How I Shredded My Gear, But Saved My Hide



How I Shredded My Gear, But Saved My Hide


My helmet had scrapes across the chinbar and face shield, a gouge out of one side and scrapes on the other.

My jacket, which had been brand new, now looked weathered and scraped. It showed where I had slid along the road on my back for some distance — right where the optional back armor was installed. The collar was frayed, some buttons and snaps worn down, but it was pretty much intact.

Road Gear Carbon Maxx Gloves
Road Gear Carbon Maxx Gloves

My gloves, which featured carbon fiber knuckle protectors, had done their job. The knuckle guards had ground down on both hands, but neither had ground through.

My riding pants were Kevlar-lined jeans. Some of the denim covering had worn through, exposing the Kevlar lining. But the pants did their job, and did not fail. My leather belt also showed the scars of a slide down the pavement, grooves of wear that give me chills every time I look at them.

My boots came through unscathed, showing little or no evidence of having been through a crash.

I didn’t notice until the next day that my watch had also taken a beating, its bezel having been ground down and crystal missing. It was an inexpensive Seiko, but it looked like it had done priceless duty saving my wrist from injury.

I didn’t escape completely unscathed — my left forearm was scraped through the jacket, and my back, over my right kidney, had picked up a few scrapes where the jacket had pulled up. I didn’t have many visible bruises, but my left thigh was deeply sore, as was my right hip. I took some ibuprofen and crawled into bed.

Harley-Davidson Guardian Kevlar-Lined Jeans
Harley-Davidson Guardian Kevlar-Lined Jeans

Over the next few days, the pain dulled into soreness. I found myself extremely tired, and I walked with a limp for a few weeks. Now, a month after the accident, I feel about 80 percent myself again, almost ready to resume my workout schedule (not looking forward to that).

Looking back over the accident, I hope I’ve learned a few things.

First, I wish I had trusted the nagging feeling that I wasn’t at my best on the sidecar hack. I don’t think there’s any way I could have avoided being hit by a careless driver, but I can’t help blaming myself for the incident in some way, and feeling that I wouldn’t have been in a position to be overtaken if I had been on two wheels instead of three.

Second, I wish I had gone the next step and worn armored riding pants instead of just Kevlar-lined jeans. It would have been less comfortable and less convenient, certainly, but I would have lost less time to injury and discomfort after the accident.

Third, not to be too self-congratulatory, I’m glad that I’m an ATGATT guy. Looking at my gear, I’m sure that my injuries would have been much more serious if I had not been wearing all of that high quality protective gear. I’m glad that I chose a geeky-looking full-face helmet, even though a retro half-helmet would have been cooler and more comfortable on that old-fashioned Ural.

Inevitably, friends and family have asked me if I will ride again, now that I’ve tasted the pavement. Won’t I be scared? Wasn’t this a warning?

I have always accepted the possibility that I might go down some day. Anyone who doesn’t is kidding themselves — there are just too many variables involved. But I won’t let the reality of a crash keep me from riding. This accident will just further reinforce the importance of wearing high quality safety equipment — all of it — on every single ride, and to maintaining focus and concentration in all riding situations. I will wear armored riding pants from now on; and I will be more conscious of visibility from the rear, especially at night. It’s possible that that pickup truck driver didn’t see me well, and that’s why he clipped my tire and put me on the ground.

I will continue to ride every time I can get on two wheels. I might have to think twice about driving another sidecar hack, but I’m sure I’ll try that again when I get the chance. I’ll insist on a bit of actual training, and I’ll avoid one of the busiest freeways in the world on my first day of riding this time.

I’m grateful to all of the gear manufacturers who protected my hide, and I’m very thankful that I didn’t have a passenger in my sidecar, and that no one else was injured in the accident. I will ride again.

The Gear I Was Wearing:

Helmet: Arai Signet-Q size XXL – $619.99
Jacket: Harley-Davidson Triple Vent System Evolution Waterproof Leather Jacket – $575.00
Armor: Optional CE approved Back Armor – $25.00
Jeans: Harley-Davidson Guardian Kevlar-Lined Jeans (no longer manufactured)
Gloves: Road Gear Carbon Maxx Gloves – $69.00
Boots: Harley-Davidson FXRG-3 Performance Boots – $250.00

  • Justin McClintock

    Been down twice myself. I learned that I won’t ever trust a canvas jacket again. Wore right through at the elbow, just off the armor. Otherwise, I’m pretty confident in the rest of the gear I was wearing.

    • Jason Fogelson

      I have retired my canvas jackets to fashion duty — I ride in leather only. Totally agree.

  • Reid

    I’m glad you came away mostly unscathed. That had to be a terrifying experience. Good thing the ghost of the young lady’s grandpappy was watching out for you, eh?

    • Jason Fogelson

      I was a little loopy from the crash while she was telling me about her grandfather. I’m just thankful that she stopped and kept me from being hit by another motorist. Very nice, and very brave, too.

  • skongara

    Cant even imagine the change in dynamics with a side car. Glad you came out of that fine. Speedy recovery and thanks for the great article.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Thanks for the nice words. Ride safe.

  • Jesse

    Thanks for the crash testing of the gear. Glad you walked (if limped) away from this one.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Anytime. Well, maybe not.

      • Jesse

        There’s really only so many times you want to perform that party trick, I bet.

  • Generic42

    I’m curious if they found the other drive, that’s a pretty serious hit and run, thankful you survived.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Hit and run is the standard out here in Los Angeles. According to an article in the LA Weekly (not a definitive source), “In the United States, 11 percent of vehicle collisions are hit-and-runs. But in Los Angeles, L.A. Weekly has learned, an incredible 48 percent of crashes were hit-and-runs in 2009, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available.” That was from December 6, 2012.

      • Jack Meoph

        Yep. If you don’t have uninsured motorist on your insurance, and live in CA, you’re insane. Especially if you live in LA , the bay area, or the central valley. Illegals do not stop if they can drive off. Doesn’t matter what condition their car is in, or even if they’re injured. And they almost never find them, unless a cop actually witnesses the accident.

        • socalutilityrider

          Having been hit by one and also having a friend who was severely injured by an illegal, this is 100% correct. They drive off. You need to add San Diego to your list, it’s rife with the worst drivers ever from south of the border.

      • Davidabl2

        In Ca the consequences of a hit-and-run are not much more severe than driving w/o a license..and not much more severe than having an accident if uninsured. Guess what happens…

        • Piglet2010

          Need to join other states and make it a felony.

      • Mark37724

        Of those 48%, Lindsay Lohan accounted for 32%.

  • Dan Sciannameo

    A van did the same thing to me on the highway here in NYC. I was riding my 1975 BMW R75/6 in the middle lane, they were in the right and at the last minute came to the left almost taking me out, but I gave it throttle to escape but they bumped my right saddle case and sent me off course right into the grass and rock median ahead that split the highway left and right. Thought for sure I was going down but I managed to ride it through the rocks and over the curbs back onto blacktop before the median just went downhill into guardrail and trees. Luckily the curbs were small and I didnt get hit coming back up onto blacktop. The van never even stopped. Glad you are okay.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Scary, Dan! I don’t know how you prepare for an incident like that, other than keeping your skills sharp, your bike in good shape, and making sure that you strap on all the gear, all the time. Glad you pulled through.

      • Mugget

        You can’t exactly prepare for an accident (otherwise it wouldn’t be an “accident”), the only solution is to be constantly prepared for any outcome. That means being aware of what all traffic nearby is doing at any given time. Which takes a lot of effort and concentration to be constantly checking mirrors, shoulder checks if a vehicle is not visible in your mirrors, etc. If you’re aware of what other drivers are doing, then you’re in a position to take action and remove yourself from potentially dangerous situations. Always have an exit route. Even when sitting in stationery traffic. For example parked in the middle of a lane right behind a car is one of the worst places to be.

        That’s what I’ve always done, and I’m glad to say that I’ve never hit another vehicle, and I’ve kept other vehicles from hitting me as well.

  • phoebegoesvroom

    Glad to hear you’re ok after a rather harrowing experience! ATGATT is a good way to be.

    • Jason Fogelson

      I agree! Thanks for the nice words.

  • HoldenL

    A glance at that chin bar and face shield, and you’re warranted to feel self-congratulatory about your helmet choice. It’s really nice to have a lower jaw and a complete set of teeth.

    • Jason Fogelson

      I shudder to think what would have happened in an open face helmet. I’m even hesitant to try a flip face helmet at this point, even though the manufacturers assure us that the chin bar will remain locked in a crash.

      • djw0510

        I think it was the Hurt Report that found almost 50% of the impacts to motorcycle helmets occurred in the face area. That leaves no room for compromise in my mind so I’d never wear anything other than a dedicated full-face non-modular helmet for that reason.

        Come to think of it I’ve never seen adverts for an off-road oriented helmet that wasn’t full-face, and that’s probably for good reason.. athough I’m sure there’s some out there.

  • Davidabl2

    Both Mr. Fogelson’s accident and Mr. Sciannameo’s close call (see comment below) involved being clipped by somebody passing them..and might have been avoided if the riders had spotted the motorists in time. While it’s very difficult to maintain 360degree awareness at all times these accidents show the consequences od losing that awareness for even a moment-
    Even after 30 safe years on the street in Mr. Fogelson’s case. Mr. Sciannameo’s skillful (and lucky) save also indicates he’s a highly skilled motorcyclist.

  • William Connor

    Glad you came out fairly well. I have had two accidents, both times I was wearing good gear. I was wearing jeans both times but they protected me well enough. I now wear over pants all the time however. I did break my ankle in my second wreck but the guardrail isn’t exactly soft, this was despite wearing proper riding boots with ankle support etc. I like my skin so I will continue to wear ATGATT.

    • runnermatt

      Just think how bad your ankle would have been had you not been wearing proper riding boots.

      • William Connor

        Oh believe me I know. I broke the lateral malleoulus and the bone rotated, this is apparently not easy to do so I feel lucky?!?

        • Jason Fogelson

          Hope you’re recovering to ride again soon, William.

          • William Connor

            Thanks Jason. I should have been more clear, the accident was in 2007 so I am as good as it will get at this point.

  • Randy S

    Wow, this is a great write up. I’m glad you lived to tell about it.

    Stories like yours make me pay a lot more attention to what I wear riding. Thanks.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Thanks, Randy. Hope you’re all geared up!

  • imprezive

    This is not the article I should have read before I ride home in the rain wearing jeans. You should have posted before I left for work

    • runnermatt

      It is a bit cold to wear jeans while riding in the rain regardless of the temperature.

      • imprezive

        I didn’t really think about it when I left or I would have thrown on overpants. It wasn’t raining this morning obviously. It’s only 2 miles on surface streets to my house so I’ll be ok temperature wise regardless. I will be cold though that’s for sure.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Ride safe, imprezive. Don’t want you to have to write about your shredded jeans.

      • imprezive

        Thanks! I have a pair of Kevlar lined jeans now which seemed to have worked well for you so hopefully will be good for me too.

    • appliance5000

      You could wear armor under the jeans and take it off at work. Not ideal but pretty good solution.

      • imprezive

        I have a pair if Icon overpants that I normally wear and store in my desk. A lot of people at my office ride so no one cares if you walk in looking like a spaceman as long as you look normal while you are actually working. I was just feeling lazy last week because we were allowed to wear jeans which for me at least give a false sense of security over dress pants.

  • Piglet2010

    It seems like we all need to have constantly running front and rear cameras that hold the last few minutes of video in the case of an accident.

    • Lourens Smak

      Here’s a clip from Russia with such video-material, crazy stories that no insurance company would believe… normally I wouldn’t post this as it’s mostly cars, but strange enough it has a Ural sidecar in it that gets hit from behind… (around 3:00).

      Thanks for sharing the story Jason.

      • Jason Fogelson

        I am never ever going to Russia.

      • Mugget

        The mind boggles…

        It’s so bad that I can’t look away!

  • Aaron Baumann

    Stories like this make me feel so guilty for only wearing jeans (and nowadays long underwear) while riding. The inability to find moderately cheap pants that don’t make me look like MC Hammer has prevented me from being an ATGATT guy.

  • Glenn Rueger

    Arai does it again.
    God only knows how much force the EPS absorbed for your head in that crash.
    I was just riding those same roads the other night. I’m glad you made it out relatively okay.

    • Jason Fogelson

      The helmet did its job. I spoke with the guys from Arai at the International Motorcycle Show, and they said something interesting. “Don’t throw the helmet away. Put it up as a reminder in your garage. If you throw it away, somebody is going to pick it up out of the landfill and wear it again, and they won’t be safe.”

      • Glenn Rueger

        Those Arai guys at the IMS are fantastic. They know their stuff fit-wise.
        One now has his son with him who told me he is dad has been doing shows for decades.

      • Mugget

        Lots of people cut the chin straps for that exact reason – so no one will wear it again.

  • AzAcer1 .

    Thank you for writing this article. I am glad you are okay. More riders need to read about these experiences and the importance of ATGATT.

    • Jason Fogelson

      I hope my experience inspires a few.

  • eddi

    Everyone has said it but I’ll chime in anyway. Glad you are safe hope you get to 100% quickly.

    • Jason Fogelson

      Thanks, Eddi! I really appreciate it.

  • imprezive

    Well it was wet so I should just slide safely along the ground like a slip-n-slide right?

  • LS650

    I just saw a guy riding a beautiful blue mid-70s Honda GL1000. The bike was in immaculate shape, and I’m sure cost the owner a pretty penny. Yet despite having such a nice-looking classic bike, the rider had a $99 half-helmet, tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Oh, and it’s only about 60F outside – surely it’s not gonna hurt to throw on at least a jacket and a pair of jeans?