A question for Harley riders, no disrespect.

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by 390beretta, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. steelerider

    steelerider Southafricanamerican

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    This isn't by any means a Harley bashing thread FFS. Someone asked a question, and meant no disrespect. Sounds like someone here is a little bit sensitive. The truth of the matter is that the majority of riders here in PA, wear little, to no protective gear, most of them also ride HD. I personally would like to understand the psyche behind this, and for most parts, my questions have been answered by many responses in this thread.
    As far as I'm concerned, you wear whatever the hell you want, I don't care if you ride around in a damn clown suit. Personally, I've seen the effects that good gear has, and without my helmet, I'd be dead right now, so I choose ATGATT.

    I've also learned over the years as an immigrant to this country, that many Americans seem to value their freedoms and rights over their personal safety. And that is the way it is, I accept it, it is the culture of the land. Riding a Harley without a helmet seems to be a way of expressing that choice. A bike, an open road, and freedom.

    I'll stick with my gear. That is my choice too.

    Ride on.
    #61
  2. 8lives

    8lives Dharma Bum

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    Hey anyone wanna go ride?Lets go,I don't care what you ride or how you dress as long as you smile,laugh,and wanna have fun.:clap Been a Young bad ass on a Harley,and now I'm a dork on a KLR and a Wee Strom,I've built bikes and destroyed a couple now I just like ride and smile.
    #62
  3. jmq3rd

    jmq3rd .

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    I can't ride without either goggles or a helmet with a face shield - I can't keep my eyes open in the wind (and I've tried shades and motorcycle glasses, they don't fit my head shape well enough). Other than that I always wear a helmet for anything going past the stop sign at the end of the street. If I'm going on a "ride" then I wear boots, jeans, and a mesh riding jacket. Going to work takes 5 minutes with a 40mph top speed, and I have to wear slacks and a button shirt once I get there. I wear the jacket if it's cold, otherwise I just wear the helmet and my work clothes.

    I would do the same on any style bike (currently have a Versys as primary street ride). If I was more comfortable without a helmet I MIGHT go without from time to time, but probably not - too many head impacts on dirt bikes for me (usually tree limbs, which shouldn't happen on the street, but it's a habit).
    #63
  4. scootrboi

    scootrboi Long timer

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    Several posts back a Harley rider made the point that he didn't go very fast, he cruised not much faster than a cyclist. Another rider, probably one with aluminum boxes on the back, said a leather jacket was no protection. I think a lot of you guys are really into gear, into a look, and drive fast. You get the best equipment and test the limits. I can relate to the Harley guy here. I wear a traditional leather jacket unless I need something warmer. I wear jeans or flannel lined pants and boots. I might go back to a full face helmet. My speed is limited and I enjoy 45-55 mph because it feels so good, and I often notice that most Harley riders I see, though faster, are generally not that much faster. The stakes are not as high for us. We pass when it is easy to. Generally. A lot of bikers enjoy a different kind of motorcycling that is not Type A activity. I had a neighbor, a guy I really respect, who had a Toyota wagon. He came home one day with a second car, a Volvo sedan. He loved that car, praised its road handling ability, said it was so safe he could drive it ten miles an hour faster than the Toyota and it was still safer. Within a month he rolled it over. Totalled it. He had great reflexes, a sharp mind, a splendid athlete, but ten miles over is a different environment, and even a fine European motor-car wasn't fine enough to keep him out of trouble. I wonder if the safety margin you buy with the armored textile suits and state of the art equipment is often spent on the extra degree of risk many of you routinely undertake.
    #64
  5. MotoTex

    MotoTex Miles of Smiles

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    Experience is a capable and strict teacher ...
    but only worthwhile if you live through the lesson being presented.

    Fashion, feelings and Physics all start with a ffff sound, two are totally flexible and the other is immutable law. Which one should take precedence when making decisions based on objects moving through space and interacting with other objects of various sizes, both moving and stationary?

    Having caught a fly in my eye while riding at the tender age of 15 I lived to learn the lesson and have never ridden a bike without eye protection since. Too much to lose and too little to gain by doing otherwise.

    It was sometime along there that I realized it probably isn't a good idea to trust that side of me saying, "What are the chances ... go for it!" and instead balance the potential for consequences with the odds of any given thing happening to me.

    How will being blind in one or both eyes affect my long term enjoyment of motorcycling? How many things are in the air which could lead to this? What can I do to prevent it?

    How long off the bike recovering am I willing to trade for not taking small steps to protect myself against the most common injuries incurred by motorcyclists of all kinds? What are those most common injuries? What is the least it will take to mitigate them?

    If these and similar questions haven't been posed and answered before deciding then an educated choice may have been abandoned for ego and denial. (fashion and feelings)

    Should something happen, I want to be back riding as soon as possible. Telling tales of woe, struggle, disfigurement, and other similar pastimes don't count for much to me if getting the story to tell has cost me more time off the bike than absolutely necessary.

    Everyone must set their own priorities. I just hope folks will be realistic when making these choices and do so with full knowledge of the odds and potential consequences. At least then there is no cause for personal regret should one's plans go pear-shaped if you know that what happened was preventable and that you willingly chose to avoid taking precaution.

    Every person will have to draw their own line in the sand.
    #65
  6. cardoctor1

    cardoctor1 Been here awhile

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    only need gear if you crash
    #66
  7. steelerider

    steelerider Southafricanamerican

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    Sorry my friend, but striking the road with your head feels the same no matter what bike you ride. I don't push my limits at all, and Im an attgatt rider. I broke six bones in a 35 mph fall.
    #67
  8. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    Meh, the world needs organ donors and parts bikes.
    #68
  9. Kubla

    Kubla Long timer

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    all my bikes have larger than stock windshields, would not need them if i could get a full face helmet that fits right, none of the shops around here stock 5 gallon bucket size and the order then ship back game had gotten old
    #69
  10. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Confirmed Curmudgeon

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    ^^^ these. Back in the '60's good gear was not widely available and was expen$ive. Most everybody rode in Denim jackets and open-faced helmets. Maybe with a leather jacket and bubble-shield on long trips.

    We grew older, gear got better and available, and we decided we were too old to regenerate skin readily. Now we gear up. And in 30-40 years, the Pirates of today will be ATTGATT...

    --Bill
    #70
  11. alii1959

    alii1959 Been here awhile

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    I read an article about a couple who were pirated up who were coming to a stop at a red light. He was nearly stopped, went to put his foot down, and either hit a low spot or something and the went down. He suffered pretty significant road rash on his bare arms/hand along with a facial injury. His wife, unfortunately, didn't fare as well. She hit her head on the curb and died at the scene. They couldn't have been going over 5 mph.

    Point is, that speed doesn't determine the extent of the injury. I have fallen off of bicycles, even going really slowly, and it got kinda ugly a few times.

    The fact that I ride my Road King slower than I did my Sixxer in no way determines the gear that I wear. I do make a few concessions to weather (heat), but otherwise I am ATGATT.

    I have a friend whose husband is a fervent anti-helmet guy. His unwavering hatred for any type of gear resulted in his wife getting a terrible scar from a guide wire that could have been avoided should she have, at the least, been wearing a jacket.

    It is not Harley's fault that people ride like this. My Hi-Viz gear, some of it anyway, is HD gear (body armor and all). They make some great leather (with armor pockets if you want to add).

    Sadly, there is a culture in this country that states that "its my life I'll do what I want" without regard to the cost to those around us. Sure, somethings in life are more risky than others (motorcycling versus automobiling(?)). However, as a teacher who has had a number of students die of the past few years for not wearing seat belts, I am shocked that so many people don't gear up. Of course it is your choice....but, my question is why THAT choice?

    I started riding in the early 1980s and gear then was extremely limited. I think more people would have worn gear if it was affordable/available...but, it wasn't either. I wore a helmet, heavy jacket, and gloves (usually of dubious quality). Since that time, however, prices have come down, quality has improved, and education has greatly improved. With these things being true, I just don't understand why everyone doesn't gear up.

    Today, gear is comfortable, light weight, and affordable. We truly do live in a great time for riding. Bikes are much better, gear is available, education is available, and ADV is at the fore....what more could we ask for??
    #71
  12. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    The lucky ones, maybe.
    #72
  13. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    I think you're getting very close to the heart of this matter. Personally I think most riders Harley or not, are not really making individual informed personal decisions. I believe most are principally driven by a desire to fit in with their crowd. If most Harley riders in your area don't wear helmets (just an example) do I want to look like a dork being the only one?

    I only had to mention improving your visability to avoid an accident in the first place and someone was asking for evidence of the effectiveness of hi-viz clothing. I didn't even mention the word. Why don't people really say what the problem is, they'll feel like a dork if they have to wear something looking like an industrial safety vest. So would I.

    If everyone wore bright coloured leather race suites, then guess what every new rider will wear? It takes a true individual to make an informed decision based upon what's best for them, not what others think.

    P.S. Yes my textile road jacket is 100% chicken coloured yellow. When you're my age you don't give a rats what anyone else thinks. But even I let it stay a little grubby looking which that colour does quickly from road grime so I don't look like a beginner. I'd be the first to admit I wouldn't have worn it when I was young, because I would have been driven by what other people thought.
    #73
  14. MotoTex

    MotoTex Miles of Smiles

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    A perfect example of the physics not being understood. I've broken a wrist falling while track-standing a mountain bike. Speed, prior to the fall, isn't as much a factor as is velocity of the soon-to-be-injured body part at the point of impact. Deceleration trauma doesn't require much in the way of speed, per se. It is mass in motion and the energy dissipated as it comes to rest that results in injury.

    How much speed is required to break bone against concrete, or to strip skin from flesh against a rough surface? Surprisingly, not much at all. We are but soft meatbags. With this realization comes recognition for the benefit of an exo-skeleton when exposing our meatbags to hostile environs.

    Humans can be a pretty screwed up bunch, between marketing and social inundation painting machismo as being paramount over common sense, added to the natural human desire to be a part of one's tribe. These combine to impair the ability to make clear, rational decisions while preserving what we have been led to believe is most important. Ego. We see images in media that form an image which we want to have for ourselves and we don't want the burden of thought, physics, and reality to get between us and realizing that vision.

    It takes a strong, almost anti-social thought process to overcome this social programming and choose differently. Oddly, this very sentiment is often the one some riders believe they are parroting by dressing the part of the anti-social pirate-costume adorned biker thug image. (other than those real bikers who are the models for the same gear, only they have accumulated their gear over decades, and they actually ride the wheels off their scoots.) I'm speaking of those who "buy the look," at the dealer, financed along with their bike purchase. They go from everyday, carbon-copy corporate minion, to "biker," overnight. Some routinely cycle between the two images as a mild form of multiple identity disorder.

    The answer to "why THAT choice" may be a deep rooted desire to break away from the mold life has cast a person into, to be unique. Only there is seldom a passionate commitment to the lifestyle. Rather, they want instant gratification. They are merely actors, only they are playing their part off-stage in the real world where it will hurt when a tragedy is played out for the audience they have dressed to impress. They have no commitment to become good at the part (proficient riders), they just want to be identified as if they are, in order to fulfill their desire for recognition. So, when push comes to shove they fall down and are unprepared for it. "Where's my stunt double!"

    In real life you have to invest yourself in the part you are playing. Regardless of gear choice, if a rider isn't constantly striving to improve their skills (by first admitting that dressing the part does not impart the skill set) they increase their chances of life demonstrating the foolishness of such a belief.

    I've always believed that skill will play a much bigger part in reducing injury, and, have realized through trial and error that wearing gear will allow one to improve skills while reducing their exposure to injury during the process.

    For me, riding well is the important thing, not so much how I look while doing it. There is always room to improve my skills. Wearing gear allows me to get back to riding quicker should I make a mistake while working toward this goal.

    There is no reason you can't have both constant skill improvement and look good while doing it. Many do. In my experience it will behoove a rider to prioritize their choices with a bias toward survival in a dangerous environment over being recognized as most fashionable by one's peers.

    Reality can bite quite a bit harder than a fashion faux pas.
    #74
  15. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard I have no soul

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    Controlled by media, society,etc... While these things are more than likely the primary concern for most gear-less riders, some people simply do not give a shit about getting hurt even after they have been severely injured. :deal If we are to generalize then there is a high probability that the herd mentality is what dictates acceptability on both sides of this argument. The ATGATT guys are equally guilty. Still there is a small percentage that simply does what they feel like doing even at the expense of "coolness". In the end I will just never understand why the other side feels the need to look across that line and cast judgement on the choices of others... I guess it's just part of the social paradigm with regards to the human herd. :dunno
    #75
  16. Wraith Rider

    Wraith Rider Banned

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    So what? Put your helmet on before you leave your bed? That's the perfect example why gear is overrated.

    One of the most adorable features of your country. I wish there was more of that mindset around here.
    #76
  17. MotoTex

    MotoTex Miles of Smiles

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    At lizard-brain level we identify things as either "the same" or "the other."

    We cast a jaundiced eye on "the other" as it might be a threat.

    The trick is overcoming these instinctive intuitions and making a rational evaluation using scientific theory and proofs to substantiate the final decision, rather than only relying upon our basest instincts. (though base instincts have served us well and likewise should not be dismissed out of hand)
    #77
  18. Jumping Jack Flash

    Jumping Jack Flash Vagabond

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    I live and ride in PA as well (well until the first week of Feb when I move)and while I have observed that skipping any sort of protective gear is quite common stating "majority" is a touch strong. And I have seen plenty of folks on non-cruiser high-performance street bikes wearing not much of anything either.....not exclusive to Harley riders. Age does not seem to be a factor.

    I have done some Patriot Guard rides (I like doing it being a veteran-I am not affiliated with any club or group) and I think most folks involved were wearing protective gear to include helmets etc.

    But PA is peculiar with the non-requirement for a helmet. It's left to personal choice along with everything else.

    Now for myself-as a former full-time FF/EMT it took me a lot of years to return to owning and enjoying a motorcycle. I have seen the effects of NOT wearing good PPE and honestly its fucking gross and horrible....hence I always ride in hi-viz armored stuff with gloves, protective boots, and a full (albeit modular) helmet etc simply out of minimizing my personal risk factors.

    As for why folks choose not to wear PPE....quien sabe? :dunno
    Is a skid lid really going to do anything aside from hold the top of your head on? :dunno

    It's choice. Just be cautious with blanket statements.
    #78
  19. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard I have no soul

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    And some people will never overcome the ability to be controlled by rational evaluation and scientific theory in order to simply enjoy their base instincts. :evil

    I never would have skated a 24 stair handrail or gapped a twenty set if I always sided with logic. I would also drive a cage rather than ride.
    #79
  20. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard I have no soul

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    Buddy of mine (state trooper) use to tell me he preferred that riders wore full face helmets. Said it made it easier to find the heads in the dark and that the chin strap worked like a bucket handle...
    #80