Ah, summer… when the only clothes to be seen in are shorts, t-shirts and sliders, and there’s more bare flesh on the city’s streets than you’d find on the average Mediterranean beach…
Sounds ideal… unless, of course, you are thinking of hopping on to your faithful moped, scooter or motorbike dressed like that, that is.
Taking a tumble off your bike will leave any exposed flesh at risk of a severe case of road rash as the tarmac scrapes away the skin, leaving a delicate coating of embedded grit, stone and dirt in the wounds…
It doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it? It isn’t: and A&E nurses will tell you that cleaning up these injuries is not for the faint-hearted, either.
And don’t think it’s a problem only if it’s a high-speed crash; come off your bike at any speed at all with skin exposed, and where it hits the road it will leave a sickening injury. However good a rider you may be, there is no way of preventing others making mistakes that result in you sliding along the tarmac.
So, can we protect ourselves from a loss of street cred, the inevitable mistakes of others, and the pain, to do our bit to prevent Hospital A&E departments getting overloaded this summer?
The good news is, yes - we can.
Resist the temptation to ride in shorts, t-shirts and sandals. It’s not the easy choice but it is the only choice totally in your hands. Covering up may make you warm, but it is worth it. Any fall from a powered bike is bad enough at the best of times but riding with limbs uncovered increases your chances of injury and dials up the damage.
So… always wear gloves. You don’t want bulky gauntlets - there are lots of lightweight urban gloves to choose from, in stylish colours and cuts but with superior protection. Look for ones with knuckle and finger armour, and pad reinforcements. Make sure they meet the CE standard; 1 is a pass, 2 gives better protection.
On your feet, boots. Your feet and ankles are one of the most vulnerable parts of your body when it all goes wrong, so protective motorcycle boots should always be high on your list of biking ‘must buys’.
Again there are plenty of stylish biking boots that look like ordinary street wear. Look for extra support around the ankle, strong soles and leather uppers. The key is to make sure they carry CE-certification to EN13634 standard.
Don’t ride in shorts; your legs should be clad in approved motorbike trousers. If fashion is your thing, go for ones cut to look like jeans or chinos and you won’t look amiss wearing them out.
Look for ones with padding around the seat for extra comfort, and at the hips and knee for more protection. I always look for ones with plenty of pockets too – but perhaps that’s just because I take too much stuff with me!
As with the gloves, check yours have had CE approval.
Up top, wear a T-shirt by all means but you’ll need to cover it with a biker jacket. You can avoid the full winter biker gear; a current favourite is a Tucano Urban mid-length jacket. It’s fashionable, lightweight – but strong, meaning great protection against abrasion and impact, without limiting riding ability.
Check yours comes with Class A-CE/UKCA approval to EN17092:2020 standard.
Other tips: look for elbow reinforcements, breathable fabrics and ventilation. Jackets often come with a thermal inner liner that can be left at home until the winter, giving you greater flexibility of wear, whatever the weather, without comprising protection.
Finally, the helmet. You must wear a safety helmet that meets British safety standards when riding a motorcycle or moped on the road. That means a helmet that meets one of the following standards:
- British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carries the BSI Kitemark
- UNECE Regulation 22.05
- or if from the European Economic Area, a helmet offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carrying a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.
We recommend a full-face helmet, as they offer far better protection in the event of an accident than open face ones.
If you do ride with a visor or goggles, they must meet a British Standard and display a BSI Kitemark, too.
So to sum up, we do need to sacrifice a little, but not as much as you may think. The trade-off is worth it – insure yourself against a nasty dose of road rash with a small compromise.