Riding a motorcycle is dangerous, that much we know. Bikes are less protected, harder to see and control than cars, which can lead to ugly accidents involving other traffic participants.
Many safety tips help motorcycle riders reduce the risks they are facing.
An important measure of protection is the motorcycle gear they choose to wear. Protective gear reduces the severity of injuries and helps to control the bike, even during long rides and in uncomfortable environments.
A full set of gear is bulky and time-consuming to put on and off. Many riders decide to leave some or most of it in the closet, especially for shorter rides. Others commit to wearing All The Gear, All The Time. It sounds like a smart choice, considering the risks of riding a motorcycle.
All The Gear, All The Time gets shortened to ATGATT. It’s a philosophy among motorcycle riders who believe it is their duty – to protect themselves and other traffic participants – to be as prepared as possible during every ride. The full protection gear helps them stay comfortable and to have good control of the bike. At the same time, it reduces the risk of injuries and the time spent in recovery after an accident.
To figure out what separates ATGATTs from riders who dress for the ride, we have to take a look at the All The Gear part of the philosophy. What exactly do they consider a full set of protective gear?
- motorcycle helmet – A motorcycle helmet is replaced every 5 years and after every accident or drop. It should be a full-face helmet that is certified by an appropriate organization.
- motorcycle gloves – Made from abrasion-resistant materials and reinforcements with plating and padding over important areas.
- motorcycle boots – Covering the ankles, made from abrasion-resistant materials with reinforced heel and toe boxes. Some have additional plating and bracing on the outside.
- motorcycle jacket/jumpsuit – Made from abrasion-resistant materials with padding/plating covering vulnerable spots. It should have bright colors and reflective markings to make riders more visible.
Some riders use additional armor that can be worn over clothing like a vest.
To get a look at the possible gear options, check out the Motorcycle clothing by Chromeburner. A professional vendor sells gear specifically made for motorcycle riders. That excludes fashion pieces without any additional protection.
Typically, good motorcycle gear is certified by an institution such as the European Commission. They have safety standards for personal protective equipment (PPE) and test available options to see if they hold up. Next to protective gear for hazardous professions (like firemen) they also give out certificates for proper motorcycle gear.
To break it down, ATGATT has three purposes:
- protection – The gear protects the body from impacts and penetrations.
- comfort – The gear protects from weather influences.
- utility – The gear provides you with a better grip and padding that keeps your body from going numb through the bike’s vibrations.
ATGATT Pros & Cons
If ATGATT had no downsides, every motorcycle rider would wear protective gear for all rides. What are some reasons why some choose to go all the way, while others leave the protective gear at home?
Some riders prefer to dress for the ride. And they have good reason to do so. ATGATT has some drawbacks:
- A full set of gear takes time and effort to put on and off.
- A full set of gear is bulky and restrictive.
- A full set of gear is uncomfortable in the summer.
- A full set of gear isn’t practical for time off the bike in-between rides.
It is entirely understandable when riders choose not to clad themselves in double-layered bulky clothing for every short trip. It takes a while to prepare and it makes it impossible to take a quick spontaneous trip like you could when jumping into a car to go grab some stuff from the store.
The benefit of ATGATT is clear: Wearing the best protection at all times means you are prepared for the worst-case scenario, always. Since you can’t control every factor that could lead to a crash, there is no way for you to know when an accident will happen. While it is true that during long rides the probability for something to happen might be bigger, that does not mean an accident during a short trip is unlikely.
In fact, the median distance between motorcycle riders’ homes and an accident they were involved in is 4.6 miles (7,4 km). For fatal accidents, the number is just a little higher, with 5.5 miles (9 km). As many ATGATT practitioners phrase it: only the paranoid survive. At that point, being uncomfortable for a short while is worth the cost of your health or even life.
Conclusion – Protective Gear and its Risk Reducing Efficiency
In the end, it comes down to the choice between your comfort and your safety. Many ATGATT objectors trust in their ability to reduce risks and expect the probability of something happening to them, especially on short rides, to be low.
On the other hand, protective gear has proven to reduce injury severity. Many studies have followed up on accident participants, the injuries they have suffered, how long they had to stay in hospitals/in recovery, or who has died. The overwhelming majority of riders who wore appropriate protective gear were injured less severely, recovered faster, and survived otherwise fatal crashes.
The numbers are a very clear indicator that ATGATT is working and should be the preferred philosophy when it comes to motorcycle gear.