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

  • I was a trial attorney for 23 years, defending many motorcycle accident cases. The motorcyclist NEVER won–maybe they won the case but all they got was money for their broken bodies. Swore I would never climb on a bike. Well,when I turned 73 I bought a BMW K1200LT and 2 weeks later rode it 3000 miles. Had the time of my life. But I wore a full suit of armor, including a full-face helmet. 2years later I continue to ride, no accidents yet, but ALWAYS wear full armor. I don’t ride as fast as I would have 20 years ago. Also, I don’t hop on the bike to run to the store to get a tube of toothpaste. I don’t because it takes me an extra 5 minutes to “suit up” and it’s not worth it. So I miss some riding opportunities because I won’t go if I can’t suit up. My personal “rule” for my safety. I know I won’t get into an accident…but I doubt that any motorcyclist ever expects to get into an accident. So I suit up.

  • to jim 6-7-11 with you bud, after your state send the remains down to fla we will help finish off the cool weather riders…. i do wear what i can in our winter 60-70’s. but try 98-105 temp in leathers. with 100% humid. in traffic– steamed clams is the feeling..tee shirt not best but neather is passing out at 60 mph….so cut the crap ya-all weather has a lot to do with it not every one lives in calf. make believe plastic land.. and needs to make a clothing statement..

  • Great advice ! I would also add – ride defensively. This doesn;t mean you can’t have fun and enjoy your ride you just try to anticipate what other road users will do before they can harm you.

    Keep it between the hedges !

  • To David, I appreciate you calling me an idiot. I DON”T wear ATGATT . i ride a HD Roadie, “Police” edition. I also live in South Louisiana where the humidity is 98% and so is the temp. So, excuse me if I don’t look “cool” in all my armor, but I don’t just ride in the cool comfy spring, I suggest you put on you armored leathers w/ your full gloves and helmet, and come on down to cajun country and pass you a ride. You would be whining like a little girl about how hot it is. It’s arrogant pricks like you that make me wanna bitch slap opinionated riders who continually spout from thie pie hole, that THEIRS is the best kind of ride, and THEIR’S the most inttelegent way to ride. I don’t race, I don’t drink, I don’t pack ride and I damn sure don’t get stupid. There are old riders and there are bold ridets, but there are NO OLD BOLD RIDERS. My BRAIN is my first order of armor and it’s engaged and on ATT.

  • Wearing all my armor makes me more careful. My full-face helmet is cool–don’t want any dents or cracks on it. And who wants to mess up a good leather jacket or a pair of HD chaps? Want to keep my logging boots nice, until I get another pair and use the old ones for work or hiking. And just in case I do go down: Better cowhide than my hide!

  • I’m a member of the second group. I went down about ten days ago for my first time and although all my protective clothing did it’s job I had made the mistake of having a cell phone in my breast pocket. The bruises went away after abour 4 days but the rib that the cell phone broke is still very painful.

    I ride thoughtfully and carefully and have digested Rober Hough’s books. I was within the speed limit on a two lane country road and was watching the traffic. I saw the oncoming car and the truck behind her. I saw her suddenly left turn in front of me and I left a patch of rubber on the ground. I swerved behind her and had to lay it down to avoid going head on into the truck behind her. I hit the ground at only about 10-15 mph.

    This was in the middle of a sunny, clear, dry day with no conditions contributing to the accident. The driver stopped, she said “I didn’t see you”, but did see me once she was right in my path… or maybe her passenger did, fortunately the truck driver behind her saw me before the woman turned so he was able to avoid running over me.

    My neon yellow jacket is torn a bit, the armour jacket and leather pants are uninjured, parts of the bike were busted up but I rode it home. I was careful and doing everything right (IMHO) so damage and injuries were light. I still have a lot of pain but came out of it very lucky.

    If I hadn’t worn all the protective gear then this would have been a very costly and painful experience. I feel lucky, if I had hit the lady’s car or the truck had hit me things would have been very different.

    Three things that I feel could have been better: 1) stickier tires to stop better 2) no cell phone in pocket 3) ABS brakes Without the skid I might have kept it up and still avoided both cars.

    I am now convinced that folks that think they can avoid all accidents are deluded. You can be the safest rider out there and there is some unthinking driver who can suddenly do some really stupid thing and end up involving you in an accident..

  • My greatest enemy is my own mind – I sometimes get cocky when riding, and end up pushing it too fast, too far. It’s a good idea to check in with yourself periodically and consider how big your safety margins actually are.

  • I’ve been riding since I was 8 and have over 35 years experience of street riding. Up until 3 weeks ago I had never crashed before, now twice in the last 2 weeks I’ve gone down. No serious injuries to myself and both times I was able to not only walk away but ride away also. Thank God for protective gear. I always watch 3 vehicles ahead to see brake lights or whatever is going on…but both times I went down there was no one in front of the people in front of me and they stopped short. I’m trying to learn to expect the unexpected.

  • I’ve been riding since I was 8 and have over 35 years experience of street riding. Up until 3 weeks ago I had never crashed before, now twice in the last 2 weeks I’ve gone down. No serious injuries to myself and both times I was able to not only walk away but ride away also. Thank God for protective gear. I always watch 3 vehicles ahead to see brake lights or whatever is going on…but both times I went down there was no one in front of them and they stopped short. I’m trying to learn to expect the unexpected.

  • My biggest fear is getting hit head on by another car. I ride mostly on 2 lane country roads. Car on other side trying to pass slow traffic comes into my lane at me at high speed. I have avoided these cars by swerving. Been lucky twice this season. They really were not close calls. But I had the right of way and had to get out of there way. I have a flashing headlight which I always use.

  • I am always glad to read all the knowledge that all you folks share. I read all the comments here, and learned something from each one. John is right on the money, be a lifelong learner. I have worked in the ED and seen folks who really got hurt badly. Yet, I chose to learn to ride, and try to always behave as though I am invisible to others. With all the texting I see going on by cager drivers, sometimes we really don’t have to imagine being invisible.
    Anticipate, thinking ahead, and planning an escape route pays off whether you are riding, or just plain living. Life is too short not to do what you love. Too fragile not to do the best you can to minimize the risks inherent in our passion. Thanks all for sharing all your knowledge, this is my favorite cycle forum!!

  • Expect the best but prepare for the worst. All the gear in the world will not save you from a transport truck hitting you at 70 mph…only your skill and experience can prevent that by avoidance techniques! Proper gear will save you from one vehicle events such as wiping out from loose gravel, debris on the road etc., and slower two vehicle collisions.

    Stats on Motorcycle fatalities…
    ØMore riders age 40 and over are getting killed;
    Ø More motorcyclist fatalities are occurring on rural roads;
    Ø High BAC levels are a major problem among motorcycle operators;
    Ø Half of the fatalities are related to negotiating a curve prior to the crash;
    Ø Over 80 percent of the fatalities occur off roadway;
    Ø Undivided roadways account for a majority of the fatalities;
    Ø Almost two thirds of the fatalities were associated with speeding as an operator
    contributing factor in the crash;
    Ø Almost 60 percent of motorcyclist fatalities occur at night;
    Ø Collision with a fixed object is a significant factor in over half of the fatalities;
    Ø Braking and steering maneuvers possibly contribute for almost 25 percent of the
    Ø Helmet use among fatally injured motorcyclists below 50 percent; and,
    Ø Almost one third of the fatally injured operators did not have a proper license.

    So what does it all mean? Lots of practice, esp. avoidance maneuvers; extra vigilance at night time; no drinking and driving (intoxication accounts for almost half of fatalities); forget the ‘cool’ and wear a full-face helmet (cheaper than plastic surgery); expect other drivers to do stupid things…they won’t disappoint you… ride to your experience level… excess speed esp. at corners has been a strong factor; rural roads (where all good bikers ride) also means other drivers not paying attention as there is less traffic…

    Check out… for more info…

  • One of the main things for riding safety is to never take it for granted. I prefer to consider myself a somewhat experienced rider who is constantly learning to be better. I may or may not ever be in a serious accident but it’s up to me to minimize the possibility of a serious accident or injury by working on my skills and always wearing proper protective gear. Reading discussions such as this is part of the process of getting better.

  • I’m going out to invest in some armored gear. Thanks for all the great comments

  • Been riding for 40 yrs. Been thru the MSF course (required in the army) several times during my long career and the 18th abn corps drivers safety / MC course before MSF became the standard. Hot weather is a big deterrent to wearing protective clothing. Been down 4 times in my riding career. Last time hurt significantly because it was 90 deg at 830 PM and I had a shirt on w/o my jacket. Big deer lept over the embankment into my lane of traffic. Too close to react. Hit it at 50mph w/o braking. Went down hard. World class road rash on my L arm, shoulder and hip. Boots saved my ankles and feet, gloves saved my hands and my helmet saved my noggin. Got a fractured collar bone and now sport a titanium plate and a surgical scar. Sure wish the weather had been cooler or I’d stayed home that night! The 2010 ElectraGlide was totalled and since replaced. BTW, the deer never heard my V twin and its 103 CI engine, despite the roar of its loud pipes. Deer did not survive. Had I been riding my old 76 Superglide, neither would I.

  • MSF instructor for 28 years. Looking back on my riding history, I marvel at how lucky I am to have survived.

    “Learned to ride” using all the common knowledge circa 1960. “Don’t use the front brake, you’ll go over the handlebars (only if you hit an immovable object about as high as the top of the fuel tank). Loud pipes save lives (loud shirts save lives) Helmets cause broken necks (only if you hit a bridge abutment at an antisocial speed)

    Some of the old misinformation is still out there: At Experienced Rider Courses I observe that many riders are abysmally ignorant when it comes to swerving and maximum braking. Some of them have 30 years of experience which translates to one year of experience repeated 29 more times.

    Be a lifelong learner. You can never be too good at stopping. worried about becoming a hood ornament because you’re too good? Only about 3% of accidents involve a cager hitting a bike from the rear.

  • no matter what your skill level on a bike an inattentive driver in a car or truck is the great equalizer!
    No two ways about it, the day you stop fearing the road will be a very dangerous day for you indeed.

  • I think SATYR is right. Could not have said it better myself. I am constantly scanning, even what’s behind me) and assuming something unexpected is going to happen. Always try to have an escape route, and try to avoid a potentially dangerous situation. We were returning from a 600 mile tour and I was about 90 miles from home. We pulled into a gas station to fill up and refresh. At 5 mph(luckily) I wasent watching, my right pannier bag hit a large wooden planter. I just didnt see it. It shoved me to the right, and I went down. How embarrassing, but better embarrassed than seriously hurt or killed. Point. At any speed, pay attention. Take a safety course evry once in a while, and be aware and more aware. There are no guarantees,, that we all know. But trying to minimize the risk is common sense. Im riding for 30 years, and even when I get on my bike, I always have just a little bit of fear and respect for the environment and the machine Im on. Ride safe, be considerate, dont speed, and just enjoy the damn ride. Be well, Scott

  • SATYR is very right about one often overlooked safety item: rider health. Know your physical limits. I learned mine in an MSF course. I’m 56 and have early stage Parkinson’s disease. I can ride a track bicycle fine, I can work out, walk fast without falling, work, cook, dress, drive a stick-shift car, even take modern dance classes and I have better balance skills than most (balance 10 minutes on one leg). But I can’t ride a motorcycle. I thought I ought to buy one (a Harley XR1200) before my illness advanced. I discovered in the Rider’s Edge class that I no longer have the dexterity and split-second coordination to properly control a motorcycle.

    If you think you may be less able than you or others once were, ask your local medical teaching hospital to refer you to their movement disorders lab. Quite possibly a graduate student would be thrilled to test you. Then take an MSF course. Be informed.

  • Charles Smith says:
    September 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Will someone please be as kind as to inform me as I have never actually seen what this stands for.

    ATGATT – All The Gear All The Time

  • Should the motorcycle been to the left of the trailer at stop?
    Then the the motorcyclist could of had an escape from this tragedy.
    Also should the motorcyclist been gripping hard and looking into his mirrors at stop and
    be at least one or two car lengths behind the trailer for an emergency
    and be thinking about escape from being injured or killed.

    I’m confused tell me how to save my life in a situation like this Please!!!

  • Well, I’m from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where, for most of the year, weather is really HOT.
    Now, we’re in winter. For someone in America or Europe, our winter isn’t even winter, since temperatures won’t go below 13ºC. In summer, temperatures are over 35ºC most of the time.
    My policies for riding gear are:
    – If I’m on a trip, I use everything, no matter how hot it is.
    – In the winter, in the city, I use everything but the protective pants. Gloves, full helmet, jacket, strong leather shoes and jeans.
    – In the summer, no matter how hot it is, I’ll use at least full helmet, closed shoes and gloves. I crashed in sandals once, probably at 15km/h. My feet still hurt and I’ve heard lots of stories about guys in sandals who lost toes in crashes at really low speeds.

  • I have ridden for forty +years.I have crashed more than once and been hurt more than once.I love riding and will continue to do so until ican’t.when i ride all cagers are out to kill me, the fun part of the game is not letting them have their way.this outlook has served me well for many years

  • after reading what has been written…from riders who have been enjoying freedom long before I was even a thought to my parents…my father used to ride a norton back in the day…I too try to practice personal safety as best as I can…to the best of my ability…I live in a third world island…and these idiots will and has ran us off the road…oh yeah…my day job I drive a semi/40ft trailer…I will not be disrespected on my bike…I live in TRINIDAD&tobago

  • I used to wear a full face helmet, but now i have a windsheild and a pair of really cool sunglasses. I wear shorts all the time, even in chilly temperatures. I hate it when i find a dragon fly in my underwear.

  • Interesting to read the comments.. I am in the school of thought that sais it is ‘my ride’.. nobody elses. I like an Open Face and jeans – this may leave me open to greater injury than those who wear Full Face and pretective pants. That is true, but I wear what I want to wear. I am not in much of a hurry. I like the wind in my face, and the sound of a V twin. I like to get off my bike, straighten my jeans out, and grin.. and that is how it is. I don’t talk about how fast my bike will go, how close I was to death at some junction or other.. in fact I don’t talk much at all. That is not why I ride.. it is not about boasting, or showing off.. it is not worrying about being hit by a car either. I love this forum I look forwards to reading it.. but getting me to dress like a Power Ranger? I couldn’t do it.

  • What most do not understand is that with proper gear you can remain cooler than riding in a t-shirt. The right full face helmet cuts the blast furnace effect when it gets real hot. (95+)

    I wear ALL the gear ALL the time. Anyone that rides without gearing up is simply not taking riding seriously.

    Will they crash one day? The odds are good that they will. Somewhere around 65% of riders do. I have four times.
    All four were due to road contaminates All four were single vehicle. (Me).The fastest was about 60 mph. Each of the four times I was able to get up get back on the bike and continue riding. (unhurt as the gear did its job)


  • Loud pipes do not save lives. All they do is incense “cagers”, fellow riders, and those that prefer to actually take the ride seriously. 40 plus years ago I started without wearing a helmet, gloves or basic common sense apparel. Heck, a long sleeve shirt prevented getting a nice biker’s tan! In the intervening years and miles, and (fortunately) only one accident where any personal injury accrued, I grew up. I use a full face helmet anytime on the road – I will occasionally and only locally use a 3/4 open face when the weather is hot. I’m always armored up with appropriate for season textile gear. Always wear at least over ankle leather footgear, usually wear side zip 12 inch leather/textile boots. The machine is always ready to go – I check air pressure at least once a month with a digital gauge. Lights, brakes, cables all in spec. Preventive maintenance a key. Every Spring we do a once over of all accessible bolts and screws. Took the MSF Advanced Rider’s Course about four years ago – who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks (although a couple of my peers in class complimented me for being “smooth”). ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR ENVIRONMENT – ALL ASPECTS.

  • I’m A New Rider, All the comment’s gives pause to thought, I was going to have my bike inspected today. But with 10 day before its needed I’ll just practice.

  • The more I ride the more I realize how fragile life is. My first long ride helped me understand the importance of proper gear, and mental toughness to stay focused on riding to live. I’ve blogged about my stupididy on my blog journal “My motorcycle summer in Montana” Those of you who are looking an easy way to get yourself some cyberface and are web challenged like me, try is by far my favorite site to visit. Keep up the good work.

  • ATGATT, BRC, ERC, ERC, CPR/Firstaid/AED. “Ride as if you are invisible, studies show that you are!” “S.E.E.”: Search, Evaluate, Execute. T-Clock.

    Took a lot of flake earlier on, wearing all the gear, all the time as a passenger.
    Dress for a slide, not the ride.

    Beginners Riders Courses: I’d recommend them even for passengers that Never plan to drive. Knowledge is power and you’ll learn what Not to do helping to make riding safer for both you and your driver.

    Take riders courses, practice, practice, practice…that quick swerve or ability to hard brake might just save your life.

    Be prepared by carrying a first aid kit and knowing how to use it…who knows which riding buddy you’ll need to help.

    Don’t speed or consume alcohol/drugs when riding.

    Intersections are the most dangerous places on the road when another vehicle is involved with interaction with a motorcycle.

    Carry I.C.E information, if you’re the one down carrying it might just help medics save your life.

  • I live in Florida,I see guys riding all the time with sandals,T-shirts,no helmets,Ialways say to my self Boy is that gonna hurt.Yes’ it does get hot down here,but ” I would rather sweat then bleed. I”ve been riding bikes for 35+ yrs, I wear gear all the time.I have been told that many people think that people that wear gear do so because they are not good riders. I think people that don’t wear gear are amateurs.

  • Imagine this….flesh and material co-mingled, first responders, aid car, helicopter ride, hospital, surgery, doctors, nurses, nurses aids, blood draws, injections, ivs, skin grafts, infection, home care, physical therapy, BILLS and more BILLS, debt, scars, heal time, friends and family upset. Geez…. THINK…. be responsible….wear protective gear.

  • You can wear all the gear in the world but if you over drive the bike you ride and the road conditions you greatly increase the chances of getting a good case of road rash!! Driving your crusier or touring bike like it is a sport bike is sure way to have an crash! Know your limits but also know your bikes limits and stay as far from them as possible! You never know what is around the next corner in the road and exiting that courner at the limits of your tires. Only to find a cow at the end of the curve with your name on it. Is how riders put themselves in a no win situation!

  • I have boots (military) gloves, a Caberg helmet and a mesh jacket with CA armor panels. I wear everything all the time… Except for the thirteen blocks from my house to Pismo, where I run PT. Then it is just the helmet. I’m in shorts and dressed to run my 4 miles on the beach. Sometimes, I chicken out and ride the back residential streets, sometimes I just ride Grand ave. Always extra paranoid. its only 13 blocks and I have no place to put everything while I run.

    Or course to other decision is to leave the bike (’92K100RS w/220,000 miles) and run all the way to the beach also. But that is only when I’m feeling froggy.

  • Getting back into riding after a long hiatus, I look back on my youth and marvel at my stupidity. I recall riding home from Wasaga beach with a bunch of friends, all on little Suzukis and Hondas, wearing only sandals and a bathing suit, flat out on the tank…..
    To be fair to the times, safety wasn’t promoted, and there wasn’t a lot of education or choice in equipment then. I wore a helmet, and started wearing gloves after meeting a fellow from Brampton who had been t-boned by a lady. His hands were terribly scarred from sliding with them trapped under his body. After seeing them, I always rode with good gloves.
    Today I have a big bike with ABS and lots of lighting, which I always have on, day or night. The bike is 850 lbs, and so far my biggest scare has been a couple of tipovers when stopped. (keep those handle bars straight!!!!)
    I wear full gear most of the time, but ALWAYS wear boots, gloves, a good Arai helmet and armoured jacket, the pants being the biggest hassle when going out for a quick ride. Starting back into riding in April ’09, after 35 years of bikeless frustration, I now have 3 armoured jackets, and one pair of armoured pants. In my mind, full gear IS cool: the morons on their Harleys in tshirts and half-hats are idiots.
    My last bike, a 650 Triumph, had 36 hp. This BMW has 100, and I ride it with the idea that cars are out to get me. Anticipation is the most important skill- looking ahead, slowing before other’s brake lights go on, choosing my places to pass with care, watching for pavement irregularities, using my mirrors constantly. I agree with the comment about a loud horn: this BMW has twin horns louder than any car or SUV I’ve owned, and I ride with my thumb close to the horn button.
    The worst accident I had was years ago in downtown Vancouver in rushhour, and I was clipped by another bike’s handle bars when traffic abruptly slowed: sliding along the asphalt, seeing the undercarriage of cars behind me as they skidded towards me is a lasting memory that, though it doesn’t haunt me, constantly reminds me that a mistake or momentary lack of concentration can put me there again.
    I take less chances these days, though the safety features of the bike are far superior to the early days, as are the tires. Having armoured gear does not promote a feeling of invincibility- I expect that I’ll have a crash in the next ten years. I just want to minimize the effects when it happens.

  • I’ve always heard of the two different kinds of riders, those who have been down, and those who will go down. I believe I belong to a third variety. Those who have been down, and will go down again. My first one was actually on a minibike, the old lawnmower powered variety. I was 12, and nobody in my family was smart enough to make me put on a helmet. I spent a week in a coma, didn’t even recognize my mother or know who I was for the next four days. Not to mention the various broken bones. So I wised up at 12 and started wearing helmets whenever riding motorcycles. Now I even wear one any time I ride my bicycle.
    The second big one was at 16. Yamaha RD350, t-boned by a ’73 Gran Torino going 55 in a 35 zone. I nearly lost my right leg on that one, along with various other broken bones, including my neck, and lots of skin lost. But I was wearing my helmet, so I survived. The helmet didn’t survive.
    I don’t wear ALL the gear that I should, but I do wear boots, gloves, and a helmet, always. These cover the parts of the body that are the most difficult to repair.

  • When I ride defensively and ATGATT, and I see traffic up ahead, knowing full well that the cagers are getting stressed out, I tell myself that everyone on the road just wants to get to where they are going. That puts my attitude in check and i ride with a bit more patience and awareness.

  • There is a natural progression to rider safety (think aviation techniques):
    1. Rider knowledge, attitude and alertness is FAR more effective to preventing an incident, injury or death. Always SCAN for potential trouble (animals, vehicles, debris, riding into the sun half-blinded).

    2. Rider health is second in importance. Mental health includes riding without drugs, alcohol or while angry. Physical health means you are able to perform all M/C control functions required in your M/C owner’s manual.

    3. Rider “choices” are critical to maintaining your safe passage.

    4. Rider protective gear are only effective AFTER you are caught in an out-of-control situation. I avoid the use of ACCIDENT because I believe most bad things happen for a reason. I fear protective gear may be oversold when the first two paragraphs are not emphisized enough.

    AVIATION? Yes. An aviator is responsible for control of a fragile craft costing millions of dollars, that travels at high speed, and may contain hundreds of passengers. The operator and passengers are not required to wear “protective clothing.” Instead, the operator (crew) is trusted to make “good decisions” every time, every day, over his career lifetime.

    Motorcycle operators would benefit most from the AVIATOR model and accept all the responsibility for the safety of both the vehicle control and vehicle passengers. Read all safety data, ride healthy, SCAN constantly and always be ready to react to threats.

    Ride safe and enjoy all the sensory moments that motorcycling offers.

  • ATGATT= All The Gear All The Time. This is how i ride. But it was not always that way. i spent almost seven years and 45000 miles on a WideGlide with little more than jeans and a t-shirt. Now that I graduated up to a GFS1250s I wear ATGATT. Not long after i got the GSF I lowsided it at about 40 mph on a twisty backroad. Many thousands in dammage to the bike. I walked away with only a torn tendon in my thumb. Yeah, you bet i still wear the gear…

    Will someone please be as kind as to inform me as I have never actually seen what this stands for.

  • I wear gear appropriate to protect the body parts I would like to keep in-tact. I drive with the knowledge that EVERYONE & EVERTHING IS out to get me and my only defence is awareness and aquired skills.

  • Funny about people who think they don’t look cool when wearing the gear. I ride a Harley Road King and am ATGATT. For many, Harleys, and all the gear do not jibe… I’m not too concerned. I mean when you think about it, who are you “looking cool” for, by not wearing gear? For the many nameless, faceless people who see you ride by, who you will never know or talk to? Chances are, your friends and family will appreciate you taking the extra safety, even though all those anonymous people may think otherwise… :/

    My bike has ABS, I have a yellow FF yelmet with reflective tape on it, and at night I wear a bright orange reflective vest (along with armor jacket, etc.). I ride because it provides that feeling that only MC riders know… wearing the gear puts me in the mindset that this is a potentially dangerous hobby, and deserves respect.

    With all that said… people should be able to choose what they do or dont’ wear on an MC.

  • I ride in Doha where it is hot from April to November so there is a strong temptation to get on the bike with just helmet, gloves, jeans, boots and T shirt and I have succumb to that temptation a couple of times..

    Funny enough I was reading your article last month, where your described 2 crashes that you had. Almost identicle. One you had 3 months recovering from road rash (wore the t shirt) the other you got up and walked with no injury..

    Well as far as I am concerned 3 months without riding is too long. So it is all the gear all the time for me. That is helmet, body armored coat and pants, boots gloves.

    Luckily I have not had many accidents, had both knees scraped last year, (started wearing knee pads and kevlar jean inserts after that) but I also ride as defensively as I can. My reasoning is, I enjoy riding so much that I want to keep doing it and that means staying crash or at least serious injury free.. Looking into my 3 year old daughters eyes as she says to be careful on the bike is also a good incentive to stay on the safe side of your spectrum..

  • I have experienced both trains of thought. The first train was derailed about 4 years ago. Now I tend to pay more attention to how safe a rider I can be. The wife appreciates that.

    Ride safe, stay alert, stay alive!

  • Woke up anticipating the nice, long ride to Lake Tahoe. Thought I wanted to look cool with my long sleeved shirt, leather vest, jeans, and buckled riding boots. I didn’t want to look cumbersome with my armored jacket and pants, and I am a safe rider! At 400 miles, at the last stretch of highway almost to South Lake, feeling the cool breeze through my body, going about 65 right behind a Mercedes and in front of a truck. BAM!! I held the bike up, didn’t let it go down. Oh man! I did not see that rock – the size of a softball in the middle of the road soon enough. By the time, I saw it, it was too late. I believe angels were holding up the bike. The wheel had a little dent and the tire looked scuffed. I know it could have been really bad if I went down. While trying to keep the bike up, thoughts went through my head – “I should have worn my protective gear, etc., etc.!” This taught me a big lesson! I will wear my protective gear – no matter how I think I look. I want to live and be able to ride for a long, long time!

  • I am a member of the first club. I’ve had a few crashes and drops with the scars to prove it. I was young, dumb and full of . . . – but now I’m a lot older and ride completely different. Hopefully I am not a member of the second club. I wear all the equipment except for the armored pants. I’ve found that complete defensive driving is the way to go. I can usually tell what a driver is going to do before he knows that he’s going to do these days. That doesn’t mean that some driver isn’t going to sneak up on me and then – kabluie. The worse accident I had was while I was riding at 27 MPH. Another driver coming towards me made a left right across my path and I could not avoid him. Now I’m very careful when I’m around other drivers.

    One of the things I’ve found that helps is the loudest horn you can find. They’re cheap too. A lot of times the other driver just didn’t see you and if he encroaches he doesn’t realize it until it’s too late.

    Where I live there’s a lot of “Team Geritol” drivers. they not only don’t know where they’re going, but they also are very afraid of going there.

    Ride safe. It’s your only salvation.

  • everyone is going to have a big list of avoidances and just get to live a little longer, and put those in the back of your mind for reference.every day is a challenge.

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