Commuting

The Head-to-Toe Beginner’s Guide to Motorcycle Gear

(CC0 License – Public Domain)

There’s a lot for new motorcycle riders to be excited about: learning how to ride, choosing a first motorcycle, and finally hitting the road and experiencing one’s surroundings as they can only be experienced from the back of a bike.

But as exciting as all of this is, it’s also serious business, and there’s more to getting started than just getting licensed and buying a new bike. Being properly outfitted in protective motorcycle gear is as crucial to motorcycle safety as proper training.

If you’re a beginning motorcyclist looking for some guidance on getting properly outfitted to ride, the following rundown should give you everything you need to get started finding the gear you need to ride in safety and comfort.

The Helmet

Helmets are undoubtedly the most important piece of safety gear any motorcyclist can wear. Even a minor fall off of a motorcycle can result in a serious head injury if the rider isn’t wearing a helmet, to say nothing of more serious accidents. Here are the basics of what to look for in a motorcycle helmet:

  • DOT Certification: The U.S. Department of Transportation has a specific standard for motorcycle helmets (the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard no. 218), which outlines minimum performance ratings for metrics like impact absorption. Motorcycle helmets that meet this standard will feature a DOT sticker on the back or inside; don’t buy a helmet without this sticker.
  • Fit & Retention: A motorcycle helmet should fit snugly, but without being so tight that it’s uncomfortable. This will prevent the helmet from coming off or under-performing in an accident. Here’s a good basic test when finding a good fit: securely strap on the helmet and, gripping it from the back, try to pull it off over your head. With a helmet that fits properly, you won’t be able to.
  • Comfort: Discomfort is distracting, and no one wants to be distracted while they’re riding.
  • Style: Fashion should probably be the least of anyone’s concerns when shopping for a motorcycle helmet, but there are some choices when it comes to style. Full-face, open face, motocross, and half-helmets are all options. Full-face models offer the best protection, but many riders prefer open-face or half-helmets for comfort reasons.

The Jacket

What helmets do for your head, a good jacket does for your arms, shoulders, and torso. There are a lot of options when it comes to jackets, and it’s important to know what to look for.

  • Leather vs. Textile: A high-quality leather motorcycle jacket is about more than just looking cool. Leather offers excellent abrasion resistance, but might not be the best option for shock absorption. Many modern textile jackets are made from materials like Cordura or Kevlar, which also provide protection against abrasions, and are often a lot cooler than leather in warmer weather.
  • Armor: Armor and textile jackets are both available with built-in body armor to protect against falls. At minimum, look for a jacket with armor in the shoulders, back, and elbows with at least a “CE” safety rating.
  • Fit: A good motorcycle jacket should fit snugly without restricting movement. When trying on a motorcycle jacket, zip it up completely and try to approximate the position you take on your bike. If it’s too snug in the arms and shoulder to hold comfortably in the store, you can be it will be too snug on the road.

The Pants

Motorcycle pants protect your lower extremities from abrasions and impacts – shins, knees, hips, and bottom are all dependent on good motorcycle pants in a fall. Here are some of the most common options for motorcycle pants.

  • Leather: Leather pants, like jackets, offer superior abrasion resistance. However they’re often relatively uncomfortable, especially in warm weather. Most leather pants lack additional armor.
  • Textile: Textile riding pants are made with abrasion-resistant materials like Kevlar, and more often feature built-in-armor in high-impact areas like the knees and hips. As with jackets, these often feature better breathability than leather. Many manufacturers also make Kevlar and armor-reinforced denim jeans that strike a balance between style and safety.
  • Overpants: For commuters and others who don’t want to get to their destination with just armored riding pants, motorcycle over-pants are armored, abrasion-resistant pants designed to be worn over regular street clothes or denim motorcycle jeans.

The Boots

Footwear might not be as important for safety as a helmet or jacket, but it is a concern. Motorcycle boots provide protection to the ankle, shin, toes, and sole in the event of a crash, as well as offering improved grip and comfort on long rides when compared to normal street shoes. Here are some of the most common options for motorcycle boots.

  • Touring Boots: Touring boots are probably the most popular style of motorcycle boot. Generally tall to provide ankle support and shin protection, these boots are designed for commuting and long rides.
  • Short Boots: While not as protective in most cases as touring boots, short boots are often more comfortable, and offer a sneaker-like style and fit without completely sacrificing safety.
  • Cruiser Boots: Cruiser boots are heavy-duty boots designed for long rides on v-twin cruiser-style bikes. Heights vary, but typically cruiser boots offer great grip and superb protection against impacts and abrasions.

At the end of the day, the best motorcycle gear for you is what you’re most comfortable in – provided it offers at least a minimum amount of protection. Those just beginning will need some time to find out just what that is, but that’s all a part of the fun.

Classic Cafe Racer Style

Classic Cafe Racers Have Rocking Style

There was this movement to have light bikes rebuilt with a low stance and high performance. I remember my first look at these stylish thoroughbreds. It was all good, and their gritty owners raced the streets on their dangerous-seeming bikes.

cafe11.http://www.acecafelondon.de/

What are these cafe racers?

The story began during the 1960s Britain. Bikers were stripping down and modifying (more…)

Helmet Halo

Helmet Halo logo

My helmet at YogaNext to the cost of the motorcycle itself your biggest riding expense is most likely your helmet. If you’re anything like me you don’t like putting your costly lid on the ground or any other surface apt to be dirty, hot, wet or sticky; unfortunately there are times when I have little choice. When I get to the office and the forecast calls for rain and it’s time to put the cover on I’m forced to put my helmet on the hot asphalt. In my cubicle at the office my choices are the floor under my desk or on my desk where I have precious little room. The Scala Rider attached to my helmet is also a concern due to its position on the chin bar. I’ve broken a few brackets when setting my helmet down in the past.

Halo StackHelmet Halo was designed to be a compact motorcycle helmet holder that eliminates these worries. Helmet Halo is made of tough plastic designed to stand up to abuse (trust me I’ve abused it in testing). Helmet Halo is inexpensive, portable, comes in four colors and can be coiled up for transporting. If I could wear it as a bracelet when not in use it’d be perfect; but even as is it’s pretty close.

(Note: Helmet Halo does not attach to a helmet in any way, it is merely a stand to hold a helmet upright.)

Please visit Helmet Halo to order.Helmet Halo

The Evolution of Motorcycle Safety

Did you know that the very first motorcycle was built in 1868? While popularity of the motorcycle didn’t quite catch on until the early 1900’s, it wasn’t until 1967 that the first helmet law was passed. Since 2005, not much has changed to enforce the law throughout the United States. In fact, according to this new info-graphic, it seems that motorcycle laws have become more lenient over the years. More and more states went from a universal helmet law to a partial helmet law by 2005, raising the age limit so that riders 20 and under (up from 17) are required to wear a helmet. This leniency has resulted in 17 states seeing an increase in motorcycle-related mortality rates.

Most states in the southeast and southwest saw higher mortality rates than the rest of the country. The most recent data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has determined that over 4,000 American motorcyclists died in traffic accidents during 2013, which is 13% of all motor vehicle deaths for that year. If the mortality rate for motorcyclists makes up more than ten percent of all accidents, why isn’t the law being adjusted to keep those motorcyclists safe?

The answer might lie in the mortality rates of the rest of the states. Click the graphic below to find out.

Motorcycle-Safety-IG-FINALmini1

Vikingcycle Skeid Brown Leather Jacket for Men

DSC_3653The folks at Viking Cycle sent over their Skeid Brown Leather Jacket for me to try. I have to say for the price this is a nice jacket. I’m about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds and the large size fits me perfectly. I have long arms and there is ample material to keep my wrists covered while riding. The material is sturdy and thick and gives me confidence in the event of a fall. The styling will appeal to cruiser enthusiasts. Constructed of Buffalo hide this jacket has everything a 3 season rider might need including:

  • Antique brass zips.xray
  • An outstanding feature of this jacket is multiple pockets that allow you carry all your accessories in organized manner such as phone, sunglasses, I pad, knife, cell phone, keys, wallet and documents. 
  • 2 layers of lining, quick zip out liner backed with mesh lining. 
  • Approved protection at shoulder and elbow , adjusted and fitted to hold the desired places . 
  • Elasticized panels at front ,back and bottom to provide the movement and comfort you need. 
  • Full ventilation, Air vents in each arm to provide ventilation Two front chest dual zipper compartments; button down flap. 
  • Ergonomic design to provide the compactness , now comes in lighter weight not bulky as some conventional jackets feel. safety
  • Zippered sleeves for gloves
  • Mandarin collar airtight collar and zippered cuff for adjustability

With regard to fit the jacket fits like a motorcycle jacket should, snug and comfortable. The color is an extremely dark brown, which I like. The price is hard to beat listed at just $99.99. You would have a hard time finding similar quality for the price.

Ride safe.

 

All Who Wander

WandersmallThe article “All Who Wander” by Bud Miller was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 5/26/2012.

“Not all who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien. Lately it seems like every day is busier than the last. I’ve started making lists first thing in the morning to remind me of what I intend to accomplish, in order of priority, for the day. Last Wednesday my list was a long one. In addition to some work I had to wrap up, I also had yard work to do, a book outline to finish, patent forms to fill out, a doctor appointment to keep, a new camera to get familiar with for an upcoming tour, a review for my other blog, and this post to write.

There’s never enough time to get everything done and often precious little time to ride, but it was 85 degrees and brilliant outside so I decided to get done what I could and then mount up and take Big Red to my appointment. On the ride home I started thinking again about all I had to get back to as I baked in traffic; but at some point I just began to enjoy the ride and everything else seemed to fade in importance. I happened upon a road I had passed a thousand times on my commute but had never ventured down before and, on a whim, decided to see where it would take me.

The road led me along a stream at low elevation and I could feel the air temperature change in the shade near the water while the flickering sun stabbed down at me through what seemed like every possible shade of green in the canopy above. A cool breeze through my jacket took the place of the oppressive heat of the day; the traffic was replaced by a private stretch of twisting asphalt that I had all to myself. The chores of the day were somehow gone and forgotten as my mind was filled by the wonder and euphoria of what lay around the next bend as the road narrowed and turned to gravel. I started to think: all that stuff can wait, this feeling is too important to ignore and I went from living in an immediate future of busyness to a state of being completely present and conscious only of the cool air, the tank between my knees, the sound of the engine, and the sensory pleasure of a stunningly colorful day.

Sometimes getting nothing done is more of an achievement and has more value than does checking items off of a to-do list. We do what we must so we can have moments like these. It’s so easy to get caught up in work, in the other stuff of life, and to forget to let joy in. It can be hard to remind yourself to wander and harder still to allow yourself to; but it’s important, necessary in fact. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.” Peace can come simply by seeing what lies down a new road, what you find there is of little or no importance, the joy is in the seeking. However long my list, I’m pretty sure next week will feature more wandering, even if I don’t get lost.

Choosing a mount

mountsThe article “The Road Less Traveled: Choosing a Mount” by Bud Miller was originally published on the “RoadRUNNER Motorcycle Touring & Travel” magazine website on 2/28/2012.

My first bike was an all black, 1981 Yamaha Maxim that my brother Dave found for me. Having never ridden a motorcycle before, I had no idea what I wanted, what size I needed, how it would handle, what the range was like, or anything else for that matter. All I knew was I wanted to learn so that I could ride with Dave.

I put around 6,000 miles on the Maxim and loved every minute, but as my skills grew (more…)

Prescription Motorcycle Sunglasses from ADS Sports Eyewear

ADS

What’s In The Box

I’ve been testing a pair of prescription motorcycle sunglasses from ADS Sports Eyewear for a few weeks now and I have to say I’m quite impressed. I chose the Wiley X Blink model with bronze base lenses which I was told would provide more contrast as opposed to the grey base lens which is recommended for those with sensitive eyes or that live in heavy sun regions like Arizona.

The glasses arrived in an impressive package complete with a crush resistant, zippered case (a must for commuting), 2 lanyards, a bottle of cleaning solution and 2 cleaning cloths. The package also included detachable foam inserts that clip to the inside of the glasses to seal the area around your eyes while riding. I was skeptical about using the inserts, thinking they might limit peripheral vision; but I was pleasantly surprised to find they are quite comfortable and do not inhibit my vision at all. Detaching the inserts makes the glasses perfect for every day use off the bike, something I hadn’t found in motorcycle specific glasses before. Motorcycle sunglasses I’ve used in the past looked out of place off the bike.

ADS glasses are available in a wide variety of styles and colors and lens options and are affordably priced. They are light enough to be comfortable all day and fit securely with no sliding or slipping whatsoever. Your prescription information can be added via the website during the ordering process. As someone who has struggled with a combination of contact lenses, glasses and motorcycle protective glasses over the years I was happy to have come across ADS Sports Eyewear, they are a great value, are very stylish and perform perfectly. Ride safe.