Your Ulitmate Guide to Motorcycle Safety Gear
As a motorcyclist, there’s little standing between you and the open road. Thrilling as this may be, it’s also dangerous — you have to brave the elements, dodge road debris, and maneuver through tight spaces, all without the added protection of airbags and seatbelts. To minimize the risk of serious injury, proper safety gear is a must-have.
The Arkansas motorcycle accident attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton know the importance of wearing safety gear while riding. That’s why we’ve compiled everything you need to know about staying protected on the road: the type of gear you should purchase, the top brands to keep an eye out for, and extra safety tips to help you avoid accidents while riding.
Here’s our ultimate guide to the best safety gear for Arkansas motorcyclists.
The Safety Gear You Need
Though a helmet is a fantastic starting place, it would be unwise to toss it on and hit the road immediately. For maximum safety, you’ll need several layers of protection, including:
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
The most important piece of safety gear is a DOT-approved helmet. A motorcycle helmet has three major layers:
- An outer shell that protects your head from abrasions
- An inner shell with an impact-absorbing liner
- A soft foam liner to keep your helmet snug and comfortable
Helmets aren’t just stylish — they’re also life-saving pieces of equipment. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets saved the lives of 1,870 motorcyclists in 2017 alone. An approved helmet that’s properly fitted reduces the risk of suffering a head injury by 69% and decreases the chance of suffering a fatal injury by 42%.
Motorcycle helmets come in three main types: full-face, open-face, and half-helmets.
Full-face helmets offer the most coverage that money can buy. They protect you from the elements, deflect bugs and debris, reduce eye fatigue, and shield your chin against harsh collisions. Full-face helmets also boast a variety of features, including improved ventilation, visor defogging, and even Bluetooth speakers.
Though they provide excellent head protection, open-face helmets don’t shield your face from debris, bugs, or weather and leave your chin vulnerable to sudden impacts. Still, open-face helmets are popular among riders because they don’t affect visibility.
- ILM Motorcycle Dual Visor Flip Up
- Scorpion EXO-CT220 Neocon
- Shark Street Drak
- TORC Open Face Series
- GLX M-14 Cruiser
- LS2 Rebellion
Half helmets cover only the top of your head, providing minimal protection. Some half helmets are DOT-approved, and they allow for great airflow — but if you’re looking for a sturdy helmet that diminishes the risk of injury or disfigurement, we’d recommend a helmet with better coverage.
Once you’ve selected a DOT-approved helmet that suits you and your motorcycle, it’s time to find the right protective eyewear.
At high speeds, even tiny objects (for example, a pebble or an insect) can cause significant eye damage. Without protection, a small piece of rogue debris could lead to corneal abrasions and lacerations, resulting in partial blindness. Extra eyewear, like goggles, will prevent these injuries.
In addition to offering eye protection, eyewear makes it easier to navigate the streets in the sun and wind. Like sunglasses, tinted goggles will dim the sun and block out the wind so you don’t have to squint into the distance while you ride.
When choosing the best eye protection, consider the following:
- Polycarbonate lenses. These lenses are impact- and shatter-resistant and filter 100% of UV light.
- Hydrophobic lenses. These lenses help to shed sweat, rain, and dust.
- Polarized lenses. These lenses reduce the blinding effects of sun glare, whether it’s on the road, snow, or another reflective surface.
- Proper lens curvature. The greater the lens curvature, the better your protection against sun, wind, and collisions.
- Correct fit. Rubber grips keep your eyewear in place and straps can help to secure goggles.
A motorcycle jacket is more than a statement about the type of rider you are. It also shields you from sun, wind, sleet, and — most importantly — painful injuries like road rash. If you get into a crash without a robust jacket, the asphalt will scrape away your exposed skin, and you might need extensive surgeries and skin grafts to heal.
To avoid a terrible injury like road rash, always wear a rugged motorcycle jacket. Keep these factors in mind when making a decision:
- Thickness: Even a lightweight jacket with 1.0mm thickness is better than a fleece or a shirt. However, we recommend a durable jacket with a thickness of 1.4mm or more.
- Style: Be sure to choose a jacket matching your motorcycle and personality.
- Comfort: Test your jacket before buying it, ensuring that it’s not too loose or too tight. Consider getting a lighter jacket for warm summer days and a heavier jacket for crisp winter evenings.
- Visibility: A jacket with bright colors and reflective strips will help other vehicles to notice you at night, keeping you safer on the streets.
- Cruiser: These jackets are comfortable and fashionable but offer less protection because they don’t have body armor.
- Sport: Sport jackets are thick, form-fitting, and aerodynamic. They contain lots of armor and padding.
- Touring: These jackets are more comfortable, so they’re best for long rides. They often come with enhanced features, such as removable liners and layers.
- Adventure: Most adventure jackets are made of strong nylon for maximum protection. They are best for riders who traverse unpredictable terrain.
- Off-road: Windproof and waterproof, off-road jackets are great in a variety of conditions.
- Leather: Leather motorcycle jackets are classics for a reason. Leather provides stout protection as well as style and comfort.
- Textile: Textile jackets offer less abrasion resistance but they can make a great layer for colder weather. The best textile jackets consist of both nylon and polyester.
- Mesh: Mesh jackets provide excellent airflow in hot and arid climates. Many include padding to protect you in case of an accident.
No doubt, motorcycle gloves are an awesome accessory. Better yet, a tight-fitting pair of gloves will improve your grip, allowing you to shift, brake, and hold on to the handlebars more easily. Plus, if you get into a collision, a sturdy pair of gloves will protect your fingers and decrease your chances of breaking a bone.
Most motorcycle gloves are made of leather, textile, or a combination of both.
- Leather gloves are durable and comfortable, making them popular for riders. They mold themselves to the rider’s hands, easily gripping the handlebars and shifters. They’re not always the best choice for year-round riding, but leather provides superb protection if you’re heading to the track.
- Textile gloves are waterproof and versatile, allowing them to adapt to many different climates. Unfortunately, textile gloves don’t mold as easily to the rider’s hands and sometimes feel bulky when riding.
- Hybrid gloves offer the best of both worlds. They’re breathable and durable, maximizing both comfort and safety. Hybrid gloves can include a variety of features, such as stretch panels or thermal liners.
Make sure to pick a glove tailored to your riding type. If you ride a street bike, go with a pair of high-comfort street gloves. Race gloves offer outstanding protection, and touring gloves are great for riders who travel long distances. If you’re going to be doing lots of off-roading, give ADV gloves or dirt gloves a try.
When picking a pair of motorcycle pants, the name of the game is balance — namely, the balance between comfort and protection. Relaxed-fit pants are perfect for street riding and touring, and sport-fit pants are designed for high-speed track racing.
As usual, the right pants for you will depend on what motorcycle you own and how you use it. Here are the key options to be aware of:
- Riding jeans aren’t your typical jeans. They often have knee armor and Kevlar built right in.
- Mesh pants: Mesh pants are best for riding in hot weather. Though more comfortable than riding jeans, they aren’t as durable.
- Full textile pants: These pants are often waterproof, wind-resistant, and equipped with thermal liners. They can handle crashes at high speeds.
- Leather pants: Leather is the preferred choice for riders who want to go fast. Leather pants are ultra-durable, offering enhanced protection in serious accidents. As such, they’re popular for sport riders.
Before you rev up your motorcycle again, double-check that your boots are getting the job done. Use these categories to ensure that your motorcycle boots are cutting it:
- Riding type: If you’re racing, you need a racing-specific boot with molded ankle protection and Gore-Tex material. If you’re commuting to work, you might want a conservative and stylish leather boot equally suited to a day at the office or dinner.
- Material: Many motorcycle boots are made out of thick leather with high abrasion resistance. Some boots, though, are made of more breathable materials. If you purchase leather, make sure it’s treated leather that repels water.
- Closures: Some motorcycle boots come with laces, while others use velcro straps. Be sure that the closures you choose won’t snag on your bike or come undone while riding.
Stitching: The strongest boots are held together with either double or triple stitching. This ensures that your boot won’t come apart during a bad accident and stays durable through all conditions.
- Soles: Your sole helps you grip while riding and stops you from slipping when you get off the bike. No matter what type of boot you buy, your soles should be oil-resistant.
If you’ve been riding for a long time, you’ll know how it feels to see a threatening wall of thunderclouds on the horizon. When that time comes, you’ll want to be certain that you’ve got waterproof attire. That way, you have one less thing to worry about while braving the dangerous conditions.
In the realm of rain gear, you have two primary options:
- Dedicated rain gear: This type of gear you store with your bike. When a storm hits, you’ll simply pull over and toss your waterproof gear on to stay dry.
- Waterproof riding gear: On the other hand, you can ensure that your go-to gear is made of waterproof material, like textiles or PVC. Though you’ll have to wear this attire at all times, you’ll be covered whenever the rain comes.
Cold Weather Wear
From gloves to jackets to ski masks, there are a handful of products that you’ll need to brace for the winter. Adding a selection of durable cold-weather gear to your wardrobe will help you focus on your driving during wintertime, allowing you to avoid motorcycle accidents.
Other Safety Recommendations
Now that you’re fitted with the best motorcycle protective gear, we’ll leave you with our top five tips to help you stay safe on the road:
- Inspect your motorcycle before each ride. Before hopping on your motorcycle, run a quick safety check. Are your lights, signals, mirrors, and tires in good shape? If so, you’re good to go.
- Check the weather. That way, you’ll know what type of gear to don before you head out.
- Stay at a safe distance. In case of an emergency, you’ll be able to stop without ending up in a collision.
- Be as visible as possible on the streets. Since motorcycle riders are harder for cars and trucks to see, try to wear reflective gear and avoid blind spots when possible.
- Carry a first aid kit. You’ll always want to be prepared for an accident.
Injured in a Motorcycle Accident? We’re There When You Need Us
Accidents still happen even if you’re equipped with the best gear money can buy. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle crash, contact Rainwater, Holt & Sexton today. Our experienced and professional team will provide strong legal guidance, helping you get the recovery you deserve.
Just fill out our contact form — it only takes a minute — or call us at (800) 434-4800 and tell us your story today!