Here at CMG, we ride with All The Gear, All The Time. Always have (well, almost always), always will. We take our riding seriously, and we know the importance of not only being properly protected, but being comfortable out in the wind.
Let’s just agree that if you do fall off your motorcycle for whatever reason, you’ll be a lot better off wearing protective gear than not wearing it. That’s just duh. But let’s also appreciate that good clothing also keeps you more comfortable and in a better state of mind for riding safely.
Helmets protect your hearing and visors protect your eyes. Jackets keep you warm and, in the heat of summer, ventilated jackets keep you cool. Gloves give you better grip of the handlebars and levers. Boots give you a solid foothold on the ground when you need to put your feet down, and they give a touch point against the asphalt when you’re leaned way over.
And then there are pants.
I don’t drag my knees on the road, so I always wear denim jeans when I’m riding. I have waterproof pants for riding in the rain, and heavy-duty Klim pants as part of a dual-purpose suit for riding on dusty or muddy trails, but that’s it. I used to own a pair of leather pants that did double-duty on the dance floor for Saturday nights, but the dog ate the crotch out of them and that was that. I refuse to wear chaps, which are only good for cosplay (though our managing editor Dustin owns a pair – hmmm), and I’ve never bothered with reinforced riding jeans. They’re expensive, and while it’s one thing to throw on a jacket or boots, it’s another to change in and out of a pair of pants.
Probably, most people are like me: helmet, jacket, gloves, boots and jeans, every time. That’s quite acceptable. So why all the flaming on Facebook the other day when Waterloo rider Lorin Maran posted pictures of himself riding the Tail of the Dragon in shorts?
That’s him in the photos, with a Shark helmet, Icon riding jacket, reinforced racing gloves, and shorts and runners. No knee-dragging there.
“You rode the Dragon in SHORTS?” asked the first commenter.
“I rode the Dragon, and there and back, all in shorts,” replied Lorin.
“Just to clarify haha,” he wrote to me directly later, “ultimately, I wanted to get some airflow in the heat to avoid heat exhaustion, since I know I run hot. Full leathers would have resulted in cognitive impairment for me in that heat for a week, which almost certainly would have resulted in a crash, especially on the route I took – staying cool helped me ride better.”
There’s a saying that if it’s too hot to wear the gear, it’s too hot to ride and you should just stay home. Better not to ride at all than ride without gear, which is similar in some ways to driving without a seatbelt. Certainly, no motorcycle racer would take to the track without full gear, whatever the temperature, and any rider’s potential injuries on the road are just as brutal and probably worse.
However, Lorin is 34 years old and he’s been riding for the past 15 years, which means he’s experienced enough to make his own decisions about his levels of protection. He’s even fallen off his bike, the same 2008 Kawasaki Z1000 that he rode to Tennessee.
“I went down with it about two months after getting it (in 2012), thanks to a rookie mistake I tell everyone about: don’t go crazy on cold tires. I was going to be late for work, and it was only about nine degrees outside, so I low-sided, then high-sided in the first roundabout from my house; slid on my back, then flipped myself and landed on my back, when my backpack saved my back, and I was wearing the same jacket as on the Tail of the Dragon trip.
“Over $4,000 worth of parts I had to change on the Kawi, which is why I modified it to suit my tastes starting at that point, and I even have a Wall of Shame at my shop that includes the old front wheel, but also left a bunch of cosmetically damaged but still functional parts on the bike.”
Plenty of people were surprised to see him wearing shorts in the photos, but the hard truth is that denim jeans are no better. If you ride a Harley, they’ll protect the hairs on your legs from singeing off against the open engine, and for everyone else, the skin on your leg from blistering when you accidentally nudge it against the exhaust pipe, but crash protection? They’ll shred against asphalt within the first second of contact at speed.
Shorts or jeans, there’s really no difference, so live and let live. Or scrape off, more likely. Like some other Facebook commenters wrote, stop being such a Karen.
Running shoes, though? And the arches of his feet on the pegs? What’s with that?