An old adage of motorcycling states: “It’s not a matter of if you’ll hit the pavement, rather it’s a matter of when.” Most would assume it’s an old wives’ tale, spun to elicit fear in those considering taking up motorcycling. The problem? That adage is true.
It’s the waiting, however, that can really do damage, as riders can go years before they have an accident. These gaps between what feels like complete safety and hitting skull to pavement has the tendency to lull even seasoned riders into a false sense of security and relax their riding gear commitment from Master Chief to “Sup brah! Like my board shorts and BMW S1000RR?”
For myself, it took nearly 12 years before I had an accident. During that time, I had instances of stupidity. I wore T-shirts, a pair of ratty Chuck Tayilors, and regular jeans on occasion. Luckily, on the day I went down, I had my helmet, gloves, jacket, and boots. They took the brunt of the hit. I walked away relatively unscathed. But the quarter-inch deep gashes along my helmet and the state of my jacket were both sobering.
My experience, however, isn’t meant to instill fear in any would-be riders. It’s more to illustrate that having the right gear — and using the right gear — is tantamount to your wide-open dreams of cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway at sunrise or heading out for a weekend cruise around your city. To better prepare you, here’s some of our favorite motorcycle gear to keep you safe as can be when out and about.
Shoei X-Fourteen – $732
I’ve entrusted my noggin to many helmet companies throughout my riding experience, but when I went down, I was wearing my old Shoei. It was almost 10 years old, slightly smelled, the padding had worn down slightly, and the visor had the habit of sometimes getting stuck, an issue that arose after a long session in so very disgusting mud and muck.
Old as it was, it still saved my life. That’s why, after I healed, I grabbed another Shoei, specifically the brand’s top-of-the-line X-Fourteen. Four years on, it’s my favorite helmet I have. It’s quiet, provides excellent visibility, looks great, and, most importantly, is one of the safest helmets on the market.
Saint Unbreakable Sherling Jacket – $500
Unbreakable is in the name and it’s just that: unbreakable. The jacket material is Saint’s proprietary fabric. Now in its sixth generation, this textile is 16-times stronger than steel, according to the company. It’s armored in key impact zones — shoulders, elbows, back — and can stand up to nearly anything you throw at it.
Yet, unlike the flashy MotoGP-inspired leathers you see on most riders on a Sunday afternoon, Saint’s jacket is meant to be both a well-made jacket ready for any occasion and armor when things go rubber-side up. The sherling collar is removable, but to us, it’s part of Saint’s charm.
Alpinestars Oscar Robinson Leather Gloves – $90
There are few names that transcend motorcycle culture as, nine-times-out-of-10, it is a very exclusive club. Alpinestars is the tenth instance. The brand is known outside the sect of two wheels and for good reason: the company makes some of the best equipment and clothes on the planet.
What many have not heard of is Alpinestars’ Oscar collection. Recently debuted, this lineup gear is Alpinestars’ way of heading upscale without sacrificing safety. Fit with EVA foam padding along the palm, and reinforced plating on the knuckles, the Robinson leather are some of the best around.
Alpinestars Oscar Charlie Denim Pants – $260
I’m sticking with Alpinestars pants because they remain, in my opinion, the industry standard. I’ve owned a pair of Alpinestars jeans since I started riding. They’re comfortable, reinforced with armor and heavy denim materials, and still look like jeans when walking down the street.
You’ll find CE-Certified armor on the knees as well as reinforcement on your posterior in case you slide across the pavement. I’ve done it — it isn’t fun — and you’ll be thankful that Alpinestars was thinking of your butt.
Rokker Company Urban Racer – $444
When I wrote about the most stylish motorcycle boots, I included Rokker’s Urban Racers in the list. I stand by that pick and reiterate it here. The Swiss company is best-known for its denim, but the Urban Racers prove that the company can also make a boot that will look good and keep your ankle and foot safe.
The boot is waterproof, but breathable, and features a shock-absorbent insole and heavy-duty rubber outsole to keep its contents safe if things don’t go the right way when travelling down the highway or through a canyon road. They are the perfect piece to finish off your everyday riding gear.
Stay safe out there.