Helmet, jacket, trousers and boots are ready. Your bike is clean, full of fuel, serviced and fitted with panniers, navigation gizmos and a fully charged action cam. The insurance, road side assistance papers and itinerary are sorted. You just need to fire up your beloved machine, lock your front door and ride off to that far away destination you’ve dreamed of.
But hang on, wait a moment. There are some less obvious accessories to take that you shouldn’t overlook. Consider the following for personal SAFETY and the long term ENJOYMENT of your road trip.
1. Ear Plugs
According to research published on the Journal of Fundamental and Applied Sciences (March 2018), riding a motorcycle even at moderate speeds (60km/h) with an open face helmet, exposes the rider to wind noise levels of over 90 dBA. If repeated and prolonged in time, this is enough to cause permanent hearing loss at any age. It goes without saying that higher riding speeds induce greater wind noise and potentially even greater damage to our hearing capacity.
Although there is some controversy over how to accurately measure sound levels beneath the cover of a helmet, motorcycle audiometry tests all agree that helmet induced noise is a very real threat to our well being. So, what can we do to protect ourselves from this hazard?
Motorcycle fairing and expensive helmet designs claim to target buffering and wind noise. This is certainly a step in the right direction but perhaps the best way to stem the persistent hiss of flowing air while cruising on a motorbike is a set of quality ear plugs.
There are several ear plug designs available on the market but the best option is to purchase pair of personal moulded plugs. Many companies specialise in this sort of product that can be costly. Regardless, a set of custom made plugs lasts for years and are easily worn in comfort for hours at a time. For sue, they’re cheaper than good hearing aids, too.
2. Sun Block
The sun, especially in warmer countries, is a biker’s fiercest yet most underrated foe. Exposure to the sun causes dehydration, sweat, exhaustion and UV radiation is responsible for lasting damage to eyes and skin.
The face, neck and nasal bridge in particular are parts of the body exposed to the sun the most while behind the bars of a bike. Therefore, protecting these areas is essential for our well being.
A few drops of high factor sun block on the critical areas of face and neck should be part of a biker’s daily routine before climbing on his or her machine. Unfortunately, too many people discover the importance of protecting their skin way too late in life. Many bikers, too.
It always surprises me to meet bikers that do not wear motorcycle gloves whilst on their rides. Some find them cumbersome, others claim that gloves are too easily lost. A few admit that they simply cannot be bothered. Fair enough.
There are however, several good reasons to want to always wear gloves when riding a bike. Falls, for example, are unpredictable and scraping exposed hands on any length of asphalt or concrete is invariably a sorry experience.
Gloves allow a better grip on the handlebars especially when riding off road. Gloves also help lessen the numbing effect of engine vibration when travelling at motorway speeds.
Above anything else though, gloves are essential just to protect our hands from the elements and the sun, once again, most of all.
I always pack two pairs of hand savers (cheap ones are fine) and will not get caught riding without.
4. Safety Specs
Visors on helmets do a great job to protect our faces from the elements, the dust, fumes and the occasional colliding insect. Occasionally though, especially when it’s warm, we all like to flip visors open for some cooler air. Our eyes, need constant protection and a good pair of quality sun glasses are often used for this purpose.
But sun glasses can be extortionately expensive and some designs frankly aren’t comfortable under a helmet at all. A cheaper option to costly eye wear are safety specs. These are readily available in most hardware stores anywhere in the world and cost not much more then a can of Coke.
Safety specs come in a variety of “lens shades”, from tinted to clear. What’s more, they’re tough, easily replaceable and usually have adjustable temples which is ideal for use with a helmet. Honestly, I think some of them look pretty cool as well.
A tinted or mirrored pair of safety specs are just fine for riding in the sun and clear ones are great for protection when riding after dark. I personally wouldn’t travel anywhere without them and often have a pair as back up for whoever is riding pillion.
5. Neck scarf/warmer
Neck scarf/warmers are a versatile piece of kit that can serve many purposes. Most of all, they provide an extra layer of warmth for our necks and on a hot day protect the same from the rays of the sun.
Furthermore, a neck scarf lifted over mouth will filter some of the dust and fumes from other traffic. They can also be used as emergency bandanas and a bright colour increases a biker’s visibility on the road, too.
There are many other accessories that can make the difference to our experience on the road for sure. Everyone has their own and these generally change in time as our individual experience grows, too. The above are the essentials that I’ve discovered work not only for me, but many riding buddies, as well.
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