are a must when riding in the cold. Just a side note for all of the leather items I'm suggesting: good black leather works well because it doesn't show dirt as much and is very protective without being too heavy. Note that if your leather isn't well-treated or if you run into especially bad weather, your leather can "bleed", leaving black streaks on your skin where it touches. This is especially true of brand new, unlined gloves.

Covering your feet, you want a pair of boots that goes over your ankles. Something with support. Seriously, these can save you from getting a broken foot if you should tip over. I made sure to wear my big black army surplus boots during my rider training class - when I tipped my bike over, I tripped a bit and twisted my ankle, but because I had those boots laced up almost to the middle of my shin, only my pride suffered in the fall. You do not need to spend $300 on your boots (although you can if you want - there are some pretty awesome-looking ones out there) - a good pair from any army surplus store will run you about $100 or so. Also make sure they are not fashion shoes with high heels. Heels can get caught on debris and other items on the road, or get you stuck on your foot peg while you're riding. It'd be pretty embarrassing to pull up next to a car at a red light, looking incredibly competent and fashionable, only to tip over because your foot got stuck.

Check back next time for Optional Riding Gear: those little extras that make all the difference.

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