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Motorcycle Body Protection: Clothing

Updated on November 21, 2009

Pants

There's nothing like a set of leathers to keep you toasty warm in winter and roast you in summer. Leather pants, unless you are racing or often tour in cold weather, would probably be an unjustified expense. Good, heavy denim dungarees or canvas hunter's pants offer decent protection, especially if worn over a pair of "long johns." Pick pants that fit snugly but not tightly so they don't flap, chafe or bind you on long trips.

Bermuda shorts or bathing suits permit you to feel the wind against your legs, but somehow the memory of that pleasurable sensation fades away as you pluck gravel from your calf (and other even more sensitive places) after a minor fall.

Jackets

A leather jacket, on the other hand, is not so difficult to live with in hot weather. Leather offers the best protection you can get in the event of a slide, and now these jackets are made in brighter colors so motorists are more apt to see you. Whether cloth or leather, pick a brightly colored jacket to insure visibility.

If you lubricate your chain as often as you should, little drips of oil will be slung up on your back. A leather or vinyl jacket is easily wiped off, but a cloth jacket will wear these spots permanently. The oil isn't very harmful to the jacket, but makes it look a bit spotty.

Another important consideration in selection of a jacket is the collar design. Get a Mandarin or Nehru-style collar that has no pointed tips. Pointed tips on most jackets flap terribly while you're riding and can chafe your neck and face. Be sure the jacket sleeves fit well enough that they don't flap, yet are free enough to permit unrestricted movement.

Foul Weather Gear

Many companies manufacture clothing for people who must work in the rain. There are many high-quality rubberized rain suits consisting of both jacket (or poncho) and waterproof pants. Most of these are acceptable for short trips during a shower. Avoid the light, cheap vinyl or plastic rainwear because it tends to shred into ribbons the first time you reach 30 miles per hour!

Enduro riders have known for years that the heavy, waxed, Barbour or Belstaff style suits offer the best protection in wet going. Other companies are now manufacturing the same type of suit from synthetic materials. Whichever you choose will comfort you on those long, wet rides.

Other Accessories

The old stereotype Hell's Angel wore wrist straps and a star-studded wide belt in addition to his dungarees and engineer boots. You've read about the boots and pants, but what about the wrist straps and kidney belt?

Have you noticed how tired your left wrist can become after a long ride in traffic or on the trail? This results from the tendons straining whenever you pull in the clutch lever. A leather or elastic wrist band can ease the strain if worn properly. Make sure the band is gently snug yet does not hinder the blood circulation to your hand.

The old kidney belt has generally faded away with the advent of rear suspension on road machines. However, some riders find them helpful in relieving back strain on a long trip and still use them. Their original purpose was to protect the rider's internal organs, especially the kidneys, against injury from constant road shock and vibrations. These wide belts are available in leather, cloth, and elastic models and are recommended for long, rough trips on the road or trail.

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