I was reading a 2007 NHTSA report for one of my cases, and the need to promote safety gear came to mind. In the study, they showed that within the test group, 52% of the drivers that were in accidents were only 5 miles from home when trouble found them. I thought this was an astounding percentage and seriously important for motorcycle riders to understand.
If you have been reading the V-Rod Chronicles, you know that I bought the bike from a guy that rode it very short distances, hence the low mileage and the cooling fan issues. The bike was almost 3 years old, but had really not been broken in. But that’s how many of us ride our motorcycles: quick rides around the neighborhood after work to unwind. Run to the store to grab a pack of cigarettes. Quick deposit at the bank?
I say ‘us’ because I’m guilty of it too. If I’m doing a dedicated track day, or a sponsored ride, then we put on some miles. Honestly, the track shouldn’t count, since that is an ultra-controlled environment and most riders don’t have an ambulance waiting nearby if they wad up a bike on the road. If we do a longer “destination” style ride, well everyone is geared up and ready for anything. But what about that quick workout at the gym ¾ of a mile from the house? Why not hop on with shorts, muscle shirt and helmet only? What could go wrong? Well, take a look…..
So how do we prepare?
Well, we start with the helmet, since that single item can save your life. But what about the other parts of ATGATT? The Motorcycle jacket is the next thing I beg riders to wear. I’m in South Louisiana and it’s hot as hell most of the year. But, I still make myself put on that jacket; even if it is over a gym shirt. If you look at my testimonials, you will read about Ryan N. and his run in with another driver. The other guy didn’t even stop and to make things worse, the cop that showed up gave him a ticket! He was lucky to be alive since his helmet hit the rear tire of the car that cut him off in traffic. Guess where he was going? The gym. He was wearing, shorts, t-shirt and running shoes, and the road rash was pretty horrific. He said the pain was intense, especially after it scabbed over. So, how can we protect ourselves and not pass out from heat exhaustion?
Mesh Motorcycle Jacket: The Goldilocks Gear
Get a summer riding jacket, and one that anticipates you sliding across pavement. I am a big fan of Vanson jackets. The Baja is pretty close to the old jacket I have and it has the mesh you need to keep from melting in the Louisiana summer. I have a whole rack of jackets to pick from, but my go to jacket is a black mesh deal that allows air in easily but is tough enough to handle some major abuse. I tested it once when leaving a party with a little too much throttle and not a enough sense. It literally saved my hide! Vanson products are made in the USA and they offer a ton of jackets to pick from. I wish I lived in San Diego where the sun is always shining and the breeze is always cool. Leather looks damn good on most of us. But if you live in the deep south, skip the leather and look for breathability, such as a mesh motorcycle jacket.
Other manufacturers make great summer riding jackets and they don’t cost as much as a Vanson, but remember: you get what you pay for. Klim has quality jackets at a lower price point. The Marrakesh isn’t as heavy duty as Vanson’s Baja, but it’s still protective, breathable, and comfortable. The Marrakesh it made of a light and flexible material that is, as one reviewer put it, “Slightly stretchy to fit over my pale ale belly.” However, many reviewers mention that the jacket can be somewhat stiff until it is broken in.
If the Baja isn’t your speed and you want something with more flare than the the Marrakesh, perhaps the Helite Free-Air Mesh motorcycle jacket is what you’re looking for, if you’re willing to pay for it. This jacket is breathable, with a removable fleece liner for winter riding as well, and it’s most impressive feature: a built in airbag. The Heletite is a quality jacket, but it’s price point may make it out of budget for the average rider.
ATGATT & Comfort Go Hand in Hand
Remember: if it’s uncomfortable to wear, you will leave it on the hanger. So, shop around and find what fits you and what offers max protection with minimal sweat. Fit is important since a large jacket will roll up on you if your slide for some distance. That won’t help you avoid scrubbing asphalt out of your skin while chewing on a #2 pencil. That’s why most track riders ditch the 2 piece riding suits for one piece suits, those won’t roll up on you!
I’ll be writing about gloves soon enough, but in the meantime, let’s pull on jackets before we head to the coffee shop. Don’t be the rider that I see whipping through traffic with safety flip flops and muscle tank in place to save the day. As a dedicated motorcycle accident attorney, I have plenty of pictures that suggest that we suit up. Even if it’s just a quick ride around the block.