How much protective gear do I need? Why?

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How much protective gear do I need? Why?

Post by ericalm »

When making the decision to ride a scooter, each of us takes responsibility for knowing the risks involved, preparing to deal with those risks and accepting the consequences of our decision. Our best weapons when dealing with the risks are education, protection, experience and using sound judgement at all times. While we can't control every factor out on the road (bad drivers, weather, hazards), we can reduce the odds of a crash and protect ourselves should one unfortunately occur.

The policy of Modern Buddy is one of non-judgementalism, especially when it comes to what gear you choose to wear. All we can do is arm members with facts and advice and provide a place to share knowledge and experiences. Believe it or not, choosing what—or how much—gear to wear is a very personal decision and one that a lot of people get very emotional about. So the recommendations below are just that. The rest is up to you.

Is all this stuff really necessary?
Many new scooterists (like me at one time) who are full of romantic images of scootering and see many riders on the road with little to no gear don't see the importance of proper protection. But both new and experienced riders can (and do) crash. Even at low speeds (under 40mph), a crash can be fatal or cause serious injury. After spending time on the forums and reading about others' crashes, I came to realize that a small helmet and a track jacket were a recipe for some serious pain.

The image below shows the various types of injuries that can occur and the gear designed to prevent them.

Some riders practice ATGATT ("all the gear all the time"), never riding without properly gearing up from head to toe. Most usually ride with some combination of gear—a helmet at the minimum. My recommendation is to wear at least a helmet, proper riding jacket, gloves and boots. More in-depth discussions of what to look for in these will come in future MB Guides.

Yeah, but motorcycle gear?
There are two main causes of injury in a crash: impact and abrasion. Impact injuries can result in broken bones, joints and tendons, internal injuries and damage to organs, and head/brain injuries. Abrasion and the resulting friction can cause severe burns and scrapes (road rash) as well as grinding exposed areas. A Google search will reveal images of abrasion injuries that include feet with toes ground off, people who've needed skin grafts over much of their bodies, and gruesome facial injuries.

This is why purchasing motorcycle (or scooter) specific gear is important. Though gear made for other activities (snowboarding, baseball, bowling, whatever) may seem like it offers the same coverage and protection, it won't hold up to this kind of abuse. Same goes for fashion-friendly gear that looks like motorcycle gear, but was not made for riding. Those black leather driving gloves may look cool on the scoot, but they'll shred in a crash. Same goes for those Converse Chucks. (In my opinion, footwear is the one exception to motorcycle gear. There are several of types of boots that will provide the needed protection.)

I know many of us didn't buy a scooter so we could festoon ourselves in Joe Rocket and Icon logos. There are many alternatives on the market as well as many threads discussing them.

Cost and Buying Advice
The cost of gear should definitely be considered when buying your scooter. It can add a couple hundred dollars (on the very low end, if you shop smart) on up to a few of thousand (if you buy the most expensive high-end stuff available). An average amount is probably around $300 or so.

With all gear, a good fit is important to providing protection, so it's beneficial to shop around and try things on. We recommend supporting local business, but many dealers have very small selections so some footwork may be required. If you shop online, be sure the retailer has a good return or exchange policy.

There will be buying advice and recommendations in the forthcoming posts for each specific item. Here are some good general guidelines to follow for all gear:

The most effective gear is the gear you'll wear. Nothing helps if it's hanging in the closet at home. Make sure you get items that fit well (again!) are comfortable, and appropriate for the climate where you live.

Take your time and shop around, even when buying online.

Do your research. Looks for reviews and forums posts about specific items. Even the well-known name brands make some crummy gear.

MB Guide: "Helmet Basics & Buying"

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Eric // LA Scooter Meetup Group // Stella 4T // Vespa LX // Vespa LXS // Honda Helix // some, uh, projects…