Well designed jackets for motorcycle riding enhances your riding by:
- preventing/reducing some types of injury in a crash
- making you safer and more alert by reducing discomfort, fatigue and dehydration
- improving conspicuity – bright colors and contrasts will make you more visible
Unfortunately we see many preventable injuries. Even minor road rash injuries can be very painful.
I wanted to show some video on road rash but could not find one without obscenities being wailed. Search “road rash” on youtube and you’ll see what I mean.
Not everything made of leather (or textile, for that matter) instantly qualifies as a “protective” garment.
So how can you tell what will provide protection?
The best way to ensure your garment is “protective” is to choose products tested against recognized standards.
Unfortunately, there are no existing U.S. standards for motorcycle clothing. However, there are European standards worth looking at.
For example, under the EU Standards, material used in motorcycle protective clothing must have abrasion resistance of between 4 and 7 seconds for use over the high impact areas of the body.
A single layer of 1.4 mm cow hide will last 5.8 seconds, while 200 gsm denim (or your standard jeans), will last just over half (0.6) of a second.
Look for a CE label indicating that the item complies with the relevant European Standard for Motorcycle Protective clothing.
The European Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Directive, 1989 requires that any clothing or personal equipment sold as providing protection from injury must comply with the relevant European Standard.
Proof of compliance requires the gear to be independently tested and certified. The manufacturer is then issued with a CE (Conformite Europeen) label which indicates that the item conforms with the relevant European standard.
The item must carry a permanently attached CE label with the number of the Standard. Jackets, pants and suits must be labeled CE EN 13595 and impact protectors are CE EN 1621.
Protection from the weather
Have you ever thought of protection from the weather as a safety issue?
Since stress can result from cold, heat or discomfort, you can become tired, distracted and less alert.
Being cold or uncomfortable causes stress and tiredness, which places you at risk of crashing because you are less alert and your reaction time will diminish.
Low core temperate may affect decision making and emotional responses.
Insulation and wind proofing are the keys to avoiding cold stress.
It is best to make an investment in two jackets. One for summer riding and the other for everything else. You will be hard pressed to find an all-in-one for a diverse temperature range.
Wet clothing draws heat away from your body. Water conducts heat much faster than air, which means you will get cold, much quicker if you are also wet.
Some textile suits do have water proof or water resistant properties, whereas leathers are not so good at keeping you dry because leather absorbs water.
The key to keeping comfortably dry is to have waterproof breathable clothing.
- Is the garment made of waterproof or just water resistant fabric?
- Is the liner fully breathable, semi-breathable or non-breathable?
Check the design and construction of the garment.
- How are the pockets, zips and cuffs covered?
- Does it have waterproof seams?
- Will water find its way in?
- Does it allow ventilation in hot weather?
Uncovered skin absorbs heat directly from the sun causing dehydration and sunburn. Dehyrdation causes fatigue. Fatigue causes mistakes.
Ventilated heat cover is the key to avoiding heat stress. This allows wind to flow through the clothing over the skin to evaporate sweat.
Light colors will reflect, wheras dark colors absorb heat.
Clothing should not affect your ability to ride safely. Gear should fit without constriction. If clothing leaves marks on your skin when you remove it, then it may be too tight.
It is also important to note that your garment should not produce wind flutter and drag. Both of which can become sources of discomfort over time.
Arguably, one of the most overlooked aspects to your safety is getting noticed.
Do whatever you can to draw other drivers attention.
What you wear can make a difference. Understand that you need to be within the other driver’s line of vision and your clothing must stand out against the background.
In one recent New Zealand study, riders wearing any reflective or fluorescent clothing had a 37% lower risk than other riders. Riders wearing white helmets had a 24% lower risk than those wearing black helmets.
With so many offerings in the jacket market, why not narrow your selection to something that has been tested, has impact protectors, offers contrast, bright color or reflectorization and has a good ventilation system.
Injury Risk Areas Covered by Jackets
We are only briefly mentioning injury areas typically covered by jacketsfor this post.
About one in five riders crashing have shoulder injuries. This type of injury is likely to involve soft tissue and fracture. Soft tissue being slightly more prevalent.
Make sure your jacket has impact protectors. They should be marked EN 1621-1.
You are more likely to damage skin and tissue than to fracture your upper arm. Make sure you are covered with abrasion resistant material.
Chipped elbows can be the source of long time problems. Again, make sure your jackets have impact protectors for elbow (EN 1621-1).
Forearms are more likely to have soft tissue damage and again one in five will receive this type of injury. Make sure it’s covered.
Neck injury will affect about one and ten,with low percentage (3%) resulting in fracture.
Chest and abdomen injuries are rare proportionate to other injuries.
Motorcycle jackets are essential gear for better riding. Depending on the temperature range, you may want to invest in two jackets, one for really hot temps.
You should wear a jacket every time you ride.
Next installment we will talk about leg injuries and protective gear.