If you’re not wearing the right gear, you may as well be wearing nothing

Dailies -



Created by Australian agency Resin for the country’s motorcycle safety campaign, “Body Paint” is the kind of compelling creativity that can present a strong message without feeling like condescension or lecturing. That it’s multiple World Champion and hard man Mick Doohan delivering the message helps too.

The centerpiece of the campaign is this video, which aired on Australian television. This web cut also includes a glimpse behind the CGI scenes. That ad is then backed up by a minisite, which walks you through various items of clothing and safety gear, emphasizing the benefits of proper motorcycle clothing with hard facts. Did you know most jeans will only resist road abrasion for .6 of a second, while leather pants can last 4 seconds? I didn’t know the numbers either, but clear, quantifiable messages like this will resonate with the public, giving them hard information from which to make their own decisions. That approach is far more mature an likely more effectual than simply beating people over the head with an unquantifiable, impersonal safety message.

Resin via Ride the Machine

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D


    Make me feel really guilty for wearing jeans and docs around town this summmer. I’ve got a mesh riding jacket, but my god, is it ever ugly. NP when I’m just going on a ride, but a bit of a problem if I’m going on a date. (Insert gripe about lack of good looking affordable gear here).

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    Doohan is pretty focused on this safety campaign. Jim Race interviewed Mickey Doohan on the Isle of Man last week for the MotoPodCast. Doohan had never raced on the Isle and was involved in a “parade lap” which ended up going a lot faster than he had expected. He took the interview in a direction that Jim hadn’t planned – basically, how dangerous it is that races occur on roads and how the IOMTT is kind of like a dinosaur that is looking at the end of its days (My paraphrasing – I’d get a direct quote but the podcast is 3.5 hours long). I can appreciate the thought and intent behind the campaign, but it kind of reminded me of a reformed smoker – you can’t talk to them about anything for more than a few minutes before they start talking about the evils of smoking. Link to podcast site: http://www.motopodcast.com/

    • Sean Smith

      Well that’s kind of sad. Turns out that motorcycling is dangerous. Sure, it’s the safest on a race track, less safe on a closed off road course like the IOM, even less safe on an open public road where NYCF or some of the more hardcore canyon types would race and further less safe is riding in traffic in a t-shirt, but they’re all still pretty dangerous.

      • John


        I recall an article that you wrote describing an incident involving kitty litter and a no worse for the wear alpinestars jacket. You said the jacket was protected with bees wax. Can you explain how to apply bees wax?

        • Sean Smith

          I think there were a lot of factors at play in that crash, but the key points of interest here are:

          1. Waxed cotton jacket
          2. Large foam back pad, with a racing back protector worn underneath
          3. Clean, easy slide on my back and right arm, no tumbling or sliding for an extended period of time in one place

          I wrote up the application of it here on my personal blog. How much the wax helped with abrasion is hard to say, but it’s night and day when it comes to waterproofness.

          • John

            Thanks for information. I am going to try beeswax on my leather jacket. I will never forgot the look of astonishment on my coworkers faces when I arrived at the office soaked from head to toe. Their puzzled admiration wore off quickly, and I spent the rest of the day with a dress shirt dyed blue from my black jacket.

  • Thom

    With all the commentary of late as to what the M/C police do and do not wear while riding I decided to finally pay attention as to what the local PD wore .

    Half Shell helmets
    Cotton pants
    Police issue shoes ( for the majority , not boots )
    Short sleeve shirts
    Eye protection of choice( mostly w/ OTC sunglasses )
    Gloves 50/50 ( and usually driving not riding gloves if they do )

    You’ve got to admit its pretty hard to convince the General Public to do the right thing ( wear protective gear while riding M/C’s ) when your local officials don’t

  • Justin

    I agree 100%. Under 2 weeks ago, I hit gravel on my sportbike and lost the front end going 60+ in the Oakland/Berkeley hills. Went down hard, hit my left knee hard, both palms and knuckles hard, and my left boot hard. My forks were bent back into the headers, one rotor got bent, and one of the tubes cracked from the crash, the radiator got shredded, I lost a peg and my front tire tore open. All told, it’s about $1K of damage if I do the work myself and get the parts cheap (except for the front end, I’m getting that valved by a pro). However, I walked away with no permanent injuries or scratches, only a swollen and sore knee. I was wearing a cheap Frank Thomas full leather suit with upgraded armor (1.4mm leather though), Racer Hi-end gloves, Alpinestar SMX+ boots, a Dianese back protector and a Scorpion EX-500 helmet, all good stuff and saved me from permanent crippling damage. At least wear hard armor over all your joints, a good jacket and good gloves when you go out. Budget at least 1K for a decent moto outfit. It could save you knee replacement, skin grafts, god knows what. I crashed on Thursday and was back to work the next day, bicycling 7 miles to get there with minimal pain. the swelling is already down and I’m back to about 100%. I shudder to think about what could have happened if I wasn’t wearing good protection. Dress for the crash, don’t worry about being sweaty. It’s way better than being incapacitated or dead WHEN you inevitably do crash. Don’t kid yourself that you won’t just cause you don’t push your bike. Also, gloves do save broken bones and serious damage if they’ve got armor and smart design. :)

    • aristurtle

      +1 on the gloves. After my last (currently only, knock on wood) crash, I cannot overstate the importance of good gloves. If you have any time to react in a crash, odds are you’ll reflexively try to stop yourself with your palms. (This reflex can be trained out but not easily). That means if you want to still have palms after a crash, you need to be wearing good leather gloves.

      I’d sooner ride without a shirt than without good gloves.

    • OO_Fancy

      Yeah, this. Last Thursday I panicked and grabbed some brake in a downhill blind turn and ended up in a ditch. Lost the Radiator, subframe, and the front fender and tail plastic. I’m 6’4″ and shaped like donkey kong after a couple months on the couch so buying decent affordable gear is a pain in the ass. I was wearing a cheap armored textile jacket and pants, old cushioned harley riding boots, decent icon gloves, and a dirt cheap gmax helmet. I was knocked unconscious for a while, and I’ve got a sore hip and tiny bit of rash where my pants and jacket separated, but I’m just fine. Total for all the gear was about $400. Sure, i’d love gear that didn’t make me look dorky as all hell (i put some of that up to size too. I’d settle for just normal motorcycle dorky instead of being stuck in shitty textile stuff,) but $400 and some extra sweat is totally worth being able to walk away from a crash.

    • http://www.postpixel.com.au mugget

      I’d rather sweat than bleed.

  • T Diver

    My buddy crashed with no gloves. Ironically, he was not wearing gloves because they did not fit due to a previous gloveless crash. His hands look very painful and gross. Crap hits my hands on the freeway without crashing. Why not wear gloves?

  • Denzel

    Green screen or not, that’s a paycheck earned the hard way.

    This also reminds me that the CB1000r is hitting U.S. showrooms. Hopefully HFL can give one a spin…

  • Core

    Yeah… This video didn’t do much for me, but the comments did. Not that I wasn’t going to gear up good to begin with..

    I like to learn from others mistakes when I can.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    I liked the older video he made, better. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VruWHHEnZGw Who put that freakin’ bus stop on Turn 8? (countdown to MotoGP expert who will correct me on the turn # in three, two, one…)

  • Kevin

    I pucker up when I just see some cat riding around without gloves. Just yesterday I saw some wacko riding down PCH in Huntington Beach in shorts, tshirt and no gloves on a fully dressed GS.

    One of the first things the guy who sold me my old Honda back in the 80s said to me: “Dress for the crash, not for the ride.”

  • Gene

    Yup. Cycle World did a thing about 20 years ago, where they filled bags of various materials with chalk, then dragged them behind a truck until it wore through and the chalk started leaving a mark. They measured the distance from the start of the drag vs material. The Mythbusters would be proud!

    They discovered way back then that denim basically evaporated on contact with pavement, and everyone was AMAZED. I think they also discovered that the animal the leather came from made a difference, but not much. Of course they also covered the abrasion test machines the standards bodies use.

    If you want, I can dig up the issue. I’m pretty sure I kept it.

    I’ve never seen someone test the mesh style jackets. My feeling is they’re a very temporary container for armor and not much else, but DAMN it’s hot in Florida, so I wear them. I’d sooner ride without a shirt than without good gloves, too.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      To the mesh point, I think it’s much like solid textile jackets where results will vary with the materials used. Some manufacturers use generic mush material that feels very flimsy. Some mesh jackets utilize a thick Cordura weave. Some even have internal leather backing in abrasion areas. That’s aside from differences in stitching, armor sizing and quality, etc.

      I had a lot of hesitation before buying a mesh jacket for ye olde Texas heat. Went to the gear shop three or four times before I made a purchase. On two different visits, other customers approached me to sing the praises of the Vanson VentMax series. That’s what I went for.

      The jacket feels way less sturdy than leather, as you’d imagine, but I’ll take it in a heartbeat over my leather jacket that is fully perforated on the front with a solid back. That sucker cooks when it’s north of 85 and sunny.

      • 85gripen

        I live in the hottest part of L.A. so I wanted a hot weather-specific jacket. I opted for the Vanson Ventilator. I only wish it wasn’t black. Looks nice but hotter than a lighter color would have been. I think they came out with a gray one since.

        Check out the testimonial at the bottom of this page with pics of a guy who crashed wearing a Vent Max at 120 mph: http://www.vansonleathers.com/main_page/chapters/mens/Textile.htm

        • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

          One of the customers at my gear shop who gave me an on-the-spot testimonial had a very similar story. Triple digit hard crash, jacket was still useable afterwards. It’s one thing to hear it on the internet, another thing when the person approaches you directly to implore the choice.

          A buddy has the ventilator. Great jacket, as well.

          • 85gripen

            The Ventilator comes with CE elbow and shoulder armor integrated and there’s a integrated foam piece in the back as well. There’s a zippered pocket so you can insert a Forcefield T-PRO back protector insert but I haven’t been able to find any info on how advantageous that would be. Aren’t most motorcycling spinal injuries caused by hyperextension of the back rather than impact injuries? The T-PRO would also restrict airflow through the ventilated back, making it hotter. Not sure whether the benefit would be worth it.

            What I need are safer pants. I have some Triumph Raptor armored ventilated riding pants with decent protection but I wouldn’t be wearing those on a typical ride/commute. I tried to buy some of those asphalt-resistant Deth Killers jeans but they’re sold out and it looks like Barney’s pulled them off their website recently.

    • 80-wattHamster

      My Scorpion mesh has survived two low-speed crashes without any apparent ill effect, but the pavement in both cases was smooth and shiny almost to the point of being polished. I think it would survive at least one reasonably serious get-off.

  • Devin

    Anyone know of any good shops with lots of stock in Toronto? I’ll be there this weekend and my local shops way up North have like zero stock. Pants and back protector I can buy online, but I have oddly sized hands and I can never find gloves that fit and aren’t a ridiculous colour.

    These comments reminded me I will be in a city that actually carries stock and I should get on buying some gloves.

  • Gene

    Oh yeah, and could they have made the link to the website any smaller?

  • Jefferson

    Very cool post. I especially appreciate the quantifiable comparisons. You’re right, Wes, that is compelling.

    The other day I walked into the local hardware store to pick up a few hinges, and a spotted a helmet sitting unattended at the checkout. Being the rare, double titled motorcycle aficionado-enthusiast I thought to myself, “Cool! Another rider in my hood.” A couple minutes later I got rung up, and walked out of the store to see the helmet ride away on the head of a bicyclist. As I was walking home I thought to myself, “Why did he stop at just a helmet?”

    In all likelihood this guy was just being playful or perhaps had a head injury to protect but the question of where each of us decides to draw the line on protecting ourselves from physical injury is an interesting thing to think about. I typically wear a leather moto jacket, armored gloves, jeans, and leather boots when riding but occasionally I will ride in less. I’ve even skidded into a u-turning car from 45 mph in less (did a lot of rolling and walked away with scrapes). I don’t think I do this out of ignorance of the consequences or because I have difficulty perceiving risk or because I’m young and have a sense of invincibility or because I’m selfish. I do it for the same reason I ride rather than drive, because it can (can) feel more liberating than the alternative.

    I think addressing this kind of feeling when discussing safety is useful. This feeling has roots in emotion but most thoughts or arguments do. What is the relationship between reason and conviction with respect to protection and risk? Do reasonable people always wear bicycle helmets (unlike most Dutch in Amsterdam)? Do reasonable people always wear moto leather and armor? Do reasonable people ride slowly at all times? Do reasonable people avoid motorcycles altogether? (Maybe this is a slippery slope confusion…)

    I think the most compelling arguments on safety are the ones that attempt to address this kind of emotion vs. reason vs. norms question.

    Also, has anyone seen any stats like these (these are made up):
    99% of riders wreck at least once.
    When wearing full protection:
    95% of these wrecks result in either no injuries or only very minor injuries
    4% of these wrecks result in serious injuries (broken bones)
    1% of these wrecks result in critical injuries or death
    When wearing no protection:
    1% of these wrecks result in either no injuries or only very minor injuries
    90% of these wrecks result in serious injuries (skin grafting, broken bones, etc)
    9% of these wrecks result in critical injuries or death

    HFL: Thanks for providing a forum for discussing these things.

    • Toby

      “I do it for the same reason I ride rather than drive, because it can (can) feel more liberating than the alternative.”

      I’ve been wrestling with that calculus myself… I was ATGATT in the States, but after moving to Thailand I find it impossible because of the heat and humidity. It’s either accept the danger or don’t ride, and I choose riding.

      • Mr.Paynter

        Agreed, I’m off to Bali in three weeks, where I first rode in large ammounts and enjoyed it back in 2006 and I no my gear will be minimal (Cheap Helmet) but I also know I’m goign to use my riding knowledge, minimise my risk with smarter riding and have heaps of fun!

        I always come back to this and the ATGATT parade tear me up for it but if we wanted to be THAT safe we wouldn’t ride bikes!

    • oldnick

      A recent study has been released in Australia. Here is a link to an overview video. The study addresses some of your questions. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NlovDQM0TnA&feature=player_embedded

  • Tim

    I once took a 4 hour ride with a long sleeved jacket, but no gloves. It was in the spring and I was white & pasty like you get when you’ve been in the house all winter.

    I ended up with bright red sunburned hands that looked very odd next to my pale arms. Just one more good reason to wear gloves when you ride.

    • Toby

      Heh… I have the opposite problem here in Thailand. I ride a scooter to go get groceries and often ride without a jacket. I always wear gloves though, so I end up with deeply tanned forearms and pasty white hands. The kids at my wife’s volunteer center call me Panda Skin.

  • Jeff

    Gear definately saved my bacon and my back when I was hit by an SUV. Not going to even mention the amount of times that i was able to bounce back after going to the track.

  • http://www.karinajean.com karinajean

    as a card carrying power ranger motorcyclist, the thing that makes me cringe is seeing ankle bones when someone’s out riding. after a lifetime of weak ankles and stretched out ligaments just from being a total klutz, and having an acl replacement a few years ago, my leg joints are really important to me. I’m so thankful that I can walk and run without pain.

    what is it about the soothing tones of an aussie gentleman racer that makes wearing gear sound so incredibly reasonable, though? what a class act.