When you’re gearing up for a ride, whether you’re a newbie or have been riding a bike for years, you’ve got to keep in mind the purpose of each piece of clothing you put on. You may think you’ll never get in a crash, but since you can’t control the drivers around you, you’ve got to prepare for the possibility. Trust us: you’ll be sorry if you hop on your Hog in these pieces of clothing.
- Shorts: When you hit the ground in an accident, your legs are likely to take the brunt of the impact, especially if you end up laying your bike down. If you’re wearing shorts, which you might think sounds like a great idea in the summer heat, you’re going to experience some major road rash if you get in a wreck. Even if you never crash your bike, you’re leaving your legs exposed to exhaust burns. The exhaust pipe heats up enough to cause second- and even third-degree burns if you put your skin against it. Just one slip near the exhaust and you won’t wear shorts again.
- Short-sleeved T-shirt: The reason you shouldn’t wear a T-shirt, with nothing else on top of it, is the same as why you shouldn’t wear shorts: you want as little skin showing as possible in event of a crash. Road rash is the painful injury that occurs when your skin is scraped off by the asphalt. Even at lower speeds, like 20 mph, your skin could be scraped to the bone. Many victims have to undergo painful skin grafts and will have scars that will last them a lifetime. Wearing a T-shirt leaves your whole torso susceptible to the injury since it will be torn or lifted in a tumble. And if you aren’t in an accident, you still don’t want to be that guy whose shirt is flying up as he speeds down the road.
- Baggy pants: This may not be a problem for the biker chicks who love wearing tight leather pants on the road, but everyone else better keep in mind that baggy pants can be distracting and dangerous. If your pants are too loose, they’ll flap in the wind as you ride, which can be irritating and cause you to lose focus. The extra fabric can get caught on the foot pegs or any other protruding parts, creating the potential for an accident.
- Any headgear other than a helmet: Not every state requires a helmet for all riders, but it’s a stupid and unnecessarily risky move to ride without one. If you’re involved in an accident and are not wearing a helmet, you’re three times more likely to suffer a brain injury. Sure, you really know how to rock that bandana, but it serves a much better purpose if it’s under a helmet. It protects your head, absorbs sweat, and covers your helmet hair when you take off your helmet at the end of a ride.
- Headphones: While wearing earplugs is actually a really good idea for motorcyclists since they are constantly subjected to the roar of their engines, headphones aren’t so smart. If you’re listening to music or podcasts through your headphones on the road, you’ll be less likely to hear sirens or approaching cars, which is why several states have laws regulating the use of headphones while operating motor vehicles. Some ban their use outright, while others just say they can’t be used for music or in both ears.
- Jacket from a club you’re not a part of: If you’re new to the biker culture and haven’t joined a club yet, you should at least be aware of the importance of their patches. If you buy a jacket secondhand or get a patch somewhere to look cool, be aware of what kind of club it represents. Motor Cycle Clubs wear their patches on the front or sides of their jackets, and you can purchase them pretty easily. These clubs are mainly social and probably won’t be too peeved if you sport their insignia, though they may view you as kind of lame. Motorcycle Clubs on the other hand (note the tiny difference in capitalization) make their members earn the patches which are worn on the back. These members will do just about anything for their club. If you get your hands on one of these patches and wear it out on the road, be prepared for a dirty fight.
- Dark clothing at night: Given the biker’s affinity for black leather, this one might seem a little strange, but smart motorcyclists know that it’s important to be visible at night. Sure, your bike has lights that keep you safe in most instances, but what if you crash and aren’t next to your bike anymore? Dark clothing will make it hard for rescuers to find you if you’re thrown off the road and for other motorists to avoid hitting you if you’re sprawled out on the road. To avoid a dangerous situation, consider wearing a bright color or putting reflective tape on your jacket and helmet.
- Lightweight fabrics: Motorcyclists don’t just wear leather because it looks cool. It also protects their skin in the event of a crash. Lightweight materials will shred when you hit the pavement, while leathers and newer synthetic fabrics offer armor and resistance when scraping across gravel. Lighter materials won’t protect you from the weather, so you may end up sunburned or soaked to the bone if you don’t take the right precautions. If you ride in the heat a lot, you may want to look into a synthetic that is more breathable, but keep in mind that a little bit of sweat is better than a little bit of road rash.
- Sandals: We all shake our heads when we see a teenage girl wearing flip-flops in winter weather, and it’s no different when smart bikers see someone on a motorcycle wearing sandals. When you’re riding, you want shoes that grip the foot pegs, protect you from exhaust burns on your feet, and provide some protection in case the bike lands on your foot in a crash. Motorcycle boots also have the added advantage of providing you with a little extra height so you can reach the ground when you’re at a stop.