ATGATT: Merely A Starting Point

by Liz Jansen

Anyone who rides a motorcycle has heard of the importance of ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time). Whether you adopt it into practice is a personal choice. While I’ve always been an ATGATT rider and advocate, my recent accident has reinforced the importance of suiting up with high quality, properly fitted gear. While covering up when riding is a wise decision, all gear is not created equal, and your choice in gear can make a significant decision on how well you’re protected.

In preparing for my travels to South America, my strategy was to have the best possible gear with the highest functional value, in the fewest number of pieces. After all, space is at a premium. That strategy paid off in spades.

Here’s what I was wearing from head to toe, and how it performed.

IMG_3223 helmet front sm
IMG_3221 helmet back sm

  1. Schuberth C3W helmet. In reality, I don’t know how many bangs my helmet took. I know that I bounced and slid on gravel before coming to an abrupt stop, but you’d never know it to look at my helmet. There’s barely a mark on it and I did not suffer a head injury. Because it was properly fitted, it held my head firm so there was no bloody nose, cut lips or loose teeth. I wanted to get it off as quickly as possible but with a broken left shoulder and a dislocated right thumb I couldn’t do it by myself. It’s so easy to get on and off, I was able to give brief instructions to the Good Samaritan who stopped to help and remove it in no time. I will however replace the helmet. Schuberth has an excellent Mobility program whereby if the helmet is damaged in an accident within a certain time frame, you can replace it for just $300USD.   
    IMG_3217 jacket right sm
    IMG_3216 jacket left sm
    IMG_3225 pants sm
  2. BMW TourShell jacket and pants. I selected this riding suit for it’s combination of function, fit, versatility, and looks. I’ve been super impressed with how it performed under regular riding conditions (Read my review on Women Riders Now) and astounded at how it performed under duress. Of course pants and jacket picked up scuffs and dirt, but there are no tears or abrasions in the fabric. A minor abrasion on my left hip resulted from skin rubbing against my base layer, not the road. The exterior’s abrasion resistance, the high quality, well designed and strategically placed armor took most of the impact. Obviously no amount of padding can provide 100% protection when you take all your weight on one shoulder.IMG_3227 gloves sm
  3. BMW gloves. It was a cold start to the morning so I was wearing the ProWinter gloves. There’s a superficial mark where my thumb hung onto the throttle, but otherwise, they’re like new, with lots of function left in them.IMG_3226 boots sm
  4. BMW boots. The ProTouring 2 Ladies Boots offer significant foot and shin protection without sacrificing comfort or movement. My feet were completely unharmed—no bruises, strains or sprains. (Read my review on Women Riders Now.)
  5. AltRider crash bars. Although I’ve had my bike for three years, I only put the engine guards and skid plate on just prior to departing for my trip to South America. No one plans to crash, but I thought it prudent to protect from tip-overs, given the unknown terrain I’d be navigating. I won’t be without them again. This happened in my home country and I’m told that they saved my legs. Because I was riding on deep, loose gravel, I was standing the whole way on that road. I stayed with the bike until it stopped, when I was easily able to scramble out from under it and climb out of the ditch to hail a passerby. Bars on both sides of my bike sustained significant damage but they did their job in protecting me and my bike’s engine.
  6. Touratech panniers. Although not officially protective gear and fabricated from aluminum, they stopped the bike from going over completely on its sides. The mounting frame was bent and one pannier was completely pulled off and thrown away from the bike, but along with the engine guards, they provided secondary line of defense.

Budget is always a constraint when purchasing gear and accessories. I prefer to have fewer, higher quality than a wardrobe of gear with token protection. There are many brands other than those listed that go above and beyond the minimum requirements. Making sure they fit properly can be even more important than their protective qualities.

Riding a motorcycle can be risky business, but there are a multitude of ways to mitigate that risk. Allocate your purchases wisely and go above ATGATT. Hopefully you never have to test it, but if you do, you and your family will be thankful for that decision.





Healer, author, and motorcycle aficionado Liz Jansen combines her artistic mediums to create stories that inspire readers to embark on their own journey of self-discovery. No helmet or jacket required.

16 Comments on “ATGATT: Merely A Starting Point

  1. I couldn’t agree more Liz. After working 28 years for the burn unit, I’ve become too familiar with the shorts and tee shirt “I was just going to the corner store” riders who become patients for four months and numerous rounds of skin grafting, followed by physio and rehab for several months afterward.

    When asked “aren’t you hot in that”?
    I respond “a little, but I’m allergic to bee stings and road rash”

    Get well soon!

  2. Hi Liz
    Glad to hear all is well. I agree on the gear. We will meet on the road again, I am sure of that. Riding is what we do. Heal well and stay positive.
    Catharine & Les
    from the No Agenda World Tour
    PS: When people say “You look Hot in that gear” I say Thank You 🙂

    • Thanks Catharine. You DO look HOT in that gear!

      Safe travels to you and Les. This is just a detour – will catch up with you on the road….somewhere. 🙂

    • Thanks Joan. I’m going to be on the road for a few days now – something you’re very familiar with. Once I get back and settled, we’ll be in touch.

      Stay safe!!


  3. Hi Liz – good to hear from you, I hope your PT and recovery is going well. This is an excellent article.

    I would adhere to ATGATT if I only did pleasure rides, however I am retired and my bike is my primary mode for all my jaunts including runs to the store or the fitness center in the neighborhood where speed limits are posted 25 to 35 mph. I have a 1998 pickup truck for cold and icy conditions. What I do is carry all the gear including a heated vest in winter all the time. I wear boots, jeans, and gloves all the time, helmet almost all the time. I am prepared for just about all conditions as the Colorado weather can change in an instant.

    I know I should ATGATT but I just can’t bring myself to put on everything when I’m only going a mile or two. The panniers and top case allow me to carry both my heavy leather and my perforated padded nylon jackets, and the heated vest in the winter.

    In my 300K+ miles I have been down a few times and most recently had my only incident with a car, got hit by an inattentive driver (but my bad as I Assumed she was turning instead of crossing 5 lanes to get me). My shoulder took the brunt of it but I’m mostly healed and back in the saddle, recently completing a wonderful cross country trip. Interestingly, all of my down incidents other than falling over in the garage or driveway, etc., have been with full gear (lucky me).

    My intent here is to share some of my experience, as you say it’s a personal choice.

    Safe Riding,


    Bill Airsman

    • Thank you for sharing your perspective Liz. It IS a matter of personal choice and how much risk one’s willing to accept.

      Safe travels wherever you go!! 🙂

  4. I saw the place today – that gear definitely did its job!!!!! You got away relatively ok thanks to that gear, Liz, that is for sure!!!!!! I always wear all my gear when I am out, no matter if short or long trip and I rather stay hot and protected than cool until something happens, because then you are everything but cool….! Hugs, my dear friend!

  5. Thanks for the gear review, Liz! I was wondering what type of gear that you were wearing when you had your accident. It looks like it stood up quite well to the challenge!

  6. Hi Liz. I am pleased to see you are healing well. Are you able to tell us what happened? I take it you went down on a gravel road. Did you hit a ridge of gravel, or an unexpected soft spot? When one is “off pavement,” there are a myriad of nasty possibilities that can bite a rider. Best wishes for your continued recovery.

    • Hi Bruce,

      The county road I was on was like a gravel bed – no tire tracks or bare areas, and stones about 1 1/2″ in diameter. It was a challenge to ride and after about 12 miles, I lost traction on a corner – probably the only corner in the county!

      Thanks for your wishes. Recovery is proceeding well, although not fast enough for my liking! 🙂

      • That is tough, Liz. The kind of surface you have described is very difficult to navigate on a motorcycle, kind of like riding over large, moving ball bearings. Stay positive in your recovery – I know you will!

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