After my inauspicious introduction to the world of scootering, I learned right from the beginning how important it is to have the right gear from head to toe. I fell in January while on a test drive. It was the perfect storm so to speak with rain, being unfamiliar with the scooter (actually any scooter), its brakes and just plain old inexperience.
Gearing up may be expensive when you first start out, but it is well worth it in the end. Gear saves you from the agony that you endure as a result of a crash. Lets be real here your body is priceless and you don't really have replacement parts. Your gear is the ONLY thing between you, the pavement and the elements. It doesn't matter if you ride a scooter or a motorcycle it all hurts when you hit the pavement and pavement does not discern between scooter, motorcycle or even bicyclist.
I hear this excuse from some female riders, "Yeah, but I don't look cute in all that stuff." That is thing about scooters, you see people riding around in commercials or see them in print ads in their regular civvies. I am here to tell you that you can still look cute on your scooter and practice ATGATT ~ All The Gear All The Time.
Helmet - This is your single most important choice when you are riding and you need to take your time and find something that works for you. There are countless types and styles to choose from. It is all going to be based on fit and personal choice. Helmets have come a long way in the last few years because they are made of lighter weight composite materials and they have venting systems and comfortable cushioning & some have washable liners which is great for hygiene. The most important thing is going to be fit. It should be snug because the foam in the cheek pads will compress with wear. Wear it for at least 10 minutes in the store to get the feel of it. Pick a style that you like, but think safety. You can look cool, but it may not do anything to save your melon. Your helmet is going to protect you when your head impacts the pavement and it doesn't take much to hurt your brain. ( I know I work in a neurology office and have seen the after effects of motorcycle crashes. It is a sobering reality.) Which is why I prefer a full face helmet, the chin bar is going to stop your chin from dragging across the pavement or breaking your jaw and making a mess of your face.
Don't try on just one, try on several different styles to find the one you like. I had difficulty finding a helmet because my head is smaller and the guys helmets just didn't fit. I tried on ladies helmets and they were better, but not quite there. At the suggestion of the sales person I tried on a youth helmet. It was perfect and I didn't sacrifice any of the features of the adult size helmet. If you drop your helmet or it impacts anything you need to buy a new one and on average you are going to change it out every 2 - 3 years because UV makes the helmet deteriorate. I bought an HJC full face ~ Hellion (pink & black - of course)
Jacket if you are waffling on a jacket because of the cost - DON'T. It literally saves your hide from road rash and broken bones. The armored jackets have protective armor in the shoulder, elbow and mid-back. You just have to choose whether it is leather or ballistic nylon. Get one that has layers that you can zip out depending upon the weather. When I fell I was wearing an armored jacket and it literally saved my elbow from shattering on the pavement. I wasn't going very fast at the time of the crash about 30-40km/h. I can tell you first hand it hurts and if I didn't have the jacket on my right arm would have been completely wrecked. When my elbow impacted the pavement I immediately got tingling and numbness down into my pinkie & ring finger in neurological terms that is called a Tinel's sign, luckily it stopped. I wear an armored textile jacket with a hi-viz traffic vest.
Pants are just as important when you are riding. I am currently saving up for a pair of armored pants. The pants will offer you protection with armor in the knees, shins & padding in the appropriate places. In my fall the area that took the major impact was my hip joint and thigh. I felt my hip joint hit the pavement and felt a weird pop and pain and there was a 'flex' of the joint. I had on heavy jeans and they took the force of skidding across the pavement, but it was not enough protection. I had some road rash on my knee, but I didn't rip my pants. Where I impacted on my thigh & hip you could see the outline of the seam of my jeans in the bruising. So all things being equal I was very lucky. The pants will also protect you from weather and generally they are layered so you can zip out layers as it gets warmer out.
Footwear should be a good pair of sturdy leather boots with a good sole or better yet a pair of motorcycle boots. I can now tell you where the extra shoe in the road comes from, I am sure you have all seen a random shoe here or there in the middle of the road. My leather loafer popped off from the impact and I had to go and find it. That didn't offer me much protection and I have learned that I value my toes and ankles. I wear a really good pair of leather boots that go up mid-shin. I am looking for the perfect pair of motocycle boots.
Gloves are a worthwhile investment and you may need more than one pair particularly if you are scooting all year. I have a really great pair of textile gloves that are wind/water proof. There is leather padding on the knuckles and in the palm. Your first instinct when you fall is to stick your hand out & try and protect yourself. I never ride without my gloves.
Rain gear is important to keep you dry you can get it from motorsport store or a sport store. Just make sure it is light weight so you can fold it & keep it in your storage compartment. Nothing sucks more than being wet or cold when you are riding it does affect your ability to make good decisions and ride safely. You can't ride safely if all you are thinking about is how cold you are. You know you aren't well protected when you get home and have the beginnings of hypothermia and this can happen even in the summer.
All the gear gives you protection from bugs hitting you and road debris. I have to say bugs hurt when they are hurtling at you at their bug speed and you are whipping along on your scoot at 50k. Its even grosser when they smoosh all over your face shield. YUCK I hate the yellow ones. Blech!
I commute to and from work every day and I work in an office. I bring a change of business clothes, but at the end of the day I change into my riding gear. No skirts & no heels on the scoot. When I see other women on their scoots in their cute shoes and skirts all I think it is, "That is really going to hurt if they fall and they obviously haven't hit the pavement yet." Its amazing how your thinking changes regarding clothing after you have been up close and personal with asphalt.
A great website to visit is GearChic.com. She has reviewed gear and can give you great tips on purchasing gear and is an experienced female rider.
Remember the most important thing you can practice is ATGATT ~ All The Gear All The Time & that includes summer because crashes happen any time of year and you want to be protected. I would rather sweat than bleed.