There is some great looking motorcycle clothing on the market these days, but believe me not all of the motorcycle clothing offers as much protection as you think. In Europe, for motorcycle clothing to be lawfully sold as “safety" clothing, it has to pass a series of European standards, which are pretty lengthy but are available on my website. The standards cover the clothing’s performance in abrasion, tearing and impact tests, and when they have passed; they are sold with the CE mark. However, no such regulation is available in the USA, so what should you look for?
Protection in the right places…
Not many people realise that most motorcycle injuries occur below the belt. Your legs and feet are extremely vulnerable, so make sure that you wear a decent pair of high boots and some protective pants. The pants should be reinforced at the knees and hips; ideally they should attach to your jacket by a zipper. Boots should be thick leather, with a sole that can flex with the foot but has a resistance to crushing across the foot.
Traditional material for motorcycle clothing is leather, but thick nylon and other synthetic materials work well too. Kevlar reinforced jeans are better than normal jeans .Normal jeans last 0.6 seconds in the European standard abrasion test, while protective motorcycle pants will last 5 seconds or more. You don’t really want to be ripping your skin open within less than half a second of falling of your bike do you? Thought not.
Same principles apply to jackets. Make sure they are hardwearing, if they are leather make sure it is thick leather not fashion leather like some jackets. Stitching should be uniform with no dropped stitches, and all your “sharp bits”, your elbows and shoulders should be reinforced, ideally with some impact protection included.
A decent pair of gloves is a must; your palms will be at risk in an accident; you instinctively put out your hands palm side down to stop yourself in a slide, so the palms of your gloves should be reinforced with patches. Knitted Kevlar is especially good for this kind of abrasion resistance, but reinforced leather works well too.
Impact protection can be bought separately like back protectors and so on, but remember where your most vulnerable areas are. And make sure if you buy impact protection you actually wear it! If you have any doubts it may be better to go for motorcycle clothing with a degree of impact protection included so that you know when you put on your jacket and pants, the protection is always going to be there.
Last but not least, pick out a helmet you can wear and wear it always. You may have a greater chance of getting injured below the waist in a motorcycle accident, but the consequences of being involved in an accident without a helmet just don’t bear thinking about….
So, next time you are shopping for motorcycle clothing, give a bit of thought to the level of protection it offers before you buy it. You never know it could save you a lot of unnecessary pain!
Michael Holmes is a enthusiast for all thing motorcycle. His website, http://www.motorcycleparts-accessories-andmore.com, is a great resource of articles aimed at motorcyclists of all levels, including a page specifically for motorcycle clothing.