The best protection in case of a motorcycle accident is a set of professional motorcycle clothing. While they are often stylish, a simple leather jacket is rarely more than a fashion statement. What makes up professional protective motorcycle gear, and what should we look out for when we want to buy some?
Key Features of Motorcycle Gear
To be effective, motorcycle clothing must have been made to be more than simple clothing. Good motorcycle gear counts as PPE, Personal Protective Equipment. As such, it is typically tested by official quality and safety standard testing authorities, like the European Commission, to make sure the components and materials can actually protect the wearer in the case of an accident. That’s why we rarely find proper motorcycle clothing in regular stores. Specialist shops, like ChromeBurner, carry the kind of protective motorcycle gear you need.
There are four functions protective motorcycle clothing must fulfill:
- It protects from weather influences and keeps the wearer comfortable.
- It protects the wearer from road-rash, impacts, and penetrations.
- It protects the wearer’s bones and joints from impacts and twisting.
- It catches and redistributes the force of impacts, especially to the head.
Motorcycle clothing might be a set of a motorcycle jacket and motorcycle pants, or a motorcycle overall to wear over regular street clothing. A good pair of motorcycle gloves should be included as well.
There are several grades of protection when it comes to motorcycle clothing. There are ‘casual street style’ type of motorcycle clothes, that look like regular clothing but still have protective fabrics and armor. However, they don’t offer the same type of protection as professional motorcycle racing gear, for example, which is visibly made from abrasion-resistant materials and additional armor and padding.
Whichever you chose, it should be made out of:
- A Robust Outer Lining Made from Abrasion-Resistant Materials | They are usually made from leather or modern synthetic fabrics, like Kevlar. Typically, they offer a level of weatherproofing, though not all of them might be water-resistant long term.
- A Breathable Inner Lining and Vents | A fabric like GoreTex is used for inner linings, because it allows heat and sweat to be transported away from the body. Vents are installed in less vulnerable spots to lead heat to the outside, and allow the body to breathe underneath the thick outer lining.
- Additional Padding and Armor Over Vulnerable Spots | Some parts of your body, like your back, knees, elbows, and knuckles, are especially vulnerable. Professional motorcycle gear has padding and/or armor plates covering these spots. Good gear will allow you to swap these armor plates, which are held in accessible pockets. This way, you can swap the armor if it is broken or exchange it for more efficient armor.
There is plenty of clothing marketed as motorcycle gear that is not as effective as it should be. Armor is an important factor.
Armor plating covering your spine can reduce the likelihood of a spinal cord injury. Like your brain, the spinal cord is part of the central nervous system. Injuries to this nervous tissue can kill the transmission of nerve signals from the motor and sensory cortex to the rest of the body, leaving it or parts of it paralyzed. That’s why you should not pick street style motorcycle clothing, if it lacks the proper armor.
According to the European Commission and their safety testing, there are two armor levels:
- Armor with CE Level 1 has a maximum of transmitted force to the body below 18 kilonewtons.
- Armor with CE Level 2 lets a maximum of 9 kilonewtons reach the body it protects.
The less force is transmitted to your body, the less it will suffer. Armor Level 2 is more effective, but Armor Level 1 is a great protection as well.
Motorcycle boots must have similar features. They are made from a tough material and have armored areas. A good motorcycle boot will be somewhat stiff and restricting. This way, it keeps the foot and leg in a healthy riding position and also protects the ankle from twisting. That’s why a pair of motorcycle boots must be high enough to cover the ankle.
Here, as well, there are several levels of protection. A racing boot will reach all the way up to the knee and have some additional plastic bracing on the outside. These kinds of boots are very effective in protecting the feet and lower legs of the rider, making them the right choice during high-speed rides, but are not made for walking, which makes them somewhat inconvenient for shorter trips.
The sole should be slip-resistant to keep the feet safe on the bike, and the fastening must be secure enough to keep laces from entangling during a ride.
When it comes to motorcycle helmets, controlling their safety certificates is more important than for any other piece of motorcycle gear. If the helmet is:
- FIM | Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme
- DOT | U.S. Department of Transportation
- SNELL | Snell Memorial Foundation
- ECE | Economic Commission
- SHARP | UK Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme
- BSI | British Standard Institute
Approved, it was tested and was proven to keep sufficient force from hitting the rider’s head during an accident to limit the severity of injuries.
The hard outer shell of the helmet catches the impact force and redistributes it over its surface instead of transferring it to the head directly. Underneath, several layers of foam soften the blow additionally. In order to protect the entire head and face efficiently, a responsible rider should always buy a full-face or modular helmet. Helmets that leave the face uncovered leave you open to injuries.
Protective motorcycle gear is more than a mere fashion statement. It combines tough, abrasion-resistant materials, padding, and armor plating to protect the wearer from injuries such as road-rash, cuts, penetrations, and broken bones. To buy high quality motorcycle gear, you should always visit a specialized vendor. You can find many of them online. Make sure to look for safety certificates from several testing authorities, to find the gear whose efficiency is guaranteed.