What’s your Daily Gear, and Why?

2010 January 10
by Oz

Every day you straddle that seat and hit the pavement, knowing full well that you might actually, well, hit that pavement.  Whether it’s riding a a 50cc Honda Ruckus or a 500cc Piaggio MP3 500, the risk is the same: the surface of the road cares only about how fast you were going when you hit, not what you were riding.  Same with the side panel of that Cadillac Escalade that decided to turn left right in front of you, or the Volvo C30 that decided to slam on its brakes on you because the soccer mom driving wasn’t paying attention to the stale yellow light in front of her.

We at Life@SlowMo decided to, uh, spill our guts, and justify our gear in the day to day (and on the hard rides, too).  It’s not all pretty, and it’s not all good – but it is what it is.

The Day to Day: My day to day gear list is probably less protective than I’d want, but because of my cube-surfing job, I tend to ride in non-ideal gear because it’s (*gulp*) less cumbersome day to day.  Does that mean risk?  Yeah, but… theoretically I’m an adult and can make my own stupid decisions if I want.

Helmet: Shoei RF-1000.  This is the secret weapon of most motorcyclists.  Full-face is obvious – I really can’t say I want to risk my face if I go down.  Most people I know who’ve gone down have had serious road rash on their helmets around the face or chin, and…  I’d hate for that to be my actual face in the event of a crash.  The RF-1000 is reasonably priced, very light, and very comfortable.  Of all the places I’d rather not apply more risk than necessary, face and head are pretty high on that list.
Jacket: Corazzo Tempeste.  Looks good, reasonably protective, does a good job with the weather.  Half the time, also a Scorpion Hybrid or Corazzo Underhoody.  Why an armored jacket?  Well, simple:  most of my livelihood involves my arms/hands (typing all day long).  I protect those.  Ever do serious damage to an elbow and then try to type?  It’s all about risk mitigation.
Gloves: Dainese M-23 D-Dry or M-19.  Dainese gloves fit me the best, and these are no exception.  M-23 in the rain or serious cold, M-19 with crappy “Thinsulate” liners I bought in moderate weather.  As stated before – I’m protective of the upper body considering how much I rely on my hands for a living.  These gloves have some very sophisticated, if not BS-ey, features, e.g. “distortion control” pieces on the pinky (supposedly to prevent breaking your pinky off in a distorted fashion), and armor on the knuckles (to keep them on your hands, which is apparently important).
Pants: Slacks or jeans.  And yes, dress slacks (think, Men’s Wearhouse).  And yes, I know – this is a concession.  Those things will tear up after 6 feet of sliding, and I fully expect my legs to get mutilated in an accident.  Jeans?  I’ll get an extra 20 feet, which I suppose is actually important.  I should wear armor but I’ve told myself (true or not) I’ve nowhere to put it after I’ve ridden in to work, and I don’t want to carry it around.
Shoes: Dress shoes (e.g., Rockports) or Doc Martens.  The Martens cover the ankle, which is important.  They also look OK with some dress slacks but not all.  Again, the lower half of my body is sacrificed for the sake of “fitting in” downtown.  The problem with shoes that don’t cover the ankle is that you’ll miss the ankle when you rub them off against the concrete.  Again, making excuses.  No, I’m not ATGATT, but really – is anyone all the time..?

The hard rides: I try to pretend I can do better than the day to day gear

Helmet: Shoei RF-1000.  Same reason as above.
Jacket: Tourmaster Coaster II.  It’s leather, can take a beating, has rock solid armor, and a removable liner.  It really deals with a good range of temperature conditions, and doesn’t feel too heavy.
Gloves: Dainese M-23 D-Dry or M-19.  Same reasons as above.
Pants: Tourmaster Armored Overpants.  Has hip and knee armor.  Mostly water resistant.  Generally over a pair of jeans or cycling pants.
Shoes: River Road Double Zipper Field boots.  Tough as shit boots, totally uncomfortable, I assume they’re going to be pasted to the broken stumps of my legs after an accident but I’ve got absolutely no proof for this.

Oz’s Final Thoughts:  Yes, I admit it – vanity and convenience dictate a lot of what I wear in order to get where I want to go.  There are areas I won’t sacrifice on (head, upper body) day to day, but places I am (lower body).  I think it’d be different if my commute involved heavy doses of freeway as opposed to city streets that average ~30mph.  55-60mph speed limits would make me feel differently.  Is that really good justification?  No.  But whatever, I own it.  I go down and hurt myself, I’ve accepted the risks I’ve taken, and will have no one to blame but myself.

Stay tuned for Aaron’s take…

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