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Motorcycle Safety and ATGATT

What is ATGATT? 

A motorcycling acronym used in basic theory and practical motorcycling lessons to remind motorcyclists to wear All The Gear All The Time (ATGATT). This acronym is a commitment by bikers to the practice of wearing personal protective clothing at all times.

Motorcyclists wearing full safety clothing of helmet, gloves, boots and leathers address the risks of motorcycling, before and after a fall. Motorcyclists use personal protective equipment (PPE, or more commonly "motorcycle gear"). Many developed countries now require certain articles of PPE, and manufacturers and governments recommend its extensive use.

Many types of protective armour are available and there is no mutual agreement to which is best. It is also understood that even though protective gear might not help to avoid accidents – but it will most definitely help to avoid breakage, severe road rash and limit the severity of injuries.

 What is the purpose of protective gear for bikers/ motorcyclists?

  • Improved Visibility - Many riders choose higher-visibility gear. Bright colours and retroreflective strips are common on quality equipment and make the riders more visible to other road users such as motorists, truck drivers and even pedestrians.

  • Abrasion Resistance - Thick, tough leather provides the most abrasion resistance in a crash, but fabrics such as Cordura, kevlar and ballistic nylon provide significant protection too. In addition, fabrics are generally cheaper, easier to maintain, waterproof, and more comfortable in hot weather. Thick leather, which affords the most abrasion resistance, can be uncomfortable in high temperatures, may cause heat stress & loss of control with insufficient fluid replacement. Some gear is constructed of fabrics made into a 'mesh' that provides cooling and a stable surface for the attachment of padding

  • Padding - Quality jackets and pants provide significant extra padding in the vulnerable joint regions. This can take the form of simple foam padding, or dual-density foam that stiffens when compressed, sometimes with plastic or carbon fibre outer-shells that distribute the impact across the pad. Integrated pieces can be found in some jackets. 

  • Weather Protection - an important aspect of protective clothing is protection from the elements. Extreme weather can make a long ride unbearable or dangerous. Gear needs to provide protection from wind, rain and cold.

What is the protective gear required for greater safety?

The best answer to this question is to approach the biking community and the experts. These are the bikers who are on the road at all times and have experiences accidents, near accidents falls and hazards in all weather conditions.

Herewith find important information to bikers on the advised protective gear to enhance the safety of their biking experience. Important advice includes:

  • Protective gear should conform to anatomy and not slide around. 

  • Vulnerable areas are knees, elbows, shoulders and hips. 

  • Gear should be bought for the protective qualities and not as a fashion statement.

Specific items of gear include:

  • Full-face helmet: A full-face helmet provides the most protection. Thirty-five per cent of all crashes show a major impact on the chin-bar area. Some motorcycle training sites have banned the use of half-helmets because of avoidable injuries sustained by riders wearing them. It is advised to wear the helmet before buying to ensure a proper fit. A wrong size or helmet shape will seriously dampen your riding enjoyment and decrease your margin of safety.

  • Gloves - Pavement and ground will mangle unprotected hands. Gloves should be specifically designed for motorcycle riding Commonly made of leather, Cordura, or kevlar, or some combination. Some include carbon fibre knuckle protection or other forms of rigid padding.

  • Gloves designed specifically for motorcycle use have slightly curved fingers and the seams are on the outer surfaces to allow the motorcyclist to maintain his grip and control on the handlebars and clutch/brake levers. Some gloves also provide protection to the wrist. 

  • Jackets - Generally made from leather, ballistic nylon, Cordura, kevlar or other synthetics. Most jackets include special padding on elbows, spine and shoulders. Airbag system technology is now available fitted to jackets and vests for accident protection and impact protection for both riders and pillions. Competition-approved hard armour is superior to soft padding. Competition-approved back and chest protectors can be worn underneath jackets. Inflatable airbag jackets can offer an additional airbag for neck support. The best and most economical choice, in the long run, is a jacket that: is armoured, is good for three season riding and keeps you dry when riding in light rain. For torrential downpours buy a rain suit and keep it handy under the seat.

  • Pants - Made of the same material as jackets, usually including special protection for the knees and hips. Some people prefer cotton denim jeans with kevlar reinforcement. 

  • Boots - Especially those for sports riding, include reinforcement and plastic caps on the ankles, and the area. Boots designed for cruiser-style riders often have steel-reinforced toes (However this reduces the sensitivity of the foot when changing gear). Boots should always have a rubber sole (as opposed to leather or other less-flexible materials). Despite their toughness and protection, most boots are very lightweight. Some even include titanium plating. 

  • Goggles or Helmet Visor - Eye protection is of utmost importance - an insect or a kicked-up pebble in the eye at speed has enough momentum to cause significant damage. Such an event could easily cause the rider to lose control and crash. Besides this danger, squinting into the wind is unpleasant at best and watering eyes are quite distracting. 

  • Earplugs - Most riders experience substantial wind noise at higher speeds and the dangers of hearing damage. Earplugs help protect against hearing damage and reduce fatigue during long rides. 

  • Vests - Made with high-visibility colours and retroreflective materials, vests can be worn over jackets to increase the chance of being seen and allow drivers to better judge the speed and position of riders, especially in adverse conditions of dark and wet.

Other gear might be required in special circumstances:

  • Dirt bike riders wear a range of plastic armour to protect against injury from falling and hitting other riders and bikes, running into track barriers, and being hit by flying debris kicked up by the tires of other riders' bikes. This type of armour typically covers the back, chest, and sometimes the extremities. It is increasingly common for gloves, jackets, pants, and boots to be outfitted with hard plastics on probable contact areas in an effort to ensure that when a motorcyclist contacts the ground, his clothing will permit him to slide relatively easily as opposed to "crumbling", risking injury to body parts being stressed in abnormal directions.

The above items are not a complete list and might differ according to specific riding conditions. There are other items to be considered such as knee guards, back protectors etc. They are however important components to be budgeted for by the safety conscious biker!

Good gear does not protect you if you don’t wear it! Many accidents occur within a few miles of home. So wear it all the time, even for those quick trips to the store!

Also, view the following sections:

Motorcycle Safety and Wearing a Safe Helmet 

Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors

101 Steps to Motorcycle Safety

Training OTRE

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