Friday, May 4, 2007

Finding gear.

This is just a thought.... something that might be helpful for those trying to acquire gear that works while motorcycling:

Consider camping and hunting gear. In fact, consider anything that's outdoor related. Campers, hunters, sportspersons, and athletes often have the same issues we have. We're all exposed to the elements and we all enjoy a bit of comfort.

So, some ideas......

Underwear - a subject very few of us broach, but you'll find it's a highly discussed topic among long-distance riders. In general, it should be supportive but not too tight. Ideally it will have no seams you have to sit on. For comfort, it should wick moisture away from your skin quickly. Cold weather or hot, your underwear is the foundation of your layered clothing package.
  1. Some types of baseball shorts are lycra based, highly supportive, and come with hip pads sewn into them. They're relatively inexpensive and are available at most sporting goods stores in the spring and summer.
  2. Silk, lycra, or merino wool longjohns are options that should be considered for every rider in every environment. UnderArmour makes "Heat Gear" designed to keep athletes cooler and these can be worn underneath full race suits to considerable advantage. Merino wool longjohns help keep a rider warmer without bunching up in the middle like a two-piece.

Rain suits and rain gear - These don't have to be motorcycle specific, but in all honesty, it helps. I can't think of another sport where the rain comes at you with such speed and always from a singular direction. Alternatives will work in the short-term, but a moto-specific suit will generally be better suited for our application.

Ski gear, such as balaclavas and neck protectors - These are generally grafted into service for motorcycles. I'm not aware of a single company that sells its head and neck products exclusively to the motorcycle market.

Gloves, boots, leathers, and helmets - This is a tender subject because these things are pretty exclusive to our sport. Is there another sport where you might possibly put your body on the pavement at 100 miles an hour? In any case, this kind of gear is expensive. On the other hand, this kind of gear is a super bargain when compared to skin grafting or death. Do the research and buy what you want. There are way too many options and possibilities for me to discuss them here. If you can't afford basic protective gear, you can't afford motorcycling.


Anonymous said...

Just a small comment - protective gear does little to save lives. Helmets do a good job protecting against brain damage, but you need to check out the Motorcyclist article on helmets 2 summers ago. As for leathers, boots, gloves, they all help protect against abrasion, some bumps and bruises - but will rarely guard against broken bones or dislocated joints. Knowing this (the relative benefit of armored gloves is great; soft tissue damage in your hands is a bitch) you can adjust your relative cost/benefit accordingly.

I hear the 'it's expensive, but how much is your life worth?' argument constantly in racing circles. It ignores the fact that there is little to no proven safety advantage in more expensive gear - less expensive versions can do an adequate job for many purposes.

motopacsman said...

Interesting perspective Randy. I think it might be an oversimplification to say, "protective gear does little to save lives", but I would agree with you that EXPENSIVE protective gear has very limited additional benefit over basic protection. In my book, it's better to get lots of basic protection instead of putting all your eggs in one basket. As an example, I'd recommend that a beginning rider spend some money on a decent helmet / jacket / boots instead of just buying an expensive replica helmet that provides no additional protection for it's additional $300 cost.

One of the things I think we tend to ignore is the factor of COMFORT. I think it's pretty easy to see that a more comfortable product - one that allows ease of movement and freedom from restriction - is the better choice in almost every case.

I'm really enjoying this exchange of information folks.... Keep adding to the blog... your thoughts and ideas are part of the solution here.