Andrew Anderson © 2012 The Happy Biker All Rights Reserved
KITTED UP - No not a cat fettish… just good advice on kit
I just need a lid don’t I? is the question a lot of riders ask…..
Erm….. that’s what the law might say………but our advice would be to buy the best kit available that you can afford, and that relates to the type of riding you do.
A few years back two riders were on a stand at the NEC Bike show. One dressed in full top spec race leathers, boots gloves, lid and black race visor, the other guy in flip flops, shorts and a lid with clear visor. In front of the guy in the leathers was a sign, saying that the rider was braking the law, whilst the guy in flip flops was fully legal! Why? Because dark visors are illegal, but to ride a bike, all you need is a lid, and a pair of boxer shorts for us gents, slightly more for the ladies out there.
Now we don’t want to get into the argument of what you should wear, but I for one would rather scuff a set of leathers if I’m unfortunate to come off, rather than rub my skin off. Last summer, on one of those really hot days, I was riding home full race leathers and sweating like the preverbal…….. the under seat pipes on my R1 didn’t help either, but it beats being in the car.… I pulled up at some lights along side a guy wearing a lid, shorts and trainers…. Bet you are hot he replied, I nodded, but if I have an accident I replied, I’m protected….. I wont crash was his reply…. Now you might be the best rider in the world, never have dropped your bike, but all it takes is a bit of diesel or a car to pull out of a side road and you can be off before you know.
Enough of the preaching… ok but when it comes to kit ask yourself what type of riding you will be doing. You don’t need the latest race leathers for commuting 5 miles to work in? but fabric kit will be useless for track days. Will you be riding in summer only on dry days or all year round? So follow the tips below:
- Buy the best you can afford; remember, last years stock is often sold off cheap;
- Decide what type of riding you will do, if you are going to do track days you want a two piece that will zip together as a minimum, if you are commuting separate leather jacket and leather jeans might suffice, or the latest fabric kit;
- Buy kit with CE armour in place, make sure it cant move around, those elbow pads are useless if they move half way up your arm during an off!
- Buy a decent lid one that fits properly. We all have different shaped heads, for some of us Arai offer the perfect fit, for others it’s Shoie, etc.
- Get yourself a back protector, and wear it, it could save your spine!
- Decent gloves are a must, your hands are likely to be the first thing to touch down if you fall off;
- Find some sturdy boots that will protect your feet in an off;
- If you have one set of kit, and want to use your summer leathers in the winter buy some thermals and a one piece waterproof over suit for about £50, it will keep you dry and nice and warm on cold mornings;
- Try the kit on with your boots gloves and lid, ask to sit on a bike, how does it feel? You must be comfy;
- New leathers should always be on the tight side, not so much as to cut your circulation, but they will give as you ride and you don’t want to end up with a pair that’s too big, as that will offer little protection in a crash.
Read the bike mags, they all do reviews of their kit, Fast Bikes, TWO etc. RiDE do an annual rider survey, compiled by us riders, get hold of a back copy and research what kit you need. Take a look at MCN.com, a quick search will provide much needed advice on the latest kit.