The instructors at the Motorcycle Safety Course also said throw away the helmet if it hits the ground. They even had us place the helmets on the ground, rather than on the seat - if it fell off the seat we couldn't use it.This email is very long. I'd rather have a phone conversation 'cuz there's so much to say, but…I was writing a loooong post in response to a disdainful remark about Timberland boots… and decided it was getting too long for a blog post response.But it is IMPORTANT stuff, and stuff you should know - if you don't ALREADY know it.So here's what I was going to post:==Laughingdog: I went down a couple of years ago during a charity ride - got cut off by someone who decided not to wait for the column (450+ bikes) and cut across the road just in front of me. I had a choice: dump it or hit her. I dumped it: it's just a hunk of replaceable metal. Walked away with a couple of minor road rash marks and a bruise on my hip from my Leatherman. Was wearing Timberland boots. They protected my ankles and toes just fine.There's an awful lot of bias about "proper riding gear" made by "folks specializing in riding". The average rider isn't doing 150mph on a specially-designed track accompanied only by other bikes. The average rider doesn't need to dress in such nonsense. And even if the average rider DOES wear that gear, a high-speed accident on the highway is NOT the same as a high-speed accident on the trackA reasonably good leather jacket will protect your upper body from road rash. Chaps - NOT JEANS - will protect your legs. A good set of gloves will help, but you have to remember to keep "tucked in" and not try to use your hands to stop your forward motion. And a reasonably good pair of boots that are tightly laced up will keep your toes and ankles from being bent the wrong way.Keep in mind the old saying that there are two kinds of riders: those who HAVE gone down, and those who WILL go down. It's inevitable. That's why you should always wear reasonably good riding gear.And since my helmet TOUCHED the ground, I tossed it away and bought a new one.==Here's the rest of the info for you, Ted.35mph on Mammoth Road in Manchester. She decided not to wait - she cut across the road. I had a choice: hit her or dump the bike. I turned the handlebar to the right to force the bike down on its right side. As soon as the bike "touched down", I PUSHED OFF WITH MY LEGS. I hit the road, rolled onto my back, and slid a bit (not much - maybe 10 feet). The bike went up and over and bounced a bit. A paramedic came over, checked me out, and we waited for the ambulance. X-rays at the hospital: no broken bones. NO DAMAGE OF ANY KIND. I "walked away". Madder than hell… but in one piece.(When I went down, I heard a bunch of other bikes go screaming down the road following her. I was told they caught up with her and SAT ON HER HOOD until the cop came. She received a ticket for "failure to yield to oncoming traffic". Her insurance company paid for the bike, which now had a bent frame and was a total loss, and gave me a couple of thou for "pain and suffering".)You don't have to be a fanatic about getting the best riding gear made. Take it from an old rider who has gone down a few times. But, you should wear LEATHER, not cordura or fabrics. Neither cordura nor fabrics will protect you from the slide that you might have to take AFTER going down. Asphalt is too abrasive: it will tear fabric apart. Cordura may be good for skiing and other outdoor activities, but I strongly recommend leather.And Hot Leathers jackets are the same basic quality as Harley-Davidson branded jackets -- which are made in China, not the US. Hot Leathers is made in Pakistan. The leather quality is about the same: HD leather is a bit thicker, but that's about it.Chaps? Leather. Get a set online and have a seamstress reinforce the seams (they usually only have one seam - add a second). Then, just wear 'em. 'Nuff said.Boots that protect your ankles are a must, but you don't have to buy "the best". Timberland is just fine. Heck, HD boots are made by Wolverine, another Made-In-China boot company. Ya want good boots? Red Wing. Otherwise, use a reasonably good set of leather work boots. If they'll protect you at a construction site, they'll protect you on the road -- and you really only need that protection when you go down. Oil-resistant, non-slip soles are a MUST. Steel-toes optional, but not required (or recommended).BTW, when you come to a stop and see oil on the road, PUT YOUR TIRE ON THE OIL, not your boots. The oil will be rubbed off your tire after it makes 2-3 revolutions, but the oil will be on your boots until you stop and rub it off. Plus, you'll need your feet oil-free to keep you upright at a stop.MORE: do NOT wear a Kevlar helmet! The point of a motorcycle helmet is to absorb the force of an impact and disintegrate, protecting your skull in the process. Kevlar helmets are made for racing purposes where riders need extra protection on their heads. For you, a relatively slow-speed rider, the same Kevlar helmet will transmit the impact through your skull into your neck and spine. DOT-spec, but you don't need OR WANT Kevlar.Lastly, if someone tells you that you MUST "buy x" or you MUST "wear x", ask yourself a question: why are they recommending a specific brand? My recommendations are to wear work boots, reasonably good leather (NOT the sheepskin cr*p sold online - sheepskin is too soft to protect you), and a reasonably good pair of leather gloves. Anything beyond that has a negative ROI.Skiing and riding are two different sports, require two different mindsets, and require two different skill sets. Although both require protective gear, DON'T use the requirements for one sport to buy equipment for the other.Most of your riding will be on surface streets, at between 25 and 65mph. At 30mph, you simply don't need the same kind of professional riding gear that GXR's use at 170mph on a professional track. You need gear that's comfortable and will protect you from pebbles (the car ahead of you), bugs, rain, and an occasional "dammit, I though the kickstand was down" fall.And that protection can be had at a reasonable cost.Happy riding!
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Mail bag: Protective Motorcycle gear
Friend, long time commenter, and long time biker Burt emails what started as a comment to yesterday's post on riding in the rain. He brings a lot of experience, some hard won: