Helmets are, without a doubt, the most effective gear you can wear in terms of safety. Whether or not you are legally required to wear a helmet where you ride, keep in mind a few sobering statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:
- Traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of motorcycle-related deaths.
- Accidents involving traumatic head injuries cost 13 times more to treat than those that do not.
- Helmets reduce the likelihood of death in a motorcycle crash by 37%.
- Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 69%.
A well-made motorcycle jacket can help to prevent broken bones and brush burns, and can even help to safeguard your internal organs. They come in a variety of thicknesses, styles and prices. It is almost always worth the cost to invest in the best quality jacket you can afford.
The natural reaction to a fall is to put one hand down to brace yourself. If that fall is from a bike that was traveling at 45 miles per hour before going down, the damage to your hand, fingers, arm and shoulder can be severe. A suitable motorcycle glove will protect the palm of your hand and your fingers, particularly your knuckles. In doing so, the glove can absorb and lessen the impact on the rest of your arm. A gauntlet will also work well with a motorcycle jacket to keep out wind and rain.
Even a minor spill on a bike can lead to some pretty major road rash on your legs if they are not suitably protected. Many ride in jeans, and that is usually fine for a short ride through the neighborhood, such as for a run to the grocery store. But if you are taking to the highways and riding for speed, traditional jeans do not offer the resistance to abrasion that you will need to prevent serious injuries. You would be best served by a pair of motorcycle pants. You can also find armored jeans that combine good looks with solid protection.
You can basically choose between leather and textile motorcycle pants. Each has its merits and downfalls.
If you need to stop on a slippery road or on gravel, you will need to be able to support your own weight, plus the weight of your bike, on one foot. A good riding boot will make this possible while protecting your ankle from excess strain. Boots can also save you from serious injuries to your feet if your bike goes down and drags your foot along the ground.
Purchasing boots that are specifically designed for motorcycle riding is not necessary. Solid work boots or even combat boots will usually be sufficient, but provide little protection from a bike falling on your legs. Motorcycle boots offer the best in protection and long-term comfort.