the right stuff Guide to protective riding gear

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1 the right stuff Guide to protective riding gear

2 stuff d the facts about the right stuff the wrong stuff the right stuff 1 2 Motorcycle and scooter crashes can happen anywhere, anytime even on short trips close to home. In a crash, riders and pillion passengers are at risk of injury from two things: Impact when you hit the bike, the road or other objects, such as a car, which can cause fractures, internal injuries and bruising. Abrasion when you slide along the road surface, leading to loss of often large areas of skin, muscle and other tissue. These injuries can be very severe, leading to lengthy hospital stays, reconstructive surgery and extensive rehabilitation. Good protective gear is designed to help protect your body in a crash. It is your best defence in a crash. While protective gear can t prevent all injuries, it can reduce their severity and prevent some nasty injuries. It also keeps you comfortable and makes riding a more enjoyable experience. The right stuff costs money, so budget for it. If you don t wear the right stuff you may pay a much bigger price in pain and suffering after a crash. ing tective Light footwear, jeans and casual jackets provide little, if any protection in a crash. Only the right stuff can do the job It s a fact that head injuries have been reduced significantly because of helmets. The right helmet, correctly worn, can save your head and your life! The right protective jacket will protect you from some serious injuries. In a crash your elbows, shoulders and back can sustain heavy impacts. Abrasion to the upper body from sliding can be severe. Hand injuries in a crash can be very serious. The right gloves can save your fingers and prevent damage to muscles and nerves. Serious injuries to legs are very common in crashes. Abrasion to the leg area from sliding can be severe. Your hips, buttocks and knees need extra protection from impacts. Severe leg injuries are more common than upper body injuries, so protective pants are the only way to go. Significant ankle and foot injuries are common in crashes. Everyday footwear is pretty useless in a crash and can be dragged off while you re tumbling along the road. Only motorcycle boots are designed to stay on during a crash and provide protection from impacts and abrasion. 1 2

3 helmet Standards Does it carry the AS/NZS1698 mark? You must wear a helmet approved by Australian Standards. Only approved helmets carry an official AS1698 mark (also known as the AS/NZS 1698 mark). This mark provides evidence that the helmet meets the standard and should not be removed. Meeting this standard means that the helmet will provide effective protection, but it is essential that the helmet is a snug and comfortable fit. Does it fit well and is it comfortable? Different brands and models of helmets fit differently. Some will fit better than others, so try several on before you buy. Test the fit by putting the helmet on, holding it on each side and moving it around. Your skin should move with the helmet. Then move your head from side to side the helmet should move with you, without feeling loose on your head. Remember a helmet has to stay on even when you may be bouncing down the road after a crash. Finally, wear the helmet with the chin strap fastened for a few minutes to make sure it s comfortable, and there aren t any pressure points. Material What is the helmet made from? Helmets can be made from a range of different materials which affect strength and impact absorption, as well as weight. This includes materials such as plastics, fibreglass and carbon fibre for the shell, and foam padding on the inside. More expensive helmets can provide better ventilation and may be made of lighter materials. Visor Clear or tinted? Clear visors are the best. It is illegal to ride with a tinted visor at night. The visor must comply with the AS 1609 standard. Look for the Standards Mark on any visor before you buy and never remove it, so that you can always prove that it complies. Colour Is it just a matter of taste? It isn t that simple. You need to make sure that others on the road can see you, and your helmet may be the first thing seen by other drivers. So pick a colour and design that can be easily seen, especially in bad light conditions white is a good choice. Some designs on helmets can act like camouflage and may blend into the background. Type Is it a full face or an open face helmet? Examples of both types of helmets meet the Australian Standard AS1698. A full face helmet can offer more protection to your face and chin in a crash and includes a visor for eye protection. With some open face helmets you may need to buy and wear goggles, a face-shield or some other form of eye protection. Never trust an old or second-hand helmet. It may have damage you can t see! 3

4 jacket and pants Material What is the best material? Gear specifically designed to protect motorcyclists, scooter riders and their pillion passengers is made from quality leather or abrasion resistant synthetic material (commonly nylon or polyester). These offer the best protection from abrasion. There is now some motorcycling denim type gear available that comes with extra synthetic reinforcement. Construction Is the stitching strong and are the fastenings up to the job? Check that the seams are strong and reinforced. Zips should be heavy duty and well stitched to the material. Check clips and Velcro fastenings work and pull on them. They must be tough enough to stay done up in a crash, when you could be tumbling down or sliding along the road. Body armour Does it protect the key areas? Look for jackets and pants with built-in body armour. The armour can be made from a range of materials including plastic, moulded rubber and foam. It is possible to get jackets with armour designed to protect shoulders, elbows and the spine. Choose pants with body armour that protects your hips and knees. Separate body armour, like the back protector shown, is also available. Comfort What do you need to consider? Think about when you ll be riding. Will you be riding in warmer weather? If so, look for ventilation that will help keep your body cool. Jackets often now come with removable inner linings. Remember that staying cool helps keep your mind on the job. Will you be riding in wet weather? Check labels to see how waterproof the gear is. If it s not waterproof, as is usually the case with leather, there are rain suits available that go over the top of your riding gear. Will the gear fit well when you are on your bike? To protect you properly, gear needs to fit well. If too big, the body armour may not stay in the right position during a crash. If too small, it can be very uncomfortable and even cut off circulation to hands and feet. It is important to take the time to try jackets and pants on before you buy. Try walking and moving around for a few minutes including bending and squatting down. Then try sitting on a motorcycle or scooter like the one you ride and feel how comfortable the fit is. Remember to try the gear on over the sort of clothing you plan to ride in. Colour What is the best option? Being seen in all types of conditions is important especially when it is dull and at night. Black gear might be popular, but at least go for something with bright, light coloured panels, as well as reflective patches or strips to increase your visibility at night. A well designed one-piece race style suit provides lots of protection, but may not be really practical for many people. Pick gear you are prepared to wear every time you ride. 5 6

5 gloves & boots Gloves Material What is the best for gloves? Good gloves come in strong leather or quality abrasion resistant synthetic material. They are designed for motorcycling. Other gloves, such as those made for skiing, gardening or just for keeping your hands warm provide little, if any, protection. Reinforcement Is there extra protection for your hands and fingers? The right gloves come with extra reinforcement such as padding or inserts across the back of the hand and fingers, and on the palm. Are they a snug fit? The right gloves need to be comfortable so you can use the controls and keep a grip on the handlebars. They must be a snug fit with a fastening for securing them around your wrist, so they can t come off in a crash. Boots Construction Will they protect your feet and ankles? The right motorcycle boots are purpose built, and have no laces, rings or other bits sticking out that can catch in a crash. They have fastenings that cannot be released accidentally. Quality boots are made from the strongest grade leather or synthetics, such as resin-impregnated microfibre. Reinforcement Do they protect key areas? There should be extra reinforcement around the toe, heel, ankle and shin area. These are areas at risk in a crash. Are they a comfortable but snug fit? The right boots are designed to stay securely on your feet and not be pulled off in a crash. So they need to be a snug fit, but still comfortable enough to walk around in. You wouldn t ride without a helmet, so why leave the rest of your body unprotected? Never ride without all the right gear! 7 8

6 maintaining your protective gear A helmet is designed to work for one impact only. Replace it after a crash, or even if you drop it accidentally, as this can cause hidden damage. Clean your helmet and riding gear with mild soap and water only don t use any solvents like petrol or methylated spirits. Never modify, paint or put stickers on your helmet. You can easily damage or weaken the shell. Check your helmet regularly for wear. Look for loose or compressed padding, exposed metal, cracks, loose strap mounts or frayed straps. If there is a problem, it s time to get a new helmet. Replace your helmet every few years. Helmets deteriorate with use and even when being stored. A pillion passenger needs the same protection as a rider. Keep your visor clean using mild soapy water or a cleaner designed for the purpose. If it becomes scratched replace it! Check jacket, pants, gloves and boots for wear or damage around seams and stitching. Replace or repair immediately if there are any signs of wear or damage. Thanks to the following for their contributions to this booklet: Victorian Motorcycle Advisory Council (VMAC) Experienced riders Motorcycle Testing and Training Providers Motorcycle retailers 9 10

7 More information Websites vicroads.vic.gov.au follow the link for Motorcycles for safety information from VicRoads spokes.com.au motorcycle safety information from the TAC Other resources available free Get your gear on A brochure on motorcycle protective clothing from the TAC. To download or for more information, go to spokes.com.au The Right Line Tips for better riding, available from the VicRoads website - vicroads.vic.gov.au Discover Safe Riding Useful practice manual for new and returning riders, available on the VicRoads website vicroads.vic.gov.au Ride Smart CD-ROM An interactive CD-ROM on training for a range of motorcycling skills such as hazard perception and decision making. To order a copy or to find out more, go to spokes.com.au Chasing the Dream Information for riders aged 30 and over, especially those new to riding or coming back after a break. Available from the VicRoads website - vicroads.vic.gov.au To report hazardous road conditions or signal faults telephone any time. VPRIN vicroads.vic.gov.au

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