I mostly adhere to the motorcycling principal of ATGATT, which means All The Gear All The Time. Truth be told, I don’t always wear every stitch of protective clothing. I’ve ridden many a mile in Levis.
But I almost always wear a padded riding jacket, calf-length boots and, of course, a full coverage helmet and gloves. For some, ATGATT is like a religion that promises to save your skin, if not your soul. I believe in it but I don’t necessarily go to church on Sundays.
As the motorcycling season gets into full swing, it’s easy to spot the straight-up heathens. They’re sporting half-helmets, sleeveless T-shirts and tennis shoes. Or worse – shorts. I wonder if they are receiving the motorcycle accessory catalogs I’m getting in the mail.
According to publishers of the latest rag, motorcycle riders fall into two categories, based on gear. The first is clean-cut, vaguely effeminate and prefers exotic sports bikes. The second is a scowling bald man with goatee, leather chaps and a cruiser.
I pondered the neatly simplistic division as I thumbed through the June edition of the aforementioned junk mail. Sport riders are happy people, I thought. Bikers are a pissed off lot. Sport riders have perfectly gelled hair. Bikers wear pirate earrings.
Where would I fit in?
My mind wandered. Are these guys real riders or just models? How many have ever thrown a leg over a bike? Is that an Aprilia in the background?
I pored over each picture looking for clues. As I did, I found myself drawn in by the marketing genius of it all. That waterproof adventure gear actually looks pretty good, I thought. Cheap, too. Maybe I should buy a jacket. And how about those gloves? Decent price. Maybe I should get a second helmet.
I reached for the order form.
I was an easy sell, in part because in addition to being a junk mail critic, I covet gear. Textile suits and Italian leather jackets are just a start. I get excited about the latest travel bags, tank-mounted video cameras and all manner of roadside emergency equipment. When it comes to riding I live the Boy Scout motto: be prepared. A less flattering label is Gear Whore.
It’s not a good image. But it’s a lot better than the sight of a road-rashed limb from someone who crashed wearing cargo shorts.