5 Basic Motorcycle Gear to Invest In
You just bought your first "motorsiklo" and along with it is a free half-face helmet. For those of you who have previously bought motorcycles straight from the dealership before, might it be Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, or what have you, this should be a pretty familiar and nostalgic scene, right? Now the question becomes - will that be enough to go around, to keep you covered and safe for an indefinite period of time? I'm sure that most of you have, at one point, thought hard about this. And the short answer is yes, for the time being maybe, but for how long do you think?
Remember that riding a motorcycle exposes you to the elements, and that one seemingly trivial mistake can have severe consequences, so it's always wise to invest in proper and quality gear. Buying the best motorcycle gear you can afford is the best and wisest investment that you can make.
With all that said, we at Motomart.Ph, have prepared a list of basic motorcycle riding gear must-haves for your safety and protection.
1. DOT/ECE/Snell Certified Full-face Helmet
First off, what is a DOT/ECE/Snell certification? DOT, ECE, and Snell are actually safety ratings which simply mean that a particular helmet is tested for safety and have therefore passed specific safety standards. These certifications are normally found either on the back of the helmet (usually printed or in the form of a sticker), or inside it, stitched into the liner or foam.
- DOT - nope, not our very own Department of Tourism. DOT Stands for the Department of Transportation (USA). The DOT helmet certification follows Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218 0r otherwise known as FMVSS 218, in case you are interested. It is also worth mentioning that this standard is applicable to helmets sold in the United States for on-road use. And while it is indeed applicable to foreign helmets in foreign soil, we do get most of those helmets being imported here and they are actually more than good enough for our precious heads, as far as safety is concerned.
- ECE - stands for Economic Commission for Europe which was created under a United Nations agreement in 1958, which makes it directly under the UN. The ECE standard for helmets is numbered 22.05 which refers to the specific regulation where the testing standards are described in. This standard, which is accepted in 47 countries, is similar to the DOT standard in several ways e.g. peripheral vision, impact absorption, retention system, chin strap buckle, etc. We do have ECE certified helmets in the Philippines, too, though not as common, but the idea is that these helmets are also very good and safe.
- Snell - refers to the Snell Memorial Foundation which is a private, non-profit organization formed in 1957 dedicated to improving helmet safety. Snell testing is independent and they offer manufacturers a way to test prototypes for product development. What basically happens is that manufacturers submit sample helmets to Snell for testing using the foundation’s standardized tests. If the helmet passes all the tests, it will receive certification under the standard (currently designated M2010) and the manufacturer can label the helmet as Snell certified. Snell certified helmets are more often than not pricey, and are usually more expensive the most DOT and ECE certified helmets. This means that these helmets are also more than good enough to protect our very precious heads from strong impact, in the event of a crash.
With all of those standards laid out and explained, you might ask - are these helmets road-legal in the Philippines? To answer that question, let us first understand the fact that the Philippines have a mandatory helmet safety law for motorcycle riders. Republic Act No. 10054 states that “All motorcycle riders, including drivers and back riders, shall at all times wear standard protective motorcycle helmets while driving, whether long or short drives, in any type of road and highway.” These standard protective motorcycle helmets mentioned in the RA refer to those helmets that have legitimate Philippine Standard (PS) or Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) stickers. These stickers are issued by the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) under the Department of Trade and Industry which is otherwise known as the DTI. Importers can then apply for PS and ICC stickers to prove that they are selling safe helmets to us riders and local consumers.
Bottom line is, while DOT, ECE, and Snell certified helmets are very good and are actually recommended by many, including us, they will still need to have the PS or ICC stickers on them for these helmets to be technically road legal, and so that you won't get apprehended by traffic enforcers or worse, the LTO.
And why a full-face helmet, you ask? It's because based on actual research, the area of the helmet that has the biggest possibility of an impact during a crash is the chin area which is technically non-existent on half-face helmets. Yikes!
2. Motorcycle Jacket
Having adequate skin protection is equally as important so motorcycle jackets, or otherwise known as riding jackets, are a must especially if you are into long rides. In the event of a fall, or god-forbid a crash, whatever little layer of protection a riding jacket can provide can mean a big difference as opposed to what a plain t-shirt can do for you, as far as protecting your skin is concerned. We know that this is quite obvious, but we wanted to stress this out regardless, since a good number of riders that we see frequenting the streets don't really like putting on riding jackets. It's understandable, yes, we live in a tropical country and it often gets too hot, but it's still rather important that your skin stays in place after a road mishap. Having your skin getting scraped off by the pavement after a nasty slide is not a fun thing at all. Your motor or motorsiklo can still be repaired, but it might not be the case for your skin.
Motorcycle jackets protect you from the elements, too. For example, an all-weather riding jacket can keep you dry during a light rain, or a leather jacket can keep you warm during cold night rides. It's going to be a win-win situation if you ride with a motorcycle jacket on you.
So what are acceptable motorcycle jackets?
- Padded riding jacket - usually made out of heavy grain leather or textile, with paddings or armor inside.
- Heavy denim or plain leather jacket.
We recommend that you invest on a padded riding jacket as those are designed for motorcycling. Denim or leather jackets can be an acceptable alternative as well, but those aren't as good as the former, when it really counts.
3. Riding Gloves
Another important piece of equipment are motorcycle gloves or riding gloves. Gloves not only protect your hands from unwanted blisters, they will also do a good job of protecting your palms in the event of a crash or unfortunate fall since you are most likely going to extend your hands as a natural reflex in order to protect yourself. It's a normal survival instinct, so better protect those precious hands by wearing proper riding gloves.
Beyond protecting you in a crash, motorcycle gloves also make you look cool and legitimate. Most of them come with either metal or plastic palm and knuckle protectors, some are made out of leather, too, and they just look awesome when put on.
Riding gloves also protect your hands against the wind and heat, so it's a win-win situation, too, regardless of which ever is the reason why you are wearing them in the first place.
4. Motorcycle Pants
Motorcycle pants, like motorcycle riding jackets, are usually the piece of riding gear that the vast majority of riders choose not to wear. That’s probably because most of us are already comfortable with wearing jeans, and some do even ride with just a pair of shorts on. They do look and feel comfortable when you think about it, but if you suddenly consider the serious implications, you just can't help but cringe. What can a good pair of shorts even do in the event of a crash, you ask? Nothing! Most people seem to also think that your regular pair jeans are enough protection, but that is simply not true. Jeans will easily get shredded when your legs start rubbing the pavement in the event of a slide at speed. So they, too, don't offer that much protection at all.
So what are acceptable riding pants?
- Padded motorcycle riding pants - usually made out of heavy grain leather or textile, with paddings or armor in key impact areas.
- Kevlar mesh pants
- Motorcycle leather pants
Thankfully, with the help of modern technology, many manufacturers are starting to design riding pants with Kevlar panels added to key places. If you aren't already familiar, Kevlar is a kind of synthetic fiber with very high tensile strength. This means that motorcycle pants that have Kevlar on them don't easily break. Most of these riding pants also mimic the texture and comfort of your regular jeans so you won't even begin to feel the difference.
What do we recommend? It actually depends on the kind of riding that you do. Padded motorcycle riding pants are normally the de facto pants of choice for both new and experienced riders alike, but if you are more of a weekend chill rider that simply enjoys cruising around highways, then we don't see why you can't wear soft and comfortable Kevlar mesh pants. If you are more of the adventurous rider with a knack for thrill and speed, then either the padded/armored riding pants or motorcycle leather pants would be the perfect choice for maximum protection. Do note, however, that extreme riding activities need to take place in controlled environments like race tracks and not in the open highway. This can save yours, and others' lives from unnecessary and irresponsible accidents.
5. Riding Boots or Shoes
Motorcycle boots do not only look great, but they also provide your feet with ample protection. But do casual riders really like to wear them? How much of the riding population in the Philippines do you think would normally wear boots when heading out in the open onboard their motorcycles?
There might just be a few, really, and that's sort of understandable, too, because riding boots are a tad bit more expensive compared to your average basketball or tennis shoes. But it should be a small price to pay, a fair compromise if you will, considering how it can protect your feet from getting slightly injured, all the way to preventing your lower leg from the possibility of getting banged up and even mangled altogether, in the case of a bad accident.
The main rule when it comes to motorcycle safety footwear is to make sure they are solid and well-built, and that they offer protection around the ankle. Sneakers, running shoes, tennis shoes, and even basketball shoes just won't do.
So what are the acceptable choices?
- Leather riding boots with ankle protection
- Steel toe, leather or textile work safety boots that cover the ankle
So there you have it. No matter how many years of riding experience we accumulate and continue to gather, the human body is only so very fragile and we don't have the ability to regrow lost appendages either, so always invest in motorcycle safety gears as those not only play a vital role in saving your life, they also provide that little bit of assurance, that little bit of defining factor that can prolong your budding motorcycle riding career, since they often do a good job in keeping your body parts intact in the event of a horrible crash. We know it sounds morbid and inappropriate to casually throw around negative expectations like crashing and falling off a motorcycle just like that, but we need to live with that possibility and that fact either way. If you think about it, just about anything can be technically dangerous and life threatening, but that doesn't mean that you will have just sit out on all the fun things to do in this life, riding motorcycles included.
Motorcycling is dangerous and risky business, yes, but that's what makes it cool and fulfilling. To some of us it is already more than a hobby, it's our passion and is already occupying a big part of our lives, so cheers to more riding and always remember that safety is paramount! ATGATT - all the gear, all the time! Wear them!