When riding a bike, it is important to use proper gear. Sadly here in India, anyone riding with gear is either considered a fool or a bigger dumb fool. It is more of a style statement if you have huge headphones on or a bandana or something which is like the most unsafe thing of all. Helmets are an unnecessary accessory here and talking on cell phones is swag! I hope you guys get my sarcasm here because I am damn serious when I say that using proper safety gear when riding a bike is really important. Bikes unlike cars do not have the safety net of being inside a nice cocoon of metal which will protect you somewhat in case of minor or major mishaps. So we have to build our own cocoon in this case and that means usage of proper gear.
So here I have explained which all gear one need to use and the importance of it. And also if you don’t use it, then what could happen is also mentioned below just in case you feel that you could maybe skip it. Do not that all the options are mentioned below and also the substitutes are also mentioned in case you do not have the means to buy the other items. This way you have no chance of finding excuses for not having any gear to wear.
This is the most important gear to be worn. No matter if you are riding in the city or on the highway, a helmet is something you should never even get on your bike without. Not only does it protect your head in case of mishaps but also protects you from the rain, sun and wind making you feel comfortable inside and you can ride in peace. If you happen to skip the helmet, not only will you have to pay a hefty fine to the cops, but also face the wrath of nature like flying debris, insects, dust, etc. you name it and you got it. And also in case you do happen to fall, then the amount of damage your face and neck will take can all be avoided if you have a helmet on.
It is recommended you have a riding jacket on at all times, but that is not possible for everyone always as they are somewhat expensive. Though nothing is as expensive as our life, but still for those who really cannot afford it, you can get the body armor which I have mentioned below. Riding jackets come with mesh lining in case you need protection from the cold and also the mesh helps breathe in case of heat. Also there is a rain liner to keep you dry if it comes to that.
The body armor does exactly what riding jackets do in terms of protection, but minus some parts. Like Body armor does not protect your elbows for that matter which is what jackets do. So it is mainly for those on a budget so that you can have the protection of the jacket without a proper jacket and can just put up any other jacket on top. Both jackets and body armor protect you from crashes and broken bones like your chest and back, your spinal cord especially and your shoulders as well. Many a riders have escaped death narrowly in horrid accidents only thanks to the jackets and the armor.
They are the best way to protect your hands from bruises and broken bones. No matter if you are riding in the city or on the highway, always wear gloves. If not anything, it will at least protect you a little from the sun and the tanning; and not the mention all the dust and the occasional gravel that gets thrown off the vehicle in the front. When you do use gloves, make sure to use the full gauntlet types which provide protection to your wrists as well and not just your fingers and palm. And most importantly avoid using the cheap gloves which are only for show purposes and do not really provide any protection whatsoever to the rider. They are really uncomfortable and cause more issues than provide protection.
The reason why riding pants are preferred is because they double up as additional protection in case of rains and also they fit on naturally which means no issues of the guards being moved or tackling with all the straps in case of knee guards. If you do not use riding pants, then your knees and hips especially are totally exposed to taking hits. That means you not only are you susceptible to injury, but if the hip-bone gets fractured, then it could even lead to a lifetime in a wheelchair.
Elbow guards are preferred only when you do not have a jacket to protect everything and so you use elbow guards. They are cheap, like INR 300/- onwards cheap. The only problem with them is there are a lot of straps and sometimes for a person, putting them on can be a bit of a task. But then when they do protect your elbows from bruises and cracks, then all that trouble becomes worth it.
Knee guards are a substitute for riders who are not capable of affording proper riding pants. It does leave your hips exposed, but then it is a risk you have to take or else invest in a proper riding pant. Though knee guards are still pretty decent in protection in terms of saving your knees and lower leg, but then again the straps are a bit of a discomfort.
Riding boots are specially made in accordance to protect the riders legs at all cost. Apart from all the protection, they also provide a small rubber part on the left boot to change the gears so that the boot doesn’t get damaged, like the way you can see on your regular shoes that you use. Also with riding boots, they not just protect your heel and toes but also your ankle. And if you happen to be in a bad crash, then the boots make sure your legs stay put in their place and do not break, sprain or dislocate. Yes, putting the boots on and riding in them cannot always be a picnic but then overall it is a very small price to pay in terms of your own health.
So all in all it is important to have proper riding gear on. You could not wear any and still reach your location well and that is fine. But one may never know when disaster will strike which is why it is important to always stay prepared for the worst. So make sure that you at least have proper basic biking gear on you when you go for a ride, be it big or small; after all there is nothing more important than your life.