Thursday, 24 May 2012 5:19 PM
Safety should be of paramount concern to all motorcyclists and that means you must do a little preparation before you take to the roads. Choosing the right clothing could mean you avoid serious injury if you are involved in an accident, so it is well worth taking some time to get it right.
Having great bike handling skills and awareness of potential problems in traffic can help to keep you out of trouble, as can carrying out regular maintenance checks on your machine. However, there are times when you may be put in danger by the behaviour of other road users, so you need to wear the right type of protective gear at all times.
You may think you look cool riding in jeans and a T-shirt, but most bikers will regard you as stupid. Choose clothing made from leather or specially-designed synthetic fabrics and you will reduce your risk of injury in the event you come off your bike.
It isn't worth trying to save a few pounds by buying inferior quality products, so choose a brand that has a good reputation, such as Dainese safety clothing. It has a range of full race-style leathers, motorbike jackets and rugged leather or synthetic trousers that look stylish and provide excellent protection.
You should buy some hi-vis items, as they will help to ensure other road users can see you after dark and when you are navigating your way through traffic. Waterproofs are also a good idea for those all too regular occasions when the British weather means conditions are wet.
Wearing a helmet is a legal requirement for all motorbike riders and there are basic standards the headwear must meet. It has to comply with either British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark, or UNECE Regulation 22.05.
There are a host of designs that match the basic level, but you should do a little research before buying one instead of just basing your decision on looks and comfort. The Department for Transport has established the Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme, which assigns each model a score on a scale of one to five stars to give you an idea of which ones perform best in crash situations.
One thing to remember is that a helmet will not last for life, as you will need to replace it if it receives any kind of serious impact. Signs of damage to the protective material may not be immediately visible, but will still reduce how effective the headwear is.
Full face helmets, which come with visors, offer the best protection, but not everyone finds them comfortable. If you prefer a motocross style or open face model, you must wear goggles that display a BSI Kitemark or European equivalent to shield your eyes from bad weather, road dirt and insects.
Boots and gloves
Proper boots are an absolute essential for all motorcyclists, as your feet and ankles are among the areas most at risk of damage in the event of a collision or even just a low-speed fall. There are lots of different styles of motorbike boot available, so you can't use fashion as an excuse not to invest in protective footwear.
You should never take to the roads without wearing proper gloves, and not just because you may be involved in an accident. Hardwearing gloves will protect your hands from debris thrown up from the road and help to absorb vibrations from the handlebars.