Adam Bohannan's broken leg healed after a the first month but the gravel bedded in his knee after a car pulled out in front of his motorcycle three years ago gives a stumble to his stride. He was riding down the street on a hot day and hadn’t bothered with any riding gear. After 35 years of motorcycle riding he should have known you are lucky until the day you are not. Dangerous hobbies remind us of our own mortality but the difference between pushing boundaries and pushing up daisies has less to do with luck then common sense and safe riding habits.
As people engaging in a dangerous activity, motorcyclists must mitigate hazards to maximize our chances of walking away when worst-case scenarios present themselves. Safe riding starts with a Department of Transportation certified helmet. A DOT certified helmet has a DOT sticker on the helmet’s back, above the neckline. SNELL is an independent helmet certification that exceeds DOT standards and is common to more expensive brands such as Arai, Shoei and AGV. Helmets are available in half or full face design. Half helmets cover only your skull and provide little or no eye protection. Full helmets cover your skull, jaw and provide some level of eye protection, frequently offering tinted visors for different riding environments. A full-face helmet should fit snug about your head with little to no side-to-side play at the cheeks and no obstruction in vision. While helmets are not mandated federally, most states require operators and passengers to wear a DOT-certified helmet as time and time again studies have found properly worn helmets save lives and minimize injuries. Similar to an airbag, a helmet is meant to work once and should be replaced after any accident where the helmet is struck.
While riders are not required to wear any additional safety equipment, proper motorcycle riding gear will improve a rider's comfort, allowing more attention to be spent spotting hazards on the road. A motorcycle jacket should be made of leather or synthetic material such as Kevlar with removable padding on the shoulders, elbows and room for a back protector. Built-in padding around the kidneys is also recommended. A good motorcycle jackets should include a removable liner and a full-length zipper around the waist to attach to riding pants. Pants are available in leather and synthetic and should have padding at the knees and hips. Motorcycling gloves should be made of leather with padding on the palms and knuckles and secured via Velcro straps below the hand and around the wrist. A gloves thickness depends on rider preferences and riding conditions as thicknesses range from thin leather to waterproof to heavily insulated. Boots should be constructed of durable leather and reach above the ankles. Preferabley, boots should have a steel shank in the sole and should be made with an oil-resistant sole. At times, proper riding gear can be uncomfortable but so can walking with a limp.