* ATGATT : All The Gear All The Time
A question I've frequently been asked is "Do I really need protective clothing when riding a motorcycle?"
Well, when riding a motorcycle, not really.
When falling off one, definitely.
So unless you know for a fact you are never going to fall off/be knocked off, it's probably wise to acquire some protective clothing. (If you DO know for a fact you're never going to fall off, please contact me with next week's winning lottery numbers).
There's a saying; "Don't dress for the ride, dress for the fall." And when you're sliding down the road on your back - having just been nudged off at 60mph by a driver who didn't check his mirrors before changing lanes - it's a bit late to start thinking "Perhaps I should have put my jacket on over this T-shirt."
Yes it can get hot in summer (unless you keep the airflow moving).
Yes it takes a bit of time to get all the gear on.
But the choice of being slightly uncomfortable at times or having serious road burns is an easy one to make. Bear in mind that when you get into a car, you are actually getting into a steel box, which nowadays has all sorts of extra safety equipment like airbags, side impact protection bars etc. When you get on a bike, your protective clothing is your shell. So it makes sense to wear some eh?
Right, let's start at the top and work down.
Although in some countries it is not a legal requirement to wear a safety helmet (that's the proper term by the way - colloquially they are also known as "crash helmets" or "bone domes") I can guarantee that if your unprotected skull makes contact with a hard object at even a low speed, you will at the very least have a severe headache.
Many riders prefer "proper" motorcycle apparel to the weather protection offered by fairings or windscreens.
If you value the skin on your hands, gloves are vital; in the past only the toughest leather items would protect the hands in the event of a fall. Nowadays synthetic materials do just as well, and some even have Kevlar strips for added protection.
(Or "pants" for you American readers!)
It's not really advisable to wear ordinary shoes on a motorcycle.
As well as these items, it is recommended that you wear some sort of:
This could just prevent you from becoming another SMIDSY. ("Sorry Mate I Didn't See You").
If like me you occasionally ride in the rain, (who am I kidding - for "occasionally" read "frequently"!) you'll also need some sort of rainproof jacket and trousers. (I combined the rainproof jacket and the high visibility requirements by getting a waterproof hi-viz jacket).
Also, if you frequently ride in cold climates, you may additionally consider thermal underwear or electrically-heated clothing (don't laugh, there's nothing worse than being cold on a bike - don't forget your body is not actually moving but sitting in one position. And unless you have a windshield you have to add the wind chill factor too.)
By the way, if you ever get so cold when riding that your body starts shivering uncontrollably and your hands, arms, and legs begin to seize up, pull over and stop. Get off the bike and push it for a while. Pushing a bike is hard work and will cause your body to generate a lot of heat in a relatively short distance, warming you up sufficiently to push on for another stretch.
But remember, however, that one of the first things to suffer from exposure is your concentration; and let's face it - if you're riding a bike you need to concentrate.
NEVER RIDE ANYWHERE YOUR BRAIN DIDN'T GET TO 5 SECONDS EARLIER.
So is protective clothing really necessary? You decide.