Most riders have it drummed into them the importance of wearing a full range of protective clothing, colloquially known as ATGATT. Yet surely the phrase “prevention is better than cure” applies to riding motorcycles equally as much as our general health? So why is there so much emphasis on covering ourselves head to toe in protective gear at the expense of motorcycle training? When you only have so much money spare, should you spend it on motorcycle gear or motorcycle training?
For the vast majority of riders the only training or coaching they receive on a motorcycle is when they go for their license. Depending on the country you live in that could amount to a single day of training by a qualified instructor. Can you think of any other highly dangerous pursuit which requires such a small qualification period before handing you the keys and letting you go on your way? Yet as riders we seem happy with this and don’t give it a second thought.
A small amount of riders will at least head to the track which does teach motorcycle control in a relatively safe and controlled environment. But that itself can give a false sense of security on a surface with huge amounts of grip. It does nothing to teach recovery techniques on poor surfaces that are often coated in oil, sand and other debris that is the norm for public roads. Nor does it do anything to train riders on the dangers of other traffic.
The issue with protective gear is that at the end of the day it does very little to prevent broken bones or internal injuries. If you’ve read our article on ‘Where You’ll be Injured in a Motorcycle Accident‘ you’ll see that studies have shown that motorcycle gear – even the best money can buy – can only do so much. Gloves, pants and jackets are fantastic for reducing or eliminating nasty abrasion injuries (and the potential for skin grafts) but save for helmets, current technology used in motorcycle gear (at least until airbag technology becomes commonplace) won’t do a great deal more – the energy at play when a two ton car hits you is just too great.
This is the argument many make about rider training – you’re far better off spending the money on advanced training and defensive riding courses than motorcycle gear if it won’t actually save your life in a seriousness enough accident. Being a competent rider means you’ll have less chance of being involved in a crash.
In an ideal world, advanced rider training would go a long way to preventing or eliminating accidents. The trouble with a heavy emphasis on rider training is that it doesn’t eliminate the one variable that we have little control over – other drivers.
Quality motorcycle training does provide guidance and advice on how to read traffic, position your motorcycle correctly to minimise risk as well as a host of other defensive riding techniques. But at the end of the day, you cannot avoid every single eventuality on the road. No matter how good you are or how alert you may be, there are situations that you cannot avoid. It might be a drunk driver crossing on the wrong side of the road, the inattentive soccer mum texting and running a red light or perhaps the car up ahead has dumped its oil all along the blind corner up ahead. Perhaps on one day you’re not in the right head space and are not concentrating as much as you should – and that’s when the worst may happen.
Physics and human imperfection will and can intervene and its because of this that one cannot solely rely on advance motorcycle training – gear is your backup and it’s a very important one.
So what should you spend your finite resources on, gear or training? The answer obviously is both which may mean buying cheaper gear in order to have enough funds to pay for advanced training. You can always pick up some ‘cool’ Dainese or Alpinestars gear in the years ahead – but you may not have the opportunity to if you don’t get proper training.
Our article on motorcycle helmets showed emphatically that expensive helmets don’t equal safer helmets. Certain helmets that are cheap are just as safe as top of the range ones. It’s the same story with gear – CE2 rated armor is CE2 rated armor – regardless as to whether it’s fitted to a REV’IT jacket or an Icon one.
What everyone should always keep in mind is that getting a motorcycle license isn’t the end of your training – it’s only the beginning. Don’t take the lazy option and purely concentrate on top of the range gear – train yourself every time you ride your motorcycle and try your best to get qualified professional training. It may do more than just save yourself from a case of road rash.