The basics of motorcycle protective gear

      If you ask anybody about what is the best motorcycle protective gear they will all have different opinions. An opinion is a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.  This article talks mainly about jacket armor but pant armor is pretty much the same and of course wear helmets, boots and something to cover the first thing that will hit the ground, gloves.

     As the calendar slowly turns and the temperatures slowly rise, riding season is finally coming. With the dreams of a new riding season come the dreams of new riding gear. These days protective gear is more than long pants, long sleeve shirt, gloves, high top shoes and a helmet. The new armor is more than the foam I remember from many years ago. I started riding at the age of 12 and always wore long pants, long sleeve shirts (where we used to ride, the weeds used to hurt whipping by at 40 mph) hiking boots, gloves, helmet (thanks Mom) and sunglasses. Really not until my legal riding age did I do the cool thing of shorts, t-shirt, flip-flops and sunglasses I was lucky never had to have any expensive skin grafts. Man I was Stupid Cool, now I would just say Stupid Lucky.
     From what I have read there are basically four types of armor:
#1 Foam Armor 

My first and the 1st type of protection was purchased along with my KLR. After my disability had put me down for a while and I wasn't able to get up off the ground as quickly as I used to beforehand. While shopping for the KLR I looked at some Firstgear mesh jackets and pants that had a simple foam padding in the proper areas. I had already purchased a nice helmet with DOT and Snell safety ratings. The foam protection really did not provide any real protection other than skid protection which meant no more cleaning out road rash with a green scouring pad.The foam was an open-cell foam covered in thin nylon only about a 1/2" thick.

The foam is exactly what is says it is “foam” which is the least expensive of all the types of armor, but it offers minimal protection. Although foam is thick and dispenses force well, it is suited only to low-impact accidents, which is what you always hope for at the most in a crash.
#2 Hard Armor    
 My second and the 2nd type of protective armor came when I bought the Ducati, I figured since I was buying a lot more power I should also have a lot more protection. The other reason for the "more" protection was I saw a friend of mine get rear ended the morning of the Indy 500. That morning his GSXR became a hood ornament on an SUV and my friend never really recovered. I purchased an Alpinestars leather jacket. It was a heavy jacket
with excellent abrasion resistance due to the 1.2-1.4mm full grain leather and had CE-Certified elbow, shoulder and back protection that felt like an injection molded plastic resin lined with foam. This injection molded armor is good in both impact and abrasion and holds it's shape very well. The downside of the injection molded armor is while it hold it's shape very well it can be slightly uncomfortable while wearing and may need adjustment more often. 
The hard armor was not necessarily the most comfortable armor to wear but I thought provided excellent protection during my Ducati crash. A couple friends and I were tearing up the curves on 135 when I hit some grave in a 40 mph turn. I slid approximately 30 feet on my right side until the edge of the road where I was ejected over the bike and landed on my back. The hard armor provided excellent impact absorption and skid protection, luckily with all the protection I was wearing I was relatively unharmed, the only damage was the bike and my pride.
#3 Memory Foam Armor
The memory foam is not a piece of armor that I have owned or had the opportunity to try. From what I have read the BMW PE armor offers good impact protection while being able to conform to your body better than a lot of CE-approved armor. We do have a member of the blog that does use the BMW PE armor and I will let red review this one.
Red stated "I'm using the BMW armor in my British Motorcycle Gear Adventure jacket, so I had to cut down the back pad and trim the elbow pads. If the jacket has been hanging weird or on a skinny hanger, the armor will mold to that shape. When the armor is cold, it's very stiff and takes a little while to warm and soften up. Once it's warmed up and molded to your body, it's extremely comfortable, unlike armor with a hard plastic shell.  I can tell you that during a low speed dump, landing on an elbow and back pad, I didn't feel a thing."(red)

#4 Strain Sensitive Armor - D3O
My first experience with D3O armor was in my Klim Badlands jacket. When
I first read about D3O armor I was intrigued  as to how it worked. Have you ever seen or preformed the science experiment where you mix corn starch and water to a certain consistency and when you stick your hand into it it feels gooey.  When you strike it or slap it at impact like speeds it solidifies then returns to the liquid state. The D3O armor works in the same way where it give great impact absorption from wrecks and hits yet remain soft and flexible when wearing every day. The D3O remains soft and flexible even in cold temperatures as we tested earlier in January by myself, red and McMark on our sub-freezing ride. The US ski team also now uses D30 armor in their ski suits. D3O provides tested and CE certified body armor solutions for the Motorcycle market. These light and flexible components are integrated as back protectors, shoulder pads, elbow pads, hip pads and knee pads, providing the world’s leading brands with comfortable protection.
From what I have experienced and read the "pro's" for the D3O are the great flexibility that gives you the ultimate protection packed into the slimmest low profile armor on the market. The "con's" I have not yet discovered, I am a big fan.
Thank you Sky News for the great video.


red said...

I am big fan of the BMW armor. I plan on buying more pads to replace the stock armor in my other jackets.

Anonymous said...

Your said The "con's" I have not yet discovered, I am a big fan.

I like the stuff 2 but the big con for me is the fact that in my jacket at least it doesn't not rap around the elbows etc the way formed hard armor does. In my jacket it leave your body parts open to side hits that are not covered by 3do. Lays to flat in my jacket.

red said...

I agree Anonymous, armor placement is key! The nicest, high tech armor won't do you any good if it's not where it should be.

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