Riding Safety

Some thoughts on Adventure Biking and Safety

It’s been said and written about many, many times; but safety is utterly key to complete enjoyment of time spent riding a motorcycle. I believe that the more we speak or read about safety the greater the desire to be safe while riding will be. Safety must be uppermost on our minds to the point where it becomes an instinctive action when we put on our biking gear and get a leg over the machine of choice.

Free State

The mental stuff: Our Attitude

  • First things first: Let’s leave our egos at home…
  • Get on the bike with a relaxed but attentive attitude and remain vigilant.
  • Be mindful of other road users and remain respectful – obey the rules of the road.
  • We all know that most drivers of vehicles with more than two wheels claim that they don’t see us on our motorcycles and for this reason we must make ourselves as visible as possible out there.
  • Stay calm when riding. Riding a bike while upset and angry is not a happy mix… The “happy mix” we all seek is the pure pleasure offered by riding a motorcycle – the wind in our face, the fresh air, the sweeping bends, the clicking sounds of a cooling engine that has brought us through the sinuous gravel taking us to awesome views!
KwaZulu Natal Midlands
KwaZulu Natal Midlands. South Africa

The physical stuff: Safety Gear

  • Helmet – wearing of an approved helmet is law! We’d be pretty nuts to ride without head protection… Spend as much as you can afford on your helmet!
  • Gloves – Generally speaking we tend to want to catch ourselves when we fall and so our hands go down first and therefore a good pair of gloves is very important.Knuckle and palm protection is what we must look for. The other thing that gloves do is keep our hands warm – it will be much safer to ride with warm hands that can still operate the controls…
  • Riding Boots – There are many styles of footwear that can be used while motorcycling. Riding boots will protect your feet, ankles and lower legs in the event of a fall. They will also keep your feet warm and dry!
  • Riding trousers – When fashion starts to dictate what sort of riding apparel to choose we must re-think our approach… There is nothing wrong at all with our riding gear looking good, in fact it must look the part but the functionality in the event of a spill must top the list of requirements – look out for what protective pads and fabric form part of the trousers. Second on the list must be the practicality of the gear – pockets must be useful and accessible.
  • Riding jacket – Look for a riding jacket that fulfils the same requirements as the riding trousers. Form follows function again…
  • High visibility vest – this item of riding gear seems to be something that more riders are making use of. But it’s not hard to understand that after many bucks have been spent on high quality branded biking gear there will be many of us loath to hide it under an awful bright orange high visibility vest. Especially when there are reflective strips built into this expensive gear. I say make yourself as visible as possible!
  • Knee guards – As with many items of safety gear that should be worn while motorcycling, knee guards are often forgotten about. They are a little cumbersome but will help protect your knees in the event of a fall. Well worthwhile wearing I say.
  • Neck brace – these items are pretty expensive and from my limited experience quite cumbersome to wear. If we want the fullest protection we can get then we should all wear these pieces of safety gear!
KwaZulu Natal Midlands
KwaZulu Natal Midlands. South Africa

In summary then we need safety gear for:

Abrasion resistance

  • Gloves
  • Riding pants – Kevlar inserts, abrasion resistant fabric
  • Riding jacket – Kevlar inserts, abrasion resistant fabric
  • Riding boots – lower leg, ankle and foot protection

Impact resistance

  • Helmet
  • Gloves – knuckle protection
  • Jacket – shoulder, elbow and back pads
  • Pants – knee pads
  • Knee guards
  • Boots – ankle protection against over extension,
  • Visibility
  • High visibility vest or jacket which includes high visibility sections

An often neglected bit of safety gear is the First Aid Kit. A basic First Aid Kit that includes items for the treatment of burns, some strapping and bandages, sticking plasters and some over the counter medication for “the runs”, headaches and general pain is a worthwhile bit of kit to carry on any ride.

In conclusion then I repeat something that has stuck with me since my off road riding course: Remember – ATGATT – All The Gear All The Time! It sounds a bit odd, but rather sweat than bleed!

Rider training should also be considered when talking safety…

If we all make the effort to ride with safety in mind, we should manage “50 going on 20”!

Disclaimer: This article is in no way intended to be definitive guide to motorcycle safety and we are not suggesting that implementing any of the above will prevent death of injury. It’s just something to think about.

So, what do you think? Feel free to submit any comments and additions that will enhance safety while riding a motorcycle.

Bruce Houghting


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