The right gear

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Any rider who is comfortable, dry and warm has the ability to concentrate fully on the road ahead and anticipate any dangers. Therefore wearing the correct clothing is essential to their safety and other road users.

Before making that trip, you must ensure you are covered top to toes with the correct gear, the best your budget allows. There is no point in spending massive amounts of money on the bike of your dreams and not protecting yourself to ride it.

Starting at the very top - helmets...

Helmets

Helmets are compulsory in the UK. All riders by law need to wear one if they are using their motorcycle on the highway, but also need to wear one for their own safety whenever they are riding.

Helmets need to fit the person, they give the most protection if they are correctly fitted to the bikes user. They should be a firm, almost tight fit to the rider, with the pads gripping the riders face. the helmet should not move on the riders head. Correctly fastening the buckle and adjusting the chin strap will prevent movement on the riders head. A loose fitting or unfastened helmet is liable to come off in the event of a collision.

When buying a new helmet always get it fitted by a professional. Never buy second-hand as you don't know the full correct history. The helmet should be replaced if dropped, you might not be able to see the damage it could be hidden in the construction of the helmet. Even slight damage will reduce the protection that the helmet offers.

There are two safety standards to look for when buying the helmet: ECS 22.05 or BS6658. The helmet should comply to these standards by law. Also each helmet is rated by SHARP (Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme). Check this report to see how good your helmet is, they are scored by stars, 1 to 5. Simply put, helmets with five stars offer the riders head the highest possible protection in the event of a collision.

Attached to the helmet is the visor. Designed to protect your eyes as you ride from road debris, insects, sun and other weather conditions. Visors must confirm to BS4110 grades XA, YA or ZA and bear the British kite mark. If your visor is damaged or scratched, then get it changed. Even a slight scratch can impair your vision, especially at night. Tinted visors are only intended for use in daylight hours. Using a tinted visor at night or in restricted light will reduce your visibility. If you have a tinted visor fitted to your helmet, carry a space clear visor in case you are out longer than expected and the light levels drop.

Clothing

Road surfaces are designed to be rough, this prevents vehicles from skidding. That’s good when your riding, but not so good if you come off due to being involved in a collision, even at low speeds. Any clothing which claims to offer the rider protection against anything more than weather, must now be CE marked to indicate that it has passed specific tests. As a rider you have two options of the protective equipment you wear when riding.

  1. Leathers - Leather clothing in either the one or two piece, provides the rider with the best possible protection in the event of coming off the bike. They are cooler, but generally leak when it rains, so you will need to carry additional waterproof clothing. Leather clothing should be at least double, if not triple stitched to provide the strength and safety to the wearer.
  2. Man made materials with built in body armour - the benefits of these are they are waterproof and windproof, suitable for riders in all weather condition. Normally they are warmer for the rider during the winter months, usually with zip out linings.

Wearing no protective equipment is not an option!

Gloves

When out riding it is vitally important that your hands are kept warm and dry, so you are able to keep control of the bike. Leather gloves provide the best protection, but can be cold and wet if it rains. So it would be wise to invest in a second pair of waterproof gloves for bad weather. Looking after your hands will keep you safe on your bike.

Boots

Leather is the strongest material and the most durable for boots. It offers the rider the best protection should they come off the bike. Boots can also be made of rubber and plastic, which may be better for keeping your feet dry and warm when riding, but there is no match for leather for strength. A strong waterproof sole is essential to protect the feet.