Am I over-dressed?

One of the first things that stuck me here is what people wear riding motorbikes.

Nearly every Harley rider you see is in just a T-shirt, and often shorts too. I can definitely understand this to an extent. It’s sweltering hot here – well into the 90s F (or 30s C) – and apparently it’s going to be hotter in the Badlands of South Dakota for Sturgis.

I’m kitted-out in kelvar Draggin’ Jeans, boots, an armoured leather jacket and armoured gloves. I still remember Nick drumming it in to us during my CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) years ago about how important protective clothing is. I still remember Nick saying don’t even move the bike without gloves on. I’ve pretty much stuck to that ever since.

In the cargo area at Glasgow airport, I moved the Trooper around the warehouse in only a T-shirt and I felt naked. I’m just not used to it. Wearing a leather jacket is rarely a problem in the British climate, especially the Scottish one, but over here I feel like a boil-in-the-bag meal unless I’m going at speed when it’s just about tolerable.

I was trying to pack light, so I only have bike boots and kelvar jeans, but I wonder whether the jacket and gloves will actually last here. For now, I’m thinking that I’ve spent too much money on tattoos to risk scrapping them along the pavement, but I’m really struggling in this heat. Will my good intentions last?

The other thing I’ve noticed is that in the states in which helmets aren’t mandatory, almost nobody riding a Harley wears a helmet (but most sports bikers do). I hate to admit it, but I think the Harley riders are mad. I know from experience that the first thing to hit the deck when you come off is your head. Last year’s tumble had been at a fairly low speed but I walked away from that. I still have a little discomfort, probably from muscle damage, on my inner thigh where the bike landed on me. But I was wearing a helmet. The only vivid memory I have of that accident is being on the floor and my head still moving until it went bang into the road. If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet that “gentle” accident may have given me brain damage or worse. My helmet stays!

But I am glad I bought a new flip-open front helmet – a Shoei Multitec – for the trip. Flipping open the front is making the slow speeds of town driving semi-bearable at least.

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4 thoughts on “Am I over-dressed?

  1. Personally, I always wear the helmet, to keep rubbish out of my face whilst riding as much as protection if I have an off.

    Jackets in hot weather… fabric is the thing to have, not leather. Something like a H Halvarssons Safety Jacket… http://www.jofama.se/motorcycle_wear/products.php?lang=2&cid=5

    These are a mesh that holds body armour, which you can then attach different outers to, depending on the heat and likelihood of getting wet.

    Sounds like you’re having a great trip so far though, I’m definitely jealous!

    • The visor is definitely a blessing for keeping the bugs out of my mouth. Thanks for the tip but I’m kinda stuck with what I’ve got. Not much room on the bike at all.

      I think you’d hate it here Ben – all the roads so far are long and straight. Perfect for a cruiser!

  2. Our state has a mandatory helmet law and even if it didn’t, my husband and I would still wear one. And I ALWAYS wear leather pants and either a leather jacket or a mesh one with body armour. Gloves, too. Even as a passenger.

    I asked a shorts and t-shirt clad rider why he didn’t wear a helmet, long pants and long sleeved shirt for some protection and his response was, “I don’t plan on having an accident.”

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