“Vanity dies hard; in some obstinate cases, it outlives the man.” These words, from Robert Louis Stevenson, are particularly apt when it comes to motorcycle riders, many of whom opt for style over safety.
Motorcycles have long been modish icons, projecting an aura of being cool, hardcore, tough and even devil-may-care. Humans gravitate toward these feelings, as they seem to symbolize that ofttimes elusive feeling of freedom and escape from a rigid society. So, motorcycle riders, understandably, have an image they wish to protect.
Understated neutrals, such as black, gray and brown — sometimes with just a hint of color thrown in, like high-impact red — tend to reflect customers’ tastes in style. Therefore, there has long been a resistance on the part of the motorcycle rider to wearing neon-yellow vests and jackets on the road, despite the potential safety they might bring.
In fact, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the biggest reason riders choose not to wear hi-vis clothing is that they don’t like the way it looks. Some cited that they didn’t like the yellow color and would prefer other neon variations, such as orange, pink, purple or blue. Others said it did not fit in with the look of motorcyclists who ride their type of motorcycle.
A more concerning reason riders don’t wear high-vis clothing, according to the study, is that many believe this gear will not make an impact on their personal safety, with many claiming their riding abilities are enough to prevent them from getting in an accident. However, according to a study done in New Zealand and published by BMJ, riders who wear fluorescent clothing have a 37% lower risk of collisions than those who don’t.
The good news is, according to the NHTSA report, when riders are looking to purchase gear, high-visibility rated sixth out of 21 possible factors, with the top five being comfort, durability, crash protection, weather resistance and DOT certification.
So, the key to getting riders to purchase hi-vis clothing is to stroke their vanity and stock stylish personal protective equipment that incorporates hi-vis elements without overwhelming the senses.
Hi-vis clothing has traditionally been totally or largely made up of neon yellow fabric. However, manufacturers are taking riders’ perceptions into account and trying to incorporate hi-vis markings into a fashionable design on protective gear. Furthermore, they are incorporating these elements not just on the jacket but across the whole range of products — from helmets to pants, gloves and boots — in order to create a cohesive effect.
As such, many pieces of gear now pair hi-vis colors with black and grey, which creates both a standout and dynamic effect that looks much sportier than traditional hi-vis vests. Although yellow is still by far the most prevalent color, other options, such as neon orange and blue, do exist.
When considering which styles of hi-vis wear to sell, less is more, as far as customers are concerned. Reflective striping and paneling incorporated into needed gear is bound to sell a lot easier than full-yellow apparel or even slip-on vests.
This article is brought to you by Joe Rocket.