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1. Be warm - If you’re warm you’ll be more comfy, less distracted, and better able to enjoy the ride. Being warm depends on many things, but starts with good base layers.
2. Be safe - Body armour, sturdy boots and reinforced gloves are all important, but the single most critical item is a decent helmet. The SHARP ratings scheme (sharp.direct.gov.uk) offers a lot of good advice, but there’s no substitute for good fit – it’s vital to try a helmet on.
3. Take care of your extremities - Like your head, your feet and hands need to be kept safe in a crash as well as warm and dry on every ride. Proper boots and gloves for riding are a world apart from civilian gear. With gloves in particular, finding the right fit can be tricky – you can try on a dozen pairs and still not be entirely happy, but the right ones are out there somewhere. It’s worth the effort.
4. There’s no substitute for proper gear - The effectiveness of textile riding gear has improved beyond recognition in recent years. The best gear keeps the wind and rain at bay without making you sweaty, has top-notch armour for the back, elbows, shoulders, knees and hips, and comes close to leather in saving your skin if you go sliding down the road.
5 Keep it real - In search of ultimate protection, or ultimate weatherproofing, or ultimate fit, or a neat bit of styling, some bike kit
loses sight of the need to be worn in the real world, on real roads, by real people. People with door keys, and wallets and phones. For some the answer is a bum bag, tankbag or rucksack, but one simple item of clothing can multi-task very effectively.
6 Plug the gaps - The best jacket in the world is useless if wind and rain are getting in at the waist, cuffs or collar. Much of this is simply a matter of taking the time to do everything up properly – many suits come with a zip to attach jacket to trousers – but the weak link is often the neck, in the gap between jacket and lid.