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Motorcycle Body Protection: Eyes, Hands & Feet

Updated on November 21, 2009

Eye Protection

Some sort of eye protection is required by law for riding a motorcycle in most states. The simplest solution is a pair of glasses or sunglasses, but more specialized equipment is available. Almost any other protection in addition to or instead of glasses is better. However, this is a personal preference area and you should get whatever seems to enable you to see best and still be comfortable. Prescription or sun glasses should be of safety glass construction. Your optometrist can help here.

Goggles offer excellent eye protection while preserving that good old "wind in your nose" feeling while riding. Some cheaper varieties tend to distort vision, so if goggles are your preference select a set with minimum distortion.

Bubble shields were the first of the full-face shields but have virtually gone extinct now. They protect the rider's face quite well but tend to distort vision around the edges of the bubble and are susceptible to wind loads at speed. If you turn to look at something while riding at higher road speeds you may be surprised by the "sail effect" of the wind on the side of your helmet and bubble shield.

A flat face shield has less distortion than the bubble shield, does not fog as readily, and is less susceptible to "sail effect." This is very popular for eye protection for cyclists and represents a simple, inexpensive solution. However, choosing a dark-tinted shield as your only shield can cause problems when you have to return home at night.

Gloves

Every motorcyclist should have two or three pairs of gloves. Cold weather highway cruising calls for a pair of heavily insulated mittens or a pair of large leather gauntlet gloves worn over a pair of woollen gloves. 

Temperatures of 50 F (10 C) and above generally require a pair of soft deerskin or pigskin gloves. You can hardly get a pair of leather gloves that are too soft from a comfort standpoint; however, the super-soft dress gloves tend to wear rapidly. You might look for the softest pair of workman's leather gloves you can find to fill the requirement.

Footwear

Ankle protection is a key item in selecting boots for motorcycling. Take time to select a boot that will protect your foot and ankle adequately in the event of a mishap. Anyone who has had an accident resulting in an ankle injury will emphasize this point to you. Heed the voice of experience.

The lace-up workboot or strap-over motocross boots are the best protection you can get. Even the more stylish pull-on boots are much better than low shoes or loafers. Get boots with soft crepe-type soles to lessen vibration and help keep your feet warm. Keep away from high heels that tend to catch on rocks and logs. Holey, old tennis shoes and shower clogs hinder your ability to operate the foot controls of your motorcycle, making an accident more likely and offering virtually no protection during the accident they just caused. Anyone with a double-digit IQ or above will avoid unsafe footwear.

Learn the old "motorcycle cop" boot trick: Take your favorite scooter booties to a local cobbler and have him install double-thick soles on them. This helps isolate your foot from machine vibration and keeps your feet warmer too.

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