I wasn't going to do this. I thought that enough credible sources had dismantled the very notion that not wearing your motorcycle armor was a good idea. But after FortNine's latest adventure gear video, where Ryan again dismisses the effectiveness of armor and goes as far as to take it out at every opportunity, I had to write something.

Before I get into the thick of it, I want to make it clear that I don't push "all the gear, all the time" (ATGATT) on anyone. Although I do generally wear all my gear, I haven't always. I've ridden in open-toed shoes, shorts, and no helmet. I wouldn't recommend you do it, but the point is you do you, and I'm completely pro-choice for informed riders.

What I would recommend, if asked, is that you try to protect yourself from head to toe in motorcycle gear. And what I would absolutely not do, particularly if I had the platform to reach millions of relatively new motorcyclists, is suggest that riding is somehow better if you take your gear's armor out—which you already own and have paid for.

Ryan from FortNine continues to lambast motorcycle armor after a video last month where he explains the joy he feels riding armor-free and backs it up with completely out-of-context scientific studies.

So, I want to put out a PSA for Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: Please wear your armor. And in the spirit of this month, please give FortNine's channel a break for the next 30 days.

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Crashing With and Without Armor

Call this anecdotal if you want, but during my two decades of riding, I've crashed multiple times; both while not wearing armor and also when fully suited up. Afterward, I had two very distinct but different thoughts.

When I got nailed by a 30-year-old Mercedes E-class brick on my first road bike and was sent into a front flip, landing on my back with the throttle grip torn off and still in my hand, I wasn't wearing my full gear. The first thing I thought after the driver helped me up as I clutched my back was, "Why didn't you wear your jacket, you stupid prick."

I also crashed several times in quick succession recently while testing my race bike. The spills were at a relatively low speed, and my elbows took the brunt of the impact, but they took impact even through the CE level 1 armor in my race suit.

In the picture below, you can perfectly see how the armor transmitted the energy evenly through my elbow and forearm. I dread to think what would've happened if I hadn't worn armor—that was the thought after this spill.

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn't wearing armor during an accident and was happy about that, and it'd be even tougher to find someone who's been in an accident and wishes they were wearing less armor.

Dismantling the Logic

If Ryan had just said he doesn't like to wear armor because that's how he feels most comfortable, I'd be much less irritated. But that's not what he did.

At best, Ryan cherrypicked data and, at worst, he completely took information out of context to make it look like his reasoning wasn't just a personal opinion but scientifically backed. 

John Milbank from Bennetts BikeSocial already made a video reaching out to the sources quoted in Ryan's first video. I'll leave that video embedded below, but if you don't have time to watch it, just read this quote from Associate Professor Liz de Rome. Ryan quoted her findings in his video, but this is the statement she gave to Milbank:

In the research paper (AAP, 2011), we reported that riders wearing motorcycle clothing fitted with impact protection were significantly less likely to sustain any injuries than were riders wearing motorcycle clothing without impact protection and those wearing non-motorcycle clothing.

That statement says it all for me. But I urge you to watch Milbank's video to get a full grasp of the manipulation of information in Ryan's video.

Creating Problems, Endangering Lives

Ryan skirts around the line of advising the audience not to wear armor so finely it's as though a lawyer looked over the script. He creates a problem and offers no solution, and the only reasonable explanation I can find is to build hype and controversy. 

Ryan stated that he wears his airbag vest instead, which provides significantly more protection. And that's true to an extent. I also know his Helite H-MOOV Airbag E-Backpack is the best part of $1,000, which is far more than a lot of us can afford, especially when starting out. But that matters not to Ryan as he sells the idea of an unburdened riding life at the end of his video, stating,

Life is so beautiful. Our instinct is going to be to protect it. But our imperative, we have to remember, is to appreciate it.

I'm sorry, but what? What the hell is that? Not wearing armor helps to appreciate life more because what? Maybe you'll break your arm?

FortNine's videos are usually so informative and logic packed, like the one that alerted us to the dangers of CO2 buildup when wearing neck curtains. Something no one had ever even really thought or talked about. Luckily, just a few months later, FortNine launched a "neck gaiter", which solved this problem completely. Nice move.

But the lack of logic in the first video wasn't the final straw.

The Final Straw

Last week, I watched Ryan give out his top adventure gear recommendations. Great recommendations, I'd say. But then, he made the point to pull every piece of armor out of every garment in the video, including the D30 Ghost armor in his Klim Switchback Cargo pants. That was the final straw.

There is no replacement for this kind of protection, no leg airbag tights, at least not yet. And I just got off a four-hour flight wearing a jacket with elbow, shoulder, and back Ghost armor. I genuinely couldn't tell that it was in there, so to make a point of taking it out of baggy adventure pants is just ridiculous and again crosses the line into being extreme and surpassing logic.

I wouldn't care if FortNine was giving an opinion that I disagreed with about the Middle East or how to raise children. But Ryan's not talking about what's happening in the Middle East. Motorcycle advice is what he's known and trusted for. So I hold him and the company responsible for anyone they've influenced to take armor out and who's gotten hurt so they can "appreciate" life more. 

If there's a very hidden meaning in his video, I'd love to hear it. But, until then, its existence is irresponsible, at the very least.

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