Why Wearing Jeans On A Motorcycle Is A Really Bad Idea


Category: HFL

That work is so substantial that now, a little over a week later, I write this with two hands, wearing no cast. I’ve been given the go-ahead to start working the left arm out. Thank God for a surgeon that knows what he’s doing.

Wes Siler Crash Photo
Wes Siler Crash Photo

Added bonus: I get to sport these stitches out in the open. In combination with a pretty significant limp, I’ve got a solid Halloween costume ready.

The Aftermath

Wes Siler Crash Photo
Wes Siler Crash Photo

Imagine being greeted by this sight. That’s my butt, incredibly swollen, bruised and raw. The girl that cleaned me up and changed my bandages every day for a week is an angel. I’ll fight anyone that suggests otherwise.

Now, that rash is mostly healed and the hole in my leg is mostly filled in. My ribs are mostly healed (so long as I can keep from coughing) and I’m using my left arm mostly like normal. That’s in 10 days. It pays to be in shape and eat healthy.

That first week was tough though. It hurt to sit, it hurt to lie down, it hurt to stand and it hurt to walk. With the ribs, any movement, and I do mean any, was absolute torture.

The Percocet was making me act like a jerk to the people I love, so I stopped taking it after three days and just dealt with the pain. Painkillers have a way of really destroying your mind, it’s crazy how freely our healthcare system hands them out. I replaced mine with some strong Indica. Same effect, no craziness. Yay, California.

Now, it’s all just a mild ache. I’m trying to get as much easy exercise as I can, am eating super healthy and as much as possible and my body is telling me to sleep about 10-12 hours a day. I probably have about 80 percent movement in my left arm and about 60 percent strength, both of which are getting better every day. This won’t be a long lasting injury and, hopefully, with new, better metal, I’ll actually be stronger when it’s all over.

Jeans and Bikes

I’ll break down how each item of gear performed in separate articles. Aside from those Levis, I was wearing all of it, including a separate, strap-on back protector.

If I’d been wearing proper motorcycle pants or my new Aerostich Roadcrafter, which I should have been, I’d have avoided most of the above. Will I in the future? Well, sometimes.

My safety gear philosophy has always been to wear as much and as best as possible when doing anything fast, dangerous or enthusiastic. That means full motocross gear (including a neck brace) off-road. Race leathers on sportsbikes and stuff like a two-piece or that Roadcrafter while touring. The big exception comes in town, where my admittedly vain self needs to balance style and safety.

Riding in the city involves a huge amount of risk. Drivers are crazy and there’s lots of them. The roads are shredded by high use, earthquakes and weather, but there’s no time and no money to close them for repair. There’s pedestrians, cops, crazy people and tourists. As my crash highlights, there’s debris all over the roads. But, riding in the city also saves you time, money and hassle. A couple weeks in bed every now and then is better than a a couple hours a day spent sitting in traffic. At least I think so.

Will I keep riding in jeans? Sometimes. Though often, they will now be woven with Kevlar. If I’m going to live life on a bike, I’m going to live that life. Will I ride in full gear a more often? Yes.

Photo: Clement Pascal

I am choosing to use bikes as my primary mode of transportation. Am I compromising safety? Absolutely, but I do so aware of the risks, aware of the consequences and am prepared to accept and deal with them. This is just a part of the life I’ve chosen to lead; a life on a bike. I do something that’s risky, but that risk is part of the point. With proper gear, the risks are minimized.

Jeans are a bad idea, hopefully my experience helps you understand and appreciate that. Hopefully it helps you make an informed choice about what you wear. But there is a choice, and I’ll still be choosing jeans some of the time, though now they are often woven with Kevlar.

Update 2013: 10 Things I’ve Learned From 10 Motorcycle Crashes >>

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