Hand Up

Sarita recently posted about the importance of riding gloves and I couldn’t agree more. The human hand is, per square inch, the most complicated and fragile mechanical part of the human body. It is also our most complex physio-dynamic instrument. I occasionally see folks riding with a helmet and a decent jacket and no gloves. Clearly they do not understand how fragile our hands are and they have given little thought to what their lives would be like if one or both of their hands were wrapped up in a cast for 2 months.

Scooter riders seem to be the worst. There are lots of scooters in my neck of the woods and altogether too many of them are dressed as though they are somehow invulnerable and immune to harm on the road.

Think about all of the stuff that you do every day with your hands and think, for just a moment (I don’t want to scare you) about what your first reaction is if you fall out of a chair. In most falling accidents your first reaction is to put your hands out to brace your impact. Often the first thing to make contact with the ground are your hands, palms down.

The human hand and wrist are fascinating structures. There are 27 bones in the hand. Add to that the maze of muscles and tendons and the hands become a somewhat miraculous structure. I think of it now as I bang away on the keyboard. Then there is the wrist.

On Emedicine they say this about the wrist:
“The wrist is the most complex joint in the body. It is formed by 8
carpal bones grouped in 2 rows with very restricted motion between
them. From radial to ulnar, the proximal row consists of the scaphoid, lunate, triquetrum, and pisiform bones. In the same direction, the distal row consists of the trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, and hamate bones. ”

Any skateboarder or roller skater will tell you about the time/s they tried to avoid a full face plant by sticking out their hands. A decent pair of riding gloves for a motorcyclist or a scooter rider seems like the most reasonable of ideas and it is an idea you do not want to have while you are bare handed and in mid-air.

I currently have 3 pairs of motorcycle gloves. They are all different. The pair that I ride with the most are the Firstgear Navigator (gauntlet style) gloves that I picked up not all that long ago. I still like them, they are soft and they are broken in – they fit great. We have all manner of styles and types of gloves for you to choose from. My next pair will be heated gloves for winter riding.

If you do not ride with gloves please take a look at our offerings. We have so many to choose from I feel confident that you will find something to your liking.  If the gloves you currently ride with are wearing out please consider upgrading before you get too far into this riding season.

Gerde Applethwaite

To Pink or Not to Pink: An Unmanifesto

When I lived in So. California I would, upon a warm Sunday morning, see a bunch of folks gathered in the parking lot of a large local motorcycle dealership queuing to go off on a ride together. I think community is a grand idea. More community – less strife. I sadly have, somewhere deep inside my rusting lizard brain, a sort of judgmental anti-fashion fashion mechanism. I am learning to overcome it — really I am. Many of my favorite quotes in life come from either Yogi Berra, Dororthy Parker or Fran Lebowitz. One Lebowitz quote is especially trenchant for this post. She said: “Your right to wear a powder blue polyester leisure suit ends where it meets my eyes.” [Maybe she said mint green – I can't recall.]

At this dealership there were a couple of couples in matching fringed leather jackets. Oh, I have no problem with that — really. I am generally not too enamored of the idea of couples dressing alike but I certainly have more valuable things upon which to focus my attention – do I not? Oh please, do I not? I couldn’t help but notice that my stomach was acting up when I saw not one but two women who were wearing fringed leather jackets only differentiated by the intensity of their pastel color schemes — one in pink and the other in a disturbingly intriguing robin’s egg blue.  Thankfully they were not together like some mannered Rock Store Hummel figurine bookends from out of the mind of a Jeff Koons. I digress.

Beige is the hardest working color in the universe. Beige not black, it was discovered a few years ago, is the predominant color of the universe. Orange/yellow is the color of our solar system as El Sol works tirelessly to illuminate and warm us. On our little orb and amongst human kind it is pink that never sleeps. Yup, pink. Pink is singularly declarative. Pink stands resolutely at the bar, eyes darting back and forth across the crowd to see who’s watching. Pink is endlessly judgmental in its need to control the impression. Pink works across class and income to monitor and maintain the borderland of gender. Pink.

The reason for this post is to expiate my soul on the one hand and on the other to reinforce the notion that women have the right to wear whatever they danged-heck-want-to when they ride. As long as that gear is designed with some sort of rated armor and out of a material that will not shred in the off chance that you do an aerial pas de deux with your fringed partner then I don’t really care.

Here’s the thing though: women will, many women will…some women will… sacrifice any modicum of common sense for the sake of annunciating and articulating their femininity. Don’t get me started about shoes and the cult of the shoe — that phenomenon goes well beyond your garden variety commodity fetishism. The need to assert one’s womanliness by compulsively wearing pink is a syndrome of a larger social malady and while I would like to lean forward into rant mode over my keyboard I will not or at least not too much. Should you have the time and the interest though I highly recommend a book by Barbara Ehrenreich called “Bright-sided” for among other things its insight into the way pink is used as a marketing tool in women’s health care.

Motorcycle riding has largely been a testosterone basted male bastion and there are too many women who feel the compulsive to need to state “Sure, I ride but I’m really a girl.” Motorcycle gear designers have come up with satchels full of pretty gear designed to calm that neuroses. Again, I say, if you like the pink then go ahead and wear it – do not let my personal aversion to the color and its implied cuteness dissuade you, you’re stronger than that. Go for the pink, you’re worth it. The point I want to make is that your gear should fit you properly and be designed for riding no matter what side of the gender corral from whence you have roped it in.

A friend of mine doesn’t like women’s riding jackets because the cut of the jacket gives her what she so eloquently describes as the uni-boob. I am not as well endowed as she but I am not too fond of the uni-boob look myself. I have preternaturally long arms and women’s riding gear never fits me right. I buy the men’s version of the jacket in a size smaller and I invariably have a better fit. There is also a wider selection in the men’s gear line. If you are riding up the PCH with a group at 60 miles an hour how important is it really that you show off your svelte hour glass figure? Maybe it is and in such case I want to make it absolutely clear that we are chockablock with jackets and pants and helmets that will fulfill your desires.  Please just make sure that no matter what you choose to cover your body when you ride that you opt for gear that is designed for use as motorcycle kit and that it has the proper safety armor.

This goes for you under clad scooter vixens too. You know who you are. Just because your wheels are smaller and you are closer to the ground doesn’t mean you do not need the protection from a get-off. I don’t care if your scooter is pink too. Please gear up.

Coming up in the very near future I will doing a shootout post between the hi-viz Firstgear  (men’s) Kilimanjaro jacket and the  hi-viz Scorpion (men’s) Commander 2 jacket. I have no idea which one will win but I like them both: they will both be subjected to the tyrannically rigorous dictates that are the hallmark of the Applethwaite family way but I have to say right off the top that, without laying my hands on them, the Scorpion jacket has the fashion points all over the Firstgear. Does that matter to me? Tune in.

A final Fran Lebowitz quote before I go.

“The conversational overachiever is someone whose grasp exceeds his reach. This is possible but not attractive.” On that note I think it best that I take my leave now.

Gerde Applethwaite

Why It’s Unsafe to Ride a Motorcycle without Gloves

 

When it comes to the most essential riding gear, what comes to mind? Probably a helmet, a motorcycle jacket and some boots. What many riders fail to realize (unless they’ve had a fall) is that motorcycle gloves are some of the most crucial pieces of equipment. Here’s why:

Motorcycle Gloves and the First Instinct

One thing that all bikers (and humans, for that matter) have in common is the instinct to use their hands to brace the body during a fall. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do to change that, but we can prepare for it by wearing the right motorcycle gloves.

As riders we expect to fall at some point. Whether it’s a low speed tumble or a high-speed accident, we have all accepted this as a possibility. One thing we don’t have to accept is bruised and battered hands

If you fall off your motorcycle and you aren’t wearing motorcycle gloves such as the top rated Power Trip Grand National Gloves, there’s a good chance you could be off your bike for a long time. Not to mention you could be unable to work or enjoy other activities.

Letting the gloves take the brunt of the spill means you’re more likely to keep your digits. You can always get a new pair of motorcycle gloves but your hands are irreplaceable.

Getting a Grip

Whether it’s sweaty palms in the summer or cold numb fingers in the winter, any rider who has been around for a change of the seasons knows how easy it can be to lose a grip on the controls. That spells disaster for us as well as other drivers.

When you invest in a pair of good riding gloves like the Power Trip Grand National Gloves, you improve your grip exponentially and lessen the chances of an accident.

In summer, you can opt for lightweight motorcycle gloves but in the winter you should go for something more substantial, such as a full coverage gauntlet glove.

Considering the minimal effort it takes to slip on a pair of gloves before you ride and the benefits you get from doing so, it  makes sense to include motorcycle gloves as part of your essential gear.

The Importance of Motorcycle Gear

There’s just nothing quite like the experience of riding down the road and feeling free- free from stress, free from expectations.  Some may say that wearing a full face helmet, motorcycle jacket and motorcycle pants limits that… Wrong!

We know how much fun it is to have the wind whipping through our hair and yet we still wear motorcycle helmets because let’s be honest, riding and living to do it again is more important than feeling the breeze. And just as it is important to wear a motorcycle helmet, it is also important to wear all the gear while out riding.

So maybe you have years of riding under your belt and think that a motorcycle jacket  isn’t necessary.  Maybe motorcycle pants make you walk funny and, besides, you’ve been riding for so long you have nothing to worry about on the road. Remember our last post: Got Helmet Laws?, “When there is an incident, we are the ones who suffer”.  That’s why it’s so important to wear gear even if you have experience out on the road.

We feel it’s important to be prepared for that day where there is a lapse in judgement or run in with a distracted driver. Although we hope that day never comes, why take a chance with your life? Having the right motorcycle jacket and pants can make a difference.

What gear do you wear when you ride?

Personal Story

My father was riding once when the streets were wet from a recent rain. He made the mistake of riding in the middle of the lane as the oil started coming up on the road.

When he suddenly had to brake, he went down. He did have on both a motorcycle helmet as well as a motorcycle jacket but he wasn’t wearing motorcycle pants.  He had layered pants, long johns, and a couple pairs of socks. He was able to walk away from that accident with just a little road rash on one of his arms but his shin wasn’t so lucky: The kickstand went right into his leg. They had to use a whole bottle of peroxide to wash the wound. Perhaps if he had been wearing better gear that wouldn’t have happenned.  I am thankful to this day that he was wearing a motorcycle jacket and helmet and I am a firm believer in ATGATT. We just never know what the road has in store.

ABS or No: The Great Motorcycle Debate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some motorcyclists believe that learning how to brake properly is a rite of passage; a badge earned by putting in the time. But for novice riders, who generally have the highest number of motorcycle accidents, anti-lock brakes (ABS) are quickly gaining ground as the next biggest safety measure next to motorcycle helmets.

That isn’t to say veteran riders can’t reap the benefits of ABS – especially in wet conditions when reducing the stopping distance is crucial.

All in the Numbers

One study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that motorcycles with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than those without ABS.

Interestingly enough, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports the overall risk of dying in a motorcycle crash is reduced by 37 percent when riders wear motorcycle helmets.

Coincidence? We think not.

What this data tells us is that wearing motorcycle helmets and purchasing bikes with anti-lock brakes can help riders decrease their chances of a fatal accident – by more than just a small margin.

Antilock Brakes Coming to U.S. Motorcycles

Europe already has a pending rule to bring ABS to motorcycles by 2016, but the U.S. lags in such regulations (not surprising considering the helmet laws in this country).

Some manufacturers, like Honda and Kawasaki, do offer models that either include or can be modified with an anti-lock braking system.

And it appears that other manufacturers could soon follow suit.

What are your views on anti-lock brakes? Yay or nay?

Got Helmet Laws?

I was recently discussing road experiences with some fellow riders and we all had stories about a close call with a distracted driver.  When there is an incident, we are the ones who suffer. We agreed that we never head out (no pun intended) without a helmet, ideally a Snell rated helmet, since we’ve all seen trouble on the road.

We started thinking about the helmet laws in different states and looked them up out of curiosity. We were surprised by the wide variation of the laws in place.

In looking more closely at the current helmet laws, it seems that three states have no helmet laws whatsoever and several others only require riders up to 17 or 20 years old to wear helmets. Here is the breakdown:

  • Laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet are in place in 19 states and the District of Columbia
  • Laws requiring only some motorcyclists to wear a helmet are in place in 28 states
  • There is no motorcycle helmet use law in 3 states (Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire)

Even for the experienced rider, it’s always a good idea to wear a motorcycle helmet. You may be a skilled rider, but what about the other guys on the road?

We sell motorcycle helmets, many of which are Snell rated helmets, and aim to bring you the best prices around for a very simple reason: We want to make helmets affordable and accessible to as many riders as possible. Having a motorcycle helmet is an excellent precaution (as well as law to a varying degree throughout the U.S.). Why take a chance with your life? So let’s ride safe and enjoy the freedom of the road with the best precaution available.

Do you agree with the helmet law in your state?

Mesh Motorcycle Jackets: Staying Cool While Riding on a Hot Day

You know what they say, if you can’t take the heat then stay out of the kitchen. But who wants to leave the bike the garage after waiting all winter to ride! There is plenty of motorcycle gear for summer that can keep you riding in just about any condition.

A breathable jacket is lighter than leather and has some advantages that leather doesn’t have.

The mesh motorcycle jacket is ventilated, often utilizing thicker, more open weave fibers on the fabric’s exterior. This helps direct air flow on to the rider, keeping the body cool and comfortable even while riding on a hot day.

T-Shirts and Tank Tops?

A thin t-shirt or tank top is tempting on a triple-digit afternoon, but in reality can set you up for harsh sunburn and leave you vulnerable to serious injury. Not to mention, when you’re cruising at 75mph. your body doesn’t have a chance to use your sweat to keep you cool!

When you wear a mesh jacket, the fabric reflects sunlight, allowing you to feel the sweat cooling your skin as it begins to evaporate, and protects your skin from the sun.

More Benefits of Mesh Motorcycle Jackets

Many of the breathable jacket designs that are on the market today use flow-through fabrics to encourage airflow, CE certified armor in the shoulder and elbows to increase protection, and waterproof liners to keep the rider dry during the pop-up rain shower.

Most importantly, the mesh motorcycle jacket makes riding on a hot summer day enjoyable again. What upgrades do you need to make to your summer riding gear?

 

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: The Road is Ours to Share

Motorcycle RiderJust in time for spring riding season, Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month kicks off in May. As a national initiative encouraging drivers and riders to “share the road” with each other, it not only calls for operators of passenger vehicles to watch out for motorcyclists but also reminds bikers of their responsibility while cruising down America’s roadways.

Driver Safety Tips

As part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, drivers of cars, trucks and buses are reminded of the following:

  • Remember that motorcyclists have all the same rights and privileges as any motor vehicle driver on the roadway.
  • Avoid sharing the lane, and allow bikers a full lane width. The motorcycle needs room to maneuver safely.
  • Always use a signal before changing lanes or merging with traffic, so that bikers can maintain safe distance and lane position.
  • Likewise, keep in mind that not all motorcycle signals are self-canceling. Wait to ensure the rider is going to turn before you make your move.
  • Allow for extra room between you and the biker; they can stop more quickly than cars in dry conditions. A good rule of thumb is 3-4 seconds.
  • Stay alert and minimize distractions such as texting and talking on the phone.

Motorcyclist Safety Tips

Riders are reminded to obey traffic laws and observe safety guidelines not only during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month but also throughout the year:

  • Always wear DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets while riding, whether you are the operator or a passenger. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,617 motorcyclists in 2011. If all motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 703 lives could have been saved.
  • Wear protective gear, such as motorcycle boots, motorcycle gloves, and apparel that is designed for your riding conditions.
  • Use reflective tape and wear bright colors to stay visible to other motorists.
  • Remember never to share the lane with another vehicle; they may not see you when speeding up, slowing down or changing lanes.

Whether you will be out on the open road this spring or you find yourself cruising through the city streets, keep in mind that Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month is for the protection of everyone. Share the road!

Spring Checklist: Or What Price Neglect?

Foolishness and neglect are the best of bedfellows and their moto spawn is all to often a concussion, at the least, and/or an addled and expensive hospital stay at next to worst.

Yesterday I went for what was for me an extended bike ride. On the return loop shifting gears got a bit wonky.  I dropped the chain into the gutter between the big chain ring and its  neighbor. I did it again…. and again. I left it in a medium low gear and made it home none the worse for wear. I laid the bike up and the following day, today, I sprayed up the works with chain lube prior to another ride assuming that the chain was just sticking. Chain lube is not holy water. Two blocks down the road at a light I stood on the topmost pedal and put my weight down on it to get me going. The chain jumped again – same spot and I went sideways over the bars and onto my back as the chain slipped and the pedal went sharply groundward. While I lay there part way into the intersection I was mostly surprised. All too often in an accident everything seems to slow down a bit. Not this one: push on the pedal, crunching noise , on yr. ass. Voila.

When I got the bike to the side of the road I looked it over closely. 4 of 5 bolts that hold the big chain ring on had worked themselves sloppy loose. They must have been a bit loose for a while and yesterday’s extended ride just worked on them and that is why the chain kept popping off. This is a foolish thing to have missed and a simple thing to rectify. I was already working up this post about checking your ride after the winter layup and this little safety vignette delivered itself to me in an awkward aerial ballet along with a bit of a stiff back.

There are some very good places to go on the intertoobz to get a spring checklist of things to attend to before you pull hibernating machine from its cave. I will list a couple at the bottom of this post and I welcome you to add yours. Read through them and then take the time to go through your bike. Cleaning it is often a very good way to start. Look it over.

Bring out the wrenches – tighten up bolts all around. Do you have leaks? Attend to it.  Fuel leaks, dripping oil – attend to it. Now is the best time. When the riding season comes in full bloom to your part of the world you won’t want to devote saddle time to nit-nit repairs. Do it now.

Tires: are they cracked? How much tread depth do you have? Are your wheels balanced and properly aligned in the frame. It doesn’t take much to check that out. Spoked rims? Are all of your spokes tight? Allow rims: any cracks?

Clutch and brake fluids topped off? Is this the year to flush the systems, bleed them and install new fluid? Are your electrics in order? All the lights and switches work? No frayed wires in the harness? Pull off the tank – take a look around.

In an upcoming post I am going to have a go at what tools and sundries are best to carry under the seat in the limited room available there. If you have tips and ideas for that post let me know. A CO2 cartridge tire filler device is already on my list.

Ok, try these links for spring cleaning and checkup ideas:

http://www.allaboutbikes.com/feature-articles/motorcycle-maintenance/6771-get-your-motorcycle-ready-for-spring

http://www.insurancehotline.com/spring-motorcycle-preparation-checklist/

 

Gerde Applethwaite

You Look Hot! Ready for some ventilation?

Soon you will be feeling the warmth of the sun beating on your back as you’re waiting for the light to change. But that doesn’t mean that a few weeks from now you have to sit at the same light in a pool of your own sweat. Not cool.

Fortunately, our friends at Scorpion have added to your options. This stuff takes motorcycle gear to new fashion heights. The new Savannah 2 line is not just gorgeous;  it has CE approved armor and is vented and lightweight.


And for the guys, Scorpion’s poly mesh Ventech 2. Looks great in hi viz neon.

Scorpion Ventech II Jacket – Neon

Icon has been busy too. They got some great choices that will let you idle with pleasure. The Hooligan Street Jersey is made with a Fighter Mesh Chassis for maximum venting.

Icon Hooligan Street Jersey – Red

So stop worrying about looking cool and be cool. Upgrade your riding gear collection to include some of this mesh apparel today!