If you’re just starting out with motorcycles or you’ve been riding one for longer than you can recall, the All The Gear, All The Time (ATGATT) way of living is the only way to go about it
As motorcyclists, we live for the Thrill of Riding. However, we must never let safety be a second priority as we enjoy our time with our beloved motorcycles. It is critically important is to value life and protect yourself in every way possible to ensure a long motorcycling lifestyle. Indian roads are some of the most dangerous, with a major chunk of vehicles being two wheelers. What then, is stopping you from being covered from head to toe in protective riding gear? Let’s first understand what the benchmark is for good riding gear
Several certifications across the world homologate protective gear to global safety standards. Some widely accepted ones are ISI, CE, DOT, and Snell. ISI or Indian Standard Institution certifications are the most commonly seen marks on budget helmets. A reason why they aren’t considered to be the safest is that the government urges brands to manufacture helmets and then send them in for testing and regulation. However, this data is not public. This makes the ISI certification slightly questionable. Therefore, internationally certified brands are considered to be safer since their data is public and one sample is tested before mass production. CE - Conformitè Europëenne is Europe’s safety standard, which we generally follow for most of premium riding gear in India. DOT or the US Department of Transportation also certifies gear.
Unlike CE and DOT, which are controlled by government bodies, the Snell Memorial Foundation is a non-profit body that conducts the most rigorous tests on race helmets to ensure maximum rider safety. Of the three, a Snell certified helmet is considered to be the safest since it sparingly certifies only the best helmets after an independent body puts them through insanely destructive tests to ensure that the rider will be in the safest circumstance, should anything go wrong.
Okay, what are we referring to when we talk about ATGATT? Well, simply put, it means covering every possible body part in protective armor – helmet, riding jacket, riding pants, gloves, and boots. If you do it right, no part of your skin should be exposed. But why is ATGATT such a commonly used term among experienced riders? Because they’ve seen what life can throw at you when you hit the tarmac. Thus, making sure you are always wearing certified gear while you ride is an essential part of this way of life.
You probably have your reasons why you can’t go riding with ATGATT?
I’m just going to a neighborhood shop/ café. Helmets suffocate me. Riding gear is uncomfortable. The heat doesn’t permit me. I don’t ride that fast. Riding gear is too expensive. I’m in control of my bike. What could go wrong?
Well, I have news for you. Life, especially on a motorcycle in India, is very unpredictable and you never really know which idiot could be crossing the street while looking at the sky, or even worse, another motorcyclist/ driver may not be able to control their vehicle and crash into you. While most excuses are based on convenience, having protective gear could make a life or death difference. Don’t believe me? Here’s a stat to prove my point – The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that for every mile covered, a motorcyclist faces 35 times the risk of meeting with a fatal accident as a car driver. This statistic is from the US where traffic is much more orderly. You can only imagine how much worse the situation is in India where lawlessness among bikers is the norm. I’m sure you’ve seen someone mount a footpath on their bike to skip the traffic.
How must you go about ATGATT purchases then?
Firstly, it's very important to set aside money, earmarked for safety gear purchases. In my personal experience and opinion, the cost of your gear will be approximately 25 per cent of how much your bike itself is worth. An example – A TVS Apache RTR 200 4V rider should spend about Rs 25,000 on good quality riding gear. Secondly, you should ensure that all your gear comes with either a CE or DOT certification so that you know it is up to standard. Here’s a pro tip – try to find gear that either has reflective tapes or is bright-colored in general. While you may argue that it’s too loud for your personality, it will increase your visibility to oncoming traffic in the night, which could once again, save your life or a limb. Lastly, if you don’t know what kind of gear would suit your motorcycle or riding style, ask a professional at the store, or a friend who knows enough about riding gear. However, any gear is always better than no gear.
While squidding around town may make you feel like you’re invincible or thrill you with the wind in your face, trust me when I say that your life is worth more than this fleeting emotion. If you value your body, protect it as much as you can. If financial worries limit your gear purchases, go step by step, beginning with a good helmet. Life is unpredictable, but you can mitigate a lot of injuries if you bother to spend some dough on protective gear.
Words by:- George D'Cruz