You’ve probably heard this far too many times before, but motorcycling is risky business. The facts don’t lie – The New Paper recently reported that motorcycle fatalities rose by nearly 45 percent last year. Could tragedy be better avoided by following the moto-adage, “Dress for the fall, not for the ride”?
Let’s be realistic though; how feasible is it to ride with ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) in Singapore’s intense tropical heat? Enter the workable compromise: MOTGATT (Most Of The Gear, All of The Time). It may still sound like a chore, but think of it this way – there are plenty of hazards beyond our control, such as bad drivers and poor road conditions, but we can certainly choose how protected we are.
It may not actually be as much of a compromise as you think. Singapore has a strictly enforced speed limit of 80-90 kmh on expressways, and much lower limit of 50-70 kmh on all other roads — which means that, on average, we travel slower than motorists from many other countries.
Also, much of the safety gear featured in popular international motorcyclist magazines are more suited to cooler foreign climates and riding conditions. Imagine crawling through the weekend traffic along Orchard Road, under the midday sun with an overheated engine, in full leathers – heat exhaustion will probably take you out before anything else.
MOTGATT – Most Of The Gear, All of The Time
Regardless of speed, accidents do happen. Basic safety gear should offer protection against 3 forms of injury:
1) Impact: shatters your bones.
2) Abrasion: skins you alive.
3) Weather: UV damage from our brutal tropical sun.
Yup, you guessed it – slippers and beach shorts aren’t going to cut it. The MOTGATT strategy works as such: arm up with every category of gear, aiming for the highest tier possible. If budget or other circumstances disallow, fall back to a lower tier instead of skipping that category of protection entirely.
On my daily commute, for instance, I often wear regular work pants instead of armoured jeans. It’s simply too much hassle to change out into office wear once I arrive at the office. However, in more informal situations, a pair of motorcycling jeans offers impact and abrasion protection, yet wouldn’t look out of place in your favourite cafe. Comfortable and good looking gear is gear that you’re more likely to wear everyday. On that note, pick mesh over leather on days when the mercury soars.
Safety Gear – Surprisingly Affordable
It’s true, Singapore is one of the most expensive countries in the world to own a motorcycle. Fortunately, the same is not true for quality riding accessories. Major motorcycle apparel stores here hold sales and promotions all year round, and it’s not uncommon to see Malaysian and Thai riders visiting our shores to shop.
A savvy shopper could reap huge savings during these sales. During a clearance sale at Regina Specialties, known for their affordable prices, I once snagged a Nexx XG100 helmet for 70 SGD – a mere fraction of its online retail price of 380 SGD! Even on non-sale days, you could easily assemble head-to-toe protection for under 1000 SGD.
You’ve already invested so much on riding lessons and a set of wheels; it doesn’t make sense to cut corners on your daily safety. MOTGATT and ride on! Remember, it’s better to sweat a little than to bleed.
Richard finds that riding a motorcycle is less nerve-wracking than navigating around the potholes of art world politics. He is just as happy gripping a paintbrush as a throttle.