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Motorcycling 101: Gearing up

Group riders outside a general store
Group riders outside a general store
Ralph L. Angelo Jr

Here are a few facts to mull over the next time you throw a leg over your favorite motorcycle with nothing but shorts and a t shirt on; sliding on pavement hurts. So do skin grafts, a lot. They also include a lengthy hospital stay and a long loss of work. Before you say something like 'well I don't ride one of those sport bikes I ride a harley/cruiser etc.' What do you think? If you crash on a different brand of motorcycle it's going to hurt less? Think again. Here's another fun fact. In twenty years and two hundred and twenty five thousand miles of riding I have never heard a sport bike rider say 'I laid it down so I wouldn't crash into the side of that car.' or something similar, but I have heard many cruiser riders say that on multiple occasions. 'Laying down' a motorcycle is never an option. Let me repeat that, it is never an option. If you have to impose a crash like that (Which is exactly what it is, you are choosing to impose a sliding crash upon yourself) you are doing something wrong. Proper rider training is the absolute best accessory you can buy for your motorcycle and yourself.

Now here's the stuff to think about: Jeans tear in five feet of sliding on pavement. Anytime after that you are down to flesh. A mesh jacket, while not perfect and is definitely a compromise when it comes to riding gear, is much better than nothing or a windbreaker or a denim jacket. The armor is all the difference in the world. 600 denier riding gear is the minimum to consider. Anything less is too little. Denier is the way the thickness threads of cordura are measured. Nylon riding jackets and over pants are for the most part made of Dupont cordura., the higher the denier the better. Notice the extent of the riding gear this rider had on when he leaned too deeply into a corner. Also notice how far the motorcycle slid,

Leather is of course leather. It is protective and strong, but it is also heavy and hot in the summer. A mesh or vented non-waterproof cordura jacket will be much cooler and far more comfortable. If it threatens rain pull over and put in a rain lining or a rain jacket and pants over your gear.

One thing you should know; you will end up riding in rain far more than you would like. It happens. Best to be prepared for it.

Gloves are something else that are a must have item. If you fall, even at a stand still, you're going to put your hands out first and land on them. Something to absolutely consider. There are several different types of gloves available. Warm weather gloves are vented or mesh. The leather vented are the most durable type for the casual rider. A medium weight style exists for when it is not quite cold out, but not real warm either and of course there are cold weather gloves available. There are even electrically heated gloves available.

Helmets are a topic that deserve their own discussion, so we will cover them another day.