Friday Fives: 5 must-have biker accessories

by on April 24, 2009
in Friday Fives

In addition to setting up my bike with accessories that improve my riding experience, I also accessorize myself with some must-haves for the road. Today’s Friday Fives is all about the five personal accessories I can’t do without:

Leather jacket, chaps and lined gloves – By the time winter ends, I’m so ready to ride that I’ve been known to get the bike out if temperatures get to 45. (That feels SO warm when you’ve been in the months-long deep freeze, but when moving through the wind it’s really quite chilly!) There are some who go by the mantra, “All the gear, all the time.” This means they wear full leathers (or armored textiles) on every ride. I can’t claim to be that protective, but I wear my leather jacket, chaps and lined gloves for anything under 55 degrees; and, the jacket and gloves for anything under 65.

Helmet – Although in truth a helmet only provides limited protection, I wear one every time nonetheless. It’s gotten to the point where I feel naked without it. My current lid is a pink-and-pin-striped Fulmer half-helmet; it has the added bonus of being distinctive and memorable. (I swear: someone recently said to me, “I remember you – don’t you ride with a pink helmet?”)

Solid-gripping, ankle-protecting footwear – I used to wear a really nice pair of HD boots that were comfy even for all-day wear. Their only disadvantage was that they were lace-up and a pain to put on. Then I acquired a pair of red Ariat cowboy boots with good rubber soles, which I adore. And recently, I acquired another pair of HD boots also with rubber sole, but this time they lace AND side-zip for easy-on/off. A side benefit of all these boots – for me, anyway – is that they all have some degree of higher heel, which puts me flat-footed on the bike when I might otherwise not be.

Cell phone – do I even have to mention why this is important? Side benefit: mine has a built-in camera, in case I forget #5:

Digital Camera – Okay, sometimes I forget the camera. But I always kick myself when that happens. It’s important to me to document as many of our rides as possible, so that when I’m 90 and in a nursing home I can point to my pictures and tell the nurses, “You see? I used to be interesting too! And look – this hummingbird tattoo on my cleavage wasn’t always as close to my navel as it is now!”

What are the personal accessories you can’t live without?

April is helmet awareness month, part 2

by on April 19, 2009
in Commentary

April is Helmet Awareness month, so in the interest of making you more aware of your helmet I thought I would share some tips on fitting and maintaining this oft-debated piece of safety equipment.

Proper fit is vital to a helmet’s effectiveness. Your helmet should fit snug; when you shake your head from side to side, the helmet should move with you – not stay in one place while your head moves inside of it. (This is also a function of proper fastening.) Your helmet should not slide back over your head at an angle. When seated on your bike, your helmet should not obstruct your forward or lateral vision.

Prior damage renders a helmet useless. When your helmet hits the pavement, the energy of the impact is absorbed and dissipated through the… uhm, impact absorption material. This weakens the material. A helmet that has absorbed a significant impact, or whose shell is cracked in any way, should be replaced as soon as possible.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) also recommends replacing your helmet every few years regardless of whether it’s been damaged. They state that it’s possible the helmet’s protective qualities could deteriorate over time, and/or that helmet manufacturing technology will likely improve – making your next helmet lighter and more comfortable, and possibly less expensive, than an older one (though no less stupid-looking).

Ignore if you wish the MSF’s cleverly-hidden agenda of helmet mandates, but do read this very informative PDF file on helmet construction and fitment.