Helipad’s Georgia White learns from official sponsor of our Ride Out – Bridge Motorcycles in Exeter – how technical innovation and the broadening public appeal of motorbiking is helping it to become safer.

Some of the most impressive motorbike rides in the UK criss-cross Devon’s countryside, so it’s no wonder that thousands of enthusiasts take to the roads every year to experience the exhilaration of routes that frame our coast or span our moors.

The influx of seasonal fair-weather riders is a reminder to motorists to be extra watchful for motorcyclists on our roads. Bikers are, of course, more vulnerable because they lack the protective benefit of a car’s surrounds. But the industry has made huge advances in manufacturing high-visibility protective gear, which ensures they can enjoy how amazing riding is while keeping as safe as possible.

Innovative technology reaching the marketplace at relatively affordable prices now means bikers can purchase state-of-the-art kit designed specifically to protect riders from abrasions and to absorb potential impacts. Specialist Kevlar-lined jeans and jackets integrated with military-grade D30 armour are just some of the protective clothing you’ll find hanging on the rails of Bridge Motorcycles at its destination dealership at Marsh Barton.

Bridge’s Marketing Executive, Matt Merry, explains:

“We’re seeing new technology being fed through to retailers much quicker, making amazingly high-grade protective gear more accessible and affordable for our customers. And nowadays the safety kit also looks appealing, so there’s something for every type of biker.”

Matt’s obvious passion for bikes is shared by colleagues across Bridge’s showroom, which also hosts a café that doubles up as a meeting hub for Devon’s close-knit biker community. The award-winning company was founded in 1953 and is the South West’s biggest multi-franchise motorcycle dealership. Every month hundreds of bikers from all walks of life turn out for its Bike Nights, which raise money for charity and are a chance to share tips and plan the next local fundraising motorbike procession.

“It’s like being part of a family,” Matt enthuses. “You can rock up anywhere and if there’s another bike parked there, no matter what bike, you immediately have a feeling of familiarity and recognition.

“It’s a way of life and a feeling you don’t get with anything else. When you’re out riding you have that sense of freedom and you’re living for the moment.”

With the chance of an easier, more eco-friendly and cheaper commute, it’s no wonder that motorcycling is becoming more mainstream. Gone are the stereotype bad-boy Marlon Brando-style images. Now, the likes of devotees David Beckham, Prince William and Prince Harry are making motorcycling the norm.

Matt adds:

“Bikers want to break down perceived barriers, for everyone’s best interest. They say that if 10% of all motorists rode motorbikes, then you would reduce traffic jams by a third. The more motorcycling becomes the norm, the better it is understood and therefore the safer it is for bikers out on the road.”

Bridge Motorcycles has supported the Devon Air Ambulance Motorcycle Ride Out for several years, which is a popular event on the  biking calendar attracting over 1000 participants.

Bridge’s Director Lee Anthony, who followed his father and grandfather’s footsteps into the family business, concludes:

“Motorcycles are, above all, a lifestyle where family, passion and technical innovation meet. I truly believe that two wheels move the soul, and this is why we feel it is so important to support charities like Devon Air Ambulance who help motorcyclists in their time of need.”

Motorcycle statistics

  • Although motorcyclists only account for 1% of total road traffic, they account for 19% of all road-users’ deaths.
  • Around 30 significant incidents involve bikers on the UK’s roads every day.
  • Last year, motorbike-related accidents represented 9% of all trauma incidents that Devon Air Ambulance responded to, which equated to 58 bikers.
  • Young riders represent just 15% of motorcyclists in the UK, but represent more than 38% of rider casualties.
  • 19% of hospital admissions for biking injuries involve broken bones in the lower leg.
  • Fall off your bike at 50mph and tarmac will shred through jeans in a second.

On a more positive note, while overall traffic levels in the UK rose by 1% last year from the previous year, the number of motorbike casualties fell by 3%.

Hard-hitting Government safety awareness campaigns, the promotion of training courses and the launch of innovative new protective clothing are all helping to lessen the risks to bikers.

Safety equipment checklist

As recommended by the experts at Bridge Motorcycles:

  • Check a helmet’s 1-5 SHARP rating before purchase 
  • Never buy a second-hand helmet and ensure it’s the right fit.
  • Store your helmet safely where it won’t ever get knocked.
  • Wear clothing with reflective strips to make sure you’re seen.
  • Use a clean visor or goggles that are free from scratches and smudges.
  • Always wear specialist protective biker gloves.
  • Wear leathers or specialist waterproofs with integrated body armour that gives added protection to the elbows, back, shoulders, hips and knees.
  • Invest in a back protector, which will absorb energy from an impact.
  • Check for the CE label to ensure equipment complies with European standards.
  • Fit is everything when purchasing protective clothing. If it’s not fitted properly, then it won’t protect you.
  • If unsure about what gear and the correct fittings to get, then visit a reputable dealer, such as Bridge Motorcyles in Exeter, who can help you get started.