RIDING TIP: Number Five Mistake Experienced Riders Make
We’ve heard all of the sayings:
- I’d rather sweat than bleed
- All the gear, all the time
- Walking away in disgust beats riding away in an ambulance
- Dress for the slide, not the ride
- How much is your head worth?
So why do we often find experienced riders without proper protective gear? Often, the folks who repeat these sayings are the very riders who disregard them. How can this cognitive dissonance take place? Well, it turns out, we’re just being human after all.
COMPLACENCY SETS IN
After years or thousands of miles these sayings may lose their top-of-mind significance to us; however, they never lose their relevance. It is so easy to slip into a mindset where we think past demonstrated competence guarantees future success. Then an internal dialogue may creep in that resembles the following:
- I’ve ridden thousands of miles (years) without an incident. I don’t need riding gear.
- None of my cool friends wear protective gear; why should I?
- It’s just a quick jaunt to the store. I don’t need to fiddle with taking my helmet off and on and having to carry it around while I’m shopping.
- What’s the big deal if I don’t wear my gloves? I have better feel without them. Plus, they make my hands sweaty.
- Pants? It is just too hot to ride with pants…shorts will be just fine.
- I spent a lot of money when I first bought my gear. I don’t want to have to spend a lot of more money to replace it now that it is worn out.
Obviously we’re huge fans of riding gear at TEAM Arizona. Whether riding on the road, off-road, or on the track, we make sure we’re doing our best to minimize personal damage from a crash. What we’ve realized over the years is that gravity doesn’t discriminate. Even the best riders make mistakes. We can mitigate the consequences of those mistakes simply by properly gearing up.
WHAT IS PROPER RIDING GEAR?
Before we consider hopping on our rides, we make sure the following gear is ready to rock:
- DOT Approved Motorcycle Helmet (at least; Snell and ECE are ratings you may want to include)
- Eye Protection (may be included with the helmet)
- Motorcycle Specific Jacket
- Motorcycle Specific Pants
- Motorcycle Specific Full-Fingered Gloves
- Motorcycle Specific Footwear
Did you happen to notice the terms we used before Jacket, Pants, Gloves, and Footwear? That’s right, we recommend selecting protective gear that is made specifically for the act of riding a motorcycle. The manufacturers of premium motorcycling gear perform a ton of research and tests to make sure their riding gear can withstand impacts and abrasions suffered during an incident. A jacket or pair of pants from a big-box retailer just aren’t designed to meet the rugged demands from such an incident. In a sense, we’d just be fooling ourselves if we thought we were receiving any sort of significant crash protection.
AVOIDING THE COMPLACENT MINDSET
One way to avoid being complacent when it comes to wearing riding gear is to remind ourselves of the benefits riding gear provides for us. You may have noticed that the ride gets BETTER when we use the proper gear. The benefits include:
- Increased comfort
- Increased crash protection
- Increase visibility when brightly colored and reflective materials are used
- Increased protection from the elements (wind, dust, insects, rain, monsoons, etc)
So, experienced riders, what is your trick? How do you make sure to put on all the gear, all the time? What would you tell those with less experience? Place your thoughts in the comment below.
Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011. He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee. Have questions or comments about the article? Email him: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com