Gear Up ! Wheels Down! (Part 1)

By William T Hoehn


What to wear when riding a scooter or motorcycle for safety is clear BUT, given the local culture of casualness, the incentives against dressing for safety are strong and omnipresent.

The average scooter driver in Taiwan may wear short shorts, flip flops, a tee shirt, and a pot helmet to say nothing of two children, a baby, and a dog! It looks comfortable and like it feels good.

I would like to make a case for a minimum amount of gear based on what is going to hit the road if there is an accident, namely HEAD, FEET, and HANDS and then expand the gear to include more complete protection while riding.

Of all non-fatal accidents:

30% affect the legs and feet;

22% the head and neck;

20 % upper torso;

and 18% hands and arms.



Local laws require a helmet, but the type of helmet or the safety certifications are not specified. Here are 4 different types of helmets.

1. Most protective is the full face helmet that protects head, neck, cheeks, jaws and chin. You can’t get more protection than this.

2. Almost as protective is the modular helmet that allows the chin bar to be lifted so one can eat, drink, or talk clearly.

3. The open face helmet leaves the face, and chin unprotected, but covers all other essential parts of the head, and is the most common.

4. The pot helmet meets the legal requirements, but does little to protect essential parts of the head and facial structure. Because it is the coolest and least cumbersome, it is also very popular. 

All helmets, regardless of type should carry DOT, ECE, or best of all SNELL ratings. (Check the Resources article for further information)



Go as fancy or as simple as you want but:

1. Cover your ankles,

2. Cover your toes

3. Lace or strap the shoes securely

You can always carry a second pair of shoes with you!

NEVER EVER WEAR FLIP FLOPS, even with local riders to the contrary.



1. During an accident, your hands will touch the pavement 100% of the time. Guaranteed!

2. Gloves should have protection for fingers, knuckles, palms AND have a skid guard on the palm.

I NEVER drive one meter without gloves because I know the one time I don’t, will be the time I will regret it.