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Safety gear inspection before riding season


March 26, 2013 by Rider Newsletter Staff


It’s Time to Ride…once you check a few things out, that is.


Spring has sprung. The clocks are set forward. Hope and love are in the air…well, let’s not go too far. While it may be true, in some places, that the groundhog appears to have been kidding around, spring is, in fact, here; and riding season is upon us. Now the question is (or questions are): are you ready, and is your bike ready? It’s time to take stock, and we’ll be doing just that in the next few installments.

Are You Ready?

If you’re like most of us, it probably doesn’t take much for you to be ready to ride. Assuming your body and mind held up over the winter, the real subject here is your gear. This is a great time to take a quick inventory and see if you have clothing or, more importantly, safety gear that needs to be replaced.

First up: your helmet. When should you replace your helmet? Most sources we’ve checked say every two to four years if your helmet has not been in a crash or otherwise damaged. Materials degrade over time and technology continues to improve, so an old helmet is simply not as good as a new one. Since the 70s, helmet manufacturers have been mandated to stamp the month and date of manufacture in a permanent location. Check yours. You may be surprised to learn how old that helmet is.

If you’ve crashed and your helmet has done its job – protecting your brain – it should be replaced. Even a minor incident can damage the helmet enough to significantly reduce its ability to protect you. Likewise, a serious drop or other event may affect the protective surface enough to warrant replacement. Your local service facility, retail store, or the manufacturer can inspect the damage and provide their expert advice. The bottom line here is pretty obvious – when in doubt, toss it out. Some of us have only a few good brain cells left as it is, so it’s not worth putting them at risk to save a few bucks. We’ll be talking about selecting a new helmet in a future entry, so stay tuned.

As for the rest of your gear, the same basic premise applies. If it is damaged enough to reduce its ability to protect you, let it go. For example, old, cracked, dried out leather not only looks bad, it doesn’t do its real job (reducing road rash) as well. The same goes for your gloves, boots other protective clothing. Stick with quality and the latest technology for maximum safety.

A couple of quick but important thoughts

We’ll talk about getting your bike ready to ride next time, but there are a couple of subjects we feel compelled to mention here. Tires and brakes. You hear it over and over, but it simply cannot be stressed too much. Before you ride, check your tires and your brakes. Use the old penny trick to check tread wear. Put a penny upside down between the treads. If they don’t reach Lincoln’s head (or even go a bit beyond it), replace the tire now. And don’t forget to make sure your tires are properly inflated.

Finally, you simply must Inspect and test your brakes. It’s a real hassle if your bike won’t go. It can be deadly if it won’t stop. Inspecting all brake components and conducting a simple driveway test could save your life. If you have any doubts about your ability to service your brakes, take the bike to a pro.

Once you have everything you need to hit the road, turn your attention to your bike. We’ll do that next time and provide some simple tips and reminders about getting your machine ready to roar into spring.

In the meantime, keep calm and ride on!

This PDF file from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers some basic information about helmets. Well worth reviewing.



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