Buying your gear and bike
Your helmet will probably be the most important piece of protective equipment you will buy, and you are required by law to wear one that is correctly fastened and approved for road use.
Your helmet should be a firm fit. A loose helmet is uncomfortable and could also come off in an accident, your helmet should be a comfortable fit, so don’t just go for the first one you try on. Different helmet manufactures use different shapes for their helmets, and as we all have different shaped heads you should try a few different one to get the best comfort and fit. Don’t choose a helmet based on it’s colour or by a manufactures name. indeed manufactures such as Arai and Shoei have a good reputation, but if it doesn’t fit properly and is not comfortable, it’s not going to do much to protect your head.
Also remember to ensure that the visor is also road legal and carries the BSI or European mark, dark visors or race visors as they are sometimes called are not road legal in the UK.
If your helmet receives any serious impact buy a new one. Damage won’t always be visible to the naked eye and a damaged helmet could be unreliable in an accident. We recommend you never buy a second-hand helmet.
They keep hands comfortable, functional and protected. They come in an infinite variety for all seasons and weather.
Leather gloves protect hands from blisters, wind, sun, and cold. If you should fall off your motorcycle, full-fingered gloves will help prevent cuts and bruises to your hands.
Gloves should fit snugly to improve your grip on the handlebar. If your gloves are too bulky, you may have problems operating the controls of your motorcycle. If they are too tight, circulation will be restricted and your hands will become cold.
Seamless gloves or gloves with external seams will help prevent blisters and pressure points. Gauntlets will keep cold air from going up your sleeve.
Riding gloves are available in many gradations of weight and thickness. Lightweight gloves are comfortable in summer warmth and heavier, well-insulated gloves can be obtained for additional protection from winter cold.
Long sleeves and trousers resist abrasion and protect against sunburn, windburn, dehydration, and hypothermia. Light colors or reflectivity increase a rider’s visibility.
Good clothing will help you stay comfortable while riding in adverse conditions. In case of a crash or spill, high-quality riding clothes will help prevent or reduce injury. A research study states that covering the body with leather or another thick material can provide “an extremely high level of injury protection.”
Clothing sold specifically for motorcycling will afford the best combination of fit and protection. These garments are designed to fit while sitting in a riding position. They are cut longer in the sleeves and legs and are fuller across the shoulders. Flaps and fasteners seal out the wind and extra padding helps protect you in case of a spill.
Wide-flared pants, flowing scarves and similar items should be avoided because they could become entangled in the motorcycle and flap uncomfortably in the wind.
Leather clothing is often used by riders because it is durable and abrasion-resistant, giving good protection against injury. Many other synthetic fabrics have also been developed that are abrasion or wind resistant, waterproof, or have high visibility properties. Many motorcycle dealers carry a varied line of riding jackets and suits. They can be helpful in answering questions you may have regarding the beneficial properties of each. Personal riding habits, budget, and local weather conditions will influence your choice of purchase. Shop wisely, making sure your purchase is strong enough to resist abrasions.
The clothes you wear when riding can serve to make you more visible in traffic. Choose brightly coloured clothing when possible. Only two riders of the 900 accident cases studied by researchers were wearing brightly coloured clothing. If you wear dark clothing, inexpensive reflective vests can be worn over the jacket.
Your clothing should fit comfortably without binding. A jacket with a zippered front will be more wind-resistant than a jacket with buttons or snaps. A flap of material over the zipper of a jacket gives additional protection against the wind. Jackets with snug cuffs and waist are recommended to keep wind from blowing into the garment. Be careful about collar style – a large, loose collar will flap when riding and may irritate your skin or distract you.
Remember that even in relatively warm weather, constant exposure to wind when riding may cause hypothermia: a subnormal body temperature. Hypothermia can cause you to lose your ability to concentrate and react to changing traffic conditions. Motorcyclists are especially susceptible to rapid chilling that leads to loss of reflexes, a symptom of hypothermia. The biggest danger of the subnormal body temperature found in hypothermia is the deterioration in the ability to think clearly. Proper riding gear, such as a windproof jacket and insulated layers of clothing, is essential.
On a warm day (65 degrees Fahrenheit), a motorcyclist riding at speeds of 45 to 55 miles per hour experiences a chilling effect equivalent to 33 degrees. That is only one degree above freezing. Riders not dressed properly for the chill could become victims of hypothermia. Clothes that are just right for cold-weather riding may be too hot once you stop riding. To prevent this, dress in layers so that outer clothing may be removed as necessary.
Regardless of temperature, a light jacket should always be worn. Stay away from jackets made of extremely thin material. These jackets will flap too easily in the wind. On hot, sunny days, it is best to wear lightly coloured clothes and helmet. Lighter colours reflect the sun rays, rather than absorbing them like darker colours. This can make a difference of 10 degrees or more on hot days.
Wearing a jacket will reduce your chances of becoming dehydrated while riding on a hot day. Wind rushing over exposed skin quickens dehydration. A jacket helps protect your skin from drying wind.
Rain suits are recommended in rainy weather. One-or two-piece rain suits can be purchased in several materials, the most common being polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and nylon. They come in different colours, but orange or yellow is best for high visibility.
There are usually only small differences in rain suit styles. The trousers of a typical rain suit have elastic at the waist and stirrups (or tie-strings) on the legs to wrap around the rider’s boots.
The rain suit has a high collar that is held closed by a snap or adjustable hook-and-loop fastener. The front zips up and a wide flap fastens across the opening. The wrist openings fit snugly with more elastic.
For the avid motorcycle rider, a rain suit is a must. A dry rider will be much more comfortable and alert than the rider who is wet and cold.
When preparing to ride in cold weather, several layers of clothing are necessary, usually starting with thermal underwear. Extra layers of trousers, shirts and jackets should be layered loosely to aid body heat in forming a warm insulation. Topping your clothing with a windproof outer layer will prevent the cold wind from reaching your body.
Another alternative when riding in cold weather is to an electrically warmed suit or vest. These items hook up to the motorcycle battery and can be quite effective.
Whether you ride in a warm or cold climate, in a rural area or the city, a good selection of high-quality riding gear will help you stay comfortable in all weather and riding conditions. And, if you have an accident or spill, it could save you from serious injury.
Over-the-ankle leather boots can protect riders from a variety of riding hazards. They protect ankles from stones that fly up from the roadway. They also prevent burns from hot exhaust pipes. In case of a crash or spill, boots help provide valuable protection against foot and ankle injuries.
Boots with oil-resistant, rubber-based composite soles will give you a strong grip on the pavement and help you keep your feet on the pegs. Leather soles tend to be slippery and less durable. If the boots have heels, they should be low and wide.
It is NOT advisable to wear work boots with steel toe caps whilst riding a motorcycle, also if your boots have laces, ensure that tehy are tucked well in so that they cannot get caught up in your machine.
Buying your first bike
Whatever bike you choose as your first bike, the tips below will help you to steer clear of some common pitfall.
- Research the market place thoroughly If you are interested in a particular make or model, compare prices from advertisements in different publications e.g. Bike Trader. Make sure that you can afford the running costs such as maintenance and insurance premiums before you buy your dream machine.
- Check that the seller actually owns the motorbike Check all documentation – the V5, service and insurance records, MOT certificate and receipts where available to ensure everything tallies. If the seller cannot provide the V5, walk away. There will be plenty of similar motorbikes on the market to choose from.
- View the motorbike in daylight and at the seller’s address Make sure you view the motorbike in clear daylight and don’t go alone – take a friend with you. It is also important that you visit the motorbike at the seller’s house. Do not arrange to meet at a service station or lay-by and do not let the seller bring the motorbike to you. Check the seller’s address is the same as that recorded in the logbook.
- Find out if the motorbike is on finance Ask the seller if the motorbike has any outstanding finance owing and check this out by making The HPI Check. If the finance has not been paid off, the motorbike could still be the property of a finance house which has the right to reclaim it.
- Check out the mechanical integrity of the motorbike Make sure you get the vehicle independently inspected to ensure it is mechanically sound. It could save you from making a costly mistake.
- Check the motorbike hasn’t been ‘clocked’ Reducing the mileage of a vehicle by turning back the odometer, or ‘clocking’, is a common trick used by unscrupulous sellers to obtain a higher price. You should assess whether the mileage is consistent with the age and condition of the motorbike.
- Check the motorbike isn’t a ‘ringer’ ‘Ringing’ is when a motorbike is stolen and its identity changed using the documents of an identical make and model. Check the VIN thoroughly and make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.
- Take the motorbike for a ride Make sure that you ride the motorbike on a range of roads for at least 10-15 miles. You will need to make sure you are properly insured before taking the bike out.
- Look at the motorbike’s history Obtain as much information as possible from the seller, but realise that their objective is to sell you the motorbike. Don’t hand over any money until you have completed The HPI Check – this will provide you with the vehicle’s true history.
- If in doubt – walk away, there are plenty of other motorbikes out there.