Gimme 10: Surprisingly painful minor riding injuries

In Blog, Motorcycle Riding Techniques, Motorcycle Safety by Julian2 Comments

Ok so we all know that riding bikes opens us up to all kinds of really nasty injuries. Whether self-inflicted or from the unwanted attentions of other vehicles, bits of the landscape or even other riders, the amount of harm we can do to ourselves is quite impressive.

But way down on the scale from the realms of major surgery and plaster-cast requiring incidents, there’s a layer of niggling injuries that although small dish out an inordinate amount of pain. If we are talking bang for you buck, these are in the premier league. Things that make you go hmm – no – these make you go ‘AAAAAAAAAGH’ !

Here’s our Top Ten – let us know if you have any others …


Riding along without a visor or goggles doesn’t make sense but we all do it from time to time. Whether it’s just to get the full enjoyment of the wind in your face on a sunny trail, or maybe because it’s so snotty and wet that you can’t keep goggles on without them turning opaque with fog immediately you put them on. Either way it’s a risk.

But although we accept that getting a stone in the eye is going to hurt big time, but those are not the ones that gives an unprecedented levels of pain. No, that agony is reserved for the infinitesimally small flies that seem inescapable drawn into your peepers. But rather than just being a mild irritation, tiny flies appear to be filled with industrial strength acid that swiftly engulfs your eye in searing pain.

You might try to poke it out with a gloved hand but it’s no good – nothing short of stopping and reaching for the Kleenex will bring the pain to an end …

Fly in eye


One for the enduro boys here, but that said adventure riders will have experienced this one too and it’s a serious issue for anyone that spends hours in the saddle in hostile conditions. The dreaded ‘monkey-butt’ can occur in dry conditions where there it a build up of heat and sweat in your boxers, or in the wet when friction from endless paddling in sopping wet riding pants starts the process to a serious crack problem.

A severe case – ‘The Full Baboon’ can leave the afflicted barely able to sit down without visibly wincing and walking like John Wayne for days.

Wise riders reach for the nappy rash cream or Vaseline before setting off – it’s a good survival strategy that you will not regret! Just don’t use the same pot for chapped lips …

The full baboon


Unlike flies in the eyes or nappy rash, blisters across the palms of your hands are the mark of a ‘double-hard’ rider, a mark of pride when you’ve been riding for weeks across continents and through uncharted territory.

But in reality, having hands that look like raw mince at the end of a day’s riding is not a good thing, and if those blisters burst the risk of infection – particularly in hot conditions – is sky high. Once they burst, the pain increases exponentially with every hour on the bike.

Naturally, if you are an office worker rather than a tradesman, your hands are not going to be like the battered leather that is the mark of the self-employed, and you are going to need to put in the hours on the trails to toughen up those baby-soft hands. Rubbing your palms with alcohol or witch hazel may help, but there’s no substitute for saddle time.

Ride enough and you’ll be left with callouses and gnarled mitts just like Jonny Walker, even if you ride like you need a baby-walker …

Jonny Walker


OK so when you put on bike boots, they are usually pretty dawn snug and padded. If you’ve bought well, they are as strong and well armoured yet feel as comfortable as slippers, encasing your foot and keeping it safe, protected and suitable cushioned from the outside world.

So how come when you have to make un unscheduled dab to keep yourself on the straight and narrow and the bike upright, something changes. Suddenly you are seven and wearing your dad’s wellies – your foot hurtles towards the front of the boot at 70mph  and crumples every single bone into an area the size of a matchbox in a second.  Jeez – that smarts!

Crumpled foot


While women across the world will argue that childbirth is pretty damn painful, the agony of having your nipples rubbed red-raw during the course of a day’s riding must come pretty damn close in our book.

Of course it’s not something you can predict until it starts, but then you become painfully aware that the seam that runs down the front of your base layer is steadily sawing away at your nip. Try as you might to hunch forward to separate the cloth from the flesh, it doesn’t work.  Pretty soon if feels like you have put on a sand-paper vest and you cannot focus on anything else. Once they start to bleed – you are in a vortex of pain you will not escape.

You could always take a tip from the runners – who knew this product existed?? It’s even hairy nipple friendly – don’t we live in a wonderful world?

Nip strips


and we love it!

We run the best motorcycle adventures across Asia – from traversing the winding mountain roads on a Royal Enfield in the Himalayas to bashing through the jungle on a dirt bike in  Vietnam. It’s what we do, and we do it very well.

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Brace yourself

OK so if you are going to be partaking in any element of off-road riding, then some level of knee protection is a smart move. Simple armoured knee pads may be enough for most riders, but if you are going for the more extreme stuff, or indeed have dodgy joints to start with, then you may need to upgrade and go for full-on knee braces.

But whichever you go for, the unavoidable fact remains that to be effective they need to stay in place, so to do that they’ve got to be strapped in and tight against a moving joint. And that’s the problem – and if they are not right, they pretty soon start to move around and cause some pretty uncomfortable rubbing against your shins and inner knees. I mean we are talking eye watering abrasions here – it’s serious!

You can prevent a fair bit of this by wearing leggings or the slightly fetish-looking leg tubes that come with some braces, but without these you soon get problems that are only going to get worse as the day goes on. Doesn’t matter if it’s a hot or a cold day – wear something or feel the consequences.

And look on the bright side, wearing unflattering Max Wall leggings under your riding trousers is vastly preferable to a cracked knee-cap or snapped ACL.

But please – no Meggings …



A sure sign that you’ve been riding really hard and aggresively, removing the skin from the top joint of your thumb, like palm blisters, is seen by many riders  as an inevitable and almost welcome badge of honour. Some motocross riders don’t think they’ve had a good day unless there’s an expanding patch of claret on their Defts.

But like the palms, having weeping sores on your mitts is not a great idea and if you are riding in the depths of the jungle, those wounds are going to be catnip for infections,and after a few days will start to bring eye-watering pain to your day. The solution is donuts, though we suggest neoprene rather than Krispy Kreme.



Bee kind

Now generally bees have a pretty good public image. Whoever does their PR has got it spot on so the people see the little stripy workers as generally public-spirited little critters who spend their lives pollinating plants and making honey. And who can argue with their altruistic work ethic?

Well we can actually, as we’ve been on the receiving end of a rather bizarre and potentially life threatening ‘bee in mouth’ injury. Now on it’s own a sting on the tongue is pretty damn painful and worrying when you are on a bike. Bees leave the sting in your flesh unlike wasps, so after the shock of realising one of them has momentarily got into your mouth, the horror of seeing the rear end of the thing still on your tongue and twitching is pretty unpleasant.

But that’s nothing compared to realising that you are allergic to bee stings and your tongue is now swelling like a balloon and beginning to restrict your breathing.

An hour on a anti-histamine drip in the A& E Department was enough to convince this was not a incident we wanted to repeat. Don’t eat bees if you can avoid it.


It’s a universal truth within any sporting endeavour, or indeed within any walk of life, that the a gentleman’s parts are particularly vulnerable to damage and thus extreme pain from impacts. Nothing quite compares with the sick-making pain that follows a hardy crack in the crown jewels.

Cricket players protest themselves with the comedy staple that is a cup or box, but for motorcyclists, the area goes unprotected and vulnerable to impact at any moment. Now luckily the development of flat seats that run over the tank has substantially reduced the pain of a front impact that used to exist with old-skool dirt bikes, but the risk to the nads in a crash is still there, so land heavily on the front and it’s only seconds before the wall of pain kicks in.

Now up to recently we were unaware of any equivalent injury potential for the female riders, but having seen an Australian dirt bike Go Pro clip showing a woman looping her bike through her legs and coming away with a particularly sore ‘area’ ( not the word she used), it seems we are not alone!

Landing time


Heading off the roads and into the wonderful world of nature is littered with dangers. It’s not so bad on the open trails, but once you head for the tight lanes and trails that slice through the greenery it’s a minefield of things trying to hurt you. Favourites are the charming ‘Bramble Garrotte’ as a barbed length of greenery tries to take most of the skin from your neck, the low hanging branch that seems to come down towards you and whack the bejasus out of your head, of the regular ‘Hand Flail’ if you’ve been foolish enough to head off road without bark-busters.

But the favourite of the bunch is the branch you don’t notice the rider in front has had to muscle past in order to make progress. Armed with enough kinetic energy to kill a buffalo, the branch whips back into you like you are visiting an enthusiastic Dominatrix nearly taking you off the bike  And man does it hurt!

Lane life

So did we nail these? Did we miss anything out? Let us know and share your pain …

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  1. Covered most the bases. Having ridden since I was a very young boy I’ve had most of these. The only thing I’d ad is chapped lips and nose from dry air and even the eye areas from all day of hard riding. So carmex or something medicated is always a good idea to bring along. I grew up in the Mojave desert in California BTW.

    1. Author

      Yes – we got a bit of that in Nepal – thanks for the input Garryd. You should come ride with us!


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