Clarksville, TN – A friend and I were having a spirited debate about riding gear the other day and it became obvious to me that opinions vary from one biker to the next on what you should wear when riding. According to some of the responses I got on my Facebook page, it’s a pretty cut and dry situation.
To each his own.
I fell into this lifestyle late in life. I didn’t have the benefit of years of riding experience and brotherhood that many of you have had. I wish I had, but, such is life. I feel that “old school” bikers are the foundation of this experience and they set the standard for who and WHAT bikers are. How they look, how they ride and what they wear.
I’m probably what’s known as a “bagger” since I have a touring bike with some accessories and a few “creature comforts” that the old school guys just hate. At any given time, the “originals” can be seen riding all leather’d up and with no music, no fairing, no GPS and so on. They know what it’s all about and they look it and live it.
My friend and I debated the pros and cons of wearing jeans, leathers, gloves and so on. He questioned whether any of that would really protect us from road rash, or any other type of injury.
“You really think those jeans will keep you from getting all banged up?” he asked. Better safe than sorry I guess.
I always ride with gloves, jeans and sturdy biker boots. I DO ride in a short sleeve shirt on occasion, and always wear a helmet. I guess I’m just as concerned with WHAT I look like as well as being as protected as I can be. I have leather jackets, leather rain pants and so on. I guess I look “ok” but I don’t lose a lot of sleep over it.
“Dress for the slide, not the ride” they say. “Your hands are the first thing to hit the ground, so wear gloves” they say. So that’s what I do. (I will say that I DO notice a lot of you not wearing gloves and I’m curious about that).
Some of you told me that when you’re just riding around town, you’re more casual and take certain “liberties” with your gear that you wouldn’t normally take.
I personally draw the line with flip flops.
I’ve gone down twice since I’ve been riding. The first time I slid off into a muddy ditch after riding through a curve. No harm, no foul on that one. I was wearing jeans, boots and a short sleeve shirt. No damage to the bike, just muddy jeans and a dirty shirt.
The second time I went down was a little more serious. I injured my leg, had surgery, recovered, then hopped back on the bike and here I am today. The one constant in both incidents was I was wearing jeans, gloves and a solid pair of Harley boots. I always ride like that and I never ride without gloves.
No road rash in either incident.
The thing with bikers is that we’re all different. Our bikes are different. Our styles are different. I could go on and on. But at the end of the day, it’s an individual choice. Your bike speaks to who you are, and your gear shows us who you are. I think most of us dress for safety, but we dress for style too. We all understand the “image” of a biker and whatever contribution I make to that is ok by me.
I also realize that bikers can be pretty judgemental about other bikers and their gear. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. We do what we want. We ride what we want. We dress how we want and we don’t give a DAMN what anyone thinks about it.
I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love you guys and I’m honored to be among you. Ride safe my friends. One day our paths will cross.