Learning to Ride a Sportbike
Get a helmet. Your motorcycle helmet is the single most important piece of equipment for motorcycling riding. It protects your head from injury in the event that your motorcycle goes down. For it to do its job, the helmet must fit well, while maintaining your field of vision. The best helmet for you is an individual thing.
- To get the desired protection, get a helmet designed for motorcycle riders that meets established safety standards. It does not need to be the most expensive helmet to do the job of protecting your head. A motorcycle helmet that meets the DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) or ECE (Economic Commission for Europe) standard is designed to do the job of protecting your head in an accident. These two standards are rigorously tested for the required safety standards to ride on public roads. Additional safety features add to your protection and comfort. Some riders prefer the Snell brand of helmets because they meet higher safety requirements (as set by the not-for-profit Snell Memorial Foundation), including performing at higher speeds and on harsher surfaces.
- To find the right size, get a professional fitting at a store that specializes in motorcycle equipment. Alternatively, you can measure yourself by using a soft measuring tape to measure around your head about 0.5 inches (13 mm) above your eyebrows. Compare your head measurement to the measuring table of the brand that you wish to buy. Note that each brand differs in their sizing, so consult the sizing table of each brand that you are considering.
- To find the right fit, try on the helmet. The correct fit puts the eye port just above your eyebrows with a very tight fit of your finger between your head and the helmet. Your helmet needs to have a snug fit to protect your head properly. Different helmets fit different head shapes. If your helmet is the right size but uncomfortable in the fit, consider a different one. For the most comprehensive protection, look at full face or modular helmets.
- Get a jacket. A motorcycle jacket protects your torso, including your internal organs, in an accident. Motorcycle jackets are made of leather or manufactured materials, such as Kevlar. Look for a jacket that has impact absorbing body armor. If the jacket carries a CE (Certified European) mark, it has met certification standards for sale in Europe.
- The best fit of a motorcycle jacket is snug through the torso with free motion in your arms. Consider the environmental conditions in which you will use this jacket for riding, so the weight and features meet your needs. For example, warmer weather jackets have more zippers and vents to allow for adjustment of airflow around the body.
- If you opt for a leather jacket, make sure it’s motorcycle specific. Regular leather jackets aren’t built to protect you.
- Besides protection, jackets also provide protection from environmental conditions, such as sun, wind, precipitation, and cold temperatures. Staying comfortable keeps you alert and makes the ride more enjoyable.
- Your feet can take a lot of abuse while riding, so protect them. Proper motorcycle boots cover your ankles and have non-slip soles with an integrated metal toe. Use the grab the toe and heel and twist test to see how your boot selection might perform in a crash. The less easily it twists the more protection that the boot provides you in an accident.
- The purpose of gloves is to reduce injury from being hit by insects and flying debris, as well as keep your fingers warm. Get ones that allow for maximum dexterity. Look for ones with a retention strap around the wrist. This strap is designed to keep the gloves on your hands in a crash. Kevlar gloves will keep your fingers mobile while being strong and absorbing.
- Pants are often overlooked. Jeans are designed more for style than function; thus, they often shred in accidents. A better choice is pants made from the same materials as your jacket. They are designed to take on the destructive forces of an accident.