As everybody learns sooner or later in life, there is Right Stuff and Wrong Stuff. Getting the Wrong Stuff can have consequences on a motorcycle.
Anyone with experience will tell you how important it is to have good riding gear. The idea behind protective gear is, leave cowhide on the tarmac so your hide stays where it belongs, keeping you waterproof and leak free.
There are so very many choices to review when you're seeking gear online, and not everything is really suitable for riding.
You see, it turns out that “motorcycle jacket” is a fashion statement and thus you find all kinds of inappropriate thin leather, suede fancy stuff that won't protect you in a skid.
Remember that spate of TV shows a few years back featuring a female protagonist who rode a rice rocket? She had this delicious leather onesie that looked buttery soft and utterly useless in an accident. And the stupid thing was, I started to see women on Ninjas wearing fabulous leather couture that wouldn't do diddly to save their hides. That must have been a short fad, as I haven't seen any of those riders lately.
My Hein Gerick jacket cost $600 new. I bought it at a swap meet for $100 and I guarantee it would serve me well if I fell over. It does, however, make me resemble some sort of weird Orangutan/Human hybrid. Why are motorcycle jackets cut for chimps?
It's hard to strut when you look like you should be brachiating, so I stuff my jacket in my panniers. I'm willing to trade fashion for function. You should too.
Speaking of fashion, what is up with the “If I have to wear a helmet it is going to be a really tiny one that won't do me any good in an accident” school? I went to Traffic Court one day for an offense involving what the officer inaccurately termed 'excessive speed.' No. Excessive speed is when I flash by so fast you're not sure you saw me.
It must have been Biker Day, as the courtroom was packed with naughty motorcyclists. One offense involved a beanie helmet. The defendant used the defense, “Your honor, I bought this helmet at a motorcycle shop, so I had every reason to assume it was a legal helmet.”
This defense often convinces judges to issue a warning for this first offense. But now you know your helmet's not DOT approved, so next time you get the gavel.
The motor officer brought some show and tell items to court; two helmets cut in half to expose the protective layer of styrofoam. The beanie helmet was pitiful, with its thin layer of foam. The full face helmet was magnificent by comparison; rich in foam a couple inches thick, protection for your face should your chin hit the pavement.
As predicted, the judge issued the rider a warning.
Besides jackets and helmets, good boots are vital. Again, “motorcycle boot” is sometimes a fashion statement rather than functional protection. I see things on the road that get my attention, like the day I was filling my tank when a couple pulled in. They had a sort of 1%er going. Not the top hat and monocle 1%, either. Well, she was riding a Sportster; she pulled up, put her foot down and fell over.
It appears that spike heels aren't really suitable riding boots. Her heel snapped, causing her to lose her balance.
Then there's my buddy with his steel-toed boots. I think he said he's going to order some better boots. I hope so. In a collision, those steel plates could bend and sever toes. It's happened before.
We know there are some common sense things we must have in order to protect ourselves to the best of our ability. And the law in most states requires us to wear helmets; again, not a horrible idea.
There have been some truly horrible ideas promoted by politicians who wouldn't know a motorcycle from a cheesecake. There was the genius who thought it was a good idea to legislate seatbelts for motorcycles. Because strapped to a bike sliding down the freeway sideways is just where we want to be! Then there was the clown in the UK who decided bikes should have steel leg protectors on board. Remember the steel toed boot problem? Same problem here. There was a vast protest from riders in both cases and both terrible ideas were round-filed.
Then there was the guy who thought air bags for motorcycles was a good idea. Another innovator was working on some sort of air bag/jacket combination.
It's up to you to select appropriate riding gear. People who sell leather halter tops for motorcycling don't have your well-being in mind. Nor do people who sell novelty helmets. If you can't slide down the freeway at 60 mph and come out unscathed, you're wearing the wrong stuff. The right stuff lets you walk away.