UPDATE: Note that there could be lockdowns and "stay at home" orders in your city or your state as the situation evolves and we don't recommend you overlook them because "riding is seemingly safe". We're not your mom, but we recommend you follow your local authorities' recommendations.
Some readers also pointed out that I didn't discuss about the possibility of crashes since the question was focused on the virus but I thought it was a good point to touch on. Going for a ride has its risks, whether it's coming in contact with the virus or getting into a crash. The streets are quieter but it doesn't mean there's no risk of making a mistake or of being hit by someone.
Remember that medical facilities and staff are strained at the moment. While riding is relatively safe from a contagion perspective, there's still the usual risk of an incident that could require you go to the hospital—and this is not a good time to go to the hospital. Keep that in mind.
As we wrote already, the better we cooperate, the smarter we go about this,the sooner we'll get to go back out there without restrictions. Stay safe everyone!
Is it safe to ride during this outbreak? Are my full-face helmet, gloves, and other apparel able to protect me? Are motorcycle riders risk-free?
Just question to exercise our riding knowledge.
Hi Ancarlos! Thank you for asking your question, I’m pretty sure you’re not the only one wondering about that. Please note, however, that though we like to think we know a lot of things at RideApart, we’re also not doctors. If you have any real concerns or are considered a potentially vulnerable patient, asking someone who is an actual doctor is the one way you’ll get reliable answers. This goes for anyone reading this.
I can, however, give you a few pointers. As “social distancing” is on target to become Merriam-Webster’s 2020 term of the year, riding a motorcycle checks a lot of those “distancing” boxes. See, the great thing about riding a motorcycle is that you get to do it alone and it isolates you in a certain way—provided you don't head out in a group. After all, everyone else around you is over six feet away, right?
The riding itself doesn’t technically pose a problem but the small things we do when we get on and off the saddle might. Where riding a bike might present a risk of exposure is when you stop in crowded places like at a gas station or in coffee shops, for example. Fuel nozzles are pretty nasty, to begin with, and considering the current situation, they could be carriers for the bug.
Consider bringing a few cleaning wipes or a pair of disposable gloves, just in case you need to fuel up. Even a plastic bag to handle the nozzle is a good alternative to putting your hand directly on it. Once you’re done, be extra safe and wash your hands.
If you do end up using your riding gloves to pick up the nozzle, keep in mind that certain sources suggest that the virus can stay on soft surfaces like clothes (and gear) and its lifespan on different surfaces and materials has yet to be confirmed. If your riding gloves have been in contact with a potentially infected surface, avoid touching your face with them—including that pesky itchy nose!—and throw your gloves in the washer once you’re home. If the gloves are made of leather, you can find a few easy tips to disinfect your leather safely online.
Medical Grade Gear?
To answer your question about gear, keep in mind that motorcycle gear isn’t made from medical grade materials. It’s designed to protect us from bad falls and impacts, not from microscopic bugs. So no, I won’t say that your gear will protect you from the novel coronavirus. It creates a barrier against the elements, that’s true, but it’s permeable, so don’t think that you become invincible by wearing a motorcycle helmet and a jacket.
If you avoid crowds and enjoy the ride by staying on your bike, then you are following the social distancing recommendations. So in summary, yes, riding a motorcycle should be safe—just remember that, as with any form of outing at the moment, there’s never a 100-percent guarantee that you won’t get in contact with the bug. The smarter you go about this, the lower the risks.
You can check out the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendations and updates on the situation here. If you present any symptoms or have been in contact with someone who presents them or who has recently traveled, then postpone your ride for a while (14-day self-isolation recommended) for your own benefit and everyone else’s. It’s a small price to pay to make sure a normal riding season (and life) resumes sooner rather than later.