Motorcycle Rider Safety Gear

I’m going to give you some of my opinions on what to wear when you ride.  Motorcycle Rider Safety Gear is what comes between you, the pavement and any fixed obsticale.  You can agree or disagree, but at the least you should give it some thought.  In 2015, 4976 people died as a result of motorcycle accidents, that should be enough to cause you to be protected.  Excellent gear is expensive, cheap gear is not excellent.  The saying goes, “Buy the best gear you can afford.”

The laws that address motorcycle safety are mostly political. If you don’t want to wear a helmet when you ride, I support your right to choose.  Do I think you are making good decisions?  Actually; in my opinion you’re a fool, but my opinion doesn’t count and as long as you’re not hurting anyone, I support your right to do whatever you want.

I think you should visit a nursing home and watch a head injured person lie with their mouth open, drooling and blankly staring at the ceiling….every hour of the rest of their lives.  And then watch when their kids come to visit…….it’s really hard on your family.  Yes, it’s a personal choice, but unless you’re without any family, you will be hurting the people who care about you…..

Leather

Leather looks good, I can’t argue with that.  Leather can also be very good motorcycle rider safety gear, if you buy the best stuff.

Leather is the most popular choice among those who choose to wear protective clothing, and if you buy high quality gear designed for motorcycle riding that’s good.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that all leather jackets are the same, you get what you pay for, the good stuff is expensive.  Unfortunately the best way to judge good leather is to look at the price tag.  Plan on spending $500 for a leather jacket.

One of the problems with leather is that it gets weaker as it ages; and thus offers less protection every year.  Each time leather gets wet and dries it can lose up to 20% of it’s tear and abrasion strength. If a good leather conditioner is used it is still impossible to soften the inside of the leather properly unless the inner liner can be removed. Because of the expense, people are reluctant to replace it when they should.

Kevlar

Hands down, the most protective motorcycle riding gear available is Motoport Kevlar.  That’s not just an opinion, that’s a fact backed by independent research and confirmed by the unfortunate riders who have crashed wearing Motoport.  It is the number one choice of many police departments across the US and Canada; the officers who spend everyday, all day, in all kinds of weather riding with a higher risk of crashing than most of us.

So what if you can’t afford this stuff all at once; you can save for it one piece at a time.  If you are going to buy just one piece of riding gear;  pants should be your first choice, along with gloves.  In about 83% of crashes, our lower body hits first.  Your need for safety never goes away, you should never stop thinking about it.  Compared to the high-end leather products, Motoport is not any more expensive.  Our jackets start at $530.

Technical but Important Stuff

Tear Strength

Lbs of force to failure

Human Skin 0  Jeans 4.5   Leather 100  Kevlar 1260

Abrasion Resistance

Cycles of abrasion before materials fail.  This is how well they hold up sliding down the pavement.

Human Skin 0   Jeans  50     Leather 1500     Kevlar   1800

Seam Strength

It is not possible to Safety Lock Stitch Leather. Poking seven needle holes through leather will ruin the material.

Motoport’s seams have five threads woven together on the inside (Safety Lock Stitching), and double-needle stitch over the top of the same seam on the outside. Each of these seven threads has more than 100lb tear  All seams provide over 2000lb tear strength. In the last 21 years, Motoport has not had one seam failure—no seam failures even with many suits that were crashed at over 100mph.

Armor and Impact Absorbstion

When we met Wayne Boyer, the owner of Motoport at his factory in California, he led me through a demonstration.  First he gave me a hard back protector.  Wayne told me to hold it in one hand, and place my other fist against it….and then punch the corner of the wall.  You know the square edge where two walls meet, I thought, “that’s going to hurt”  yes it hurt. 

Then with a Quad-Armor back protector I punched it again.  OK, I punched it harder, nothing……harder again……this stuff is unbelievable, it absorbs and spreads out the impact so amazingly well. If I had hit it as hard with the rigid armor, I think I might have broken my hand.

What About Comfort

Do you have to sacrifice comfort for safety?  Sure, everything is a trade-off. Any jacket is going to be hotter in the summer.  Leather or mesh, doesn’t matter what it’s made of.  At least with mesh you get some air-flow and a cooling vest underneath works well.

When you add the Aero-Tex waterproof liners it gets a little bulkier, but you will be absolutely dry no matter how hard it rains.  I will admit it is a process to suit up, with all the zippers, double and triple rain flaps and super strong Velcro, but again you get used to it.  During the cooler or wetter weather we leave liners in, and then you just step into the pants, pull on the coat, seal the Velcro and zip everything up.  They offer an insulated liner, as well as custom fitted heated liners made by Warm and Safe another best in class company.

Motoport gear is custom made to your measurements.  It takes time to hand cut and sew an outfit so you need to understand there is a wait time from order to shipping.  They often have a fairly long waiting list, as they are making riding gear for entire police departments. We’ve been to the factory and can attest to the attention to detail and the passion that Motoport employees put into making of the best gear in the world.

Helmets – Yes, No, Maybe

I live in a mandatory state.  You want to ride in Oregon, you’re wearing a helmet.  I’ve already said, I support the right to choose, and required or not, I wear a helmet.  All states were, “encouraged” to require helmets through the threat of loss of Federal Highway Funds in 1967.  Oregon enacted it’s helmet law in 1968.  The Feds dropped the highway funds threat in 1976, and Oregon law changed to only requiring riders under 18.  

However, in 1989 the issue went to a vote of the people and mandatory helmets for all became the rule once again.  The issue arose again in 1997 when the legislature passed a bill dropping the requirement, then Governor Kitzhaber vetoed.  The law remains, although advocacy groups such as, ABATE continue to lobby for another repeal. 

Novelty

Novelty helmets are made to look like a legal (DOT) helmet.  You can buy a fake DOT sticker to fool the PoPo.

“A “novelty helmet” can protect the scalp against sunburn and  if it stays on during a crash – might protect the scalp against abrasion, but it has no capability to protect the  brain from an injury.”  Source Wikipedia

Half 

Half-helmets are DOT approved and offer a little protection.  They serve the purpose of looking, “Bad Ass.”  So if you’re most concerned about image, this is the one for you. 

“Because of their inferiority compared to other helmet styles, some Motorcycle Safety Foundations prohibit the use of half helmets.”  Source Wikipedia

3/4 Open Face

“The open face, or “three-quarters”, helmet covers the ears, cheeks, and back of the head, but lacks the lower chin bar of the full face helmet. Many offer snap-on visors that may be used by the rider to reduce sunlight glare. An open face helmet provides the same rear protection as a full face helmet, but little protection to the face, even from non-crash events.”  Source Wikipedia

Full Face

A full face helmet covers the entire head, with a rear that covers the base of the skull, and a protective section over the front of the chin

Many full face helmets include vents to increase the airflow to the rider. The significant attraction of these helmets is their protectiveness.”  Source Wikipedia

I go back to being a Paramedic, which means I only wear a Full-Face.  I have seen people’s faces after they’ve slid down the road.  Reconstructive surgery is expensive, painful and leaves you looking like a freak.

The choice is yours.

I wear a helmet when I ride a motorcycle, my mountain bike or my snowboard…….I’m a full-time helmet kind of guy…..I wear a hardhat everyday at work, it’s no big deal to me.  I’m a risk taker, a thrill seeker but when I jump out of an airplane, I know my safety is covered.  That’s my story.