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You are more than a head and a body
You are more than a head and a body, so you need more than a helmet and jacket. The main thing about other gear is that is should be easy to put on, take off and carry.
Padded, insulated, water-proof, breathable, gauntlets, lightweight - gloves have a lot of demands!
Gloves protect your hands like a jacket protects your body. They have extra padding at hit points, like knuckles. They keep hands warm but not sweaty, if made of Gore-Tex or other material that insulates but still breathes. They should be waterproof, as wet gloves they make your hands stink. They should be gauntlets, long enough to cover your jacket wrist, so wind and water cannot come up your arm. Finally, you want gloves as light as possible, so your hands can feel the controls. Padded, insulated, water-proof, breathable, gauntlets, lightweight - gloves have a lot of demands!
Many gloves protect, most are warm, fewer are also waterproof, and few indeed are all the above plus lightweight, to allow individual finger movements and control sensitivity. Sometimes, these demands are inevitable trade-offs. I have light gloves for summer use, and bulky ones for winter warmth. However both pairs are waterproof, as it rains in summer and winter.
Don’t buy the “finger free” gloves hunters use. They look good, but dont protect your all important fingers, nor keep them warm. Also don’t buy mittens – they keep your fingers together and warm, but you have terrible lever control.
Some gloves have a little zip pocket on the back. If you go through tolls, you can keep coins in there, and get at them easily.
If you cant afford proper bike boots, at least wear boots that cover your ankles
Riding boots should be solid and strong to protect your feet. Some have a steel toe tip plate. If you cant afford proper bike boots, at least wear hiking boots that cover your ankles. Riding boots extend up your calf for two reasons. First this better protects from road stones and hot exhausts. Second, if you have leggings, the rain doesn’t run into your boots. Good boots are waterproof and warm. They fit with zip or Velcro, not laces (which can come loose and tangle in moving parts). I also like my boots to look and feel nice when walking, so I can arrive and don’t need to change shoes.
Leggings are the final touch in the rider arsenal
Leggings look after your all important "lower parts". Riding in shorts is stupid. If you come off, say goodbye to the skin on your legs. Grazes really hurt. If you dont know this, you will if you come off. At least wear denim jeans or pants, to take some of the scrapes. Leggings add a protective "sliding layer" when you fall. Leggings are the final touch in the rider arsenal.
Leggings keep your lower body warm and dry on cold trips. They protect from ground splash when the ground is wet, even if it is not raining. They protect your nice pants from dirty road grime. They fend off flying road stones. With leggings, you can arrive looking good. Leggings let you jump onto a wet motorcycle seat without flinching. Even lightweight leggings protect you against falls, cold, wet and road grime.
Leggings must be long enough to go over your boots
Leggings must be long enough to go over your boots, not always easy if you are tall. You bend your knees while riding, which pulls the leggings up. If they are above your boots, when it rains, the leggings channel the water into your boots instead of outside them.
Easy on, easy off
Most important, leggings must also slip on and off easily
Gloves, boots and leggings must be easy to take on and off. Gloves need a smooth inner lining, that does not catch. Boots need to be velcro and zip, not tie up. Gloves and boots should slip on and off easily. Most important, leggings must also slip on and off easily. If you take off your boots off to put them on, they are pants not leggings. Simple leggings are wide for this reason. However then they tend to flap. Quality leggings have calf zips, to open up the bottom, so they can be put on or taken off with boots intact. They also have Velcro flaps at the ankles, to seal the joint.
I always wear a light scarf to seal my neck against cold and rain. It stops the jacket Velcro from scratching my neck, and feels nice. Finally, it stops nasty insects flying down my neck.
If your watch strap breaks open or unclips while riding at 80mph down a highway, then your watch is gone forever. You will not get it back. So I prefer a watch straps that unclip to a continuous loop. If the strap opens up, the watch still stays on your wrist.
|© Brian Whitworth, 2004, 2005|