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Gear up for your ride

- AJEEJA LIMBU, Kathmandu

Sep 14, 2018-

Riding around in a motorcycle or a scooter is an activity that is fraught with danger compared to driving a four-wheeler. More than 60 percent of all accidents in Kathmandu Valley involve two wheelers, according to Metropolitan Traffic Police Division.

With the rider exposed to external factors such as potholes, stray animals, reckless driving and the weather, one can lose control of their two-wheeler in an instant and sustain bodily harm. This is why motorcyclists around the world preach the saying, ‘Dress for the slide, not the ride’.

Sooner or later, anyone who rides a two-wheeler will go down. It is an inherent part of owing and riding a two-wheeler. While most riders in Nepal do wear helmets, it is the bare minimum in terms of rider safety. However, it is not enough to simply wear a helmet and go around thinking, ‘I’ll be safe in this helmet’.

One has to secure the chin strap and actually wear a helmet that is of the correct size for one’s head. Even if you buy a highly rated helmet in terms of safety, it will not be able to provide the protection that it was intended to if it is not fitted correctly.

So what gear should one acquire to minimise the damage when you do get into an accident?

Firstly, a good helmet.

One can buy a highly rated helmet from Rs5,000 onwards. Often, these helmets will bear a safety certification with a SHARP rating, ECE, DOT or Snell sticker.

The SHARP certification is an initiative from the UK government and it is generally a good sign if a helmet that you are planning to buy has a SHARP rating. Well-known helmet manufacturers send their helmets for testing and SHARP assigns them a rating—a maximum of five stars, the highest safety rating. Before you plan to buy that shiny new helmet, you should consider checking if it has been tested by SHARP. If it has and gets at least three stars, it’s a safe helmet. If it does not appear on their website or scores poorly, you should consider other options instead.

Another safety rating that helmet manufacturers use is ECE which stands for ‘Economic Commission for Europe’ which sets stringent standards for helmets.

Some helmets may spot a DOT or Snell sticker. These are applicable mostly for helmets sold in the United States.

Some of the safest helmets available in Nepal have one or more of the safety cerfications.

In the budget segment (under Rs10,000), LS2 helmets are a solid option. For those looking to spend a bit more (under Rs15,000), purchase MT helmets. For helmets costing more than Rs15,000, there are many bullet-proof choices in the market, from AGV, Shark and Bell.

Secondly, a good pair of gloves.

Now that you have bought a highly rated helmet, you should consider picking up a good pair of gloves. Often times, when riders get into an accident, they will use their hands to try and break the fall. Without a quality glove, one runs the risk of damaging their hands and fingers.

Gloves also provide grip on the handlebars when riding in the rain. Some gloves even have a carbon fiber shell on the knuckle area to protect the hand. Common materials used in glove construction include neoprene and either goat or cow leather.

One can pick up a good pair of gloves from Rs3,000 onwards from brands such as Alpinestars, Fox, Acerbis and Alpha.

Thirdly, a riding jacket.

This may seem like a no-brainer yet it is one of the most important piece of kit a rider should have. A riding jacket provides protection from the elements and crucially, prevents raw skin from scrapping the tarmac when you go off two wheels. There are many riding jackets available in Nepal suited for different occasions. One can get a jacket with mesh inside to wick away the sweat and provide air flow or a jacket with multiple liners to keep the rider warm when riding in winter. For monsoon riding, pick a jacket with Gore-Tex—a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane.

Riding jackets from well-known companies such as Alpha, Alpinestars, Acerbis are sold in Nepal at various retailers with prices starting from Rs5,500.

Other notable gear that one can get are: riding boots, pants, action camera and Bluetooth intercom.

There are some things in life that one should not cheap out on and motorcycle gear is one of those. In the long run, it is better to spend more on quality products rather than save a few rupees buying a generic, no-name brand gear. It could be the difference in saving your life when you do get into an accident.

Remember, dress for the slide and not for the ride.

Published: 14-09-2018 09:00

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