Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Time, Summer Time

OK so Summer is here. 94f and humidity so high that it feels like walking through a vat of hot tapioca pudding. The temptation is to ride motorcycles in the least amount of protective gear as possible. I see lots of riders in a t-shirt, gym shorts, and tennis shoes or flip flops with a full face helmet.

I find this bewildering. So it is hot enough to forgo hand, arm, chest, leg and foot protection, but they still are going to protect that face? Someone explain this to me. They are really intent on the safest helmet but the rest is elective? +1 for wearing a helmet. +1 for a full face helmet. -5 for omitting the rest of the gear.

photo by author, all rights reserved

I followed this guy on my commute home in his summer "riding gear" the other afternoon. As we approached 65mph, his t-shirt amounted to a scarf flapping from his neck in the breeze. At the same time, I observed many distracted drivers on the crowded highway. One lady was filing her nails driving with her knee. While several were lost in cellphone and text message conversations. One errant move by one of these distracted drivers could cause a bad situation. Such a situation would be acerbated by his lack of gear.

Yes, I still believe All the Gear All the Time (AGATT) even during Georgia Summer heat. "But leathers are hot!" True that, so maybe its time to look at textile riding gear designed for this weather.

Several manufacturers offer Textile chap, pants, and jackets with built in armor while also providing vents. Some will argue that textile gear with mesh sleeves provide little protection. I would argue it is significantly better than a t-shirt. I have slid across asphalt in a mesh jacket with armor and walked away with no bodily scars under the jacket. So tell me about the success of a t-shirt opposed to mesh riding jackets.

My point is simple. Do not completely disregard protective riding gear due to the heat. Find suitable hot weather gear. Because you cannot prepare for everything you might encounter out there - uneven asphalt in the dark, flying aluminum ladders, fuel spilled in the roadway, deer or dogs running across the road, distracted cage drivers, etc.

Today, in 94f weather, I dodged a fiberglass ladder in the highway and observed more distracted drivers that I care to think about. So, be prepared.

Gear up!


Learning to Golf said...

While I don't wear chaps in the summer, I wouldn't even consider wearing shorts. Some of these folks are just nuts.

The leather jacket will be missing the liner and I have a heavy sweatshirt if life becomes unbearable. Of course I will be wearing my Kafka Cool Tie and that will help a lot.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Mr. Madding:

Today's post presents a very valid assessment of wearing protective gear in the heart. In the middle of July, in 2007, a very sweet old lady in minivan made a illegal left turn and hit me close to head-on. I was hurled to the bumper of her car and slammed to the pavement.

I was wearing a Nolan flip-up modular helmet, a Joe Rocket mesh jacket with body armor, Icon perforated gloves and jeans.

The Nolan helmet took a huge rap on the car and then on the ground. It didn't even crack. Neither did my head. In fact, I sustained no head injuries whatsoever.

The Joe Rocket mesh jacket withstood the acid test too. None of the zippers opened nor did the mesh tear. I had a huge contusion (bruise) where my chest took an impact. But my back, shoulders, wrists and forearms were unbruised and suffered absolutely no road rash.

The Icon gloves remained intact too, but there was no evidence I landed on my hands.

My jeans went into full self-destruct mode and vaporized. I had road rash on both knees and calves.

Assessment: I would no more get on a motorcycle in the summer heat without a mesh jacket than I would go to church naked. I am living proof of he effectiveness of an armored mesh jacket in the summertime. I rate the Joe Rocket mesh gear with 5 stars out of five.

The Nolan helmet is my personal favorite. I have an N-102 and it is an industry innovator as well as a super-high quality product. (It has a beautiful but fragile finish, however.) It is my automatic first choice for a helmet.

I don't like Icon gear. These perforated riding gloves are pure shit, but they give me the absolute best fit in a summer glove. I suspect the protection is minimal when compared with the standard Ninja Mutant Turtle motorcycle riding gloves favored by the peg-dragging crowd.But the truth is they are a lt better than my bare hand or exposed fingers.

The fit is so good, that I am going to order a non-perforated pair (Stealth) for the fall.

And if I had $600/$700 to spare, I'd call the folks at CyclePort and have them make me a custom pair of armored. mesh pants, that I could wear shorts under.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Jack Riepe said...

PS: Riders who insist on protecting themselves with flip-flops, tee shirts and "do" rags provide an essential service as potential organ donors. (My brother needs a lung. Thanks in advance.)