Dress For The Slide, Not For The Ride
Always wearing your riding gear while moving out, you dress for the slide not the ride.
Now in India everyone has been very keen on getting riding gear even if they ride a normal 150cc commuter motorcycle. About 5 years back just a helmet mandate was enough and still, people wouldn’t wear them. I started riding almost 8 years back with a scooter and the first thing I got was a good motocross helmet, cheap protective gloves and hard-plastic body armour from Fox.
Although It was just a scooter, I used to ride over the weekends to different destinations within a 100 kms radius. Me wearing all this gear gave made my parents the assurance that I am doing my part of being safe and responsible. But little did I know that it was just showoff and the gear I was wearing wouldn’t protect me if I got into a really bad accident.
Luckily I realised it 2 years later and got myself my first riding jacket and used it for another 3 years while on some MotorBeam shoots too. I was here only part-time and would help out the team for comparison shoots or something like that. But even then I did not have “proper gear” because I was still using cheap gloves.
Peer pressure is good at times
I was told by so many people to wear proper protective clothing even then but it really didn’t strike me until I met with a small accident. We had gone off-road on to some trail in Igatpuri and I lost grip while riding my TVS Apache 180 and got hurt. The gloves were torn completely while I had bruised my knee very badly. Luckily the top half was not hurt as I was wearing my riding jacket.
That day I realised the importance of complete riding gear. For the lower half I couldn’t afford a set of riding pants but I started using knee guards which turned out to be a safer bet. Shin length riding shoes with knee guards and proper riding jacket with at least level-1 protectors and leather gloves.
Although it was costly back then but I realised it is still cheaper than not having a body part! It was at that time I started getting hooked to MotoGP and WBSK as few friends would watch it and I began to take interest. Single piece riding suits and they would ride the motorcycles at such blistering speeds and they would walk it off if they crashed!
I was in shock and awe when I would see that but more of it was how costly were those riding suits. As I compared my gear to those riding suits, my investment was literally nothing! And then surfaced two videos, one showcasing the cost of riding gear against a body part while another was a set of people riding on the track and sliding into bus stops and vehicles.
Having a real-world crash experience
Lastly, the importance of a riding suit was taught to me when I raced at the MMRT, Chennai for the first time and took the tightest chicane at over 60 km/hr and ended up going low-side on a race-spec motorcycle. I remember how well it gripped and I still crashed! I walked off without a scratch on me but the bike wasn’t rideable.
Even after this there were times when I let go and skimped on some riding gear like gloves or maybe wear sandals while visiting college. It was the last exam of my 7th semester when I met with an accident right before reaching college. The ABS sensor on my bike had failed and the car in front of me had to use emergency brakes.
I almost took a sweep but ended up hitting the tail light and my right hand had a lot of cuts. I had to get 4 stitches on the pointer finger and 2 on the other knuckle. Luckily I didn’t have a fracture or else things could’ve been a lot worse. I took that test by reaching the college an hour late on the same day but with the help of a writer because I could not write for another month.
A message was clearly conveyed – Dress For The Slide, Not The Ride. And since then I have been wearing proper necessary riding gear all the time. At least a helmet for getting out and bringing home groceries as the shops are a small ride away. Riding to work, I wear a riding jacket, gloves and a proper full-face helmet.
Turns out this has become a ritual! I might not have the latest pair of clothing from any specific brand but I will definitely have my riding gear up-to-date. Same has become a thing within my riding group, everyone now actually flaunts their riding gear more than their motorcycle.