What price, your life?

Long time listener and frequent show feedback contributor Jamie McVey sent us this great open letter regarding riding and gear. Grab a cup of coffee, get comfy and give it a read. Thanks, Jamie!
Having recently returned to Western Australia after living in the UK for a number of years I have noted a large increase in the the number of local riders riding motorcycles wearing little or no protective riding gear. I mean I've barely seen a jacket let alone gloves,boots or pants! Why is this so i was wondering? Now the UK has a different riding culture altogether - you see guys in full leathers that match their bike colours and designs in all types of weathers. The adventure crowd dress with the relevant 'adventure' type gear - much from the likes of Rukka and companies who make on behalf of BMW etc. Riding gear is marketed in all types of motorcycle publications, stands abound at all types of race meets up and down the country and the online market is forever on the increase. So why are locals here at home willing to put their lives on the line more-so with a lack of protective clothing? I'm the first to admit that weather conditions here in Perth (capital city of Western Australia) are vastly different to the UK - much warmer and a lot of sunny days compared to weather that varies from thick fog, freezing rain and even snow. Even still is it worth the damage to body and mind let alone wallet for not wearing the right gear? Let's make no mistake the road does not discriminate as to the type of rider who may come into contact with it! There are plenty of sleeveless tops, singlets, shorts and anything from laced sport shoes to thongs being worn onboard anything from little scooters to much larger and heavy motorcycles.   I wondered if 'lifestyle' was also a contributing factor? Perth has a rather cruisy way of life and is made for getting out on the bike. It has long straight roads and you don't need to go too far to get into more technical riding roads if that is what you're looking for. However, a lot of the people I do see on bikes in my local area inparticular, their journey would be ten kms or less in most cases. I'm not sure if this means that a short journey means protective gear does not need to be worn as 'suiting' up may in some cases take longer than the journey? Or do you think that 'it would not happen to you'? To make matters worse for me I picked up a free publication from one of the local dealers and there was a full page spread for a manufacturer of motorcycles. In all three pictures of the bike models, the rider was wearing NO gloves and either a t-shirt or sleevless top! I'm sure this may optimise cool but how 'cool' would you look sprawled on the road or worse! I know I have people in my life who would not want that scenario at all. Also take into consideration the other aspects of your life ie: work and day to day functioning! The roads are getting harder to negotiate with more vehicles, more aggression, distracted drivers of all types and most importantly, vehicles wanting YOUR SPACE! I asked some bike friends their opinion and responses varied from it being 'too hot' for jackets and gloves to a simple shrug of the shoulders and the line of 'I should wear my gear but.....' It does give me the impression that again 'it'll never happen'. Maybe some hard hitting education is needed to help both riders and other vehicle users about the fragility of riders in different accident scenarios. I mean the type of injury can vary greatly. Even at a slow speed just the weight of a bike falling on you can cause all sorts of grief.   It is hard to change habits but, show you care for yourself and others important to you. There are plenty of options in riding gear out there and not all of it breaks the bank. Do some homework - get gear that fits right and is above all practical for your use. Hopefully you will never need to use riding gear in a way it is designed to be used but, just that extra few moments before your journey could be just the difference between coming up trumps and having scars you will never be allowed to forget.   Ride safe and stay the sunny side up.
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6 thoughts on “What price, your life?

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I teach rider safety and it is actually a miracle if I ever see someone in full gear. I make a point of taking photos of people I see in little to no gear when riding, and I use them in my powerpoint presentations when I teach a class. It isn’t hard to find people wearing tank tops, no helmets, no gloves, or even sandals when riding. I’ve seen that end badly too many times for riders. Brittany Morrow (https://www.facebook.com/breezybrit) has a hell of a story about her falling off the back of a motorcycle with basically only a helmet and very little gear. She presents at the international motorcycle shows and is an inspiration to young ladies to wear their gear. All Gear All The Time (AGATT). Good on you for passing that along.

  2. I’ve been gearing up in 100 degree heat for most of July. I see people laughing at me, but I’ve wrecked a bike in the past. I know how quickly it happens. I was wearing gear that time and I’ll wear gear even while hoping there is never a next time.

    RIding is a risky business. That is beyond question. Seems like my obligation to my family to reduce the risks wherever and whenever I can. Gear won’t prevent all bad things from happening, but it can help.

    I shudder think of what can happen to all of those poor innocents riding without a care in the world, or any gear.

  3. I’ve always worn a helmet, gloves, long pants and shoes that covered my ankles since I started riding in 1989. Leathers and other protective gear seemed prohibitively expensive for my first decade of riding. I bought a goat-leather AGV jacket in 1994 for almost $300 when I was in the Air Force, and riding my second bike, a 1989 Suzuki GS500E. $300 isn’t much now, but when you only pull in $450 or so a month (plus free meals and lodging), it’s not exactly cheap. Better quality gear was still expensive until after 2000, when more and more online stores popped up with less overhead, and companies like Joe Rocket and CorTech started making inexpensive textile gear. There’s no excuse anymore to ride a $10k bike and not shell out money for proper gear. All the excuses I hear these days boil down to one thing: vanity. Get over yourself and gear up, so you can stay alive and functional for the people who love you and depend on you.

  4. My thoughts exactly. As a rider coach I too more often than not get the “shrugs” in response to my exhortations on the virtues of good PPG. Go figure. In fact, I was slimed recently for a letter I sent in response to an article in a local paper about a rider who severely injured himself in a m/c accident – that I was being insensitive and uncaring for pointing out risk is no respecter of persons. Go figure.

  5. Pingback: Episode 121 – six eight with a 40 inch inseam | The Pace Podcast

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