8 Things You Should Not Wear On A Motorcycle


You’ll hear a lot of critics out there discussing what you should be wearing while riding a motorcycle. There are plenty of items a motorcyclist should be wearing to keep them safe.

But what about the things you shouldn’t wear? There are a few items of clothing and merchandise that can easily be spotted among motorcycle riders that can be deemed unsafe while operating a vehicle like that. I could list a million things to never wear on a motorcycle, but I’ll point out the most common ones that some motorcyclists think is safe when it’s actually not.

Used/Expired Helmets

It’s somewhat common for a motorcyclist to purchase a secondhand motorcycle helmet. I don’t blame them; a decent helmet can be expensive. But this is actually bad practice and should never be done.

Wearing a used helmet holds several dangers while out riding. When buying a secondhand helmet, you have no idea what that helmet has already gone through. Occurrences such as drops, heavy collisions, or expiration is one of the many things that could pertain to that helmet.

When a helmet is dropped, especially at a notable distance, it tends to lose it’s potency in helping protect your head. Expired helmets also serve less protection as well. The glue and protective gear inside tend to wear out over time because of heat, sweat, and continuous wear from someone else.

As a rule of thumb, only wear a helmet you bought yourself brand new. Also make sure it’s DOT and SNELL certified. That way you know it’s complete history and know it’ll give you the protection your head needs in the case of an accident.

Scarves

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not wearing a scarf while riding a motorcycle is safe. A lot of this depends on the type of scarf you wear. In general, however, regular scarves should always be avoided when riding a motorcycle.

You’ll have to think about the physics when it comes to wearing such attire going at high speeds. The ends of the scarf will trail back behind you while you’re riding. If it’s long enough, it’s completely possible for it to catch on to something and yank you back.

Scarves also have a tendency to become undone while riding; the fast wind passing by you will jostle the scarf and potentially make it fall off, hit the windshield of another vehicle, and cause them distraction. In addition to that, a scarf can also flip up onto your face and obstruct your view for a few seconds.

If you want to wear a scarf while riding a motorcycle, make sure you get one that has it’s ends sewn together. A motorcyclist will need a way to keep their neck warm in cold weather and there are plenty of minimalist motorcycle scarves out there that don’t require you to wrap it around your neck and tie it.

Loose Clothing

You may have noticed that a lot of motorcyclists wear somewhat tight of clothing such as leather or other synthetic materials. And this is for good reason; tighter clothing is much safer than loose clothing.

Before taking your motorcycle for a ride, assess your clothing and note anything that may be loose. Sometimes this can be hard to calibrate until you’re actually out on your ride.

Loose clothing can be incredibly distracting for a motorcyclist. The most distracting and dangerous item of clothing that can be worn by a motorcyclist is a loose shirt. Having it flail all over the place is very uncomfortable and pretty embarrassing.

Dark Clothing

One thing I always tell every new motorcycle rider (or any motorcycle rider for that matter) is to always assume that all the drivers around you cannot see you. Because chances are, most drivers around you aren’t aware you’re there because of how much smaller motorcycles are compared to cars.

Wearing dark clothing does not help in this situation. Whether it be during the day or during the night, having dark clothing on will decrease your chances that much more of other drivers being able to see you. This is especially true at night.

A lot of motorcycle gear does come in black or grey colors. If you are out of options and have no other choice, make sure you have a generous amount of reflectors on your clothing and helmet. You can buy reflector tape and put a desired amount on in any place you’d like.

Half Helmets

I always cringe when I see a motorcyclist wearing a half helmet while out for a ride. Half helmets are helmets that basically only cover the top of a rider’s head. The main advantage of these is to have minimal visual obstruction as well as being able to hear better since most of them don’t cover the ears.

While half helmets are better than wearing no helmet at all, they’re not really a whole lot better. Half helmets are nicknamed “shortys,” or “brain buckets” because that’s all they’re protecting. And while protecting the brain is obviously vital while riding a motorcycle, this helmet will provide zero coverage for everything else surrounding.

Statistically, the most likely place for a motorcyclist’s head to collide with something during an accident is the chin area. A half helmet will provide zero protection in an incident like this. If you’re going to ride a motorcycle, always wear a full faced helmet that will give you the best protection.

Shorts/Sandals

There are basic guidelines of the appropriate attire needed when you ride a motorcycle. Shorts and sandals don’t make that cut. Such clothing will provide zero protection to your skin leaving it completely exposed like that.

A lot of people will argue that wearing shorts is no different than wearing long pants that’ll rip instantly once collided with the asphalt. While long pants may rip quickly, that still gives you a few seconds less of direct impact between your skin and the road.

In addition to that, shorts and sandals will provide zero protection against your motorcycle. You have to remember that you feet and legs are right next to extremely hot exhaust pipes and an extremely hot engine. Long pants and boots will help provide some protection from these components.

Shorts and sandals should never be worn while riding a motorcycle, even if it’s just for a few minutes or a quick ride. Wear the appropriate motorcycle gear to ensure the safety of your feet and legs; they’re what get you around when you’re not on your bike.

Headphones

Listening to music while riding can make the experience even better. But there’s a right way and a wrong way of doing so. It’s best to not wear headphones while riding a motorcycle and there are a few reasons why.

First, it’s actually illegal in a lot of states in the U.S. to wear headphones while riding (according to AAA). Wearing headphones could inhibit your ability to hear what’s going on with your surroundings, especially if your music is loud enough. Anything that’s stuffed into your ears will make it difficult to be aware of sounds around you.

There are plenty of ways to listen to music on a motorcycle including a speaker set or using a helmet with built in Bluetooth. Click here to see my other article about how to safely listen to music while riding a motorcycle.

Heavy Backpack

Unless you have several bags and compartments on your motorcycle, storage space can be extremely limited. I rode a motorcycle when I was going to college and often had to resort to using my backpack to carry everything I needed, especially on my frequent trips to the library.

While backpacks are generally safe to wear while operating a motorcycle, it’s not a good idea to wear a backpack that’s heavy. There’s a lot of safety issues that can go along with this; depending on what you have stuffed in your backpack, getting in an accident could be even more dangerous (for example, having heavy books means there’s additional heavy objects that could hit you).

On top of that, wearing a heavy backpack while riding can be extremely uncomfortable. I know this one from experience when I had to haul all those books to the library during school (which wasn’t a good idea at the time). It can impact your posture and make your riding experience a chore rather than enjoyable.

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