One of the most common phrases we come across in motorcycling after ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) is ‘Tight Is Right’. But why is tight-fitting gear crucial to your safety?
To gain a little perspective about the importance of tight-fitting gear, consider a motorcycle crash on a stretch of tarmac at high speeds. If the image is too gruesome already, let it serve as a motivation to don gear that fits you better. If not, let us examine why tight gear is important.
Say you are, God forbid, involved in an accident. You’re happily cruising on the highway in your newly bought riding gear, when suddenly a vehicle rear-ends you, cutting short the trip to your favourite faraway location. But there is no need to worry if you are all covered in riding gear, right? Well, it depends how tight your gear is. Why this emphasis on tight-fitting gear? Let us elaborate what would the consequences be in case you were to wear loose gear.
Say you fell arms-first on the tarmac at a high speed. The first points of impact were your elbows, which would be saved by the armour in your jacket. Only you belatedly realize that the armour is not in the right place, having slid back from its right position further up your arms due to the fall. The reason? A loose jacket that rode up and exposed the elbows when you needed them to be covered. The high-riding jacket has also exposed your arms to the tarmac, leaving you with a sizeable road rash near the wrists. A jacket that rode up your waist at the wrong time can also earn you a scorched, abraded torso, which is not a pretty sight.
If you were to fall feet-first (a rare occurrence, but has been known to happen), loose-fitting riding boots are as bad as having no shoes at all, if not worse. Riding shoes are laterally rigid and inflexible by design to prevent your feet from getting damaged. A loosely worn inflexible boot is a liability if it were to twist sideways.
High-speed impacts tend to apply a lot of forces in every direction possible on your body, depending on the nature of the impact. If the boot were to bow to lateral twist, it would take your foot along, and there is no chance the foot would be able to restrain itself. Try to imagine a foot twisted inside a boot, and you will start to see why tight is right. And feet are the second-most important body parts after your head when it comes to motorcycling. Equally ugly is the scenario when a loose-fitting boot ends up crushing a rider’s toes from the inside. It is a gory visual, but can happen nevertheless.
Finally, and most crucially, the helmet. The fit of the helmet is literally the difference between life and death. If you were to impact into the ground headlong, a tight-fitting helmet will save your life. A helmet just a little loose can very well twist your neck around too far, fly off your head, or pull viciously against your jaw. The results of the three scenarios are a broken spine, exposed head and face, and a fractured jaw at the best, and a choked windpipe at the worst. Not the kind of afflictions you would want on yourself, right?
The human body is logically weakest at its joints. Riding gear protects these joints by shrouding them in armour. If the armour is in the wrong position due to a loose fit, the consequences in an unfortunate event can be as bad as having no gear at all, if not worse. Which is why they always say, Tight Is Right.