Thursday, 16 August 2012 4:30 PM
Getting started as a motorcyclist is guaranteed to be an exciting experience, as long as you can ensure it is also a safe one. Looking for a first bike to learn on can be great fun, but you will also need to buy all the correct clothing for riding.
Shopping for safety gear will not be as interesting as choosing a machine, but it is every bit as important. The right protective clothing could be the difference between serious injury and escaping a fall with nothing more than a few bruises, so make sure you purchase the best you can afford.
Before you can do that, you need to draw up a list of the essentials that will help to keep you safe on the roads. Many of the items on it will be obvious, but there may also be some things you were not aware of.
A helmet is the most important piece of motorcycling equipment you will ever buy, and not just because it is illegal to ride on the roads without one. Protective headwear has saved the lives of thousands of bikers over the years and could do the same for you in the event of an accident.
Your helmet must meet British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark or comply with UNECE Regulation 22.05 to be legal. Despite the rules, there is a marked difference in the quality available, so it is sensible to choose a model from a reputable manufacturer, such as a KBC or Dainese helmet.
If you are unsure about whether your choice is a good one, check its rating at the Sharp Helmet Safety Scheme. This programme subjects protective headwear to a rigorous testing procedure and then gives each model a score on a scale of 1-5 to help riders select the best.
One important thing to remember is not to buy a second hand helmet, as you have no way of telling whether it has taken a heavy blow. Impacts can lead to damage to the internal protective material that you will not be able to see.
Gloves and boots
Your hands and feet are particularly vulnerable in the event of an accident, as they are likely to come into direct contact with the road or another vehicle. Gloves and boots with proper padding will help to minimise your risk of suffering broken bones.
Gloves will ensure you avoid cold hands - something that can make it more difficult to keep control of your bike. They will also assist you in coping with the road vibrations that come through the handlebars.
Jackets and trousers
Whatever the weather is doing, you should wear a proper protective jacket and trousers when out on your motorcycle. Look for items that are either made from leather or a specially-designed hardwearing fabric and have padding to protect your joints, as they may reduce the severity of injuries in an accident.
Many motorcyclists like to add an extra level of safety to their outfits by wearing protectors. There is a wide range available, including padded undershorts, body armour vests, chest and back guards.
No one likes wearing hi-vis gear, as health and safety officer chic is not the look bikers are famous for. However, making yourself as visible as possible to other road users will reduce your chances of being hit by a car or lorry. You do not have to go as far as buying a fluorescent jacket, as brightly-coloured reflective strips on your clothing will help.