More than half of all crashes occur on motorcycles ridden by the operator for less than six months.No citations. But I guess these and statistics much like the following one:
In single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases.originate from the 1981 Hurt study funded by the NHTSA about Los Angeles area motorcycle accidents. And you'd think the great state of Arizona with its vast emptiness would have a low accident rate. But it's perineally in the top 3 or 4 when it comes to fatality rates, see official stats for 2006 below (and 3rd worst state for cyclists):
As a newbie on a brand-new bike with questionable skills, clearly the odds are not in my favor. Moreover, given:
Most crashes happen on short trips (less than five miles long), just a few minutes after starting out.the only logical conclusion is All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT). And All The Gear means street clothing and jeans which provide essentially zero protection (even against sliding) are out no matter how short the Starbucks trip. You can seriously hurt yourself falling off at 25 mph. Ask any road cyclist with lots of scars, e.g. me. (BTW, it's possible to google and find pictures of even kevlar-reinforced jeans wearing through on 30-40 mph get-offs.) Instead, it makes sense to have head-to-toe coverage of body parts against abrasion on tarmac from the use of motorcycle grade leathers and impact mitigation in the form of body armor. From the wikipedia entry on Motorcycle Safety:
One of the main reasons motorcyclists are killed in crashes is because the motorcycle itself provides virtually no protection in a crash. For example, approximately 80 percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death; a comparable figure for automobiles is about 20 percent.In other words, if I come off that motorcycle, chances are, I'm getting hurt. Of course, accident avoidance through vigilance, formal training and practice are paramount, but ATGATT is the only backup left when an unfortunate chain of events happens, either through operator error - be it brain fade or inadequate skill - or because of circumstances beyond my control - automobiles violating the motorcyclist's right of way being the most common cause of motorcycle accidents. Okay. My gear? Here's what I came up with given a combination what was locally available to try on and internet shopping. (Since fit is critical for optimal safety, I bought everything locally except for the pants.)
I appear completely overdressed and totally uncool compared to the majority of riders I see in Tucson on their sportbikes but I believe this gear should have significant advantages. Here is a breakdown:
|Helmet||Shoei RF-1000. Size S. The middle helmet of their full face line. Has reinforced fiberglass, sophisticated venting/anti-fogging and comfort features. Must fit tightly yet be comfortable. Squishes my cheeks.||$360|
|Jacket||Alpinestars RC-1 jacket. Size 48. Full-grain 1.2-1.4mm leather. Elbow and shoulder armor. Soft chest protector.
Surprised only a foam back pad included. Yet has an aerodynamic hump. Go figure.
A higher-end model than I'd set out to buy, but at the local store they had a special order error. Came in my size, european 48 (really small). As a result, it was on sale for $100 off.
I added a hard Dainese spine protector ($79).
|$400 + $79|
|Pants||Alpinestars Bat leather pants. Size 48 (american 32). Has soft knee protectors and a couple of other minor bits of padding only. Hmm, Alpinestars doesn't claim full-grain 1.2-1.4mm leather for this model. Nor does it have any cushioned hard plastic protectors. But it does integrate with the RC-1 jacket - they zip together - and it was on close-out at $100 off in my size.||$180|
|Boots||Alpinestars Web Gore-tex leather boot. Shin guard. Toe and heel bits. Minimal ankle protection. I worry about the ankle protection here and there is nothing in the back either. But it's a lot less expensive than fully-featured race boots, which are probably uncomfortable to walk in.||$169|
|Gloves||Alpinestars SP-2 full-grain leather gloves with extended wrist protection. Has carbon-fiber knuckles. And finger knuckle protection.||$89|
Finally, not only does it look supremely dorky, I'd like to point out none of this is especially comfortable to walk around in either. First, everything is pre-curved for the riding position down to the knuckles. Secondly, it all weighs a ton - well, I checked this morning on my bathroom scale:
|Me||66.9 kg (147 lbs) - post-marathon bonus.|
|plus base layer||67.2 kg (148 lbs)|
|plus ATGATT||76.0 kg (168 lbs)|