The Shiver doesn’t look nearly as good lying on the ground. Then again I probably don’t either!
All of the Gear, All of the Time?
People ride bikes for all kinds of reasons, and it’s up to them to determine what level of protection they want. And it’s a trade-off: I wear leathers without armour because I find it lets me move better, which makes me feel safer. Sometimes I’ll only wear gloves and a helmet on a hot summer day cruising around town. And when I use my bike as a form of transportation, rarely do I want to be wearing armoured, leather riding pants once I arrive at a restaurant.
Generally I’d advocate always wearing a helmet and gloves. Wearing at least jeans will protect you pretty well. Leather jackets are great, even if they don’t have armour.
The real trick is to find as much gear you’ll wear every time you ride. You can own a $1,000 leather race suit, but if it sits in your closet it’s no good. Find a comfy jacket and boots you can wear every time.
I wanted to review the gear I was wearing, talk about how well it stood up to the crash, and whether I’d buy it again.
I’ll skip my jacket, as it’s a tailored, leather motorcycle jacket. It’s safe to say though: fashion leathers are not thick leathers. You want a fitted, tough leather jacket if you’re a biker. Textile jackets with armour are also acceptable, but if you aren’t wearing a jacket specifically built with motorcycling in mind, you should at least be wearing thick leathers.
The helmet I was wearing was my 2012 Nolan N43E Trilogy. It has a huge visor, allowing for fantastic field-of-view. This is really important, as I find many full-face helmets add extra crash protection (passive protection) in the form of reduced visibility (active protection). The large visor on the Nolan is a nice meeting point between open and full face helmets.
The helmet stood up fantastically to the crash; there’s actually no external damage to the helmet, despite me spending thousands of kilometres riding in it over the past few years. I took this helmet from Halifax to Montreal on my Ducati 848 and it does the trick in cold and warm weather alike. My head hit the ground hard enough to give me a bit of neck pain, but the helmet saved me from having worse head injuries.
Of course, if you crash in a helmet: it’s time for a new one. Your brain is totally worth the $80-$400 most street helmets cost.
I would gladly buy another N43E Trilogy, though they’re since stopped making them and are now onto the N44. I’ll have to give it a look. Nolan make fantastic, and very versatile, helmets.
Gloves are one of the most important and overlooked pieces of protective gear you can wear on a bike. Breaking bones in your fingers (or wrist) is easy as hell in a crash.
I was wearing my Alpinestars C-10 windproof gloves. They have a hard knuckle on them, and those did an awesome job. These gloves are fantastic outside their crash protection: they’re comfy, waterproof, warm, and windproof. They look pretty decent off the bike as well. Perfect for a commuter.
The leather in the palms suffered a fair bit, and I think it’s safe to say these are one-crash-gloves, but my hands aren’t the least bit sore and suffered zero road rash, so I’d say the gloves did a fantastic job. (Update: nope, I kept wearing these for another few years before I treated myself to some newer Astars gloves, but they were still going strong.)
I was wearing motorcycle riding shoes, in this case TCX X-Street Waterproofs. They look like high-top sneakers, but they’re waterproof, breathable, and very protective. They’ve survived two motorcycle crashes and are still going strong. They’re also the most comfortable motorcycle shoes I’ve owned. I won’t need to buy new ones; I’m still very happy with the ones I have. (Update: I still have the same pair four years and thousands of kilometres later and they’re great.)