As mentioned in several earlier posts, I recently purchased a 250cc motor bike in from a dealer in the barrio of Malvin in Montevideo. European and most North American bikers will be accustomed to wearing a helmet while riding and many if not all will also wear some form of protective clothing – so I assumed it would be the same in Uruguay, right?
Well not exactly. As noted in an earlier post about the use of helmets in Uruguay they are not worn all the time and are often of dubious quality. Also, given that most motorbikes in Montevideo are relatively small and cheap it is not surprising most riders wear no protective clothing beyond the helmet.
I prefer to ride with at least protective gloves and an armoured jacket; on longer/faster rides also protective trousers. So, I set out to buy some protective gear in a city where there is no market (and few shops) for it. This post details a few shops I found that were useful.
When purchasing a helmet in a country does not stipulate a safety stamp is required, it is hard to know which are of good quality and which are not. I am not qualified to make comment on this so instead I let the North American and European grading systems dictate my assessment of the safety of the helmet. The most prevalent system adhered to in Uruguay is the North American DOT system; broadly speaking if you purchase a helmet that has DOT safety stamp as shown in the picture then it is a good indication.
Picture of the DOT Safety Mark
The only place I found in Montevideo that stocks any brand of helmet that adheres to this standard was Domingo Torres (details below). They stock a range of HJC helmets ranging from around US$145 to more than US$500; we opted for one bottom of the line helmet for Nieves and one slightly more expensive one with a full face flip system for me due to the comfort of the helmets more than the price. Both feel of good quality and I have confidence in them; having raced go-karts in the past I know what I am looking for in a helmet.
Jackets, Trousers & Gloves:
Due to the lack of use of these items they are a lot harder to come by than in most places. Domingo Torres again were able to provide me with a Spool jacket with armoured shoulders & elbows and a back pad (padding not armour) and this came in at a reasonable(ish) price of around US$185, it is waterproof and I haven’t tested it by falling off but feels quite tough.
For gloves they also had a pair of Spool gloves with protective knuckles and wrist padding, more designed for moto-cross but they will do the job and came in at around US$70. They are not waterproof but do have wind vents to help in the summer.
Unfortunately trousers were a little harder to come by, Domingo Torres do normally stock waterproof Spool trousers with protective knees and padded hips for around US$200, unfortunately they had sold out of my size and only take delivery twice a year – you can guess the level of demand here for this kit from the delivery frequency! However the shop I bought the bike from also had a small stock of protective gear and happened to have some of the same left – they are called Vladimir Automoviles (details below).
Nieves proved a little harder to source protective gear for because Domingo Torres only stock guys jackets and even the smallest didn’t fit properly. However Marcello did suggest we try the local Kawasaki dealership (details below) and they have quite a good stock of Kawasaki branded clothing along with some bigger bikes. She got lucky and found a jacket she liked which had been worn so got a discount, the final price was around US$200 – slightly more than mine but with a more well known and trusted brand. The jacket itself feels tough and again has armoured shoulders and elbows.
Unfortunately we are still on the lookout for trousers but as she isn’t on the bike that often we are managing without for now.
The details of the shops are below:
Domingo Torres: Daniel Fernandez Crespo 2252,
Tel: 924 2484
Only open Monday to Friday but they do close around 8pm most evenings, I suspect if you wanted more than just a helmet you could call and ask them to stay open for you. They are happy to accept US dollars or Uruguayan Pesos and have a salesman called Marcello that we dealt with who is very helpful and patient with slow Spanish speakers.
Tel: 613 40 41
They are primarily a car sales room, but they are also the main importers for Keeway motorcyles in Montevideo. There is a salesman there called Alejandro Portas who speaks very good English and is extremely friendly and helpful, if you are struggling for protective gear I would try them you may get lucky – be careful they also have some nice bikes so may leave with an extra one if you aren’t careful!
Tel: (02) 929 1046
The shop is a small Kawasaki dealership that has a good range of own brand clothing and also stocks some very sturdy locks one of which I threw in with the jacket. They also have some extremely nice bikes parked outside so are quite easy to spot!
I have also heard that the Suzuki dealership may be a useful point of reference but have not had reason to try them as yet.