By Jeff Cobb
Motorcycle Safety News

California Superbike School founder Keith Code said last week that he would never ride a motorcycle on the street without wearing a helmet and safety gear.

He offered his comments when asked about the mixed messages that abound among American motorcyclists regarding what it takes to be reasonably safe.

Code, who founded the school in 1980, said his first recommendation is training – ideally, aggressive and tough training that forces riders past their comfort zones into new levels of proficiency.

But even though Code teaches this kind of training, and has highly developed skills, he said that he knows better than to test his luck riding without gear.

“There’s no way I’m riding on a street without a helmet,” Code said, adding that along with a helmet, he’ll wear sturdy gloves, if not also a suitable jacket, pants and boots.

Having been a racer, and having crashed before, Code said he does not need anyone to convince him what makes the most sense.

“I’ve high sided at 140,” he said. “We know if you fall off a motorcycle and you tap your head … if you have a helmet on you have a better chance.”

And when it comes to advocating that riders should gear up, Code puts his money where his mouth is.

For example, he told of a motorcycle tour he did from Edelweiss, Spain. Realizing he lacked protective clothing for the trip, he bought some motorcycle “under armor” that fit beneath his street clothes.

“I was very comfortable,” he said. “And I knew I would not very stupidly crack my elbow.”

Code said these days he does not street ride as much, but when he does, he will even wear track gear when he expects to really ride hard.

“If I was going to take a ride up on the Crest on a Sunday,” Code said of the Angeles Crest Highway, “then yeah I would throw on my leathers.”

But Code, whose superbike school contracts with the U.S. Marine Corps to teach its motorcycle riding personnel how to do it better, was clear that beyond gear, the safest thing a rider could do is learn the art and science of motorcycle handling.

“In the end it isn’t the safety gear that keeps a rider safe,” Code said, “Tough training based on real riding basics does.”

Even so, he highly recommends that riders think about what they’d want to be wearing, in the event that all else fails.