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Dressing to ride a scooter : safety first

8-7-2012

by Amyot Bachand , moto123.com

Scooter season is underway and I’ve already seen a rider wearing flip-flops: someone has to do it, I guess…

Feet
I can hear you telling me that there’s no great danger on a 50cc. Well, actually there is… braking badly, stopping on gravel, a bit off balance and suddenly you try to put your foot on the ground to control an abrupt fall or skid. It’s goodbye to your flip-flops and hello to a mashed foot, a case of ‘bitumen burn’ or skinned by a gravelly surface. At a minimum, flat footwear and no high heels won’t be too displeasing to lady riders: rubber-soled sandals or shoes do the job on small scooters. And when it comes to 250cc and up, I recommend motorcycle boots, which offer ankle protection as well.

Safety in scooter

Legs
Since we’re better protected from speed excesses on a scooter, we can be tempted to breeze along on smaller models because they seemingly don’t go that fast … Sorry, but at 30 or 40 kph, you still need to protect yourself from injury and from scrapes and burns on the ground. I know this firsthand, because I was side-swiped by a car cutting me off which resulted in a pair of ripped jeans (and thank goodness I was wearing them, too).

Avoid shorts: wear jeans or cotton or linen pants. This is the minimum, no matter what the scooter size. And if it’s rainy or cold, it’s easy to throw on an extra pair of nylon pants to add another protective layer. These can be stored conveniently under the seat when not in use.

Upper body
Again, this is a matter of common sense. Forget about short sleeve tops - easy to say but difficult advice to follow, especially when we see guys and girls riding around practically naked on their Harleys...

In hotter weather, we’re strongly tempted to zap around wearing just a T-shirt or tank top, but think safety first and carry at least one long sleeve top. There are excellent multiple-layer coats for the 2-wheeler crew: the main coat is made of netting which allows it to breathe even at low speed, while at the same time protecting your shoulders, elbows and back.

Then you can attach zip-on layers to add extra levels of protection according to weather conditions like rain and cold. For bigger scooters, it’s no problem. Under your coat, simply wear a T-shirt.

Multi-layer coat
Photo: Matthieu Lambert

Face and neck
Here, I’m thinking more of spring, autumn or even some cool summer evenings: protect your neck and face by wearing a hood or balaclava under your helmet as the situation dictates. One morning last December, riding to work on a dry, snow-cleared city road and at a balmy +5°C, I still managed to freeze my neck. If you use your scooter to commute to work every day, I recommend you install a deflector to reduce the effects of the wind as well as rain and road spatters. You’ll lose a few kph, but gain excellent protection against the elements.

Enjoy your trip: ride safely, stay dry and be comfortable!