Personal Protective Gear

Without the protection of a ton of steel, a rider’s head, arms, and legs are vulnerable and most prone to injury in a crash. Besides keeping you warm and dry, protective clothing and equipment can keep you safe. The use of reflective materials and bright colors makes it easier for you to be seen. To ride safe you’ll need a helmet, eye protection, protective and reflective clothing, gloves, and motorcycle specific.

Helmets

Helmet and riding gloves image

Helmets are the most important piece of safety equipment for a motorcyclist to reduce the extent of head injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says a non-helmeted motorcyclist is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury and 15 percent more likely to suffer a nonfatal head injury than a helmeted rider if involved in a crash (NHTSA, 2000).

  • The State of Florida requires all riders under the age of 21 to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-compliant helmet securely fastened upon his or her head; a person over age 21 may operate or ride on a motorcycle without wearing protective headgear.
  • If you choose to not wear a helmet, you must be covered by an insurance policy that provides at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.

Eye Protection

Florida requires the use of an eye protective device when operating a motorcycle. Even if your bike has a windshield, proper eyewear helps protect your eyes from insects, dirt, rocks, or other airborne matter. The wind can cause eyes to tear and blur vision, and good vision is imperative when riding.

  • Choose good quality goggles, glasses with plastic or safety lenses, or a helmet equipped with a face shield.
  • Eyewear should be scratch-free, shatter-proof, and well-ventilated to prevent fog buildup.
  • Use clear eyewear at night since tinted shields reduce contrast and make it more difficult to see.

Clothing

The clothes you select for riding should be designed to protect your skin in case you fall. Proper clothing will also protect you during bad weather.

  • Wear a durable jacket made especially for motorcycle riders from special synthetics or leather. Jackets with reflective trim or accented with bright colors can also help make you more visible to motorists.
  • Always wear long pants (not shorts) when riding. Pants should not be baggy or flared to prevent tangling in the chain, kick-starter, foot-pegs, etc.
  • For the best protection, leather chaps or specially-made synthetic pants are recommended.
  • Upper body clothing should be brightly-colored. Some riders wear lightweight reflective orange or yellow vests over their jackets.
  • Retro-reflective material used on your clothes, helmet, and motorcycle will help make you visible to other motorists, especially at night.
  • Summer riding calls for technical fabrics that will protect you during hot weather:

­   Wear a ventilated jacket with protective features, such as one equipped with open-weave fibers or quick dry fabrics and strategically-placed protective materials to add safety without sacrificing maximum airflow.

­   Good summer riding pants use air mesh panels to allow for maximum air ventilation, and some provide rider protective padding as well.


Gloves

Durable gloves make it easier to grip the controls, help protect your hands from the elements, and help lessen injury if you fall.

  • Choose non-slip gloves to improve grip.
  • Leather gloves are an excellent choice, as are special fabric gloves with leather palms and grip strips on the fingers. Gauntlet-type gloves will keep air out of your sleeves.
  • Appropriate gloves are available for all kinds of weather. Wear insulated gloves and glove liners to suit different types of riding conditions.
  • Wear lightweight summer motorcycle gloves with features such as venting systems with air intake vents on the digits. Many reputable brands make vented leather or fabric glove styles; some open and close so you can control the air flow. Some are made of moisture-wicking fabrics; these lightweight mesh gloves with mesh webbed between each finger and on the hand backs are among the most popular styles for summer riding.

Footwear

Motorcycle boot

Proper footwear will protect your feet, ankles, and lower parts of the legs.

  • Specially-made leather motorcycle boots are best. Durable athletic shoes that cover the ankles are a good second choice.
  • Sandals, sneakers, and similar footwear should not be worn—they provide little protection from abrasion or crushing impact.
  • Avoid dangling laces that can get in the way or get caught in moving parts.

 Personal Protective Equipment Links

Resources and studies related to helmet performance, usage, and laws: