Motorcycle Safety Ain’t For All Riders

Helmet Safety SpectrumWHERE ARE YOU ON THE SPECTRUM OF MOTORCYCLE SAFETY? If you are reading this, it could be presumed that you have some level of interest in motorcycle safety. But in my experience, what that means in terms of “how much” or “how little” you routinely demonstrate the “best practices” of rider safety may vary considerably.

Although individual perspectives about motorcycle safety are diverse, generally they can be expressed relative to a concept of “I’m a good rider”.

I’m a Good Rider

1) On one end of the motorcycle safety spectrum is the notion that “I’m a good rider. I won’t crash.” That can be translated to mean that motorcycle safety is less of a concern, since one wouldn’t require much protection if he/she were to never crash.

2) Another end of the spectrum is the concept that “I’m a good rider. But I don’t know about every other driver on the road.” The central idea here is that on any ride, on any day, there is the potential to crash or be hit by some inattentive driver.

These two views could be imagined as opposite ends of a spectrum with varying gradients of considerations between.

Motorcycle Rider Fate

There’s an additional consideration, or cliche, that expresses another viewpoint about two types of motorbike riders: “Those that have gone down, and those that will.”

Although this viewpoint is not shared by all motorcyclists, per force, it can only exist within the second half of the “good rider safety spectrum.” In other words, any rider who entertains the belief that “I’m a good rider, I won’t crash” cannot also believe fate will eventually bring every biker down.

So, where do your beliefs fall within this spectrum?

That’s somewhat of a trick question, because regardless of what you may “think” or even “say” about motorcycle safety, the true answer is reflected in what you wear when you ride.

Motorcycle Protective Gear

Your safety beliefs are evident by your riding gear. If you believe you are a good rider and you won’t crash, you probably won’t place a priority on wearing any or all of the following:

♦ Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet
♦ Full Motorcycle Gloves (Not half gloves)
♦ Good Motorcycle Boots
♦ A Good Quality Motorcycle Jacket with armor
♦ Motorcycle Pants or Chaps (Ideally, with armor)

On the other hand, if you are at the other end of the spectrum and believe you are a good rider but are not confident about everyone else on the road, you likely will be wearing some or all of the above.

What’s the Best Motorcycle Safety Philosophy?

Reality is uncompromisingly revelatory: Bikers crash every day. Too many motorcyclists get killed. Every day.

And yet as humans many of us believe that “Crashing won’t happen to me.” Which means every rider who has crashed and/or been killed was likely thinking a similar thing: “It won’t ever happen to me.”

The good new is that some percentage of riders will be right: “It won’t happen to them.”  Carry on!

But how do you “know” you’ll never go down?

What if it’s possible that some day you might crash?

What should you be wearing on that day?

A little reflection on how to improve one’s likelihood of enjoying riding as long as possible would include the philosophy of embracing the following safety points:

♦ Wearing protective gear
♦ Increasing one’s riding skills (study, training, practice)
♦ Gaining lots of riding experience! (Ideally, while developing good riding habits)

By the way, what about bikers who don’t consider they are a good rider in the first place?

Although that concept should easily encompass brand-new riders, I don’t actually recall ever meeting anyone who considered that they were “not” a good rider – completely independent of their experience.

What are your views on motorcycle safety? (Add your perspective below).

97 thoughts on “Motorcycle Safety Ain’t For All Riders

  • Just a few hints from the old guy.(71 and riding since 13) Use a full face helmet!! Like many, I’ve gone down, I’ve never landed on the top of my head. I’ve tossed three shields because of asphalt grooves. Ever heard the phrase: GOT A $10.00 HEAD, BUY A $10.00 HELMET? Stay away from the Booze and Bars.WE ARE NOT BULLET PROOF!!! Ride in small groups. If you ride alone (me) plan a route, stick to it, and leave that plan with folks you know. Notify them when you’re home. A lot of roads in the foothills are getting mud bogged and this stuff is impossible to ride on, pull up and turn around or you’re going down. All curves are dangerous, if you can’t see the entire curve get off the throttle. Get to know your bike!!!!! Anything changes, and I mean anything stop and check it out. It doesn’t take much to create a front wheel wabble, a rear drift, or other nasty things from occurring.
    I live in central Ca. about 20 miles SE of Modesto, Ca. and ride all year averaging about 20K a year. Ride because you love to ride, take frequent breaks to appreciate what’s around you, and stay hydrated.
    When you see a fat old man with(what’s left of it) grey hair and pot belly on either a 30 year old silver Goldwing or candy red Vulcan 1500fi walk over and say “HELLO”. If you’re young and pretty you’ll have to say it two or three times, I’m kind of hard of hearing sometimes!

  • I am 49 and just got my motorcycle endorsement from a class with HD. I have now bought my very first 2 wheeler with a motor. I want to thank all here for your insights on safety. I would like to say that I will be a very safe rider but I am a guy and there would be a lie, there is that stupid kid in us all.
    Riding is something I couldn’t do for a long time, now I can. To be completely honest, I am a bit scared and excited. I guess that is the best part of a ride fear and fun, side by side. I bought a mid size bike to last me a long time, 1300.
    The real question I have is any advise for side street or highway pointers?

  • After teaching MSF riding safety for years and having been a rider now for nearly 40 years, averaging 25,000 miles a year, I’d thought that I was a ‘good’ rider. I was safe, always worn proper riding gear; and blessed to not have an accident. 3 years ago I became a rider for the Patriot Drill Team (Fairfax Virginia) and began to study and train with exceptional riders including Fairfax Motor Officers. After three years, of weekly training, I finally feel I’ve gained what I now consider the minimum standard riding skills for safe on road riding with Cages. I’ve learned to fully appreciate, discover, test and find the true limits of my machine and myself. I now Ride and have fun, with a WIDE margin for error from those limits. “Experience is the best teacher; it just doesn’t have to be your personal experience.” ~JC. Exchange riding experiences and stories with your riding buddies; if you have none, Motorcycles only is a great place to gain wisdom from others; if are fortunate and can share experiences, please do, the one story you tell maybe the one thing that saves someone else one day. case in point: “slow riding” is a required skill for my drill team, I practice daily, I shared my ‘how to’ of it with a riding friend; not 3 months later, after considerable practice on his part, he returned after a road trip to share how that one new skill of begin able to just stop and hold for a moment, feet still up, saved him from certain ‘blind side’ collision in gas station parking lot. Car driver ‘blind side’ not blind spot because never turned to look in the first place when pulling out on pavement strewn loose gravel. You never know what simple crumb of wisdom from your riding history will be the ‘thing’ that matters most to another rider. Share often, “as a rising tide raises all ships.”

  • Enjoyed reading all the above, everyone has good points, ditto to Wings post….plus I keep the upgraded head and running lights on bright in the daytime….along with a BAL brake light set up for two initial flashes prior to steady…..seems to get the cagers attention.

  • I friend told me once, “Damn Ted… You probably shouldn’t be riding a bike if you’re that afraid of them!” That was 30 years ago. I’ve had 2 minor spills on gravel in slow turns. One slow spill from inattention…pulled shoulder. Now wear full helmet & shield, bright yellow armor jacket. Wear reflector working man’s vest at night and rain. High top boots, armored blue jeans. Leather gloves, but use the fingerless type for hot weather. I ride for pleasure and so I choose nicer weather and less traffic conditions around Houston’s 200 mile radius. . Half of mc accidents are cyclists’ fault with no other vehicle involvement (as I was corrected in an earlier forum). That means we have more control than we may think in preventing accidents. Keep your mind sharp & alert. Practice riding in different conditions to be able to respond fast & without thinking. Don’t rush to get anywhere, any time… 2 close-calls which are embedded mentally in my brain forever! I would summarize by asking fellow riders to try to simply remember these 2 things, since most forget a lot else…….

    1). DON’T RUSH
    2). FOCUS

  • I have had a few tipovers at slow/no speed. Two with unpleasant consequences. I broke my fibula (small ankle bone) in June, and about eight years ago, I got a third degree burn on my opposite ankle from the exhaust pipe landing on my foot. The second one could have been avoided if I had been wearing motorcycle boots, not hiking shoes. I now always wear m/c boots. In fact, I just invested in a $260 pair of H-D boots. I alternate between a half-helmet and full-face. I’m not a beanie-cap guy, neither am I on the other extreme. I try to have fun, while making a dangerous sport hopefully manageable enough to get me home safely one day at a time.

  • What makes a good rider? I consider myself a safe rider, a cautious rider, and above all an alert rider. I am knew at riding; at this point 9 months young. I do question my abilities at times but I ride through my apprehension and arrive at my destinations safely. I’ve even broke right going slow with the front brake (a very bad and newbie mistake in my opinion) a couple times and had to pick up my bike. BTW (Is dropping your own considered in the cliche’ every biker will crash?) I’ve been there and through it all. I watch out for the “other guy” cause they may not know what they are doing. And I dont want to be on the other end of them figuring it out. I think I’m a good rider and as long as I keep in mind I’m not alone so be careful; I believe I’ll continue to be Safe, Good and on 2 wheels. As for gear. I want to be seen and I amas bright as I can be. I wear a bright neon yellow jacket and a neon helmet to match. Granted, I do get double looks from 4 wheelers and comments about my “bright light” apparel but my objective is to be seen and I definitely am seen. I wont hear an excuse of I didn’t see him. You can’t help but see me coming. So yeah, I’m a good rider and I make them alert drivers so I can arrive alive…

  • What makes a good rider? I consider myself a safe rider, a cautious rider, and above all an alert rider. I am knew at riding; at this point 9 months young. I do question my abilities at times but I ride through my apprehension and arrive at my destinations safely. I’ve even broke right going slow with the front brake (a very bad and newbie mistake in my opinion) a couple times and had to pick up my bike. BTW (Is dropping your own considered in the cliche’ every biker will crash?) I’ve been there and through it all. I watch out for the “other guy” cause they may not know what they are doing. And I dont want to be on the other end of them figuring it out. I think I’m a good rider and as long as I keep in mind I’m not alone so be careful; I believe I’ll continue to be Safe, Good and on 2 wheels.

  • I might be approaching this motorcycle riding thing from a perspective others may not share. I believe it is terribly important to wear bright colors while riding. I don’t appreciate black leather too much. Yes, armor up when you can. Some days it’s just too hot to armor up however and I depend on the bright colors for visibility. I drive my motorcycle as I drive a Buick, and I see little advantage to breaking speed limits. The traffic lights will regulate speed regardless of what you do. Weaving is a good recipe for an accident also.

  • One of the methods I use when riding is called “Situational Awareness.” I try to make sure I know what is going on all around me. I use my mirrors, turn my head and look at my surroundings, and listen. I never place myself in a vehicles blind spot. I keep a safe distance so I can maneuver if I have to. If I’m stopped at a light or sign, I never shift into neutral. I keep in 1st gear and watch my mirrors to make sure the guy coming up behind me is going to stop. If I think his mind is elsewhere I can get the hell out of his way so he doesn’t rear end me. There are hundreds of drivers every day on any road texting, talking on a hand held phone, or thinking about everything else but driving. No matter how right we are when on our bikes, we will always lose against a car or truck. In fact I switched over to a HD Trike from my Street Glide, and my comfort factor increased having that 3rd wheel on the ground, along with some better brakes. Situational Awareness comes easy for me as I flew for 36 years. Having a First Officer talking into one ear, and a Flight Attendant into the other ear along with Air Traffic Controllers over the radio, and watching for other aircraft in busy airspace during the landing phase of flight made riding my bike easy. Be safe out there, look and listen.

  • oh and I fixed her bike back up. and we are waiting for ice off the roads(northern, mn) to go camping again. one other thing that’s a pet peeve is that a lot of the protective gear that’s sold nowadays isn’t. its cheap, thin Chinese junk that’ll burn into you or rip off you. so get the best you can afford, your life and comfort will depend on it

  • my dad bought my first bike(Yamaha 80) when I was 9, 49 years ago. didn’t wear or have gear then. I own 6 street bikes and a few dirt now. always wear gear now. my girlfriend and I were going camping 6 months ago. she was in the front on her Kawasaki 440 ltd and I was following on my old Goldwing pulling a trailer. a deer ran out in front of her will she was doing 55(at 11 in the morning). she dead centered it and went over the bars. broke the jaw on her modular helmet. tore her riding jacket and pads up. ground thru her boots and gloves. she had 2 black eyes from helmet hitting her glasses and some ugly bruises and abrasions all over body. went thru pt for about 3mos for her knee which twisted. she’d of been dead or broke pretty bad other than having on full gear. that night another local hit a deer at about the same speed. he never regained consciousness and died a week later from brain trauma. he wasn’t wearing a helmet…

  • Riding a bike for a living kinda stacks the odds against me that I will go down… and I have a couple of times…

    But for a helmet I would be dead after a high speed consultation with a tree, after a dog with a death wish crossed the road ( sadly he got his wish)
    I broke ribs, a finger and sprained wrist but I walked away and two days later I was back on the bike riding across Europe on holiday… aren’t modern painkillers great!

    Over the years I lost friends who would be about today if they had been protected so I wear the full armor, chest, back etc etc…

    My wife says – ‘It’s you’re responsibility to make it home to your kids at the end of the day…’

    Occasionally she talks sense!!!

  • Bill, I looked up “muffin” online at a British English Dictionary website. This is what it said:

    UK (US English muffin) a small round flat type of bread, usually sliced in two and eaten hot with butter.

    Over here, it’s most often eaten with sausage or bacon, cheese and an egg (not always). I can only guess that over there, there is a sexy language containing words not found in a British English dictionary.

    You guys aren’t keeping secrets are you? If you are, never mind that one, just tell me why the bird and the bug hit the left side of the wind shield, why does the left windshield wiper not work, why does the left side drivers window not work and why is it that when the hinges on a car or truck door mess up and the door won’t shut properly, it’s always on the drivers side?

    One of the most sexy things about us Americans is our poetic brilliance. I have posted this before, but in case you missed it, I thought you might get a kick out of it:

    While riding along beneath the Kansas skies
    I felt something wet hit me right between the eyes.
    “I hope that’s rain” my mind did say.
    But alas and alack, ’twas not my lucky day.
    I wish that I could aim a six shooter from a bike
    The way a bird can aim it’s pooter while in flight.
    While I’m not particularly afraid of an avian geyser
    I think it’s cool to wear a visor.

    Of course, a geyser probably isn’t the same thing over here that it is over there 🙂

  • @Joe

    I think Americans make things sound a whole lot cooler when it comes to bikes. Chaps do sound a lot better than leggings. Leather pants rather than leather trousers. And motoring terms in general: windshield wipers, tailpipes, hoods, fenders, and trunks all sound sexier in American than the British equivalent. Even gas is better than petrol 🙂

    I’m not sure about your tea though. Or your beer, And muffin means something very different in British English, and I’m not talking a cake 🙂

  • Well, Bill, I wouldn’t want to offend you chaps over there, but “leggings” …. seems I remember that was something the native Americans wore. 🙂

    You know, I ran into an English gentleman over here one time who told me that the problem with Americans is that we have all kinds of things mixed up. He said we were the only people in the world who would boil tea to make it hot, put ice in it to make it cold, sugar to make it sweet, lemon to make it sour and then say “Here’s to you” and drink it ourselves.

    He might have had a point. I mean, I drive a 4 wheeler too and I’ve noticed that when I clean the windshield (screen) that the very first bug to hit it always hits on the left side, right between my eyes. When a window won’t work, it’s always the one on the left side. When a windshield (screen) wiper won’t clean off the mud or slush, it’s always the one on the left side. I have to confess, it does makes me wonder if you Europeans don’t know something that we don’t.

  • @ Joe

    LOL, I guess ‘crash hat’ must be UK English. I do my motorcycling between England, France, Belgium. I love the different different terminology. American bikers talk about ‘chaps’ , which is not something I’ve heard too much I think we use the term leggings instead. We do however, talk about skid lids, or just our lids.

    All good stuff 🙂

  • Bill H … “crash hat”? I never heard that one before. I like it. I’ve always called it a “skid lid” myself, but I can use crash hat, too.

    By the way, speaking as an American, we don’t really have a cell phone problem over here. What we have here is a stupid people problem. Cell phones don’t kill people. People using cell phones to send text messages or to place calls while driving kill people. 🙂

  • Also in here in Europe, it’s been compulsory to wear a crash hat since as long as I’ve been riding. I couldn’t even contemplate going out on a bike without one. I find it incredible that riding without a lid is still allowed in the US. Maybe this is because people in the US accept government interference and laws less readily than we do 🙂

    Cell phones are also banned while driving (except the hands free variety) and apart from a few knobheads, this is by and large obeyed. Again how we euros do what we are told a lot more by the high and mighty. So cellphones are not such the major problem as they seem to be in the States.

    One thing that is a huge problem here for bikers is the condition of some of our roads. Its not at all rare to find craters and ruts in the highway surface. They are a real menace. In sunlight they are usually quite visible, but at night time or in very bad weather, they are too scary to even contemplate. And I don’t just mean on smaller roads; even on major autoroutes s (similar to US interstates) the road surface is often in an awful state of repair. And it seems to get worse every year as traffic volumes increase and the money and time to schedule road repairs becomes even tighter.

  • Cited above is a spectrum of bikers who all think they are good, ranging from one extreme where bikers think they’ll never crash to those who think the reason they might crash is because other drivers are idiots. The former don’t need protective gear, whereas the latter do because of other drivers.

    Perhaps I’m that rare biker who sees limitations in my own riding. A biker who believes in riding within his own limits, with a lot of margin there as well. Your bike must be in good order. You must trust your bike, but don’t push it beyond what it can do. We all like to open up when it’s safe to do so, but it’s also important to slow down, when it would be dangerous not to. We must take into account weather conditions, our own physical and mental states.

    And it is true that you dress to fall. Good pants (leather is best, with at a minimum knee protectors). Good boots (these can also be a good pair of work boots). Gloves, a decent jacket (worn even in the summer), and of course a decent lid. And perhaps above all, always concentrate when riding. See the whole street scene opening up in front of you. Anticipate, be alert, and don’t take risks.

  • Every morning weather permitting, I ride to work down route 41 into Chicago. Along the way there is a digital sign displaying the number of Illinios traffic deaths that year…and the number gets larger almost every week.

    Every time I ride under that sign, I resolve not to add to that number: Motoport Kevlar jacket, full face helmet, armor, boots, gloves and attention to traffic are part of that resolve, as is luck, respect for my bike and a profound gratitude for being lucky enough to ride.

  • As to being a good rider, I’d have to say I’m somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. My technical skills aren’t superb, but I do like to go at a pretty good clip when conditions allow.
    I live in rural New Mexico, where operator error is likely to be more of a source of incident than accidents caused by cages.

    That being said, I ALWAYS wear at the very least a half lid and sturdy boots. If temps are in the 90’s or above, there may be only a T shirt and a pair of jeans between the two, but as things get cooler, I get more ATGATT. I just purchased fully armoured Tecnic jacket and pants, and am glad of it. I am also considering a full face helmet.
    It gets COLLLLD in the mountain and mesa country of New Mexico. Low of 9ª F last night – but dry as bone, no snow so far this winter.

  • You have heard it before, “Only two types of riders, those that have gone down and those that will go down.” Why not wear all your gear? Other than your life, what do you have to loose? You never know if it is your time. Who cares if you look like a dork?

  • Just got back from the H-D dealership here in Renton, WA. The traffic (between 2:00 and 3:00) was horrendous. I was following my son who got lost. I knew an easier way but chose to follow him. (Dropping my bike off for service.) Got stuck on a super steep hill as we were turning around in a neighborhood.

    We don’t have such hills in my neck of the woods back east. I could NOT coordinate the trhrottle/clutch without finding myself revving the throttle so much, so as not to stall, that I would have taken off like a rocket! Trying to get it going, I almost dumped my bike. So I gingerly backed my way down the hill. I had no choice. IF there had been cars behind me, what would I have done?? I thought to myself: what kind of freakin’ biker are YOU?? What a joke. What does this have to do with safety? I have no idea, except I know my limits. If I’d tried to go forward, surely I would have shot out into traffic or had to brake so quickly that I might have dumped my bike. I learned a lesson: stay away from hills. You (me) are not ready for steep hills. Turn around in the road or pull over.

    Where/how can I get practice negotiating hills? They don’t teach that in the MSF courses, do they??

  • Well, I’ve moved from Buffalo, NY to Seattle. The traffic here is miserable. Rode to the mountains last week but had to endure 45 minutes of start/stop heavy city traffic just to get out of the city. I prayed a lot. At one moment I’m inching through traffic hoping I don’t get rear-ended, the next moment I’m flying down some long hill keeping up with traffic, flying through intersections b/c if you don’t keep up with traffic, they run you down., Seattle drivers are rude and impatient.

    In a month and a half, 4 riders have been the victims of road rage…one, a veteran rider, died as he was purposely pushed into the freeway divider. A 50-something old woman on a sports bike made the ‘mistake’ of passing a driver and so was hit from behind a couple times and ended up in a ditch with several broken bones. The couple had a similar experience. They were all wearing helmets as it’s a law here. As for what protective gear they were wearing, I don’t know.

    Just last week, a man on a big yellow Harley was killed by a man making a left hand turn. I had just gone through that same exact spot the day before on my bike going back and forth to the Harley dealership. I always wanted a yellow bike as I thought it would make me more conspicuous. Seems nothing really matters…But I will check out full-faced helmets today. I wear chaps now and a very thick leather jacket. Do I really have to get armor too??? Can someone please tell me?

  • Our laws in Australia must be a lot stricter as it’s illegal to ride without a helmet, which I totally agree with. I only ride with a full-faced helmet as should something happen, I do not want to deal wtih expensive dental work or lose half my face! I also wear protective gear on every ride and I only have a 125cc Scooter (at present).

    As far as I’m concerned, my body and the road colliding at only 50kms per hour (think that’s about 30 miles) is not going to be pretty! I know how much it hurts if I were to just trip over and fall so coming off my bike at any speed is going to hurt a lot!! I look at people on a motorbike in shorts and t-shirt and think they are just dumb. A bike offers no protection, no matter what size the engine is or how good the rider is…

    I have a summer jacket that is mainly mesh but has all the armour pieces and will never ride without gloves or leg protection… even if it’s just jeans…

    (In my 20’s I used to ride a 250cc sports bike and came off at only around 40kms per hour and my gloves were scratched on both sides – first thing to put down are your hands…)

  • Motorcycles can be hard to see, and people are so distracted with cell phones and texting that I feel things have become much more dangerous even during the past 5 years. I’ve been riding 42 years, raced offroad, and taken three different driving schools. I’ve had three close calls; high side slide due to oil on a corner, hit from behind while sitting at a red light (cell phone talker didn’t see me) and hit by a left turner cutting the corner while sitting at a stop sign. The worst ended as I watched a bumper hit my full face helmet right in the face shield – Bell Star that broke in two places – thanks Bell for saving my face!

    I always ride with lights on, and have added extra lights. Reflectors added to bike and gear for night time riding. Bought a bike with ABS once they became reasonable. Wear almost all the gear all the time – armored pants about 50% of the time – always when on longer rides. One thing I believe keeps me safe is carefully picking routes, never riding in a blind spot, and pretending everyone is actually trying to hit me.

    I don’t have any emotion about what others wear, other than a bit of sadness having lost several good friends in motorcycle wrecks – two cars, and one deer. I saw a lady by my cottage lay down a bike while wearing shorts and a tank top with a plastic half helmet. Road rash all up one side, half her lower jaw gone (many surgeries to rebuild) and permanent brain damage. She was going about 35 miles per hour and hit sugar sand on a corner and just face planted and slid.

    I love riding a bike, and continue to do so because I was wearing good gear during three separate crashes. Still, I have $1.5m in life insurance as it’s definitely higher risk than playing scrabble. If you are single with no living family it is different than a father with a wife and three children – so I look at what the impact of my risk taking may be and then manage it the best I can.

  • I ride a Kawasaki Vulcan custom.I always wear jeans,boots gloves and of course a helmet.I don’t wear a jacket if it’s hot of hi viz .I have to admit when a see someone on a summers day,especially on a cruiser with a full faced helmet,leather jacket ,high viz I just think dude if you’re that scared to ride why bother? Most of the fun of riding is the freedom, the wind on your body.If you feel like you have to dress up in what is basically full armor you loose all that not to mention being hot as hell when its warm out.
    On the other end of the spectrum to the guys who think it’s cool to wear shorts and tennis shoes you’re just total dorks. Sorry to burst your bubble!

  • In the Buffalo area, I seldom see riders wearing protective clothing. Just about everyone rides in t-shirts and tank tops.

    My riding buddies all wear just t-shirts and helmets that really are no more than lids when we go on our rides. I put on a jacket, gloves, 3/4 helmet and sometimes chaps! THEY are comfortable, enjoying the breeze and I am HOT and feel quite silly with all my gear on! I feel like an absolute DORK on my Harley and yet my ‘what if’ way of thinking does not allow me to do otherwise.

  • Full face helmet; gloves, boots; armored jacket, pref Hi Viz; kevlar jeans or leathers on longer rides.

    You only have to see one patient or one MRI from someone who didn’t wear a helmet to realize you’ve got about 1/8″ of bone between you and getting fed through a tube for the rest of your life. The rest of it; I love riding, and want to keep riding. Think of it as being a knight in armor. . .:)

  • Some gear I wear all the time: helmet, jacket, glove. This is for commuting to and from work. On pure riding days (spent on twisty back roads of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri) I wear all the gear every time. Started on hard edge sport bikes when I was 60 years old and found I needed to learn a lot. Took Lee Parks Total Control course and did advanced rider training at the local track. Taking the track training one more time this Saturday. (last time was CCW this time going CW). My Sunday sport riding has gone from a white knuckle experience with frequent “Oh Shit!” moments to enjoyable and relaxed, but it has taken some training and a lot of practice. I will take all the motorcycle training I can get!

  • I don’t know that I can claim to be a ‘good rider’ but I think I can say I am a ‘safe’ rider, even though I don’t always wear a helmet, or chaps, or armored jacket. Some of the things I do, or I should say, don’t do to keep me from being run over are things other riders might consider silly, even sissy. Doesn’t matter, There are just some things I don’t do. 1) I never ride a bike in traffic that is heavy enough to make me nervous even in a car. You couldn’t pay me to ride a bike through Kansas City during the peak of traffic. I just don’t do it. If I did, yes, I’d want to be wearing all the protective gear I could get my hands on. Driving through Kansas City even in a car is a lot like getting shot through a particle accelerator, so I just don’t do it. I don’t always wear a helmet, but if I am riding at night or in the rain, I’ll be wearing the full face helmet because every where that isn’t in the city is deer and other critters country. In the rain, doesn’t matter how good you think you are, you can loose control with just one mistake. Yes, I do ride in the rain, no, I don’t ride in the rain just for something to do. If I am riding in the rain at all, there’s a reason. I never assume the other guy is looking out for me. I have had drivers make eye contact with me, then turn in front of me any way. I assume that if I get killed, they can always fall back on “I didn’t see him” … so, I always assume they don’t see me. It’s my responsibility to see them. I never ride so close to the rear of another vehicle that I won’t have time to react in case they drive their car over something on the road. I allow myself the distance to give me the time to hit the breaks. I do enjoy riding at night, but when I do, I NEVER drive faster than my headlight can show me what’s ahead, for the same reason. I don’t like surprises. Two other rules I live by: 1) I never get on the back of someone else’s motorcycle. If I’m not driving, I’d rather walk and 2) Any one who gets on the back of my motorcycle wears a helmet. This is non-negotiable. I consider myself a safe rider, but the unforeseen can happen to anybody, like a bird taking off from the side of the road and hitting me between the eyes. If someone is going to get killed on my bike, the one most likely should be myself. Sure, I can’t guarantee someone on the back will live either, but I can make sure the odds are stacked in their favor as much as possible. Final comment: NOBODY rides on the back of my bike if it’s raining. If I ride in the rain, I do it alone.

  • I’m not a good rider.

    I freely admit it, I’m woefully erratic I can be great one day but terrible the next and I get bored easily if I’m not interested and then I lose concentration.

    I also have a tendency to turn into corners too early.

    On the plus side I’m improving and I’m better on a bike than in a car. Cars are TOO safe and too divorced from what you’re doing.

  • First received my motorcycle endorsement in 1978. From year one, attitude while riding has been, “90% of the drivers on the streets are going to say they didn’t see you, the other 10% hate motorcycles.” Wore a full face helmet in California before they had a helmet law. Never ride without one.

  • I realize the chances of me going down are pretty good, even though I am a good rider. I wear protective gear, but not always the best. For instance, I might decide to wear my half helmet rather than my full face or I might wear jeans without my armor pants or chaps. I have several jackets and some I have taken out the armor.
    I believe my protection comes from The Heavenly Father and when it’s my time, I’ll go willingly.

  • hey wait what about them ..head rags,do rags,skull rags,beanies,skull caps,stoker caps,head wraps,flydanna,do wraps, ..some come in black leather, thats good … NO??

  • Stupid is a Stupid does. That translates as “just because the guvimint sez you don’t have to wear a helmet…doesn’t mean you should not” Feels Cooler…BS. Shade is always cooler than sunshine. Look at the umbrellas on the beach. We spend $12000 for a new loaded cruiser and won’t spend 35 bucks for a helmet? Give me a break. Try this: Put on a helmet and have a buddy “tap” your head with a baseball bat. Then take off your helmet and ask him to do it again! End of argument….

  • Usually wear all the gear all the time except I have to admit there are days that it is too hot to ride. Meaning, If i think I will pass out due to heat exhaustion,, with all the gear on, I either ride very early in the morning until about noon, or not at all.

    Also, At a fourth of July picinic, My bike fell over in the grass, the sidestand sank into the soft soil. When I lifted the bike, ( I have had proper training on how to lift a bike and DID NOT USE THAT METHOD) I heard and felt my back snap. Down I went. Off to the hospital. with a compression fracture of the L4 vertebrae. It hurts! Most broken backs do, It has been four months and one surgery and I still am trying to recover. I am 57 and diagnosed with Osteoporosis. Imagine that, I never in a million years would have suspected this could happen to me, The point is, LEARN AND USE the correct way to lift a bike.

    I also wear a reflective high-vis vest when riding. I have had several drivers tell me that if it were not for the vest they would have never seen me. Once in a convienant store parking lot and once at night in a fueling station. Both were senior drivers with glasses on.

    Wear the gear and if the bike falls, know the correct procedure to pick it up. You otherwise might have a broken back like me!

  • I live in a retirement community and drivers here…well, let’s just say, turning left from the righthand lane is considered going with the flow of traffic. Between the distracted drivers talking on cell phones and confused elderly drivers, anyone on a bike here would be plain stupid to ride without protection.

    Ride safe, people!

  • I’ve been riding for 26 yrs.been down a few times,though a long time ago.I wear a full faced helmet with quality gloves ,armored leather jacket,armored ballistc pants and high zip-up amd velcro leather boots.
    Ride as if I am invisible. I ride a lot in rural areas and try to avoid THE CITY as much as I can
    I am a bobble headed rider, alway looking at my mirrors , side to side,all around. Luck and skill have gotten me this far ‘but you never know what@is around the corner. Ride appropriately to your surroundings.

  • Although , I don’t have all the gear as can’t afford it yet I always wear a good helmet. Practicing safety must be on your mind at all times as it is the moment you let your guard down that the unexpected happens. A cautious rider should look at every ride as a chance to refine their skills. I’m not a professional rider but I like to try pretend I am. Not a day goes by ( drive my bike 420 miles per week), where somebody doesn’t try to take me out in a new way. You need to file those situations in your mind so as to expect a reoccurence sometime in the future. Got to study the road surface constantly and best to know your roads well if you want to have a little “extra” fun. We all basically live by the same princples of physics and motion and in reallity , you don’t ride a bike , you guide a bike. Need to look agressive but act responsibly as you would expect others to drive.

  • Got hit by a cager talking on his cellphone and coasting through a stop sign, while I turned left with my 12 year old daughter on the back, neither of us was hurt, because of protection.

    Sure could have been worse! Only totalled my bike! Due to my jacket and armor and helmet. Smacked the side of my head on the pavement – no helmet- no brain.

    The best was when I called my boss and said I wouldn’t be coming in I was at the emergency room having my leg checked out – he said, (in a very ticked-off voice), “Well I guess we’ll have to have one of the other managers stay. Are you coming in tomorrow morning?”

    I won’t ride without safety gear, but if you don’t feel the need that’s your right, just sign a donor card, because there are a lot of bad drivers out there that aren’t seeing us! And yes, I am a donor and have already donated one kidney, so if I go down and damage the other one, I’m on dialysis!

    As my old Senior Chief in the Navy said “You’re just as stupid as my old mule if you don’t wear protection!”

    Ride Safe – Ride Smart -Ride Protected – Come Home to your family.

  • Have gone down , long time ago ,don’t want to anymore . I do wear most of the gear all the time . On a 3 hour plus ride ATTGATT. But with all the other riders and things on the road you can never be too sure . But i do go out and ride , wich is why i bought my ride. I ride from march to december (in Canada) sometimes in sub-Zero temp ,but i always rely on my brain to tell me that maybe that driver didn’t see me , or there might be a slippery product on the ground or…etc…. But i go out and enjoy the moment. If i do not feel confident i back down on the gas. Time has shown me different things that can be called experience, and i try to use my judgement best i can . For the rest i believe in God , He’s my co-rider out there , and i trust he will let me live for an other day so i can go work, live, love , eat ……etc , There are times and places to go fast , i try to always be aware of my possibilities and take into account that others don’t necessarely do so . But i want to enjoy life and live , as they say,: It’s not the destination it’s the journey !!! Have a good time ! ! !Lonewolf , (yes i am , i ride alone ! ! ! )

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