For Safety, I am a ATGATT lady, All The Gear All The Time. My reasoning for this is quite simple, in a battle of skin versus tarmac, tarmac is going to win every time, even a slow speed drop of the bike (which has happened to me) can end up in a banged knee and a scraped hand, proper protection helps prevent this. If I need anymore convincing, I just watch those riders come off those bikes during the Moto GP at high speed and walk away pretty much unscathed so me, in my admittedly lower tech gear, but at lower speeds, will stand a much better chance without anything.
All that said, there is balance on how far a person can go or what they can afford and nothing is going to stop an injury from a truck driving over me but some form of technical gear is a way smarter option that shorts, trainers, no gloves and a t-shirt, which I see a lot in Sydney in the summer.
And then there’s protection from the elements, I am not a lover of being cold, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it when it is cold, after all, some other things I like to do are scuba diving and skiiing, I just don’t like being cold. And there is no reason why I should be.
The trouble with being on a bike for a cold hater like me is wind chill, a factor of many things but heavily affected by the ambient temperature, speed I am riding at, heat from the sun and protective clothing that I am wearing. Summer in Australia gets hot, and it does get to the point where no amount of wind chill is going to cool a girl down especially sitting on Rita, who does like to give out a bit of heat on the hotter days but I can certainly do some things to help not get too hot on the bike.
So, what do I have in my bike gear wardrobe? I’ll start at the top and include links to external sites which include more info about the products, it’s not about endorsement, it’s about me not knowing everything there is to know about the product.
Helmet – Kabuto, Aeroblade III, grey
I can’t say there was a lot of research in buying this helmet, I needed a helmet to ride pillion, wanted something half decent so, with the help of the saleslady, I picked this
helmet. It’s a full face helmet that is light and comfortable, road noise is low and it has some good vents in the top and front. I was challenged with fogging on cold mornings but a Pinlock antifog insert now prevents that… Just have to work out how to stop my sunglasses fogging up!
Next time I think I’ll get a helmet with a flip up front section and built in tinted visor that I can use as required. My reasons for this is the bit of hassle taking off the helmet when I want a drink or a quick snack, hence the flip up front section, and the inconvenience with having to stop and remove sunglasses as it gets dark. Minor inconveniences, I agree, but easily solvable with an accommodating design.
I have two jackets, one summer jacket (see pic above) and one for the winter, I’m considering the leather jacket option for my wardrobe but I haven’t quite made the leap yet, fabric is great and cheaper but leather looks amazing.
My first purchase was when I was riding pillion in Queensland where it gets very warm. This was a the Dririder Airstream, not knowing much about motorbike gear at this stage, I was well guided to this jacket, it looks great and does a very good job keeping me cool in
the summer. It has a waterproof/breathable layer which I rarely wear as it’s much easier to put on an extra top than fit the layer. I didn’t actually register that it was a waterproof layer, just assumed it was a windproof layer up until now however, I feel that my waterproof jacket may be more effective at keeping the rain out.
As the weather changed, no amount of layers under my nicely vented jacket, even with its two other liners, were able to keep me warm. I tried thermals and multiple layers but it didn’t stop those little shards of cold air leading to a drop in my body temperature, and I was not longer having fun. I tried on a few and opted for a Dririder winter jacket. This jacket is not vented, has a removable thermal layer and a zip to connect it to my pants, which is good for safety and good for keep the draft out of the bottom of my back.
The jacket isn’t perfect at keeping me warm, I am sure there are warmer jackets out there but will the addition of several layers underneath and neck warmer, I do stay nice and warm, and it does allow for comfortable riding for about 6-8 months of the year.
Like the jacket, I started off with a vented summer pair. Gloves are always leather for me, I feel that they are safer, and I have found them less bulky on my small hands. Again, I went Dririder Air Ride, at the place I bought them at they must have only had men’s sizes as I had to buy an XS, I see now that they have ladies’ sizes (shape?) available. Good glove, with carbon fibre knuckle protectors and on the finger joints although, being a men’s glove, a little too bulky for my hands, if I was to be super critical.
I bought these as the weather turned cold; they were great at first, my hands were cosy and warm. Armour on the knuckle and finger joints helped ticked my safety requirements. The lining was also Thinsuate so, in the event they became wet, promised to keep my hands warm, as it happened, I never managed to get my hands sufficiently wet to test this out. After a couple of months, I noticed that the lining would catch on my fingers as I pulled the gloves on and the thumb section (?) was a little too small for my thumb so would become uncomfortable throughout the day. One incident stands out, stopping at the side of the road as the heavens started to open meant a mad rush to put on waterproofs, trying to pull my gloves on quickly was frustrating as my damp hands caught in the lining. Typically, it stopped raining about three minutes later, but that’s another story. I wore these for winter, the warmth was fine but still they felt a little small and the catching lining was annoying.
To tackle the winter glove issued I did a bit of research, I looked at textile gloves but these turned out to be too bulky for my small hands, especially with armour in the knuckles. I was then pointed towards Dianese ladies gloves, on the basis that Dianese ‘do women’s gear really well’. I tried a few and decided on the Veloce; it has to be said that these are great looking gloves, very stylish and elegant, not my number one requirement but an added bonus when it works out. The gloves are a narrow fit, and fit my hands perfectly, the gauntlet style and wrist fastenings mean that these gloves aren’t going anyway in the event that I do come off the bike.
Now, despite not having any venting they are still not the warmest of gloves, to tackle this I bought a pair of thin merino wool gloves from an outdoor store and paired them up. I admit that these are not the perfect solution, at high speed on cold days (think 110kph at 12 degrees C), I notice little shards of freezing air piercing through the stitching which eventually brings down the temperature of my hands. My next solution is little handwarmers – packets of some powdered chemical that, when activated, give out heat – I haven’t used these yet, while riding so watch this space.
Legs are up there with the most vulnerable parts of your body when on a motorbike, which surprises me why so many people think a pair of jeans, or even shorts are sufficient. Skin vs tarmac…
Teknic Kevlar Jeans With Armour
My first purchase was a Kevlar lined pair of jeans with armour knee protection, made by Teknic. I’m not sure if they are available anymore (I can’t find a link to the manufacturer’s website), I bought them in 2014. What I like about them is that they are jeans so are cooler for summer, albeit they are a bit baggy on me, I recall them being a men’s fit, which doesn’t really help the sizing. What I’m not mad about is that the armour is set a little low for my knees, due to my shorter legs; to tackle this I have moved the armour up on the strip of velcro that holds them in place however the armour now rubs against my knee when I am walking and isn’t as secure with them only being attached by half the velcro strip. I’ll probably retire these soon.
At the same time I noticed that my beautifully vented jacket wasn’t suited to Sydney winters, I established that no amount of thermal leggings were going to keep me sufficiently warm on those beautiful but cold winter days. So I decided to invest in more suitable pants. These are fabulous. They come with a waterproof/breathable liner and a thermal liner, both of which can be removed, although you can’t have the thermal layer without the waterproof layer as it zips inside the waterproof liner, not that this is an issue. On the coldest of mornings – around 7-10 degrees, I do wear an extra pair of thermal leggings underneath if we are heading out onto the country roads or motorways. I’ve pretty much worn these pants for 9 months of the year as they also have panels at the front of the thigh which can be unzipped revealing a mesh layer to allow airflow. I also really like that they have a zip at the back so I can attach them to my jacket which helps keep the cold out and protects the vulnerable part between jacket and trousers, in the event I come off the motorbike.
The trousers also come with built in armour in the knees and I did buy some extra armour for the hips which bulks me out a bit but will help, again, in the event of me coming off the motorbike.
My first purchase, low rise, solid motorbike boots. I was reasonably happy with these until I realised that a heel would help with my ability to touch the ground. The only challenge I had was that feet would get very hot in the summer and there wasn’t a vented equivalent boot available in Australia, or at least one that I could find so, once I bought the heeled boot, I stopped wearing them and sold them on eBay for about $90.
Since I was struggling with the height of my Ninja, I worked out that having a little extra lift on my boots might help. I hunted around and came across these boots, beautifully elegant, Italian made leather motorcycle boots, clearly not made for the rider but the lady on the back, however they worked totally fine for me and do look great. The height certainly helped but I noticed quickly that the leather was wearing on the top of the left boot. This was solved by my local shoe repairer, he attached a strip of leather onto the top of both boots to protect the leather underneath. I believe he was quite pleased with himself.
I’ve had these boots for about 18 months and there is wear to the leather but best that than the boots themselves, it should be quite easy to replace the leather strips.