Since ADV is different than a casual ride, we wanted to cover the adventure motorcycle gear you need. Stay safe while pursuing the best motorcycle rides of your life.
Your brain is your most precious resource. If you ride with nothing else on this list, at least wear your helmet. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injuries from motorcycle crashes by 69% and death by 37%. In 2017 alone, safe helmet practices saved over 600 lives.
ADV helmets are different than road helmets. They usually have a larger peak or a longer visor. They also have better venting, and many have the ability to accept goggles.
Why is this important?
The peak helps protect your eyes and face from the sun. It also comes in handy when your partner shoots dirt at you!
The vents help to control your body temperature and allow for extra airflow. They can open up for a fresh breeze when sweat is pouring down your face, or close shut on a chilly evening.
We’ll get into goggles and visors later.
Things to Consider When Helmet Shopping
If you’re gear hunting on a budget, don’t scrimp on your helmet. Stick to well-known brands and always check the reviews and ratings.
When it comes to safety ratings, DOT and Snell set the standard in the U.S.
In fact, DOT must approve every helmet before it’s sold in the U.S. When it comes to quality ratings, more is always better.
The biggest factor between a cheaper quality helmet or a more expensive helmet is the weight. It may not seem like much when you’re standing in the store. But after hours of long riding, your back and neck will thank you for the lighter load.
Always try on the helmet in the store and try on as many helmets as you can! As you get used to the various weights and feels, you’ll find a brand that tends to fit your head best.
Full-face model helmets offer the most protection. Even still, a flip front is often as good so long as it has the “P” rating.
For off-road or enduro riding, an off-road helmet is usually best. Off-road helmets are great because of the features we discussed earlier.
Finally, remember that helmets are more like bulletproof vests. They work great, once. Be sure to replace your helmet every time after you take a hard hit to the head.
Even if you don’t take a hard spill, you should still replace your helmet every few years. The frequency depends on how expensive your helmet was in the first place.
You should replace a cheap helmet every two to three years. A mid-price helmet will last closer to four to six years. An expensive, quality helmet will last longer than that. So consider splurging – it can be cheaper in the long run, and your life may depend on it.
There are a lot of options to protect your eyes, and it’s important to pick the one that works best for you. What’s most important is your eye protection does that – they need to protect your eyes. Make sure whatever option you wear, your lenses are shatterproof. Sunglasses alone won’t do the trick.
Many helmets come with visors. Visors protect your whole face, but they don’t allow as much airflow, and they don’t keep the sweat out of your eyes. But, as visors come with many helmets, it can be a way to protect your eyes on a budget.
Goggles are often the go-to for most off-road riders. They’re comfortable and they have foam padding to help absorb sweat. On top of that, they offer the most protection, but also the most ventilation.
When you’re shopping for quality goggles, they need to fit your helmet’s aperture. Make sure to bring your helmet along.
Some riders swear by safety glasses. They’re shatterproof, and the yellow tint reduces glare. They protect your eyes, but they’re breezy too.
Second to head injuries, foot injuries are the most common type of motorcycle injury. That’s because your feet are lower to the ground. They’re likely to get trapped underneath the bike in the event of an accident.
It’s important to have boots specifically designed for adventure riding.
No other boot will do. Not work boots. Not military boots. Not rigger boots. You don’t want any boot with laces that might get caught up in the chains, breaks, or other mechanical parts.
A proper ADV biking boot will have a strong sole and good ankle protection. They need to be comfortable and weather resistant. As all hikers know, wet feet aren’t happy feet.
And again, it’s paramount that your biker boots do not have laces. Quality boots will have buckles and straps instead.
When you try boots, make sure they’re sturdy and strong. Some riders don’t like the sturdy plastic feel of many boots. If that’s the case, opt for a more flexible adventure boot. These have more leather than plastic, but similar levels of support and protection.
Your boots have to be comfortable and safe, so as long as you have quality ADV boots, pick the ones that work best for you.
Your hands are also a likely target to get injured in an accident – many riders try to catch themselves as they fall.
Invest in a pair that will give you protection against gravel and asphalt.
Riders have only recently started to talk about how important it is to protect the family jewels. Unfortunately, there are still very few products on the market to keep the boys safe.
But bigger fuel tanks, hard stops, and various wrecks can cause testicular turmoil. It’s common for testicles to even get shoved back into your body.
So consider investing in a protective groin cup specific for motorcycles. Your boys will thank you.
Now that we’ve covered the parts most likely to get injured in an accident, let’s make sure the rest of you is safe as well.
We’re talking about your riding suit.
When you pick your riding suit, decide if you want to use a technical shell or the layering system. Most riders opt for a waterproof technical shell with layering pieces underneath. This is usually the most versatile, and the most comfortable.
Make sure your riding suit is properly ventilated. This keeps you cool in hot weather, and warm when it’s cold out. Make sure you have vents on your back, thighs, and arms. If you’re riding in the hot summer, you’ll also need vents on your shoulders, chest, or your underarms. Pay close attention to the size and placement to get the best fit.
Make sure your riding suit has abrasion protection. This keeps your skin where it should be – on your body. A quality riding suit will also pay extra protection to your knees, elbows, and shoulders.
Going off road? Make sure your riding suit has some extra armor. Get quality rated armor, and make sure it fits right. Sturdy Velcro ensures the armor stays in place when you take a tumble.
Pro-Tip: Go for the warranty. A good riding suit is an investment piece. So make sure you buy from a brand that stands behind their products. This way, when you come across a broken zipper or a small tear, you can get it fixed.
Depending on the kind of riding you’re doing, consider adding some extra gear to stay safe.
Your motorcycle is a loud vehicle. It never hurts to opt for some ear protection.
Your knees take a toll during riding. Anything is better than nothing, but consider getting knee braces. Few riders do this, at least until they’ve torn their ACL. Then they always wear a brace. Consider bracing up early for extra protection.
Neck braces can be uncomfortable and awkward, especially if you’re riding for a long trip. For that reason, many riders don’t wear one, and that’s the general consensus.
But if you’re racing enduro, riding at high speeds, or performing stunts, we really encourage wearing a neck brace.
Braces have to fit comfortably with the rest of your gear. Bring your entire ensemble when you’re going shopping to ensure you’re getting the proper fit.
Kidney belts aren’t as common as they used to be, thanks to the improved suspension. But on bumpy terrain or long dirt roads, the belt offers extra stability for your kidneys and lower spine.
Some body-armor includes a kidney belt, and this can kill two birds with one stone. If you’ve never gone riding with a kidney belt before, go ahead and give it a shot. You’ll probably never want to ride without one again!
Quality Adventure Motorcycle Gear Can Save Your Life
Motorcycling is a dangerous sport, and adventure riding can be even more dangerous. But the right adventure motorcycle gear can protect your organs and appendages. It can even save your life. Although upfront costs may be high, quality brands design most pieces to last years.
After all, your life is worth it.
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