- In addition to my motorcycle, what equipment do I need?
- Plan to spend $500~$1k on basic safety gear:
- Helmet - the best helmet for you is one that you can afford, that
fits, and that youll wear every time you get on the motorcycle.
A $100 Snell
rated helmet is just as safe as a $500 one ... but not as comfortable
on long trips. Just because a helmet isnt required in your
state, dont assume that the laws of physics are any different.
Get a good helmet and wear it always.
- Jacket and Pants or Riding Suit - Leather looks sexy and works;
Cordura is functional and works; Shorts and a T-shirt are an invitation
to skin grafts. Jackets can be had relatively inexpensively at pawn
shops or through Internet retailers. Make sure that the leather
is good and thick, not the thin garment leather that most stylish
leather jackets are made of. A riding suit makes it convenient to
follow the rule of All the Gear, All the Time.
- Gloves - Protect your hands. Motorcycle-specific gloves are recommended.
Good ones have padding on the back and padded rivets on the palm.
- Boots - Protect your feet and ankles. If they lace up, tuck the
laces in so they stay out of the chain and dont hook onto
the foot-peg when you try to put your foot down.
- What additional safety gear is recommended?
- Wind protection for your eyes, if you wear a 3/4 helmet.
- Ear plugs. An hour at highway speeds will subject your ears to
enough wind noise to cause some hearing loss.
- Some men wear a sport cup when riding.
- Reflective vests seem to help people see you better between dusk
and dawn and in the fog.
- Headlight and taillight modulators
- What safety gear is recommended specifically for commuters who lanesplit
- Beyond the stuff in the previous list, these things should come in
- barkbusters for the handlebars -- a kind of bracket that clips
on over the front of the control levers, protecting your knuckles
from rear-view mirrors and the levers from bending backwards when
the bike gets knocked over.
- headlight modulator -- a device that makes your headlight vary
its brightness up and down 4 times a second and makes you more conspicuous.
- brakelight modulator -- a device that makes your brakelight flicker
~4 times a second for about a second when you hit the brakes.
- front running lights -- two-filament bulbs in your turn signals
to light them up at 5W all the time.
- a louder horn
- Are you sure motorcyclists need all that gear?
- Well, some people think I go too far when I recommend riding with
all the gear all the time.
Id like to encourage moderation on certain subjects. Being
an ER Nurse, bikers who dont wear safety gear drastically increase
my job security. I dont know how many times that my co-workers
and I have been sitting around bagging (slang medical term for breathing
for a patient who cant breathe for themselves) some poor organ
donor who fell off his bike without a helmet at 25 miles an hour, smacked
his head and now there is some pretty gray stuff pouring from his ears,
and saying to each other You know, I just didnt have enough
to do, taking care of my five patients having heart attacks and strokes,
I'm so glad this trauma came in at this time. I mean I am so frustrated
when those bikers come in with only a broken collar bone, or fractured
ankle, because they were wearing some outdated and certainly
not effective safety device such as a helmet or boots! (For
those of you with a crippled sense of humor, Im writing this with
extreme scarcasm.) Closed
- Where can I read reviews of motorcycle safety gear?
- What do you wear?
- My riding gear.
- Any specific brand recommendations?
- This is not an exhaustive list.
Helmet: HJC, Arai, Shoei, Nolan (fit is the most important thing)
Pants: Aerostich, Joe Rocket, Draggin Jeans, Tourmaster, FirstGear
Jackets: Aerostich, Joe Rocket, Tourmaster, FirstGear
- Anything else?
- ATGATT: All The Gear, All The Time.
- Do I need to wear a helmet?
- Only if you value your face or the contents of your skull.
- Why do I need to wear a helmet?
- When you fall, it will protect your brain from a concussion and your
face from nasty road rash.
When you ride in certain states and countries, it will save you from
If a crazy man in a lab coat and a bow tie were to smash you on the
head with a sledgehammer on a Portuguese
TV commercial, you would survive.
- Why should I wear a full-face helmet?
- "I taught the MSF course at Little Creek Amphib Base in Norfolk
for a couple of years. I had a disk sander. Every time someone tried
to explain to me why helmets are useless, I offered to let them hold
their face against the disk sander. None took me up on it."
Because and Because.
- But I like to feel the wind in my hair!
- Id rather miss the wind in my hair than risk the wind in my
- But it will obstruct my vision!
- My helmet has a new feature that helps tremendously in my sightseeing
trips. Instead of being solid all the way around it's got this big hole
in the front. It really looks like it was designed and manufactured
that wayno ugly scars from a bandsaw or anything, and the edges
are nicely finished. There's even a piece of transparent plastic over
the hole, and it has a hinge so I can flip that up and down. It's really
- But it will restrict my peripheral vision!
- No, it won't. A modern helmet has between 210 and 220 degrees of peripheral
vision. Federal standards require 210. 90% of crashes occur with objects
within 60 degrees of the center line, or within 120 degrees. No. Most
street helmets are Snell-certified,
which means that in addition to various impact tests, they have to pass
a peripheral-vision test.
- But it will interfere with my hearing!
- No, it won't. Your helmet will reduce all sounds equally. Any noise
that you'd be able to hear over the wind noise and the noise of your
motorcycle, such as a horn or siren, you'll still be able to hear.
- But it's too heavy!
- A helmet is usually thought to be very heavy, but when one is
attacking a castle or something similar, and arrows, bullets, large
rocks, great pieces of wood and the like are coming down, it will not
seem the least bit so. The Book of the Samurai, 11th
Chapter. Yamamoto Tsunetomo
A full-face helmet is not all that much heavier than a 3/4 helmet.
- But it will injure my neck in an accident!
- No, it won't. In one study, helmeted riders suffered neck injuries
in 7% of cases while riders without helmets suffered neck injuries 10%
of the time.
- But it will make me pass out of heat exhaustion!
- No, it won't, as long as you take precautions for hot-weather riding.
Get a light-colored helmet with good vents. Drink lots of water. Wear
a vented jacket. (That is, of course, an argument for wearing
a helmet in cold weather.)
- Is a full face helmet noisier than open face?
- No. But the wind noise at 60 mph is way too loud for your hearing
to last regardless of which helmet you wear or whether or not you wear
one at all. Wear earplugs.
- Is a full face helmet more uncomfortable than an open face?
- No, the full face part doesnt contact your head at all. Unless
of course youre sliding along the ground on your face in which
case youll be glad you didnt wear a 3/4 helmet that day.
Of course there are good helmets and bad ones. Get one that fits well
and has excellent venting and youll enjoy the experience. Get
a cheap full face and youll hate yourself.
- What's the difference between DOT and Snell certification?
Between U.S. Motorcycle Helmet Standards
Snell Labs Tour
- Is full face any better than open face for rain and highway riding?
- Heck yeah. And for tossed cigarette butts, errant stones, etc.
- Any brand and model recommendations?
- Arai and Shoei are widely considered to be the best brands. Others
go for whats cheap. Go to a store and try them all on. Youll
find one brand/model will fit better than others. Go with that.
- I dropped my helmet. Have I ruined it?
- Was your head in it? If all it did was fall off your seat, its
fine. The expanded polystyrene liner is designed to crush between the
hard ground and your head. As long as your head isnt inside the
helmet, no crush. Check the shell for any visible cracks. Stick one
hand inside the helmet and with the other hand, squeeze the shell over
the impact point and check for any softness or give at all. Tap over
the surface of the helmet and compare the sound over the impact point.
- Whats the best way to clean the inside of my helmet?
- Assuming that the liner isnt removable, You can sprinkle some
baking soda in there and sort of rub it around then vacuum it out. You
wont be able to get all the soda out but youll get enough.
Also, you can stuff the helmet with crumpled newspaper when youre
not wearing it. For a really stinky helmet change the paper every couple
days. It will take a while but the paper will eventually absorb the
- What are helmet ears?
- Cute and furry. They attract
attention of kids and adults alike.
- Denim jeans are sturdy enough
- No. Aerostich
dragged sandbags over pavement on various materials used to make motorcycle
gearleather, cordura, chevalier, denim. Leather was the best and
denim shredded within a couple of feet. Its slightly better than
Feel Free to Wear Leather.
- Do they make armor that I could wear under clothes?
- Yes. Check links page.
- Is safety gear really all that important?
- Riding without gear is a personal
- Aww, come on. Is it really that bad?
- Yes. Check out Peter
Peep. Warning: These images are graphic.
- I'm about to restart my motorcycling career, and trying to keep it
pretty inexpensive (to see whether I'm in it for the long haul, to reduce
the flak from my wife, etc.). But I want to be as safe as I can be,
so... What are your recommendations for good bang-for-buck riding gear:
riding suit, boots, gloves, helmet. What should I look for and where
(other than the obvious eBay) should I look?
Leather Exchange, New
- Does it matter what color jacket and pants one wears while riding?
- Bright colors and reflective materials can help make you more visible,
but you should still ride as though you cant be seen. For what
its worth, apparently cagers can see police motorcycles very well
and from great distances.
- What color helmet do people see the best?
- Look for helmets the next time you drive around. In my experience,
white is best. But I got a red one to match my bike and stuck reflective
stickers on it.
- Whats a headlight modulator?
- An electronic circuit that makes the headlights flicker at a rate
of about 4 cycles per second during the day to make your motorcycle
more conspicuous. This helps cagers see your motorcycle and perhaps
decide not to turn left in front of you.
- Is a headlight modulator legal?
- Whats a taillight modulator?
- An electronic circuit that makes your brake lights flicker for a second
or two after you apply the brakes. This attracts attention to your motorcycle
when you slow down. This helps cagers see you and perhaps decide to
stop before they hit you.
- Boy, those things would seem annoying as hell!
- In the United States, cagers seem to be numbed by the ever-increasing
numbers of flashing lights on emergency vehicles, and even with the
worlds loudest sirens, they still regularly get smushed by fire
engines and ambulances. So you have to do everything you can to compete
for attention. Better to have someone annoyed at you than to accidentally
run into you because you were invisible.
I didnt see the motorcycle until it was too late!
Your honor, I request that you revoke Mrs. Grundys driver
license because she is blind.
- What additional lights can I put on my motorcycle?
- Quite a few, actually. Here are the relevant bits of the California
Vehicle Code. Heres the quick list for the United States:
Other countries dont allow nearly this much stuff, and in some
European countries its even illegal to have the headlights on
during the day. But cagers there tend to be better-trained than in the
- Auxiliary driving lights (high beams)
- Auxiliary fog lights (low beams)
- Modulated high beam
- Front side-marker lights
- Back side-marker lights
- Modulated red brake light
- Modulated amber brake lights
- Modulated amber deceleration light
- No, really. What are helmet ears?
- Cute and furry. They attract
attention of kids and adults alike.
- What can I do about fog on my visor?
- Fog City makes a product everyone says is really good for keeping
fog from forming on your visor. It's a thin plastic film that you stick
onto the inside of the visor.
- In case its cold and my glasses fog up on the inside, causing
me to become effectively blind and a danger to myself and everyone around
me, should I use an anti-fog preparation on my glasses?
- Are polarized sunglasses any good?
- I dont like polarized sunglasses when riding. The face shield
on my helmet caused all kinds of wild rainbow effects, and the windscreen
on my R-GS added more of its own.
- Are deer whistles useful to have?
- They are extremely effective at keeping away rhinoceroses, elephants
(gray), wildebeest, unicorns, giant rabbits, etc.
The following questions about their operation and effectiveness have
never been researched:
- Do they actually emit any noise?
- What frequency sound do they emit?
- Can deer hear that frequency?
- Do deer have any concept of a fast-moving high-pitched screaming
- If youre supposed to mount two of them on the bumper of
your car, how will you get them that far apart on your motorcycle?
- Would it make a difference?
- Will a loud exhaust pipe make me a safer rider?
- No. Motorcycle Consumer
News has an interetsing article from their book Proficient
Motorcycling about that. Here are the PDF files from the MCN site: