Riding gear has plenty of drawbacks, but you’ll forget them all when it does its job.
Rishabh and I recently made a plan to take our own bikes out for a ride on a Sunday morning. Well before the sun illuminated that day, I squinted through bleary eyes that had just been jarred open by my alarm as I typed, ‘We on?’. ‘Sorry’, comes the response, ‘my friend has just had an accident and I’m taking him to the hospital’. Damn!
A few more texts revealed that said friend had hopped onto his scooter to buy some milk (presumably as soon as the truck reached the city), hit a patch of gravel and lost control. And then came those dreaded, oh-so-familiar words - ‘he said it was only two minutes from home, so he didn’t wear a helmet’.
Ultimately, the friend was fortunate enough to escape with a mild concussion and a number of nasty cuts and bruises all over. The cost of this worked out to Rs 19,000 for a two-day hospitalisation, Rs 5,000 for a CT scan and a Rs 35,000 deposit at the time of admission.
The hassles didn’t end there because the medical insurance payout demands a Medico Legal Certificate (MLC) to be issued by the police station in the jurisdiction of where the accident happens. Fortunately, there were no broken bones, because the insurance company would have then needed an FIR as well.
Numerous studies over the past two decades have shown that a majority of accidents happen closer to home. This is the zone where familiarity leads to complacency and where tiredness can overwhelm the usual sense of caution. It’s clearly what happened to Rishabh’s friend, and if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s happened to almost all of us, at some point and to some degree.
The truth is that if you are going to be riding an automobile on a public road, you should be protecting yourself, no matter how far you intend to ride. How much protection? Well, that’s where things get more tricky. I’ll be the first to say it - riding gear can be a pain, it’s expensive to buy, hot to wear and cumbersome to deal with when you get to your destination.
Nevertheless, I make the effort to wear full gear whenever I’m on a two-wheeler, no matter its size, shape or performance. Over ten years of doing so on a daily basis, the gear has protected me on two occasions (you can read all about one of them if you’re up to scrolling down my Instagram feed to find it).
To me, that trade-off is a no-brainer. Riding motorcycles comes with its inherent set of dangers and I love the secure feeling riding gear gives me. I’m also forever grateful for how it has saved me from almost-assured broken bones and god-awful shredded skin on those two occasions.
But I’m not going to get all preachy here. We’re all free to make our own decisions and I’ll only ask that you follow the law and wear a good helmet at all times. Beyond that, when it comes to deciding how much gear you want to wear, how much you spend on it and how often you wear it, ask yourself this – how much do I value myself? The answer will tell you everything you need to know.