Gear & Safety

All the gear all the time.

Gear doesn’t make you safe.

You may feel indestructible in your racing onesie but you’re not. Remember that.

Safety is a state of mind, a way of thinking, a way of being, a pursuit not a destination. Sure, wear the “best” gear that you can. But what is “best”? That’s a tricky one. I tend to take more account of online reviews these days than personal recommendations but that’s a problem too in terms of whose reviews you “trust” most.

Take gloves for instance. I’ve had countless pairs of one particular brand wearing them until they show a glimmer of structural wear, knowing that I like to type, to use my hands, I then retire them. They are a well known brand from a reputable manufacturer but I no longer use them​. I’ve had a significant and a very serious accident wearing them and they’ve stood up to the job and I’ve now moved over to a different manufacturer, a lesser known​ brand which I believe provide the very best protection possible. You’d only know about this brand and this glove model if you did your research, if you spent time looking, reading reputable reviews from the leading online stores, doing your research.

Gear and safety. Yes, you’ll​ want to wear safe gear but what about the gear that your bike wears?

The most frequent aftermarket first purchase for your “precious” is a new pipe. Why? It looks and sounds good. It’s noticeable to you, that person about to cross the street in front of you, eyes glued to a tiny screen, small children who’ll cover their ears shreeking, wildlife racing away from you (untrue, but more on that later), plus your neighbours with whom you’ll often develop a far, far closer relationship with depending on your comings and goings.

Seriously, the best investment you can ever make is in your suspension. That stuff that you often can’t see and certainly shouldn’t be able to hear. Why? That bit that glues you to the road. Tyres? Close. Suspension. Huh? Your suspension glues you to the road. How so? The best tyres with the stickiest surface and the slickest tread won’t be of any use to you if they’re not in contact with the road surface. Swapping out your OEM suspenders for Ohlins gas pressurised carts and a mechatronic rear isn’t cheap. Some would say “welcome to motorcycling” but it doesn’t​ have to be like that. Setting up your suspension for your weight and riding style will make a huge difference. But it’s so hard! All that stuff about rebound, compression, high speed, low speed and preload: there’s a lot you can adjust. So take it easy. Make one change at a time. Start with getting the right springs; the Internet’s your friend here. Then find your favourite test road with bumpy and smooth bits making one adjustment at a time. There’s plenty online on suspension set up and several really good books on the subject too. Take your time. It’s one of the very best investments that you can ever make.

Suspension books

Sportbike Suspension Tuning by Andrew Trevitt
The suspension “bible”, highly recommended.

Race Tech’s Motorcycle Suspension Bible by Paul Thede, Lee Parks
Ideal if you want to both understand and learn to work on your own suspension.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

Amelia Earhart