For most of us “motorcyclists”, we’re well into the riding season at this point; old man winter held his grip for as long as he could, but it was 80 plus degrees most of last week. Apparently May is Motorcycle Awareness Month; truth be told, I had no idea until I saw MEMEs and taglines from various social media outlets. Considering that in recent days more than one of my friends has been involved in a motorcycle accident (with dissimilar results), I’ve stepped up my game about safety gear and on-road vigilance.
Coincidentally, I find people watching to be entertaining, and occasionally thought provoking. If I haven’t mentioned before, I find the “Helmet, shorts, and flip-flop” crowd to be an fascinating group. Without a doubt, the helmet is probably THE most important part of safety gear, but I beg to question, why stop there?
To avoid pontificating from my “high horse”, I admit that I am no saint. When I first started riding it was pretty much helmet, shirt, jeans, and boots. Weather and money pretty much determined the gear, but it wasn’t long before I hunted down a trusty riding jacket. Completely ignorant of the abrasion resistance of denim vs. asphalt, I wore jeans for some time until hearing that denim holds up for less than a second in a crash, at which point I started searching for safer alternatives. Over the years (all 5 of them…) I’ve collected various gear options for different circumstances, many of which are primarily for combating the cold.
As an Army guy, I fully appreciate the pros and cons to protective gear, ballistic plates could save your life when the shooting starts. That being said, the additional weight, movement constriction, along with skin coverage raises the risk of limited maneuverability (when it really counts) and heat exhaustion. While I’ve said before, city riding is a battlefield, the heat and cold are still prevalent concerns when selecting gear. Finding gear that can protect your limbs, but not cause dehydration is pretty much the biggest hurdle in my opinion, and I’ve yet to truly find a happy medium (I mostly just tough it out and sweat…). There are rare occasions when I might slip down a country road in jeans, but if it’s another morning headed to the office, I cover all the bases, fully expecting someone’s text message to supersede my right-of-way.
Everyone has the right to choose, and I defend that; at the same time I have the right to poke fun at flip-flop silliness, and intend to do so.
So at what point do you ditch the jacket, helmet, or gloves; or are you in the ATGATT crowd?