Let us face it: riding a motorcycle puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to the likelihood of injury in a collision with another vehicle. Even if you are a seasoned rider and operate your bike carefully, accidents can still happen anytime, without warning. The good news is that there are several protective essentials you can wear that we will discuss in this motorcycle safety gear guide.
What are the basic types of safety gear I should wear?
“A good rider wears an approved U.S. Department of Transportation helmet, approved eye and face protection, [and] protective clothing,” explains the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC).
Safety gear should cover you from head to toe. To start, a good helmet and facial protection are a must. Moving down from the helmet, your clothing can also provide a measure of safety, especially when it comes to avoiding road rash injuries. A padded riding jacket and pants that fully cover your arms, legs, and torso could reduce the rough scrape of concrete or asphalt in an accident.
Wear riding gloves to keep a good grip on your handlebars and to protect your hands in the event an accident throws you from your motorcycle. The best types of footwear are secure boots with a rubber sole with reinforcement in the ankles and shins.
Remember that your clothing should protect you from the elements as well as in an accident, so consider gloves, jackets, pants and boots that are rain-resistant and allow for good ventilation in the heat.
What type of motorcycle helmet provides the most protection?
Helmet use has saved thousands of lives. Wearing a helmet while riding reduces your risk of head injury by 69 percent and your risk of death by 42 percent, according to a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Amazingly, despite the huge amount of research regarding the effectiveness of helmets for riders, not all states require them; New Jersey mandates helmets for all riders, but Pennsylvania only requires riders under age 21 to wear them. Regardless of whether or not your state requires it, wear one. It could wind up sparing you from a traumatic brain injury or saving your life.
There are hundreds of types of helmets on the market, but not all are up to snuff. You want to select one that is:
- Designed specifically for motorcyclists (Skateboarding, bicycling, and other helmets are not sufficient.)
- DOT-approved (It should have a DOT symbol on the back.)
- Approved by the Snell Memorial Foundation (The Snell Memorial Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization that sets standards for motorcycle helmets, and other types of helmets, including bicycle helmets. Those standards are purely voluntary, but are more stringent than the DOT-approved standards. Look for a Snell sticker on the helmet.)
- Equipped with a chinstrap and reflective tape on the sides
- The appropriate size for your head
- In good condition (Do not use a helmet that has defects, such as dents, cracks, loose padding, or frayed straps. Never buy a used helmet.)
Note: Novelty motorcycle helmets are not DOT-approved for any riders. These types of novelty motorcycle helmets perform significantly worse than DOT-approved, traditional helmets in skull and head protection. Go with safety, not fashion.
There is also a newer helmet in the market that promotes enhanced safety for riders. The Skully helmet is DOT-approved and has a rearview camera and a GPS feed that allows riders to figure out their location without having to read a road sign.
What type of facial and eye protection do I need?
You also need gear to protect your face from projectiles, including road debris, garbage, pieces of metal, and rock or gravel thrown from cars. Many riders opt for a full-face helmet, which eliminates the need to wear additional facial and eye protection. If your helmet does not include a face shield, then you will need to select a separate shield, motorcycle glasses, or goggles.
If you go with glasses, use polarized, scratch-resistant sunglasses for daytime riding. Polarized lenses reduce glare and eyestrain, and give you a clear view of the road. Googles are even better than glasses because they fit more snugly than glasses and keep out the wind. They keep not just minor pieces of dust and dirt away from your eyes, but they also keep out the wind. No wind means no squinting, so you will be able to see more easily.
The NJMVC suggests that the motorcycle facial and eye protection you use should:
- Be DOT-approved
- Give you a clear view on both sides
- Be shatterproof
- Fasten securely
- Have airflow, so as not to fog up while riding
- Have no scratches on it that can affect your line of vision
- Not be tinted (Tinted screens can impair your vision at night. Instead, choose protection that allows enough room to wear sunglass underneath, when needed.)
What types of protective clothing do I need?
Road rash is not only very painful; it can also cause unsightly scarring and lead to serious infections. Shielding your skin with protective gear can prevent or at least greatly reduce your risk of road rash and burns if ever you roll your bike or are involved in an accident.
Some of the gear you will want to wear include the following.
- Jacket and pants: You want a sturdy full-sleeved jacket and pants made of either leather or synthetic abrasion-resistant material. They should fit your body well, and not be overly constrictive or uncomfortable.
- Shoes: Choose sturdy boots that cover your ankles, and always keep the laces tucked in.
- Gloves: Your gloves should be durable, well-fitting, and full-fingered.
Where can I get more information about motorcycling in PA & NJ?
For more helpful information about riding in PA and NJ, feel free to visit our motorcycle blog. If you or a loved one are in need of legal help regarding a motorcycle accident, you are welcomed to call Cordisco & Saile LLC, serving both PA and NJ. Contact us at 215-642-2335 for a free consultation.