An Essential Guide from the Think Campaign

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ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO
PROTECTIVE GEAR FOR BIKERS
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
Fall off your bike and tarmac will shred
through your jeans in a second*
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD

* At 50mph, tarmac will shred through jeans within one second. Source: Transport Research Laboratory
2
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
3
THINK SAFETY STAY SAFE
Wearing the right gear is just as important as having
a properly serviced bike and knowing how to ride it.
These few short pages are full of useful safety
information and advice on how to select the best
protective gear – it could make the difference
between getting some bumps and bruises and
sustaining injuries that could stop you riding again.
STAY SNUG
Choosing what to wear when riding isn’t just about
protection from injury, but also comfort. Properly fitting
gear means you stay comfortable, warm and dry on
your bike, helping you to fully enjoy your ride without
getting distracted from the road.
STAY SEEN
Many items of protective wear now have reflective
panels or strips. It’s good to have high visibility on
as many parts of your bike as possible. Wear bright
and fluorescent colours during the day and reflective
elements in the dark.
REMEMBER
Don’t just go for the way the clothing or
gear looks. It needs to perform.
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
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HELMETS
Arguably, it’s your single most important piece of protective kit -
choosing the right crash helmet could save your life.
To make sure you’re getting the best lid for your money, look out for the
independent SHARP rating system. It is a government programme that
is unique in providing a 1 – 5 star safety rating: an indication of how much
protection a helmet offers in an impact. Our independent advice can help
to ensure you choose a helmet that offers the best protection possible.
Helmets sold in the UK must satisfy either British
Standard 6658: 1985 or ECE Regulation 22.05

standards.
Look for a label inside the helmet or
on the shell to confirm this.
Choosing a helmet that fits correctly is
vital. If it moves around on your head, it
won’t offer the best protection in a crash.
STEER CLE AR OF SECOND-HAND GE AR
Never buy a second-hand helmet or use a helmet
used by anyone else. The external appearance can
disguise damage to the protective material inside
the helmet.
PROTECT YOUR EYES
When riding, you should always use a visor or goggles carrying
an ECE, CE or BSI approval mark. During daylight hours a tint
of up to 50% is okay - legal tinted visors will be marked “For
daylight use only”. Before setting off, make sure your visor is
clean and free of smudges, scratches or marks which could
affect your vision, especially in strong sunlight.
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
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HELMETS STRAP UP
Always secure the helmet properly using the chin strap and check
the adjustment before every trip. Even with a good fit, a helmet
that’s not been properly strapped on is likely to come off in a crash.
A strap which is too long could cause irritation and affect your
concentration, so make sure you tuck it away.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A HELMET
FIT
Always try a helmet on before you buy as sizes can vary. It should
feel snug around the cheeks (if full face) and hug your head. If it
moves at all when you move your head, it’s too big and won’t offer
adequate protection in a crash.
COMFORT
There should be no tight spots or pressure points. Wear the helmet
for several minutes in the store before you make a purchase as you
won’t be able to take it back afterwards.
SAFETY
Look for the SHARP safety rating of the helmets that you are
interested in and choose from the highest scoring models that fit
you properly. Choose light, bright colours as these help other road
users to see you coming.
LOW NOISE
A noisy helmet can lead to tiredness which will affect your
concentration. Noise can be influenced by a number of factors
including the fit of the helmet, your riding position and the style
of the motorcycle that you ride. Speak to other motorcyclists,
go online and consult your dealer to find the best model for you.
STORE IT SAFELY
When not wearing your helmet, keep it somewhere
where it cannot fall or be knocked – use a helmet bag
if possible. It is a good idea to keep it out of direct
sunlight and heat as this can affect the components of
the helmet.
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
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GLOVES
The first thing you do in a crash is put your hands out to protect
yourself – it’s instinct. Unfortunately, fingers and wrists are fragile,
so it doesn’t take much for them to sustain long-term damage.
It can take less than a second in contact with the road to
remove the skin from your hands so never ride without specialist
motorcycling gloves – a strong protective layer is essential.
Most bike stores sell bike gloves for both winter and summertime;
a pair of each will help keep your hands safe all year round.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING GLOVES
Summer gloves can be lightweight but need to provide good
abrasion resistance. In winter, gloves must keep your hands
warm and dry as cold hands can distract you from your riding.
Gortex, Cordura and other similar materials have good thermal
properties as well as water-resistance.
KEEP CONTROL
Gloves should never be so thick and cumbersome that they
prevent you moving your hands and fingers easily. Try them on
your bike or a machine in the showroom to check you can operate
the controls properly.
CUFF UP
Winter gloves particularly should have cuffs
that extend over the
end of your sleeves, to prevent wind and rain getting up your arms.
STITCHED UP
Good quality stitching is important. Make sure that they carry
stitching across the palms and there is good layering on the
upper glove.
STRAP ON THE WRIST
Check for straps, fixings or adjustments around the wrist.
If a pair of gloves can be pulled off easily without undoing a fixing
or strap, they’ll probably come off just as easily in a crash.
TOTAL COMFORT
Make sure seams don’t chafe against your hand, particularly on
the palm and between the fingers. That little bit of discomfort could
affect your concentration on a long journey.
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
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BOOTS  WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING BOOTS
THE PERFECT FIT
It may sound obvious, but make sure the boots you buy fit properly.
Too tight and they will make your feet numb – too loose and you will
find it difficult to maintain control over the gear lever and brake.
FLEXIBILITY
Boots will get softer and more comfortable with use, but if a
boot is too rigid it may lead to discomfort. Test their flexibility by
manipulating them physically in the store, as well as trying them on.
SAFE ZIPS
Where boots are zipped up, ensure there is a large enough
flap under the zip and one over it. This ensures the zip won’t let in
water or rub directly on the ankle.
SAFE COLOURS
Try to make sure the leather is colour-fast, otherwise you will find
socks and feet are dyed the colour of your boots in wet weather.
SAFETY FIRST
Motorcycle boots are available in a range of designs
and can be bought to match your bike or other bike
gear. Some non-motorcycle boots can be practical but
be careful. Cowboy boots can be worn for example,
but vary enormously in quality. Cheap leather boots
may split and tear against the road surface – but
better quality boots will provide adequate protection.
Also bear in mind boots which are harder to get on
and off will cause problems for paramedics should it
be necessary to remove them.
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
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THINGS TO CONSIDER BASE LAYER
In the winter consider buying a good quality base layer.
These are not the bulky old-fashioned ‘thermals’ of
yesteryear, but are lightweight, comfortable and extremely
effective. Long-sleeved tops and leggings can be
supplemented by inner gloves and thermal socks to provide
a first layer which will ensure your comfort and safety.
BACK PROTECTORS
Back protectors absorb energy from an impact, helping to
prevent damage to the spine and ribs, as well as to internal
organs such as the kidneys, liver and spleen, which can all
be harmed by a heavy external blow.
It is vital a back protector is the correct size for you. If it is
too small, it won’t protect the vulnerable lumbar region of
the lower back and if it is too big, it won’t fit comfortably
under your riding gear. Label sizes will refer to torso length
and this can be confusing. If you are not completely
confident in taking your own measurements, the best advice
is to visit a reputable dealer and ask them to measure and fit
a back protector for you.
BE ALIVE TO THE ROAD
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TESTED AND CERTIFIED CE LABELLING
The European Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive
1989, requires any clothing or personal equipment sold to
provide protection from injury, for example motorcycle clothing,
to comply with the relevant European Standard. To comply,
the gear has to be independently tested and certified. The
manufacturer is then issued with a CE (Conformité Européenne)
label which shows that the motorcycle clothing conforms to the
relevant European standard. The clothing or gear must carry a
permanently attached CE label with the number of the Standard.
Boots – CE EN 13634
Motorcycle jackets, trousers and suits – CE EN 13595
Impact protectors and body armour – CE EN 1621
Remember to check what the CE label applies to, as it could
be there to certify only a small part of a garment. Also, if you’re
unable to find CE-approved items, there are other ways of
making sure protective gear is good quality – just check out
the tips in this guide!

It May be American but it does make you think.
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