Learn the essential gear you need to ride your motorcycle safely & comfortably.
- Hi there smart drivers, Rick with smart drive test talking today to Alex Matusak, he's an avid motorcycle rider.
He's going to go through his gear for us as most of us are pulling our motorcycles out of storage here in the Northern hemisphere and getting ready to ride.
So stick around.
We'll be right back with that information.
Hi there smart drivers welcome back, talking to Alex Matusak today.
He's an avid motorcycle rider, and as you can see he has one of these very nice BMW motorcycles.
And he's going to talk to us today about his riding gear.
BMW GSW All-Terrain Motorcycle
So first of all, Alex, just talk to us a little bit about this bike, this bike is actually quite famous is it not?
This model of motorcycle actually.
Yes, it is the bike is pretty much built for on and off-road capabilities.
It's been, it's been taken around the world up north and south by many people.
So it's, it's a bike designed to handle pretty much any road condition you can throw at it, it's, it's quite the nice machine, and if you're an adventurous person and you want to go where the road doesn't take, where the road ends and you want to go beyond one of these types of bikes are for you.
Long Way Round - The Movie
- Okay, and this bike was made famous by Ewan McGregor in a movie.
- Yes, they actually had the 12 hundreds, but it's…the bike is built on the same model except this just doesn't come with a, it comes with a smaller V-twin engine there so.
- Okay, so it's just the bigger version of this bike, right?
- Okay, and they actually circumnavigated the planet on that bike right?
- Yeah, they started in, they started in England and they went all the way around, they actually came through Canada, they went through Calgary and they, they flew back over, they went through New York and they flew back from New York to England.
I think it took them about three months and it was three of them on a, like I mentioned, there are 12 hundreds, but yeah, they, they went around, circumnavigated the globe, the three of them on a BMW built motorcycles.
- That's awesome, so that's really great.
So today you're going to talk to us about some of the gear and obviously this time of year you really want to be well-dressed and warm because even though the temperature you and I are standing outside, it's 10° degrees Celsius (50° Fahrenheit) or whatnot.
I still, when you're on a motorcycle and that wind is pushing against you at 80 kilometers an hour or 50 miles an hour, it's cold.
The Benefits of Windshields on Motorcycles
Oh yeah, for sure, especially like, most motorcycles don't come with a big windshield.
I'm a big, taller guy and it really affects me.
So if you're hovering around like five or 10 degrees and the air isn't warm yet, you need some protection, cause it gets cold, you know, really, really fast, so.
- And it's kind of like outdoor stuff, one of the most important things is probably windbreak, right?
Just trying to break that wind with the clothing that you've gone on those types of things.
So, you can probably talk to us a little bit about some of those things in terms of keeping yourself warm and dry and keeping the wind off of you.
When Riding a Motorcycle, the Wind is Your Biggest Challenge
- Yeah, sure, yeah, in that aspect, you don't need something super thick, you don't need to wear a lot of thick gear to keep you warm.
The wind is, is the worst enemy, and if, if you can stop the wind penetrating your jacket and your pants and your clothing, then you are going to stay warmer and staying, stay comfortable for longer periods of time.
So should, should like, is this like other types of outdoor activities, should be you be dressing in layers and underclothing and that sort of thing under your gear that you're riding on your motorcycle?
- Well, it really depends on what you're doing with your motorcycle, right?
Like I like to go on my, my motorcycle, I go for long trips, so I'm on the highway or on back roads or I'm on the bike for a long period of time during the day, so you have to prepare for all weather conditions.
I'd probably be doing something that not the average motorcycle rider would do.
If you're, if you're riding, you know, like a like a regular style motorcycle, it's just a street bike.
You can have a little less protection.
Dress to Ride Your Motorcycle for the Weather Conditions
The safety equipment is still key, but you know, you're not, it's really when you hit highways and you're going to be sitting on the bike for longer, long periods of time, you really need to plan ahead.
You have to look at the weather conditions and you have to dress appropriately because it will, it will make or break your experience.
I've been, I've when I started out and I've been on trips where we were under-prepared, and it just you know, when your boots get wet, your socks get wet, your stuff gets wet and you get cold.
It's not fun for anybody.
- Yeah, and at that point, the trip is more or less done at that point because you just can't continue because you're just so uncomfortable.
- Pretty much, you just pretty much go from Starbucks to Starbucks.
Okay, so you're going to go through some of the safety gear that we should really have when we start riding.
I mean, obviously some of this stuff, I mean for new people who are buying a bike and those types of things, some of this stuff can really add up, but it's kind of stuff that you got to buy over a period of time, right?
- Yeah, yeah you, you can get into it, the big, the, the point I want to make is you don't want to cheap out on motorcycle gear.
You know, like that's the, that's the most important thing you want to, you want to, first of all address what you're riding and what your conditions.
If you're just going to buy regular street bike, what you really want to focus on is stuff that'll protect you if you fall off it.
You know it's not something you want to happen, but on a motorbike it's a lot different than a car because you are exposed to all the elements, you're exposed to all the vehicles.
So if there's a mistake, if there's, there's no fender benders on a motorcycle, it can be quite serious.
So, what are your riding conditions that you are, that you're going to be in?
And then you have to kind of address that, so if you've got like an adventure bike and you're going to go in the back woods, you know you're going to, you don't want to have any mishaps.
You don't want to run any problems out there, but if you're just riding a street bike like a cruiser bike, or a, a regular sport bike, you know you can just, it's really your, what what level of protection you need for your riding style.
And like I said, you don't want to cheap out, these are not items you want to cheap out on.
#1 - The Helmet
$300 Feet; $100 Head - Don't Cheap Out on a Helmet
You don't want a cheap helmet.
You don't want cheap gloves.
You don't want cheap gear because, cheap gear when you fall down and you get hurt from, from, you know saving a couple bucks on a jacket or saving a couple bucks on a pair of pants, especially your helmet, you know helmets really good quality helmets are, you know plus the $500 mark in Canadian funds.
And I personally would never spend any money less than that because it's your noggin, right?
It's your head and you fall off your bike and you have a cheap helmet, you're, you know, that extra hundred dollars could be the difference between you never walking again.
Well, and the other thing is, is when I was young and we had motorcycles and I had friends who went down on a motorcycle and got road rash from pavement.
And let me tell ya at 50 miles an hour, going down on a bike, I mean, even if you don't break bones, the amount of skin and flesh that that pavement takes off your body, it just, it was really ugly looking.
Yeah, very minor, like, like something like tripping on the road walking, can be a bad experience on a motorbike, even at slow speed, and you know, when you see those guys driving around and their t-shirts no shirt, you know, in, in, in shorts and sandals and flip-flops.
I cringe when I see these people because they don't really realize what's going to happen.
You know, it might look cool.
Assumptions Will Get You Into Trouble on a Motorcycle
It might be 35 degrees out and you might be really hot but I still wear a basic level of protection when I do that because you never know you, a patch of gravel, something hopping out on the, in the road, you know, as soon as you fall down and you got a heavy bike like this this bike is over 500 pounds.
It's, it's on the heavier side of bikes, but you got to bike to contend with coming down on you.
And you know, like Rick said, it's the road rash, it's you don't, you don't even want to, you can avoid that stuff so easily, you just have to be smart about it.
- Exactly, and you, you got to be conscious, you're like, oh, I'm just going to the grocery store.
Well, unfortunately you're just going down to the grocery store or going to the liquor shop or something like that.
That's unfortunately, when it's going to happen right?
Yeah, when you're, when you're least expecting it, when you're not paying attention and you think nothing's going to happen, Murphy's law you know, that's when that's, when it happens.
So you want to be prepared.
I never leave home without at least wearing my jacket, or my gloves, that's like the bare and my boots, that's like the bare minimum that I wear.
- And the other thing is, is that one of the strategy you want to use is if you get knocked off your bike and you're trying to go down, you always want to try and get yourself between, the bike between you and whatever you're going to hit.
So if you're going down between a car you're trying to go down and you're going to be sliding on your butt.
So at least you want your back and whatnot protected your major organs with a good jacket, right?
- Yeah, You want to protect every part of your body the best you can.
You know, there's so many options out there now in the market today and, and stuff is not as expensive as it used to be just through the manufacturing process.
Years ago, everything was hand stitched and you know, you'd have to get stuff custom and this stuff really wasn't available to you.
You know, that's why you see in all the older, you know if you read motorcycle books, it's leather, leathers on everybody, they got leather gloves, leather boots, and that does the trick for most, most of the, you know bike riding for most people, but you know, like speeds, highway, other traffic.
It's just, you want to be as, as, most protected as you possibly can.
- Okay, so let's try and let's go just through some of the stuff from what you got here.
- Options to people.
- Well, we'll just go head to toe then I guess.
So we'll start with a helmet again we kind of spoke about this earlier.
The Helmet - Spend At Least $500
Don't cheap out on a helmet, I wouldn't spend less, my recommendation is I wouldn't spend less than $500 on a helmet.
Get a helmet that fits good, The nice and snug, almost like a little too tight on your head.
It's, it's sometimes it's a little uncomfortable, but you don't want to, you don't want to have this wiggling around in your head because that can cause more injury when you fall.
So you can get a nice, nice snug helmet.
You don't need one with a visor, this is just a adventure riding helmet, you can just get a a generic helmet, a regular, you know, bowl shaped helmet.
I have a tinted visor on mine, I also have a, I don't have it here with me, but I have a clear visor and some laws actually state that you can't ride with a tinted visor after a certain time at night.
So, it's never been a problem for me, but it does get hard to see.
So, I have a clear one there when I ride, if I ride at night and I, and I put that on there, I have the communication device attached to mine.
So if I ride with a, with a friend, he has one as well.
It's a great way to communicate.
Plus this, this allows me to talk on my phone if I really need to, I don't do it much when I'm riding my bike.
So there's so many little options you can add to your helmet, but the main part is get a good helmet that fits, most people at the, at the store, will help you out when you buy one, but don't cheap out.
That's the one area that I would not, I would spend the most amount of money on my helmet.
It's your head.
And it it's, it can be a lot of problems, if you buy something that doesn't protect you.
- And just one note on helmets here in British Columbia, they recently passed a law that it has to have certain safety standards, so the helmet has to have a sticker on it, it has to have a DOT sticker on it or a Snell or something else.
Just wherever you are in the world, just look at your driver's manual or your rider’s manual rather, and make sure that you got that sticker so that your helmet meets legal requirements when you get on your bike and start riding.
- Yeah, there's also some places, some states in America that you're allowed to ride without a helmet.
That's your choice.
I, Rick wouldn't recommend it.
I wouldn't recommend it.
- Yeah, definitely wouldn't recommend it, but it is an option in some states.
#2 - The Motorcycle Jacket
- Yeah, okay, and then we'll go down to my jacket.
This is, this is an adventure jacket.
So this one actually is, is waterproof and windproof.
So I, I ride in torrential downpours with this guy.
It has really stiff elbow pads in it.
It has stiff shoulder pads in it.
It has a back pad on it, and I believe it's got side pads on it as well, too, for your, for your hips on your side.
But this is a little extreme for if you're just like riding a cruiser or just, you know you're just a pleasure rider.
It's a little extreme for that.
It's nice to have, you want something with a lot of reflection on it, cause people sometimes don't see motorcycle riders.
This one is actually Europe standard, so it's got extra reflectors you can flip out on your chest.
Cause I know in Europe they have different standards for reflectiveness, from your jacket, you know, you want to have something with a lot of good pockets in it that zip up.
You know, when you're riding on your bike on the highway you don't want stuff flying out of your pockets.
There's a lot of options in jackets out there, you go to the store and there's hundreds of jackets.
The, the main points I want to get through is get something that's comfortable, maybe a size or too big for you, in case it gets cold and you want to throw a jacket or hoodie underneath it.
And then if you take care of it, it's for life.
You know, you getting something spend a little more money on something a little more quality, and it's yours for life.
You don't have to worry about it.
And the reason I purchased this one is, is the, the ratings on it, this rides well in hot and cold, obviously if it gets really, really hot, no matter what jacket you're wearing, you're going to be hot but this one has vents you can open up in it and everything.
So it was a, it was a great choice for me.
It was, it served my needs.
- And the other thing like Alex said previously was is that most of the stuff, 20 years ago, it was all leather.
Now there's a lot of synthetic options that are, that breathe a lot better and have a lot more, I would add, I think they have a lot more protection than they once did.
- Yeah, Gore-Tex.
This is actually, I don't believe BMW uses Gore-Tex they have their own line, that is very similar to Gore-Tex.
I think it's called Cardura and it's and it's the waterproof and breathable fabric, and it's, I think it's the competition to Gore-Tex.
So, that's what all this stuff is made out of.
#3 - Motorcycle Riding Pants
Again, pants, pants are huge.
You fall off your bike the first thing that's going to hit is your side or your hips.
These have, these have hip protection in them.
They have knee protection in them and they're, you know they're really tough and they really stop the wind.
This one actually connects to my jacket, so it almost turns into a one-piece kind of suit.
So it's really good for the long rides, but again, just just address what, what your what your riding needs are.
And again, this is super duper extreme.
They make like jeans, colored ones of these that have padding in them, but even like a like a really good thick pair of jeans is fine for street riding.
But I would recommend, you know, I just come from the thought that this is this is your only line of protection between you and anything you fall on or hits you, so if I can find a pair of pants that has the maximum protection and it's really comfortable to ride so that's why I spent the money on these guys.
Kind of a step up from that if you're going to do a lot of tour riding, if you're going to be on highways lots, you're going to definitely run into weather issues.
#4 - Rain Gear for Riding Your Motorcycle in Wet Weather
Most likely the rain's going to be your, I wouldn't call it an any enemy anymore, I actually quite enjoy riding through rain.
It's actually nice and refreshing.
When I started out I had just the regular rain suit that I just bought specifically for bike, for motorbiking.
And actually these worked pretty well.
They, they, they blocked the wind pretty good.
And if, you know, if you don't have, if you have one of these kicking around, they work fine.
There's just not a one piece thing, but it served me fine for, for when I rode it, but nowadays I require a little more I'm on the road a lot longer, and I, you know, I don't want anything leaking through.
So I stepped up to a full one piece water suit, and it's all, it's got really high reflect, lots of reflection on it.
So in the rain, you're less visible in the rain and in any other, in any weather condition other than being like sunny and clear.
So this guy just zips up the middle, fits over, actually fits over that suit, and you know, when it gets a little cool, blocks all the wind and it's 100% waterproof.
There's a little hood thing here that pops out over my head.
My helmet goes on it so no water drips down my neck, no water.
The problem with most suits is cause you're sitting on a motorbike water drips down in between your legs.
This prevents that.
So again, if you're just going, you know, 15 minutes down the highway, it's not a huge thing, but I we spend hours, hundreds of kilometers a day on a road.
So that really, really, really helps when we run into colder or rainy weather.
- And the other, the other thing about rain too is a full face helmet, really, you start getting rain at 60 miles an hour in your face, you want a full face helmet on because it really hurts.
- Yeah and another and another point to that is a quality helmet, is designed, to push the water off your visor, when you're going down the highway, the wind will actually keep your visor pretty clean.
On a poorly designed helmet it's it's going to, it's not, that's not going to happen.
#5 - Motorcycle Gauntlet Gloves
It's just going to be, a nuisance for you to always be cleaning and that, like my gloves have a little squeegee on them.
This glove has a squeegee on it to squeegee it off.
So, you know, it's just about being prepared right?
Like the things they have these days is just.
- Yeah, you know, they have just about everything that you can use.
So, so you obviously have gloves as well.
- Yeah, I just have two pairs, I have, I have my rain and like cold weather, riding gloves.
These are kind of double shelled.
So there's a, there's a waterproof side.
And then there's just, it's just a little thinner when you put on there, that I really like these gloves.
They're like a two in one.
And then I have just a just a summer riding pair just when it's, you know clean conditions right there.
Bonus - Motorcycle Riding Boots
- And then the last piece is the boots that you've got.
You've got specific boots for riding.
- Yeah again, your boots is a, is a very important part of riding your bike you know, your ankle is a weak point and a lot of people have a lot of ankle and foot injuries.
I went out and bought a full on Gore-Tex adventure boot.
I've had this for a few years now.
They're not cheap, but man, these things they've saved my life in so many situations.
They don't get wet, they're fully stitched up right up to the top, so when your pants go over them, you walk, you can walk in you know, almost a foot of water with these things, and they're tough and you know, you.
You fall off your bike especially if you're riding in off-road and rocky situations and you got to put your foot down, you know, a regular like work boot or steel-toed boot or high ankle boot is, your ankle just going to snap like a twig.
And that just goes back to the point of, you have to, you have to plan your riding, you have to know your riding conditions because you never you don't want to get injured out in the middle of nowhere, right?
So that's, that was my premise in, in in setting myself up for this.
But if you're just a street rider and you go to the motorcycle store, they'll have specific street riding boots, but get one make sure they fit.
They will break in.
They're a little harder to break in.
But again, you know, just, just look what your needs are and find the, the, the boot or the item that fits it.
And, and again, you know, boots are, super-duper important.
You know, your, you got to use your leg to walk on so.
Affordable Motorcycle Riding Gear
- Now, obviously for some of you, because some of you are just going to start riding and getting bikes and you're young and you don't have a lot of money.
And obviously you're not going to be able to start here, right?
Alex has been riding for a number of years, he's accumulated this gear.
Now some of the stuff, you can have other stuff, it's just a matter of if you're putting protection on your body like boots, if you can't afford boots right away, at least get some big heavy boots that you can wear that are going to protect your ankles and have come up and have some sort of ankle support right?
You, if you don't have, if you can't afford gloves right away at least wear some sort of leather glove that's going to protect your hands right?
And those types of things you can improvise you don't need to start, you can't start at the top because you're going to buy the bike, and obviously the bike is going to be a few thousand dollars.
And this gear is obviously going to run you in the thousands of dollars.
So you got to kind of, you know, it's kind of an evolution right?
- It is, yeah, and, and that, and Rick's right, like I didn't, when I bought my first bike I didn't go and buy all this stuff.
It evolved because of my riding needs, but when I started out like a good pair of boots, a high ankle boot that you can pull tight with the laces is going to be better than a pair of sandals, right?
So you don't need to get the top of the line gear but you want to be as, as protected as you can.
And again, it's your riding conditions.
Most people don't ride at the level that I ride, and, and the demands I need out of gear.
But if you're just got a sport bike and if you've just got a cruiser and you like going out on the Sunday rides, and you just want to enjoy your motorcycle, you know, chances are, you're probably never come off your motorcycle and your gear is never really going to get tested, but a good, I used to ride years for with just a good leather jacket on my cruiser.
And, you know, I just, I had a really like extra thick pair of jeans I bought from the store and I had a pair of high ankle boots that I just, I made sure I laced you know, and I had some gauntlet gloves and what I mean by gauntlet gloves is gauntlet gloves, go, go over your sleeve.
You want, you want gloves that go over your sleeve, because if your sleeve goes over your glove, wind will go all the way up there.
So especially if it's raining and you know, you can buy all that stuff pretty inexpensive, you might even have something you can kind of morph into turning into gear, but, you know going back to the helmet, that's the one thing if there's one thing you're going to spend money on when you buy your bike is your helmet, for sure.
- Make sure you spend the money on the helmet at the beginning so, you know, the first piece of gear you're going to buy obviously put the money in the helmet and that way you're going to be safe, right?
Because just from personal experience of working with people, with brain injuries, you don't recover from those.
So get a good helmet and be safe, and I'd really like to thank Alex for taking the time to show us all the gear and equipment and what you can do to keep yourself safe and keep yourself comfortable while you're riding your motorcycle.
Thanks very much, Alex.
- Thanks a lot Rick.
- Thanks for having me.