We all know the importance of wearing the right motorcycle gear, having the required training and staying alert on the road. But have you ever considered the effect that motorcycling has on your health?
Riding may be good for the spirit, but it’s not always so good on the body. Here are our five top tips from the Infinity experts on how to protect your health and enjoy your ride even more.
Protect your hearing
You may think that if you have a quieter motorcycle, you don’t need ear protection. This is a myth. Although the noise of a motorcycle is a contributing factor, the biggest risk is wind noise.
Even when wearing a full-face helmet, riding a motorcycle exposes you to damaging noise levels. There’s currently no helmet on the market that has a noise rating low enough not to necessitate hearing protection. As a result, motorcyclists can be very prone to tinnitus and long-term hearing issues.
Noise levels of 100 decibels become damaging to the ear after just 15 minutes of exposure. A motorcycle rider experiences 100 decibels of wind noise at just over 70mph. This means that if you ride on a motorway for longer than a quarter of an hour without wearing earplugs, you’re damaging your hearing, permanently.
We’ve heard people say that they don’t wear earplugs because it blocks out important sounds and makes them less aware. Another myth. Earplugs don't block out noises such as sirens, traffic and horns. Earplugs work by reducing the overall sound pressure and filters out the damaging frequencies so that your ears can operate in a more natural range. It’s not earplugs that stop you hearing the critical things; it’s wind noise.
Wearing earplugs will do three things: protect your hearing, allow you to hear important sounds, and reduce noise fatigue which in turns keeps you more alert for longer. Win, win, and win!
Best earplugs for motorcyclists
Tom at Infinity Oxford suggests: “If you’re after a pair of disposable earplugs make sure you look for higher decibel ratings like the Oxford Earsoft FX to ensure your ears are getting the highest protection.
“If you’re using a comms kit, a set of earplugs with integrated precision filters reduces wind and tyre noise without filtering important traffic sounds and allows for normal conversation with your pillion. The Pinlock earplugs are great value for money and are really popular with our customers. “
Look after your back and joints
Different motorcycles facilitate different riding positions. Standard and cruiser motorcycles offer a more neutral, upright riding posture whereas sports models require a more aggressive position.
As a general rule, a motorcycle that allows for an upright riding position is less likely to put stress on your lower back and wrists. But ultimately, it’s down to what style of motorcycle suits you and the type of riding that you do.
Tips to reduce back pain on a motorcycle
Whatever model you opt for, you can adapt your motorcycle to your ergonomics to reduce pressure on your back, shoulders and neck. The three areas that can be adjusted to fit the rider are the handlebars, seat and footpegs. Visit a specialist who will be able to adjust your motorcycle to your body type and riding style.
Another common cause of back, neck and shoulder pain amongst riders is tension. One way to work out if you’re tense is whether you are gripping the handlebars too tightly. This tension transfers from your hands, through your arms to your shoulders and neck. Make a conscious effort to relax your grip and lower your shoulders. Soon enough it’ll become second nature.
Stretches for motorcyclists
Even by following the above tips and taking regular breaks during long rides, aches can be inevitable. The dreaded neck pain caused by wind pressure on your helmet is especially common. Here are some simple stretches from Motorcycle.com to help ease any aches and pains.
Stretches to reduce neck pain
Tilt your head from shoulder to shoulder, smoothly but continuously. Exhale slowly with the movement and exhale completely as your head reaches your shoulder. Inhale before moving your head to the other side.
Stretches to reduce lower back pain
While sat stationary on your bike, remove one hand from the handlebars and reach behind you towards the back of the seat. Gently twist round to feel a soothing stretch through the back. Then repeat on the other side.
Stretches to reduce forearm pain
Stretch your wrists by putting your left arm out straight and gently pulling back the fingers with your right hand – once fingers up palm out and once fingers down palm in. Repeat on the other side.
Best products to reduce back pain for motorcyclists
Jonny from Infinity Great Portland Street advises: “If you use a rucksack then it’s worth investing in one with a good harness system which displaces weight properly, such as the range of Kriega rucksacks. Similarly, a decent strap on back protector like the Forcefield Pro L2K will not only offer additional protection but provide back support, especially on longer journeys.”
Update your motorcycle seat
Motorcycle seats are made to fit the motorcycle, not the motorcyclist. Therefore, it’s not surprising that so many of us experience coccyx pain and prostatitis problems during longer rides.
If you’re not comfortable in your motorcycle seat, consider changing it to something that fits your body better and offers a more relaxed riding experience. It’ll reduce those annoying pain points and is also a great way to increase your ride time!
Most comfortable motorcycle seats
Memory foam and gel inserts are good, but they can get warm during a long ride. Air filled inserts, like motorcycle-specific cushions from Airhawk, are much better and cooler. They come in a range of shapes and sizes depending on your requirements.
It’s recommended to drink two litres of water a day to keep the body hydrated. This is easily done, but maybe not so much on a motorcycle. We know that the hours can slip away as easily as the miles under your tyres.
Motorcyclists are vulnerable to dehydration because of the drying effect of the wind and constant exposure to the elements. The dangers of becoming dehydrated are headaches, disorientation, heat stroke, muscle cramps, loss of concentration, drowsiness and nausea, each of which can cause crashes. When planning a long ride don’t forget:
- Wear ventilated clothing to keep you cool
- Wear sweat-wicking layers
- Get a hydration pack to drink safely throughout your ride
- Schedule in breaks along the way and have a drink at each
- Avoid too much caffeine on your pit stops
Best hydration products for motorcyclists
Keith at Infinity Holborn suggests the Kriega Hydro 3 Hydration Rucksack or Kriega Hydrapak Reservoir to keep you hydrated throughout your ride.
Always have a clean, clear visor
It may sound simple but ensuring you have a clean and scratch-free visor on your helmet is really important, and often forgotten. Having a clear helmet visor means that you have better visibility and also reduces eye fatigue.
Any activity that requires intense use of the eyes for a prolonged time or under difficult conditions can cause eye strain, resulting in headaches and blurred vision.
How often should you change a helmet visor?
Trev of Infinity Southampton advises: “There’s no set guideline to how often you should change a visor, it’s just common sense. Keep it clean using products such as Muc-Off Helmet & Visor Cleaner and get a new visor when the current one is visibly dirty or scratched.”
Infinity sells a number of replacement visors online and in store.
Not sure how to change your visor? Our Infinity stores offer visor-changing and helmet servicing in store. Just pop into your local shop or give them a call to arrange an appointment.
Infinity: Motorcycle experts
Got more questions about looking after your health on a motorcycle? Head to your local Infinity Store to chat with our experts. They’re always more than happy to share their wisdom and own experiences! Find your nearest store here.